Back in the spring some folks were kind enough to help me out by responding to an RFI I made regarding backcountry ski packs. I wanted to be able to give skiers a sense of what the backpack has to offer them, even though I was reviewing it as a snowshoer and for Snowshoe Magazine. My review went up a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to pass it along here lest it fly under the radar of this forum’s audience. – Matthew
New sidecountry backpack available October 2014
The new out of bounds pack from CamelBak is also ideal as a half day winter pack. The hydration system is purpose-built to prevent freezing, and the Phantom LR 20’s heavy-duty fabric withstands icy abrasion that DXs a thin-skinnned three season pack in short order. Lash points abound—a set of upper compression straps combine with ski slots, front straps, and a retractable cable to externally stow down an ice ax, trekking and Whippet/Condor style poles, and/or a camera tripod. Packs with this feature set typically come no smaller than 45 liters, and practically never at a price point of $130 (hydration reservoir included!).
I have to applaud the designers of the Phantom LR 20 for creating a piece of winter kit rather than pasting a couple of features onto a hiking backpack. The choice of a zippered rather than mesh belt pocket (that is apt to rip apart the first fall a wearer takes) is one nice little touch that shows they knew their consumers’ needs. And not all of the touches are little. By forgoing a more traditionally shaped hydration reservoir in favor of a lumbar bladder, they have managed to find plenty of space for 100 ounces of liquid while also leaving plenty of space open around the neck for use with a helmet.
Full review available here.