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Patagonia Descensionist 40L Backpack

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7 Reviews


Addicted to the descent.

You lug gear up mountains through brutal weather conditions for one reason and one reason only—to get the goods on the way down. Built for the backcountry powder seeker, the Patagonia Descensionist 40L Backpack offers out-of-bounds skiers and riders a lightweight, yet full featured option for hauling all the gear they need for a long day in the backcountry.

Cordura fabric provides burly abrasion resistance and protection from the snow in a lightweight and supple package. A dedicated avy tool pocket keeps you probe and shovel organized and easily accessible in case one of your partners gets caught in a slide. The asymmetrical spindrift collar opens wide for easy packing and closes quickly with a single tug to keep blowing snow out. A side access zipper lets you get to gear at the bottom of the pack without pulling everything else out. The removable foam back panel and padded hipbelt add support and stability when hauling heavy loads, and front straps secure your skis or snowboard when you have to bootpack.

  • Lightweight, fully featured pack for backcountry touring
  • Cordura fabric is extremely tough, yet light and supple
  • Polyurethane coating keeps gear from getting wet
  • Avy tool pocket allows quick access to rescue gear
  • Padded back panel can be removed for light and fast pursuits
  • Front straps secure skis or snowboard
  • Hipbelt and compression straps stabilize load
  • Two daisy chains provide multiple lashing options
  • Item #PAT023N

Tech Specs

210D Cordura with PU coating (86% nylon, 14% polyester), [base] 420D Cordura nylon with PU coating
40L (2440cu in)
removable high-density foam back panel
Waist Belt
Hydration Compatible
with hose port
asymmetrical spindrift collar
1 zippered top, 1 hipbelt stash
Ski Carry
Snowboard Carry
Claimed Weight
2lb 1.4oz
Recommended Use
backcountry touring
Manufacturer Warranty

Tech Specs

  • Reviews
  • Q & A

What do you think about this product?

Have questions about this product?

Great for longer trips!

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is my top choice pack for medium to long tours and slack-country boot packs/skins. Easily big enough to fit all your avalanche gear, water and snacks, plus any extra jackets, gloves/goggles or base layers. The ski carry is well designed and holds well. If you're looking for an awesome pack that won't break the bank get this one!

Very Pleased

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I am overall very impressed with this pack. The one thing I found funny was that while there is a hydration port, there is not even a hook from which to hang your bladder. Luckily, I could use one of the front board cary straps attached to the internal lid daisy chain to hang my bladder.( sounds confusing but trust me, you'll see if you get the bag) My mind is boggled at all of the potential configurations and options Patagonia thought of in this thing. Also, for its weight you can tell it's just bomber. My only wish is that they included a second velcro tool strap so the ski carry loop could be used for a second tool or poles. Beautiful work on this Pat. Oh, and the green color is better in person!

Love this pack

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

This pack is the perfect day pack and pack to ski with. Make sure you size accordingly because too big can be trouble some. It s versatile and great school pack. It fits my huge 17" laptop screen perfect!

The One and Only

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm a backpack whore and have never been satisfied...
That is until now. The Descenionist 40 is the ultimate pack for ski mountaineering. Simple design, all the features you need, and none of the bullshit.

A-frame carry is great for the splitboard and the tool holders work well. I can fit a rack, crampons, all the food/clothing I need for the day, plus two tools and a rope and still feel comfortable. That is a rare thing.

It's big enough for a night or two or if you are going for a quick down patrol it compresses down nicely.

I can't wait to use mine on more adventures.

A Fast (and light) Favorite

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Building off the ultra-popular Ascensionist, the Descensionist adds a new snow safety pocket and a side-access zip to help make sure the essentials are always close at hand. Weighing in at just over 2 lbs, it's about half the weight of comparable packs but every bit as functional.

I used this bag over the winter for local day tours as well as overnight trips up to the Tetons and every time out I was thoroughly impressed with how well the pack performed. Even fully loaded down with 40+ pounds of gear the Decensionist carried weight comfortably and kept everything stable while on the move. The bright interior makes finding small items by headlamp a breeze and the side-access zip helps when you need to pull or stash layers on the go. I like this pack so much it's become my go-to for winter climbing and touring as well as spring/summer cragging and alpine pursuits.

For winter, the front pocket easily holds a full-size shovel, probe, first aid kit, and other essentials that you'll want to access quickly in a time of need. For warm weather use, I like the extra organization the front pocket provides and use it for things like guidebooks, MRE's, or snacks when the main body is totally packed out. The layout of the pack is simple, well thought-out, and offers the flexibility to reconfigure gear attachments as needed. Skis can be carried A-frame or diagonal and the burly Cordura shell feels like it will stand up to years of abuse.

A few things I'd like to see in a future version would be a gear loop on the waist belt for more technical terrain, a hole in the back panel padding pocket to better accommodate a hydration pack, and a larger spindrift collar for over-stuffing the pack on those big days out. Nitpicking aside, this is the closest thing I've found to a perfect winter touring pack and if keeping things light is your game there are few packs that even come close to this one.

Patagonia did a terrific job taking the original and tweaking it for added functionality while staying true to their fast and light design ethos. If you're looking for a simple, no-frills touring pack then look no further, the Descensionist is the pack you've been waiting for.

A Fast (and light) Favorite

Wintersport dedicated Ascensionist

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Coming from using the Ascensionist packs for my backcountry skiing and Alpine climbs, the new Descensionist adds things that are tailored for the wintersports. Rather than your probe, shovel, saw, and snow study kit hanging out with your down jacket and lunch, possibly spreading feathers on your sandwich because something ripped your coat, the dedicated pocket for these items is great. I can usually get my skins in it as well, keeping the inside of the pack dry for the things you want dry. Another nice feature is the side zip, there is nothing more fun than emptying your entire pack to get to your emergency down jacket or first aid kit that usually hangs out at the bottom - at least for me they do. The ski carry is great, though diagonal carry is still nice, Patagonia seems to have gone away from it. The material is more durable than the prior generation Ascensionist packs which helps keep ski edge cuts to a minimum. The ice axe carry works great as well and getting a rope on it is pretty easy too. The size is perfect for guides and technical objectives, since you are usually carrying more intensive gear.

For my every day trips I usually go with a 30 L Ascensionist and make it work and use the Descensionist for the technical objectives and overnight trips.

Wintersport dedicated Ascensionist

great ski pack

    Really really psyched on the new Descensionist pack. Basically Patagonia took the lightweight Ascensionist climbing pack, and added an avy tool pocket and a side zip to access the main pocket. This is definitely a larger volume pack, it seems a little big for a 40L, so I used it mostly for bigger missions and stuck with a Snowdrifter 30L for everyday tours. Carries skis or a board well, and has the burlier fabric from the latest Ascensionist packs which held up well throughout the winter.

    Unanswered Question

    What is the difference between the s/m size and the L/XL size? I’m 5’11” and with use it for ski tours. Thanks!

    Unanswered Question

    This pack comes in two sizes. S/M and L/XL
    How do I know what size I need? Im 180cm long.
    Thanks, David