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Good Small Ski Backpack?

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 

I did some searching here, but didn't find what I was looking for; so, I'm hoping to pick the collective EpicSki brain...


Last year, I skied with a Camelbak Rogue but I found it too small to fit a jacket.  This year, I'm hoping for a slightly larger hydration backpack.  I'm talking about lift-served resort skiing here--no shovels, etc.  I want something that works on the lift and that won't throw off my balance too much.  I don't want to be tempted to load it up with too much stuff.  And, I don't want to spend too much.


After some web surfing, I came across the MEC Dragonfly 17.  From what I can see, it appears to be what I'm looking for, but I've never handled one.  Has anyone here used one?  Are there other small packs I should look at?  Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 69

Try levelninesports.com..

They had nice HEAD backpack for only $25..

Actually, here it is: http://www.levelninesports.com/Head-Advanced-Feature-Ski-Daypack

post #3 of 69

Dakine Heli pack has worked well for me. Good for inbounds hiking and short sidecountry trips.

post #4 of 69

You might consider a Camelbak M.U.L.E., which is what I use on warmer days (20-25 degrees F or warmer).  A bit smaller (15.5 L total capacity hydration + cargo) versus the 17L DragonFly you're considering, the MULE has room for a jacket plus other small gear.  Depending on your plan for the day, you can always reduce the amount of water in the 3L bladder for even more gear room.


I wear it middle-low on my back and doesn't affect my balance/COG noticeably, but I'm a tall, lean guy (6'2", 184-189 lbs), so it might affect you differently.  I can't sit as deep in the lift chair, which I've gotten used to, but sometimes I just take the pack off and leave it in my lap for the chair ride ... I doubt this would be much different for the Dragonfly given its profile and capacity.


The Dakine HeliPack per Festus' suggestion is even smaller at 11L, and would run $70-$75 including hydration bladder.

Edited by LaneMeyerK12 - 11/25/10 at 7:39am
post #5 of 69

Camelbak Snoangel?

post #6 of 69
Some others that come to mind, may be a bit smaller than the Dragonfly:

Deuter SpeedLite or Race X Air
Dakine Heli Pack (not the Heli Pro or bigger ones)
BD Bandit

All those in the 600+ cubic inch category instead of the 1000+ cubic inch category.

IMO the only reason to get a 1000+ cubic inch category pack for in-bounds skiing is if you also use the pack as your airline carryon bag.
Edited by comprex - 11/24/10 at 11:18am
post #7 of 69

Check out the small Stash packs from Backcountry Access. They're very well designed, fit snuggly and offer freeze-proof hydration systems (they work...really). I've got a larger version - it uses a Nalgene bottle instead of a bladder - that I used in Colorado and Maine all last winter. Even on sub-zero days, the hydration system never failed. The pack rode wonderfully, even in the worst bumps. I've even retired my summer mtn. pack in favor of my BCA winter one because it works so well.

post #8 of 69
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions.  So far, I'm liking the looks of the Dakine Heli and the BCA Stash OB.  They both seem neat and trim and not huge.  The Dakine appears to have a lower profile, but may be rather tall for my 5'9" frame.  Both have hydration and carry skis.  A little pricier than I had hoped for.  Oh well.


Anything else I should consider before flipping a coin and pulling the trigger?

post #9 of 69

Xela, I second hatcherman's suggest for a BCA pack. Last week I hit an outfitters store in Burlington, Vt and tried a variety of different packs in including Gregory, Black Diamond, and various BCA packs. I ended up with the BCA BC (http://backcountryaccess.com/index.php?id=191). It is not a small pack at 36 litres, but it feels like it is. And it feels better on my back (I am your height) than the BCA OB (16 litres) which felt too short on my back. The extra length was more comfortable. I loaded it up too. The "frame" is this very dense, semi-rigid foam that feels quite good on the back - not like a metal skeleton. The materials are very stout and stitching looks good, as do the zippers which have big, mitten size pulls. There seems to have been a great deal of thought that went into the features. It has the typical zippered openings from the front, with some internal pockets. But you can also assess the main compartment via a perimeter zipper on the rear. So if the pack is on its"face" you can still get into it. There is a nifty dedicated stash pocket on top for goggles - lined with a soft micro fiber material. There is a cool helmet carrier too. It is a piece of mesh fabric with elastic edge that pulls out of a small pocket on the front cover. The mesh envelops your helmet and holds it against the face of the pack. Skis can be carried diagonally or A frame. Front strap for snow board or snow shoes. Most of the the straps can be tucked away into their own niches if not in use - so less danglings to catch. Shoulder and waist straps are robust and the pack sits very nicely on the hips as it should. There are also compression straps that dramatically reduce the volume (depth) of the pack, again making it "smaller." I think that the hydration system is more functional as hatcherman says because the tube is in an insulated sleeve in the shoulder straps, which supposidly allow body heat to get through. While I have my doubts about this since the straps are exposed to the elements, not your body, hatcherman says it works. Again, I looked carefully at the smaller version, OB, because I was looking for something smaller too. But the bigger one had many more features, was stouter, felt better on me, could be made "smaller" with compression straps, and I can use it as my carry-on with boots and helmet. And it was only $35 more than the smaller one.

Sales guy had tried them all. He said this was his choice for features and price. He likes BCA gear and feels that it is a real sleeper (and cheaper) compared to the dozen brands he sells. Hope this helps. Good luck.


post #10 of 69



I'm not wild about the LOOK of their new packs this year, but can't comment on their performance.  I have a Stash BC from 2 years ago, and a pair of Squalls and a Stash from last year.  Well thought out, super useful and fairly simple - the bells & whistles are in the right places. 

post #11 of 69


My favorite is the Arc'teryx Quiver ... 675 cu. in., three-point strap that makes it easy on the lift. (Just slide it around front, you don't need to take off the strap.)

post #12 of 69
Thread Starter 

Update:  I was just at REI and got a chance to handle the Dakine Heli.  I rather like it.  The length is definitely not too long for my 5' 9" torso.  I see lots of flexible ways to carry stuff.  There are enough straps that I do worry a bit about getting hung up.  I wish I could find a place to lay my hands on a BCA Stash OB.  Decisions, decisions...

post #13 of 69

Have you seen the Dakine Baker pack? It's kind of like the little brother of the Heli.


Jarrett L,

Gear Nut,


post #14 of 69



Jarrett L,

Gear Nut,


post #15 of 69

Dikane Heli Pack is the way to go, it has lower straps that allow you to compress the lower part of the pack therefore making it easier to sit on chair lifts. Hydro compatible with a cool zippered slot on the shoulder strap for the tube and mouth piece. Not too big, but big enough to fit everything needed for a long hard day on the hill.


post #16 of 69

I just got the Dakin Heli from REI on clearance.  Nice pack, anxious to get out with it.  My needs were about the same as yours in terms of what I want to carry...but wanted to be able to carry the skis as well for hikes, etc.


Nice construction, pretty low profile, and a lot of options for stashing things.


I didn't look at much else, but for the price feel like it's a real winner.

post #17 of 69

So I`m bringing back this old thread... After this past late in the season weekend of ski I decided I will have to find a small backpack for my days in the resort, I`m not looking for any side/backcountry pack, so this is not important. I just need a small pack to carry extra gloves, extra goggle, some snack/protein bars, wallet, keys, digital camera, phone... it`s a lot of stuff, but all small stuff... it would be good to be able to carry a fleece or packable down jacket as well.


Saturday I had to park my car really far from the lodge/lift area and I had soo much stuff on my jacket that I think it couldn`t get wrose carrying a pack, as far as my balance while skiing.


Next day I went look for backpacks on the local stores, I find the blackdiamond bandit to be a little too big for my needs, it would fit all that and still have space, the Dakine Heli Pack 11L can be found onver the web for about $40 so good price, not too expensive, and I think it would fit my needs, but I`m looking for the smallest possible pack for my needs. I then found the Osprey Karve 6, but I`m not sure if that would fit gloves, goggles, wallet, keys, phone, camera, snacks, and either the hydration or a platypus 0.5L bottle, plus the extra mid layer...


Has anyone tried the Osprey Karve 6 for day pack in the resort? I see they have a medium/large size pack that is a little bigger 7lts I think, I can`t get my hands on this pack anywhere near me, so I need some feedback from anyone that have tried or maybe I will just order on REI and if it doesn`t work I will return on the local REI store.


Also, It would be really good to be able to carry some sort of shoe, so I don`t need to walk from the parking lot with on my ski boots... something like this




But I think I`d be asking too much for the Karve 6/7 lts.. :-( 

Edited by mfa81 - 4/2/12 at 11:59am
post #18 of 69

I picked up a Jansport cloud ripper series "Talus" backpack with just that purpose in mind and also as a hiking daypack for the off season. When empty the elastic drawstring can be pulled tighter to close the sides and compress the thing down rather flat and compact. I really like the light breathable perforated shoulder straps and waist belt padding. It has a small footprint and is very comfortable on. Only thing i'm not wild about is the closure which is better suited as a day pack, but if i wanted a more serious ski specific pack i'd look at their Mazama pack. 



post #19 of 69
The Talus is going to be too big for me... I can't handle all that volume (5'5" / 150lbs) and also I'd be tempted to just overload the backpack with stuff I would never need!

I checked but jansport doesn't have a smaller one...
post #20 of 69
Thread Starter 

I ended up with the Dakine Heli.  I like it.  I've discovered that it can carry two pairs of kiddie skis in the diagonal carry system.  In terms of size, it's about as small as practical, especially with a Camelbak in it.  Do be a bit careful with the straps, though.  Once I got a tad caught up on a chairlift back.

post #21 of 69

Backcountry Access Stash OB.  I have been skiing the predecessor to this pack for 6 years with no sign of wear.

post #22 of 69


Originally Posted by mfa81 View Post

The Talus is going to be too big for me... I can't handle all that volume (5'5" / 150lbs) and also I'd be tempted to just overload the backpack with stuff I would never need!
I checked but jansport doesn't have a smaller one...

Not that it matters but we're about the same size, i'm 5'6.5" 140lbs. It's actually rather compact and thats the beauty of it, all that volume when you need it and lack of when you don't. See for yourself: 




post #23 of 69

I just ordered the Osprey Karve 6 M/L, Osprey Karve 11 S/M and the Dakine Heli Pack online on REI and will give them a try... I will keep if any of these works for me, I tried to take a look at REI but at this time late in the season they are getting all their winter stuff sent to their wharehouse to be sold online and actually I don`t really like to order stuff and return, but the guy at REI told me to do that :-)


I will tell more about the packs as soon as I get the packs at home and have a chance to look at them. 

post #24 of 69

The Karve and Heli were the two packs I was interested in.  Please definitely post back with your thoughts and comparisons!

post #25 of 69

...oh no, the girl and I, after our flashlight fetish were exploring a backpack fetish (lol), when she showed me those at REI. Looks more like a fashion accessory, a hydration pack with a pocket? To small for my needs, hope they suit yours. Me, i don't know why i'd want one of those things hanging on my shoulders reminding me of the frigging brace i had to wear for a broken clavicle at fourteen. I want something for variable weather days that i can stuff the shell and a down sweater into along with a change of weight/warmth gloves. For lift serve skiing i won't be carrying a shovel or skis. Don't care for the hydration pack aspect. Content with a bottle of H2O in a shell pocket and leaving the pack in a locker or the car if not needed for clothing options. Plus i'd feel like a tool wearing one, just my pov, apologies if it's more suitable for a TGR post:\

post #26 of 69

I got the backpacks Today... I will keep the Osprey Karve 11, I got the S/M one, I would go with the M/L if I get the same price as I got the S/M... since this is a resort day pack I won`t bother to pay $20 bucks more for the M/L...


The first one I looked at was the Osprey Karve 6 M/L, it`s actually longer than the Karve 11 S/M and it I wasn`t able to put anything but goggle, gloves, wallet, phone... it`s really small and the only thing you are gonna be able to carry if you use the reservoir will probably be goggles and wallet, so that`s not even good for a resort day pack...


The Dakine Heli Pack is a good size and the biggest of the 3 packs. I didn`t like all the straps on the back of the pack, also there is only one main compartment and there isn`t any sleeve or division except for the reservoir.


The Osprey Karve 11 is the minimum size pack for a day in the resort... you won`t be able to carry much as well but it has enough space for goggle, gloves, camera, wallet, phone and a mid layer. If you are a small guy like me you can also carry extra socks, hat, neck gaiter and a platypus 0.5L. That`s all I was able to put inside the pack and it was full... I probably would not carry all that, but it will fit if needed... I`d like to be able to carry my pair of crocs to walk from/to the parking lot, but I wasn`t able to... probably will just leave in a corner in the lodge and it won`t be a problem :-)


If you are a big guy and wear medium/large clothes I would get the Karve 16 since the 11 won`t be enough. and if you are looking for a side/backcountry day pack where you have to carry shovel, probe and other stuff... go bigger. you will have to go bigger than 20L


For a resort day pack Karve11/Karve16 are good packs, low profile, no straps hanging around, very well built and lifetime warranty :-) The dakine heli pack also looks high quality

post #27 of 69

Nice review of the packs mfa81, use it in good health:) 


PS, good point about straps, another thing i'm not crazy about with mine. If it becomes a problem i'll probably look into the BCA BC. I like a pack to fit long on the torso, sounds like it does, glad i found this thread.

post #28 of 69

I ended up returning the Karve 11 and getting the Karve 16 S/M. I will keep you guys posted when I get the backpack. I just thought in the end that the Karve 11 might lack space in some cases, I usually ski with my wife, and I`m sure she will start to ask me to carry stuff for here as well. The Karve 16 has side compression straps so I hope they will do the job when the pack is not fully loaded.


If anyone is interested in buying Osprey packs, Outdoor Outfitters has good price on closeouts depending on the model/color/size

post #29 of 69

I got the Heli 20L and I anticipate carrying some stuff for my wife and kids.  I REALLY wanted to test drive the Karve 16, but since I already have a pack, I doubt my lovely wife will let me "try" another one.  LOL.  The Heli is very good though, lots of space for insulated bladder, even fits a helmet in the front pocket, separate one for goggles/camera.  The only thing I'm not a fan of is that the Heli's straps are a bit long and slack.  Maybe I'm paranoid about a stray strap/bucklet getting stuck on a lift chair or something, but I'd prefer less slack.  The Karve seems to have a much more compact restraint system, which is more appealing.

post #30 of 69

The karve also has lots of straps hanging, but mostly in the front of the bag, I will have to see how the side compression straps will work, when I was trying the karve 11 I was just rolling the straps into themselves to avoid having them hanging free...

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