- 4 Posts. Joined 2/2014
- Location: Berkshire Co., Mass.
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What do you look for in a backcountry ski pack?
The obvious things are carrying water, lunch and maybe some miscellaneous safety items, skins, probe, shovel. Most worthy backcountry ski packs include pouches or pockets that allow quick access to this emergency gear. Also the most critical thing is a ski-carry system...straps and loops made to carry skis in a A-frame or vertically in a secure balanced way.
Other than that the same criteria apply such as lightweight, compact and easy carry. Specialized packs may incorporate features like an Avalung or avalanche air bag.
Are the two pass-through (i.e., not sewn-down at their bottom) pockets in the outer compartment meant to accommodate some specific piece of that equipment?
Is the loop seen below at the bottom front of the pack meant to secure skis for vertical carry? (It can be tightened/retracted from inside the outer compartment.)
The inner pockets could secure a probe, and shovel handle, but it is not specifically made to accommodate a shovel. If you snowshoe in avalanche terrain, this is potentially an issue for non-skiers as well. Not sure if the loops on that pack would carry skis diagonally or A-frame, and it would not carry a snowboard/splitboard. I think this review might help you see the difference in a pack built for backcountry and sidecountry skiing, vs a hiking pack.
- 4,225 Posts. Joined 11/2006
- Location: 山
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First I look for fit - if it doesn't fit you must...
Anyway, after getting one that carries well with a load (in other words, that fits and supports well), then I want a comfortable, well-placed waist belt and sternum strap. I look for a good system for carrying my skis comfortably and well-balanced. Unless I'm only using the pack for short hikes (because it's small) I want a good A-frame carry system. If the pack has a diagonal/vertical system as well, that's nice, but I only use diagonal/vertical for short hikes.
I want a layout that makes sense to me. A separate, accessible compartment to put small necessaries (I like top-loading with a lid, but panel loading packs have some nice layouts as well). A separate, easily-accessible, waterproof compartment that will accommodate and organize a shovel, probe, and climbing skins is key - nice ones have a drain hole away from my back. A small pocket or two inside the main compartment is nice for organizing, but I don't really want a lot of compartments or complicated layouts. Bladder/hydration system compatible, and an insulated shoulder strap hydration sleeve.
I like at least one pocket on the waist belt, and maybe a gear loop too for hanging climbing hardware. Enough strap locations to attach a few things, but not a lot of superfluous ones - too many straps for adjustments and such are a pain.
External placement for two ice tools is nice, but it needs to have at least one. Many people will want some sort of helmet accommodation.
And please, I want this all to be strong, light, and inexpensive.
Yeah, I have quited a few packs because of poor fit. I have a short torso, so men’s packs are often too long for me. Women’s packs often work for me lengthwise, but the belts are designed for female hips.
That’s all, eh?