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Backpack shootout, which one to choose?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a new pack to replace my Camelbak MULE.  I'm looking for something slightly larger, but still relatively small since I will mostly use it during lift-accessed skiing.  In the future I'd like to do some backcountry skiing but I'm not buying with that purpose in mind.  Something versatile enough to double as my airline carry on would be beneficial, I always carry on enough clothes needed for a day on the slopes in case my checked bag is lost, and I also usually carry a laptop.

 

That said, these are some of the key features I'm looking for:

- Hydration compatible with insulated hydration sleeve

- Minimal straps hanging, to minimize risk of snags, especially on a lift.

- Thin profile, again for chairlifts

- Good compression ability.  I'm unlikely to completely fill a 25L pack while skiing.  I want to be able to carry no more than lunch, extra layer or 2, hydration reservoir, camera, and some small odds and ends.

- Goggle pocket

- Helmet carry

- Hip pocket on waistbelt

- Ease of use.  Easy to open pockets without lots of flaps or straps in the way, glove friendly buckles and zipper pulls, logical pocket layout without being overly complex, etc.

 

I have my eye on 3 packs, which I have found mostly via searches on this site.  Here they are in random order.  Unfortunately I don't live in an area where these will be available in any local store, so I'm looking to order online.  I'd love to see all 3 in person before choosing but that likely isn't an option.

1. Osprey Kode 22

2. Mammut Nirvana Pro 25L

3. Dakine Pro 2

 

Any thoughts on these 3, or other suggestions?  If you have first hand experience with any of these I'd love to hear your feedback.

 

One important note.  The Dakine specs state it is 7" deep, the others are listed as 11".  This is drawing me to that pack, however..  The H x W dimensions don't vary much between any of the 3.  This leads me to believe the Dakine measurement might not be accurate, but I'm not sure.  If it is truly 4" thinner, but is not much taller or wider, I don't see how it can have the same capacity as the others.

post #2 of 23
Kode 22 checks almost all the boxes except for the not so many straps, this is a known thing on osprey packs!

It's a little smaller overall compared to the mammut, but very well organized and pockets on the right place!

Mammut is an awesome pack, it carries load very well and much better to carry skis compared to the osprey, also it has a metal frame which is nice!

The issue I have with it are 1) avy pocket zipper don't open fully which might be bad, still plenty of space but would prefer a full open. 2) hydration sleeve is useless can't think of one that would fit in there and neither does mammut, so it needs to go in the main compartment, this might be a problem for you, does't bother me too much but you must have a stiff one like the osprey's

mammut will compress better and carry better when not full, osprey is a little loose!

I have no experience with dakine packs! current have a nirvana pro so let me know if you have other questions
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply, especially on the hydration sleeve.  I don't have a bladder with support like the Ospreys, will be using a standard camelbak or the pressurized Geiggerig (when inflated it would have it's own support).  All 3 on my list meet all of my criteria really, except maybe the straps which I can't really tell until I see them in person.  The marketing photos of the packs online all have the straps cleaned up nicely, it's hard to tell if they are really that clean or if it's an edited photo.

 

I guess I should add another criteria which is comfort.  I don't expect to carry heavy loads while skiing, so I'm not sure I need a heavy duty frame or stiff molded back panel, unless it adds comfort.

 

That, and the ability to comfortably be worn on a chairlift are probably the biggest things I can't gauge without seeing the packs in person.

 

I've been leaning to the Dakine honestly, partially because it looks like the most versatile in terms of non-skiing usage.  I'm worried about the straps though, it seems to have a lot of them.  The sizing I mentioned before also sounds good, just not sure if it's legit.  I do like that the Mammut's hip belt is removable though, it's the only one with that option.

 

Buying gear when you live in a warm weather state isn't fun, it's a mail order crap shoot. :(

post #4 of 23
places like evo or bc have a $7 or so return, might be worth to order all and keep the one you like, or order from rei and return local if you have one close to you
post #5 of 23
Look at BD Covert or Agent? http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/hiking-packs

Agent has smaller profile; Covert holds more. Smooth; not a lot of straps. I have the older version of the Agent and it easily fits on lifts.
post #6 of 23

I just got the Camelbak Phantom 20 LR and love it.

post #7 of 23

If you want a backpack that works as an airline carry-on and also for lift-served skiing, you may end up disappointed on both counts.  I use the little 11L Dakine Heli and it's the most I'd want between my back and the backrest of the lift.  The straps don't cause many problems.  The Pro II claims to weigh only one pound more than my Heli.  It may cinch down OK.  I find that the hydration bladder causes most of the trouble when skiing.  Water is, after all, heavy.  I fill the bladder half way usually.

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post
 

If you want a backpack that works as an airline carry-on and also for lift-served skiing, you may end up disappointed on both counts.

 

 

 

OK, fine, the helmet didn't go in the overhead bin.   But the boots and packs certainly did.   EDIT: the black one has the laptop in it.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by procos View Post
 

I just got the Camelbak Phantom 20 LR and love it.

 

This looks pretty good!  I hadn't seen it before.  What I like is that it's a smaller 20L capacity, should work better than some of the others I'm looking at which are 25L+.  What I don't like is it has a uniquely shaped bladder.  I wish you had posted about it yesterday, I just placed a couple of orders to view some bags in person.  I may end up returning them, we'll see.  I also found the Mountain Hardwear Snowtastic 18 today, another smaller option that looks decent.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post
 

If you want a backpack that works as an airline carry-on and also for lift-served skiing, you may end up disappointed on both counts.  I use the little 11L Dakine Heli and it's the most I'd want between my back and the backrest of the lift.  The straps don't cause many problems.  The Pro II claims to weigh only one pound more than my Heli.  It may cinch down OK.  I find that the hydration bladder causes most of the trouble when skiing.  Water is, after all, heavy.  I fill the bladder half way usually.

 

I don't disagree.  I'm not looking for a great carry on bag.  I expect the bag will be smaller than ideal, but I'm trying to compromise there.  I'm tired of packing an empty camelbak in my checked luggage though, it's not worth bringing on the plane because it's far too small and it takes up valuable space in my luggage.  It's also slightly too small on the slopes, it comes up just short for my needs.  I'm looking for something that can hold a laptop, book, noise cancelling headphones, and my clothes for 1 day of skiing.  I will carry my boots on board too, but likely just over my shoulder.  I'm not sure I can get that much in a smaller bag, which is why I was looking at larger ones that may cinch down really well when partially empty.

post #10 of 23
I love my BD Agent. Ticks all your boxes and has a good ski carry system. Mine has the Avalung which is not noticeable when stowed.
post #11 of 23

Check out the Camelbak Phantom 20 LR. I have one and really like it, and it meets all of your requirements.

post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

So I just caved in and ordered 3 to view in person, and will return 2.  I got the Osprey Kode (great fit but way too many straps!), Mammut (clean, but too tall for my body) and the Camelbak Phantom.  I'm keeping the Phantom.

 

One question though, where is the helmet carry?  I can live without it, but the features on their website say that it has one and I don't see it.

post #13 of 23

What pack did you go with and any thoughts on the two you decided against? I'm looking at all three of these packs, so I'd love to get your opinion.

 

Edit: Oops, just saw that you posted along these lines already. How tall are you? Wondering because of the Mammut.

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by henryai View Post

What pack did you go with and any thoughts on the two you decided against? I'm looking at all three of these packs, so I'd love to get your opinion.

Edit: Oops, just saw that you posted along these lines already. How tall are you? Wondering because of the Mammut.

I'm 5'5" and the mammut works great for me, maybe has more to do with torso length?! not sure, and I have no idea how long is my torso :-)

here's a picture of the nirvana pro 25 on a 5'5" guy, note that I don't use the metal frame, don't cary much load and the pack is a little more confortable without it

post #15 of 23

mfa81: off topic but, those pants look like they fit pretty well on you for a 5'5 guy, or is it an optical illusion.  What size and model are they?  Did you alter them?

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post
 

mfa81: off topic but, those pants look like they fit pretty well on you for a 5'5 guy, or is it an optical illusion.  What size and model are they?  Did you alter them?

Yeah, yeah!  Us short guys want to know!

post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfa81 View Post


I'm 5'5" and the mammut works great for me, maybe has more to do with torso length?! not sure, and I have no idea how long is my torso :-)

here's a picture of the nirvana pro 25 on a 5'5" guy, note that I don't use the metal frame, don't cary much load and the pack is a little more confortable without it

EMS has a clever measuring device for torso length. Better deal then the do it yourself fit guides.

 

Fwiw, I'm 5'6.5" and they fit me to a large, Iirc I measured a 21" torso length. Correct or not, I wouldn't want the bottom of a pack ending and resting at my lower mid lumbar area, I prefer it lower, close to the SI joint. They told me torso length correlates to where the waist belt sits relative to the pelvis. I guess you know your off when it wraps around your belly, lol.

 

The Black Diamond Agent size L seems about right for me. It has a clever diagonal ski carry system, retractable wire loop at the bottom so no fussing with plastic quick release buckles scrunched in under ski bindings.

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post
 

mfa81: off topic but, those pants look like they fit pretty well on you for a 5'5 guy, or is it an optical illusion.  What size and model are they?  Did you alter them?

Yeah, yeah!  Us short guys want to know!

 

Good observation raytseng.  I too anxiously awaiting info from mfa81.  An ongoing hassle for me even at 5' 7"

Paging @mfa81

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdleuck View Post
 

 

Good observation raytseng.  I too anxiously awaiting info from mfa81.  An ongoing hassle for me even at 5' 7"

Paging @mfa81

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post
 

mfa81: off topic but, those pants look like they fit pretty well on you for a 5'5 guy, or is it an optical illusion.  What size and model are they?  Did you alter them?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post
 

Yeah, yeah!  Us short guys want to know!

That's the old style OR Trailbreaker pants size medium. I think these are 13/14 model. The newer model is a little baggier, but probably should fit similar to this lengthwise. I have a 29/30" inseam, 30" street pants and I can use this pants fine without ski boots as well, great with ski boots not extra pants at all.

post #20 of 23

Cool, 

FYI other short legged comrades.  I did pick up last season's TNF NFZ pants in Short length.  

They have a clever ribbon running interiorly from the slash pockets connected to the cuffs with a toggle that lets you set the length just right so you're not ruining your expensive ski pants in the parking lots.  Better than the roll up the pants leg with the elastic cuff trick

post #21 of 23

mfa81 and raytseng - thanks both very much.

Now back to back packs.

post #22 of 23

The Dakine Heli line is a good choice.  I was with a friend looking at the 20 L and the 12 L.  He chose the 12; I'd have chosen the 20.  They are hydration compatible.

http://store.dakine.com/bags-4/backpacks/snow-backpacks.html

post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PJS32000 View Post
 

So I just caved in and ordered 3 to view in person, and will return 2.  I got the Osprey Kode (great fit but way too many straps!), Mammut (clean, but too tall for my body) and the Camelbak Phantom.  I'm keeping the Phantom.

 

One question though, where is the helmet carry?  I can live without it, but the features on their website say that it has one and I don't see it.

I think their idea of "helmet carry" means you can strap it to the pack.  Aside from that minor quibble, loving the Phantom.

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