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Gear Review

2 5

Doesn't Go

I picked up the Prophet 52 a couple of months ago. I live in Washington State and wanted a bag that could handle ski touring, rock routes, and alpine routes. So far I have used this pack for 3 cragging trips, an overnight ski tour, alpine trip up Mt Stuart, and a failed rock climbing attempt at Cutthroat Peak. It is a tragic bag because they have the right idea but fail hard in the details. I can not recommend this bag for anyone doing any snow sports.
Failed Details:
-The ice axe attach point does not have a long enough elastic strap to reach around any size tool. I have not been able to latch it without going down to bare hands. This is the worst attach clip of any bag: Osprey, Arcteryx, MH, BD, REI ...
-One of the bag closure cords broke on the 4th outing
-For no good reason the crampon pouch tapers at the bottom. When you put crampons in pouch its a really tight fit at the bottom. Sure enough, the second trip I had crampons in this designated pocket they punctured through the pocket at the bottom. Every time I took care to slowly put my crampons in the pocket and never let any of the spikes to face the bag. It punctured on the dull flat tab on the back of the crampons that fit around the back of your boot. BD has rectangular crampon pouches, The North Face should copy it b/c the tapered design doesnt work.
-You seal the top of the bag w/ a simple cord and spring loaded clip. The clip is tiny and a bit difficult to manipulate. Unecessarily difficult, I really think this is a rock bag with alpine bells and whistles.
-The bag features a strap over the top of the bag (under the hood) to secure a climbing rope. If the bag is completely full this strap does not reach around a single rope. I was pissed when I realized I could not use the strap b/c they did not properly size it. Another 2 inches of strap adds nothing to the weight or cost of the bag.
-There is no place for a shove blade on the outside of the pack. Not great for AVY rescue and takes up space inside the bag. It only takes two little tabs and the blade can be easily rigged.
-If its completely full you cannot fit a nalgene bottle in the side pockets without great difficulty.
-If its completely full you cannot get the side straps around a z-res without great difficulty.
-If you need to extend the top lid at all the two staps that connect the lid (on the side of the bag with the sholder staps) will not stay put. They fall of the side of the bag. Its very annoying. All it would have taken was a loop around each strap to keep them in place.
-Not having a side entry zipper gets old fast. When you have to undo 2 straps, maybe take a rope off and secure that so it doesnt fall down the mountain, and open the two closure tabs everytime you need access to the bag it gets old quick. The vast majority of bags these days have a side entry zipper on technical bags for good reason.
-No ski loops on the side. Two ski loops below the side pockets could have been easily added and not effect any other part of the bag. Hell, for the people not using the bag for touring they could be cutt off to save weight. Ski loops make life easier and cut down on transition time.

What did I like? The suspension is spot on. It is simple and light yet effective. I really like the generaly lay out of the bag. The gear loop on one side and large snack pocket on the other are solid. Overall the bag is wear resistant for the weight. I do not recommend this bag though. In my opinion look elsewhere.

Responded on

A backpack is a backpack; I just have faith in all my Northface product, all original. My son is a season climber; and told me to buy the Prophet 52 and bought it. My experience also as a climber, the contour, material, and the functions; I do believed the product met it's specs and of course the price is very reasonable. Maybe I have no comment with Mr. Ryan recommendation of not using it in the snowy climb; but I would recommend it for climbinbing a jungle infested area, maybe the Sierra Madre, and Mt.Apo both in the Philippines, Mr. Ryan, your welcome to join as in our next climb. thank U. God bless

Responded on

I love this pack. I've used this as primary pack for climbing and guiding on rock. This pack is perfect for everything from multi-pitch trad in Yosemite to sport cragging and I use it as my standard ice climbing pack. My Vipers fit just fine in the tool loops -- life is tough: sometimes you have to take your gloves off. No worries with the crampon pouch, either. You can buy crampon point covers that keep points from puncturing bags. All-in-all, a good pack -- enough room for camera/lenses, food for the day, first aid kit, approach shoes, bivy sack and a few extra layers just in case.