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Looking for pack beta

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
So, over the past 3 seasons I've gone through 2 different packs.

First was a Life-Link Granite. It worked fine as an in-bounds pack, but I blew it out the first time I used it for summer patch skiing (just couldn't hold the weight of skis, boots, helmet, 3L hydration pouch, lunch, extra clothes). The one little perk I loved about the Life-Link was that you were able to thread your hydration tube through either the left or right shoulder strap. Many packs only allow you to thread it through the right shoulder, which sucks if, like me, you are left-handed.

Second was the Ortovox Ski-Plus 23L. Not a bad pack, but seriously lacking in many aspects. First up the A-Frame carrying set-up is kinda wack. The bottom straps are not adjustable and if you have semi-narrow (94mm or less) waisted skis, then there's a lot of slop. Additionally, if you don't have the skies fitted in exactly, they will flop around and throw you off-balance (it takes a lot of effort and readjusting to get them just perfect, too). I also found the pack to be a bit on the small side (and it's quite a bit bigger than the Life-Link).

So, now I am on the hunt for a new pack, one that can handle about 30lbs, is sturdy, has a thick, well-padded waist-belt as well as backpacker heavy duty shoulder straps. It must be able to fit shovel, probe, hydration, and I would prefer the luxury of both A-Frame and Diagonal ski carry.

I am looking for feedback on the following packs:

DYNAFIT - Manaslu 32L (has both A-Frame and Diagonal ski carry)

C.A.M.P. USA - M3 or X3  (Diagonal carry only) or Squad (A-Frame carry only). They are 30L and 35L, respectively

BCA - Stash BC (has both A-Frame and Diagonal carry). 35L

DEUTER - EH Guide (not sure what carrying style it has). 30L

MYSTERY RANCH - Snapdragon (not sure what carrying style it has). 36L

Again, I am looking for something that is pretty sturdy, with backpacking/trekking level shoulder straps and waistband and it should be able to handle at least 35 lbs and be satisfactory for rock scrambling and summer patch skiing. 

Any feedback y'all might have on any of these models would be mucho appreciated.

post #2 of 16
 Check out the upper end of the BD Avalung pack line ( ).

Also check out the Gregory Targhee ( )

Given what you are looking for, my guess is that the Stash BC is probably a bit lightweight.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
 Right on.

The thing that gets to me the most is that very few shops actually carry a good selection of ski moutaineering packs. I can usually find 1 model of Mammut, 1 model of BCA, 1 model of BD, maybe a single model of Osprey at any given shop. The rest is kind of a crap shoot buying online (what has happened with both the Life-Link and Ortovox packs). You can only pry so much info off the website and from the sales people online. 

That said, The EH Guide from Deuter is looking promising, as is that new Dynafit. They Mystery Ranch has a proven design track record (they are made by the guy who invented Dana Designs way, way back), but that pack is $250!!!

I'll look into the BD's and the Gregorys, as I think either Marmot or REI carrie 'em, so I can actually fondle 'em (really want to take my skis along so I can see how they fit into 'em, too).

Wow, that Gregory has diagonal, vertical, and A-Frame carrying! (not sure why other companies don't offer all three, it's not like it's that hard or that much extra material).
post #4 of 16
I have the BCA Alp40- very highly recommended. This pack has both good capacity for the BC and cinches down nicely for inbounds. I have never used the diagonal carry system on it, but the A-frame is excellent. Well made, comfortable, too. Mine is an older model and the shoulder strap attachments are spaced a bit too wide for my liking, but that is rectified with the sternum strap. If you are accessing avy terrain you should give serious consideration to the BD Avalung packs unless you already have an Avalung.
post #5 of 16
I've been skiing the BD Avalung pack lately. No complaints except that the valve tends to flip around, which can be uncomfortable when it happens (so you need to flip it back).
post #6 of 16
I can't help with the packs you listed, but I've been a big fan of the Osprey Switch series which meet all your parameters.  I've used the 26l and 36l models a lot.  They were beautifully thought out, designed, and constructed ski packs with all the right features - diagonal or A-frame carry, 'wet' compartment for shovel and probe and skins, useful helmet compartment, great suspension, good hydration, and belt pockets (I love belt pockets).  I used the past tense above because it looks like they've redesigned them and now call them the Kode series:

What I see on-line looks pretty good - especially the 38l model - and I'd think you might want to consider them, but in the end, it's all about fit.  If the pack doesn't fit you, nothing else matters.  
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
 but in the end, it's all about fit.  If the pack doesn't fit you, nothing else matters.  

yeah, therein lies the rub...very few shops have a really decent selection of packs. some of the better shops around here (SF) and Tahoe maybe carry 1 model of several different brands (i.e. you'll find 1 Mammut pack, 1 Dynafit pack, maybe 1 or 2 BCA packs, 1 Ortovox, and if you're lucky a Deuter), but they rarely have a full line of multiple brands. thus it makes trying on a few different ones next to impossible. 

thanks again for the suggestions...gonna hit up a few local shops to see what they have in stock and try some things out, but again i appreciate all and any feedback.
post #8 of 16

Between Tahoe and SF area you'll have several shops that carry a large range, if you look.  Find those shops, take skis, boots & other gear to shop, see what feels right.  You're looking for contradictory things from one pack, though. 


For people in general looking @ packs Ogio & Dakine are also good ones to throw in the mix.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

Between Tahoe and SF area you'll have several shops that carry a large range, if you look.  Find those shops, take skis, boots & other gear to shop, see what feels right.  You're looking for contradictory things from one pack, though. 


For people in general looking @ packs Ogio & Dakine are also good ones to throw in the mix.


I've been to REI (SF and Berk), Marmot, Lombardi's, Backcountry (Truckee), Truckee Sports Exchange, and Sports LTD (So. Lake Tahoe) all within the last season. Marmot and Backcountry usually have about 1 pack from a variety of manufacturers, but never seem to have the model I am looking for. REI usually sticks with the bigger brands (last season they really only had BD and Osprey).  All in all, none of those shops have a very detailed (i.e. varied) selection of packs. 

Dakine is out because it only offers diagonal ski carry. 

What do you mean that I'm looking for contradictory things from one pack? Which pack?

Basically I want:
Diagonal/A-Frame (and if possible vertical) carrying options on the pack
Hydration compatible (with the option to put the tube either through the left or right shoulder strap)
Heavy duty shoulder straps
Heavy duty waist straps
The basic compartments for shovel, probe, etc.

That doesn't seem to unreasonable (and still blows my mind that most manufacturers will only offer either diagonal or A-frame and not both).

Like I said, after two packs (Life-Link and Ortovox) I've learned what I like about each and what I don't like and am looking for a pack that combines elements of the good things.

If you know of the kickass store in SF or Tahoe, please hip me to it as I have yet to stumble upon it (and I'm pretty sure I've been to about 90% of the shops around here and in Tahoe, both North and South shore).

post #10 of 16
If you've actually been to REI and tried on, say, their BD avalung packs and found that the packs (nor any other pack they had) didn't work for you, what was the issue, specifically, for those packs?  There are in fact several stores in the San Fran and Tahoe areas both that you didn't mention, but those you can google for.  The BD packs, for instance, should have everything you need.  Trekking-level straps really aren't consistent with a ski (or even mountaineering) pack, but you could get a bigger pack if plushness is your main goal.  If there's something like diagonal carry that an otherwise acceptable pack is missing, you can easily aftermarket a diagonal carry with webbing and buckles and there should be someone at a place like, say, REI or the other shops listed who can show you how.  But out of what you've tried out, what hasn't worked?
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
 CT: please enlighten me to these other stores of which you speak of (i feel that i'm pretty familiar with all the stores in SF Area and on the way up to Tahoe as I have a cabin in Truckee and spend quite a bit of time up there both in the winter and summer, but if i'm missing a particularly excellent store, i'd love to be hipped to it).

All i know of is REI (SF, Berk, and various other locations between SF and Tahoe), Lombardis, Marmot, Wilderness Exchange, then in Tahoe you have the usual suspects (Granite Chief, Porter's, Alpenglow, Backcountry, Sports LTD, and all the other smaller stores in SLT). Not sure where else to check. 

As for the selections I've thus been privy to, I didn't much care for the fit of the BD packs and they were rather bulky for what I was looking for at the time. Ditto for the Osprey's, though they have a new model that I will be checking out. But those were really the only ones (along with Dakine) that were readily available for me to try on. and that has been my experience/gripe is that the bulk of the stores i've gone into all carry the same packs. whereas online i'm finding packs that appear to fit my needs/desires, yet am unable to check them out in person.

that said, the last time i was in The Backcountry in Truckee, they did have the new Dynafit pack and a couple BCA Stash packs, but I didn't have my skis with me to try 'em out properly.

of the packs listed in my initial post (the ones that appear to have what I am looking for), i have yet to find a shop that carries most (if any) of them (other than Backcountry). my experience with Marmot, Lombardis, and even REI, is that they would have 1 or 2 packs to choose from and more often than not they wouldn't have the model i was most interested in. 

at any rate, planning to swing by REI SF, Sports Basement, Lombardis this week and then hit up Marmot on the weekend as it's across the bridge. 

right now, however, the two packs that are looking like serious contenders are the Deuter EH Guide and the Gregory it's just a matter of finding a shop that carries either one.
post #12 of 16
As far as Deuters go the guide 30+sl and the 35+ are really nice, I've never seen the EH but it doesn't look as functional as the guide series.
post #13 of 16
My wife has a Deuter.  I steal it every chance I get.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
 good to known on the Deuters...if i ended up going that route i'm pretty much buying blind as there really isn't a well-stocked dealer near me.  plus i should add that their customer support was cool. fired 'em off an email on Tuesday inquiring about some of their packs and they got back to me in less than 24.:

"The Cruise and the EH will carry both A-frame and vertically.  The waist
belts are substantial for a backcountry ski/snowboard pack, but there are
not the same as what you would find on our Aircontact series packs....they
are lower profile and less bulky."

i also appreciate the Gregory suggestion. that pack looks solid, as far as i can tell from their website, but would love to check it out in person. starting the search on that.

basically just collecting beta until i can hit up some shops (the local ones are still pretty much in summer mode, but gonna scope out a couple over the weekend).

thanks again.
post #15 of 16
 I liked my BCA BC Stash a lot.  I like my BD Avalung packs more.  I have both the Anarchist and the Covert.  They come in two torso sizes.  Did you try them both?  One of my patrol friends uses the Osprey packs and has a couple of them which he really likes.  They seem to be well made and full featured.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
 Scoped out a few packs today: BD, Osprey, Arcteryx, MountainSmith....sadly, however, the stores I hit up in SF (REI, Lombardi's, Sports Basement) aren't set up for "winter" sports yet, so the selection was majorly meager. I tried on an Osprey Variant (I believe...they had last year's models and the websites are only showing this years) and what I think was a BD Alias. Not bad, but need to lug my skis to the shop to get the full feel. Not sure what model the MountainSmith was, but it was huge (quite a bit bigger than what I am looking for). Looks like I'mma have to hit up the shops after Labor Day (or whenever they make the switch to "winter sports" gear.
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