There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hang their stash on the outside of their pack like a traveling hobo yard sale, and those who take the time to thoughtfully organize their gear into a correctly sized ruck so that it mostly fits inside. You can guess which side we fall on, although we make an exception for glacier travel where you need quick access to safety gear in the event of a crevasse fall.
But for approach climbs stowed is best, and Black Diamond has a zinger of a pack in the Stone 45, tipping the scales at a svelte 3lb 3oz. You could even call it a rope bag – some outlets do – but it really features the best of both worlds. The biggest feature is the full two-way side zip that allows you full access to the main compartment, so you put your gear where it makes the most sense rather than the order you might need to access it.
Other storage includes the spacious top lid, which continues the access theme by having a zipper that goes around two sides. It also has two thin zipped pockets, one on the top of the main lid pocket and one underneath and accessible when the lid is flipped over. There are two compression straps per side, a front and back haul loop/grab handle, and a hydration pocket and tuck-away rope strap inside the main compartment. There are no outside pockets whatsoever, anywhere including the hip belt. This might be a showstopper for some, but it results in a really slick pack that goes through brush and baggage handlers with equal aplomb.
The Stone 45 does have two ice axe loops that tuck away, and on the hip belt are two loops where you could clip gear into. There is plenty of room to stuff a 70m rope, rack, helmet, shoes, chalk and assorted other gear into it, and even when stuffed to the gills the Stone 45 carries well, much better than we expected given the minimalist suspension. If you're looking for a sleek roped-climbing specific pack, the Stone 45 is a tough and nimble traveling companion.