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Patroller backpack recommendations?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for a backpack to use while patrolling, to hold the usual first aid gear that a belt would, plus shovel (detachable handle), probe, hydration, and vertical or diagonal ski carry. I currently free ski with a Camelbak Menace (20L pack), which I use for all the above except the first aid gear.

Research so far suggests:

The Kigali 35 meets everything but the ski carry requirement.

The Kigali 45 meets all the requirements, but I know a patroller who uses it and has been unhappy with how big it is when he freeskis with it. That said, I could just keep using the Camelbak for freeskiing, so maybe I'd be fine.

I could conceivably ski with a generalist pack, perhaps even my Camelback, and use an insert like the Cascade Deluxe Organizer, Quick Pac Insert, or Crossbow First Aid Module.

So I guess my question is, what do those of you who use backpacks use, and what do you like and dislike about them?
post #2 of 53
I use a dakine heli pro, 20l. If you are carrying more than that can handle you need to get rid of some stuff. Mine stays mostly empty.
post #3 of 53
Thread Starter 
Do you use an insert to organize your patrolling gear?
post #4 of 53
What do you mean by patrolling gear? I use a gallon size ziplock bag for all of the medical stuff, just stuff it in one of the pockets. The pack has a lot of different pouches and several different zippered pockets.
post #5 of 53
I have zip lock sammich bags stuffed in all my pockets, in those are two pair gloves, a couple 4X4's and bandaids. I have 3 or 4 partial rolls of tape hanging 'round in various locations outside my belt.

Thats all I need for 99% of the stuff that happens. I rarely open my belt except to get out a space blanket.

I might try a pack someday---I freeski with a small one with hydration.
post #6 of 53
ZZZ I skied a long time with the Heli Pro. Nice size pack and very clean. No crap to get tangled in chairs and excellent ski carry system. I went to a BD Covert pack last year, and its just about as trim and small. Compresses really well. At the price AlpineDad is looking at for those patroller packs, he could pick up a Covert with Avalung and have a great BC pack as well as carry supplies and water. 32L for the Covert or small Anarchist. The backpack internal frame on the Anarchist is a bit nicer for carrying skis.

AD, get a coupon code from Powstash and tell him what you are looking for. You can cut the cost down to size. He did the group buy last year with Core Shot from TGR.
post #7 of 53
Thread Starter 
Cirque, thanks for the reminder about Powstash.

J and ZZZ, thanks for your hints also. I like the idea of quick bags, but I'm reluctant to rely on ziplocs on the slippery slope, if you will.
post #8 of 53
Patrolled for many years at a medium-sized eastern mountain (ergo, no avalanche gear needed) for many years with the standard fanny pack. Then got this crazy idea that I should carry more stuff, so got a backpack (the Kigali 35). Nice backpack, but I hated skiing with it. Went back to the fanny pack, but made up 3 little "accident packs", each with gauze, tape, 4X4's, so that I don't get the pack bloody when all I need is a small bandage. Works fine.

The Kigali 35 has meanwhile been drafted to be used on the SAR team that I'm also on...and it's flawless for that.

post #9 of 53
I really prefer the vest myself. Lots of pockets for organizing, and good weight distribution. I use a Dakine Heli Pro for my avy gear and skins when neccesary. It stays in the top shack, unless it is requierd (AC days, touring etc.)
post #10 of 53
Thread Starter 
We're required to carry shovel, probe, and beacon at all times, so a vest isn't a great solution for me.
post #11 of 53
I use the Kigali 35 at one of my patrol areas and love it. It does carry skis, probes, has multiple "medical" pockets inside, has a stowable rain cover, great (comfortable) shoulder straps with sternum strap, removable white cross making it convertible to a personal pack, and plenty of room.

I agree with others. If you carry more than this pack holds, you're carrying way to much. I can fit extra base layers, extra gloves, hat, lunch, misc items, all medical supplies I need, and still have room for more.

You can't go wrong with this pack in my humble opinion.
post #12 of 53
Thread Starter 

I think I'm going to go the cheap route -- an insert -- for now and see how I like it.
post #13 of 53

Jansport Osprey

Several of us in the Backcountry Trail Patrol have been using the Jansport Osprey pack for ski patrol, with good results, We don't have avy problems in our part of the country, so we don't carry probes or beacons, but we do carry ice rescue picks. (The orange thing under the pocket.) Since we get a ways from the road, we carry "10 Essentials" and then some. There is glide wax in one pocket and a good X-C ski/snowshoe repair kit in the other. Lots of hand/body hot backs in every pocket. I also usually add a GPS, cell phone, FRS radio w/NOAA weather.

May be overkill for your situation, but it works for us.

Ski safe,
post #14 of 53
full disclosure: I'm not on patrol.

that said, i am looking for a pack and as such have been doing the online research shuffle.

to date the best looking option (to me, at least) is the Life-Link line, which was recommended to me by some folks over on TGR.

they're supposed to be really low-pro and won't get hung up on the lift. They also seem to meet your requirements of having stash capabilities as well as ski carry, shovel, beacon, probe carrying options.

They have 3 models to choose from:


also, check this TGR thread as it has a ton of alternate suggestions (granted they are geared more toward in-bounds freeskiing, but there are suggestions for more "robust" packs in the thread):

post #15 of 53
Thread Starter 
Cool. Thanks, Hans & Dookey.
post #16 of 53
I have three suggestions, one of which should definitely do the trick. For backpacks, an off the wall but incredibly effective soution would be the Mountain Equipment Co-op Gladerunner or Gladerunner TL. I have a TL, and it will be on my back if I ever decide to use anything larger than my fanny pack. The way it is built, it is very thin, so it stays very close enough to your back that sitting on a chairlift is not difficult. To give you an idea, I also have a Kelty Redwing, and the Redwing protrudes much further from my back than does the Gladerunner. But then again, the Gladerunner was designed as a ski pack, whereas the Redwing is a hiking pack.

The Gladerunner is a smaller version of the two, and they are built on a very different principle than other packs. When the pack is lain in the snow with the straps up, the pack can be opened by unzipping a waterproof zipper that goes around the straps. In this way, you can open the pack by unzipping and folding back the back panels and attached straps and see everything that is inside without ever getting snow in the pack or on the straps. It also has holsters for a hydration pack, avy probes, a shovel, straps for skis or a board, an inside soft pocket for more fragile items, a very, very well designed harness, (although it is not adjustable. Check for sizing information at www.mec.com ) gear loops on the waistbelt, etc.
The TL is basically the same, although it adds a top-loading opening with a floating lid and pocket, and a bit more volume.
And you need not worry about ordering from them, as they have a satisfaction guaranteed policy and their customer service is so good that if you look up "excellent customer service" in the dictionary, you will find Mountain Equipment Co-op as the definition. I have NEVER had a problem with them, and I have been dealing with them for about 15 years now.

For a fanny pack, the best one that I have found is the Mountainsmith Day. It is far larger than the Traverse Rescue packs that other patrollers in my area wear, and the optional strappettes keep the pack from sagging very effectively. When I load the pack up, it stay right where I want it, making it the most comfortable fanny pack I have ever worn. The one drawback that I have found is the fact that it is so wide at the bottom that sitting on the chairlift with it is a bit uncomfortable. But I can put in all of my first aid gear, two splints, 30 feet of rope, an ice screw, a dyneema sling loop, two 'biners, a BRD, and 3 metres of sling, and the pack is nowhere near full yet.
In addition, it is easy to get a pro deal price from them, but I never told you that....

Have a good winter.


p.s. Can anyone tell me where I left my Leatherman???
post #17 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Dean. Intriguing options. Sorry about the Leatherman.
post #18 of 53
Originally Posted by Dean View Post
. Check for sizing information at www.mec.com )
p.s. Can anyone tell me where I left my Leatherman???
Allow me to correct the link.
http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d... 1196944614086

it's Canadian, Eh. Your leatherman is probably right next to my Gerber.
post #19 of 53
How about the Ortovox Cross Rider?
20L, with everything in place to fit a shovel, probe, hydration pack (already has an insulated thingie on the strap).
Three colours available.
post #20 of 53
Thread Starter 
Nice suggestion, Schussboelie. It's even reasonably priced.
post #21 of 53
Originally Posted by 2-turn View Post
Your leatherman is probably right next to my Gerber.
If there's a pair of RayBan Aviators with those tools, they're mine.

post #22 of 53
Originally Posted by 2-turn View Post
Allow me to correct the link.
http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d... 1196944614086

it's Canadian, Eh. Your leatherman is probably right next to my Gerber.
The worst part is that I bought the Leatherman to replace my lost Gerber. I then found the Gerber, and well, you know the rest. As for the Ray-Bans... If I find a pair in the lost and found at my local mountain, I'll send them your way.

post #23 of 53
Dakine Heli Pack or Heli Pro?
post #24 of 53
Thread Starter 
Yeah, if I didn't already have the Camelbak Menace, I'd be all over the Heli Pro. But I don't think I need another 20L pack.

I'm going to give it a shot with the Deluxe Organizer.
post #25 of 53
There's a 16L Heli Pro too.
post #26 of 53
Thread Starter 
Yeah, but my concern about the Menace wasn't that it was too large -- it was whether it was large enough.
post #27 of 53
Ah, silly me
post #28 of 53
Thread Starter 
Sorry; I thought that was clear from the fact that I already freeski with it.
post #29 of 53
I've got both the BD Covert with Avalung and the Dakine Vertex (previous version of the Heli Pro). Both sweet packs, both carry skis well, but why would you want to wear a pack all day?

We have 65 or so Pros at the resort I work at out west and not a single one of them nor the 90 some Volunteers on the weekends wears a pack during the day. Most people wear a pack up in the morning with their lunch and spare gear, but that stays in the hut all day. The Pros who do control work will carrry a pack in the morning with bombs and shovels, but we use the packs that Patrol buys, not our own (not good to use your own then accidentally take that one to the airport when you go ski somewhere else ... something about the scanners not liking ANFO or Pentex residue)

I take a Black Diamond Revelation 35 up with me every morning, and it meets all your requirements, but I wouldn't wear it during the day, I keep everything I need in my vest
post #30 of 53
Thread Starter 
We're required to carry shovels and probes at all times. Not really vest-compatible.
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