I have been eying for an alternative to one of those zippable crag bags when I came across the Octopus Rope bag from Blue Ice. The bag was so simple and small, it was hard to believe that a 80m rope and all the gear would fit in it. But thanks to Bergfreunde.de I had the chance to take a closer look at this octopus. Blue Ice is a young company based in Chamonix with a team of passionate mountaineers, loving their sports on rock, ice and ski. They support 1% of their annual revenues to non-profit organisations working for a sustainable developement. Nice! Lets get right to the facts.
Features of the Octopus:
Weight: 1010g !
- Bag shaped tarp, dirt proof, pvc free for the rope
- 2 gear loops
- Net compartment
- rescue whistle
- big top zippable compartment
- padded shoulder straps and padded backs for added comfort on longer access
- adjustable chest strap
Blue Ice uses Cordura fabrics for this bag. It’s durable, lightweight and resistant to tears and abrasions. It is one step away from the hard shell crag bags we know today which reduces the weight tremendously. Even after leaving the bag on damp and sooty surfaces, you can brush off the dirt easily once it is dry. The seams are well processed, no frills no frays, the bag looks and feels sturdy. The tarp bag is coated to prevent the rope from getting soiled and wet and it’s shape and form reminds you very much of the bags from the swedish furniture company
The shoulder straps and back are padded for added comfort for longer access. On terrains that are difficult, the bag does not inhibit your movements. The chest straps assures the bag stays in place. A waist belt could have been useful on this bag that enlightens your shoulders from the complete weight while struggling with longer access on some trials. I missed that and had to carry the weight mostly on my shoulders
There is space for 2x 1 litre water bottles (e.g. from Nalgene), chalk bag, 18 quick draws, a thick climbing guide-book, and your 80m rope bag. Additional stuff like beanies, gloves and Belay glasses, tape and smaller valuables fits all well in the bag due to its asymmetrical form. A light jacket would fit in too, however, I would have prefered an exterior belt that holds the jacket so that you don’t have to stop in the middle of the trial to unzip the rope bag and stuff the jacket into a bag that’s already very packed and filled. The interior net divides your valuables and tiny utensils you bring along from the massive gear. This rope bag is designed such that the bag, when carried, is not higher than your shoulders, thus giving ample space for your head movement on an access when you have to look up often (e.g. on a short Via Ferrata to the crags) I loved the zippable pocket compartment at the top. It’s so huge a reasonable 380 page Guide book would fit in it perfectly. Even my handbag fits in. You’ll have to be careful on uneven terrain. Because the bag is so soft, the contents of the bag spills easily. The tarp bag that came along with the rucksack has 2 loops to tie the ends of your rope for tangle prevention. You can carry your rope around like a shopping bag on your shoulders when you go from one route to the next. At the end of the day, you take the whole bag and put it in the backpack. I had however some problems trying to keep the rope in the bag all the time be it while belaying or when pulling the rope from the anchor. It was a fuss to keep putting the rope in the bag, so actually, the rope ended up everywhere else, but not in the bag.
What I liked:
- Light weight! With 1010 g, you can ‘t complain much about having too much weight on your back.
- Padding at the right places
- Huge compartments, which is sufficient for smaller stuffs.
- Easy handling at the crags. You get there, unzip your bag and get all your gear out. Packing up at the end of the day is quick and faster than your fellow mates. Using the included tarp bag for the rope meant you could just put it into the bag at the end of the day without first having to wind up your rope.
- Design: simplified, clean, good form that doesn’t get in the way while you move
What could be better:
- The tarp bag for the rope didn’t convince me outdoors. While this is a nice idea of keeping your rope neatly together in a bag and while you get from one route to the next, I still find a whole piece of tarp spreaded out a better handling with a bigger surface . The tarp bag kept falling in itself (too soft at the rims) and kept me busy at all the wrong times.
- No loops, nets or pockets on the exterior meant having to put every single tiny thing in the bag. It would’ve been nice to be able to clip your jacket or the helmet outside, since these are the things you probably need during your access.
- No waist belt. On hotter days when clothings are thinner, you can feel some abrasion on your tail-bone, especially when the terrain gets tougher. A waist belt stabilises a fully loaded backpack well, even though this meant adding extra grams on the overall weight of the rope bag.
- Pricey. 79 Eur is definitely one the higher prices for a crag bag
A very light weight crag bag to carry all your gear along! It’s great for crags with shorter access, indoor climbing. The bag sees its limit with an 80m rope and longer accesses. So if you intend to carry more than what’s needed (food, Water, Thermos bottle, bulky jackets, etc) you might need alternative solutions (= outsource them to your partner)
[Disclosure: I have received product samples for my time and efforts in reviewing this product and creating this article. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ]