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By Freddy.Mondale
From Boulder, CO
Dec 6, 2011

What is your favorite ski pack and why?
Im looking to replace my BCA Alp 40. I have found it to be poorly made, buckles breaking left and right and a real pain to pack tightly.


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By JPVallone
Dec 6, 2011

A ski pack should carry everything you need on the inside of the pack. Dakine packs or any trendy cool kid pack that attempts to stow a shovel blade, probe or handle on the outside of a pack should be out of consideration to begin with if we are looking for a ski pack. It should have the ability to carry the skis the way you prefer to carry them, H frame, A frame, I frame or personally I use the Diagnol and prefer this system where it doesn't fight the load of the pack to fasten the skis. It's all preference. I like versatility to change, but 90% of the time go straight to the diagnol.

Also I prefer back panel entry, which is preference for me because very rarely do I ski without a rope, and actually quite a big one sometimes, So it is nice to access the bottom of the pack without fighting an angry midget.

I prefer a giant survival pouch, or a wet gear compartment. I say giant because most "ski packs" don't have a big enough compartment for my shovel, I carry a nice sized shovel and not some hand shovel for planting my tomatoes in the spring. I actually can't fit my shovel in most BD compartments on their packs.

Other key features is the avoidance of bells and whistles and the pack must above all things, ski well. No swing weight and a very comfortable suspension system that can be brought in close to the body while climbing or skiing steeps.

The next question is to air bag or not. I am not going to start this debate or my stance on the bag, but I will just leave it at this, If you want to wear a helmet, wear a helmet. It's not a bad thing and like all things, there is a time and a place, and pros and cons. I would say if going the bag route, then lean towards a pack that has a removable system for some versatility and the ability to switch to different size packs.

So

With all that being said.

I use a Deuter Freeride pro 30. I am yet to use even a 35 liter ski pack from other companies that actually carry as much as this 30 liter does.

I can carry skis in all the above mentioned configurations, and the I Frame and Diagnol carry is protected on the outside of the pack from edge damage or tearing. The diagnol is rigged with only one strap to clip. Very fast transitions.

The shoulder straps are thin and compact. They don't feel bulky or in the way like a pack that is offset by one side that has a hydration system built into the shoulder strap. I personally don't like bladders in my winter pack, and prefer a simple bottle, but if you want, get a bottle with a hose attachment instead of your standard bladder (camel back). I just have way too much hardware in my ski pack to risk a bursting bladder.

I also ski on glaciers most the time, so I prefer to have the gear loops on the pack belt. It's much nicer then having your glacier rig on your harness that is under your hip belt. so a small but nice perk on the Freeride pro. Kind of a whistle I guess, but I like that one, and speaking of whistles, there is one in the sternum buckle.

The size of the Survival compartment is amazing on this pack as well, I have a shovel blade, saw, probe and shovel handles organized very nicely due to the sleaves that are sewn in. I can even fit my mountain axe inside there as well. I use one of the bigger blades on the market as well and I don't like to skimp on my shovel. I move quite a bit of snow so I prefer this and that my blade fits without fighting into this compartment. I have also been able to get my skins into the top of this compartment with all the other items mentioned.

Another great perk in this pack is that the back panel entry zips all the way to the bottom of the pack and can be opened completely to see the entire pack as a whole. I personally love this feature. And this particular back allows you to do it without removing your skis or snowboard if they are on the pack.

The top compartment of the pack has a soft lined ample sized goggle pouch that works as a nice ditty bag and can also hold my radio and field book for quick access.

Inside of the pack are some other nice compartments that are clean and flush to the pack to allow for separate organization of my snow study kit, and extra ditty items.

I can do a light overnight out of this pack if I pack strategically, but ultimately for an overnight pack you might want to consider a larger sized pack anyway.

The next closest pack in ski specific organization might be the Mammut Nirvana, but I can't fit nearly as much in that pack as I can my Deuter freeride pro.

That's my two cents.

www.deuter.com/en_US/backpack-details.php?category=117&id=22>>>

My dream pack will be when I get this freerider pack with a removable air bag option in about a size 40 liter, but for now, it's the cleanest pack I have used, and I have used or played with most everything on the market in this catagory.


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By Tyson
From Salt lake city, ut
Dec 6, 2011

www.mysteryranch.com/recreation/skiing-snowboarding-packs/fu>>>


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By Nick Stayner
From The Magic City
Dec 6, 2011
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

Second what Tyson said about Mystery Ranch. Durability will not be an issue, no matter which pack you choose. Spend some time playing around on their site. Lots of informative vids etc...
The Fuse is sick. I use the Big Sky for bigger day tours/light duty overnights. The price is on the higher end, but it's been worth every penny. I'll probably never use anything else.
Plus, the packs are made right here in Bozeman, so you're keeping a bunch of dirtbags employed!


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By Andy Librande
From Denver, CO
Dec 6, 2011
Me in the Buddha Cave at crumblewood a while ago.

Osprey packs Kode series are really solid. Great internal storage and several pockets to accommodate your various gear. 30 liters seems to be a really good size. However if you are of a bigger frame/shoulders it will seem tight with ski clothes.

Otherwise my favorite pack is an 5+yr old Marmot La Meije pack designed by Doug Coombs. Great pack due to the clean outside and internal storage. 20-30 days a year it has been used and is still working very well. Having not found a pack that I would replace it with.

JP covered the basics but different people have different needs for ski packs and figuring out what your needs are is the first step.

Surprised to hear issues with the BCA packs. Is it a newer version?


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By JoeP
From Littleton, CO
Dec 6, 2011

Mammut Nirvana Pro. Everything that Joe mentioned except the gear loops on the waist belt, oh and the whistle. And I believe its now offered with a removable float system.


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By JPVallone
Dec 6, 2011

Andy Librande wrote:
Otherwise my favorite pack is an 5+yr old Marmot La Meije pack designed by Doug Coombs. Great pack due to the clean outside and internal storage.


Yep, I agree, I used the first and 2nd generation of that pack while skiing under the very peak the pack was named for, In fact heading back in 6 days for the winter :-) but after a couple seasons in it and toggling back and forth between other packs, I realized having watched Doug use it so many times that he designed that pack for his own personal system. It didn't work for me, but Doug was on to so many innovative ideas with Marmot designs over the years. For instance before the La Meije, he added the diagnol loop on top at the shoulder strap to incorporate one of the first carrying systems of it's kind on the Eiger 36. I used that pack for about 7 years and still have two of them that I keep around, I guess sentimental more then anything. Now every company is offering this diagnol strap that wants to call their pack a ski pack. The biggest flaw in this design is that companies still don't make that top strap big enough to wrap on really fat skis when the pack is fully loaded. It can be a fight to close that strap if your bag is filled to the hilt. The Deuter strap is mega and I have never had a problem there.

I think the big problem though is when the strap is small and close to the shoulder strap and complete back of the pack. You need to fight the strap around and sandwich your skis to the pack to even clip it closed. Problem is solved if the strap is sewn closer to the exterior of the pack and not near the shoulder strap.


Then on the La Meije the back entry was awesome and innovative from Doug, but it only opened halfway down the back and you had to fight it to keep it open or still reach in deep to get to the bottom. I did however find it useful if I was not maxing my pack out. The Deuter is sweet because it opens all the way to the hip belt this way.

Also Doug's idea for the Axe stow on that pack was sweet, You could literally reach around with one hand and pop it when you needed it.


Andy Librande wrote:
different people have different needs for ski packs and figuring out what your needs are is the first step.


Exactly!!!!!

Those mystery ranch ski packs look great if you never plan more then a front country scoot, and carry the smallest shovel and probe on the market but I know I couldn't fit my day kit in any of those packs and still have room for extra clothes and rope etc. Seems great for specific use, and or regional use, but I couldn't do a day in the alps and carry everything I need without fighting the organization.

I do prefer to separate my survival gear (shovel and probe) from my pack for quicker deployment. Plus I probably take my shovel out more then most so I guess I like the fact that it has it's own place with quick access.

Once again, as Andy states, It's personal preference and needs. So with as many packs that are on the market these days it's like asking which skis should I buy.

The picture below is one I took of Doug carrying his and his clients skis down a rappel in La Grave on an early prototype of the La Meije pack. That was the beautiful thing about that pack and one of the main reasons that I like the Deuter Pro so much. Not because I can carry more then one pair of skis, but Because I have more then one option or method to carry my skis. The Deuter back gives me 4 different stock options for ski attachment. If I am only stuck with Diagnol in one direction, I could get hosed in the wrong boot pack, Climb, or rappel where I can't switch to a method that clears the tips or tails in a better configuration.

It all comes down to preference and what you will be doing and need. I might be over analyzing the pack, but I constantly run into many of the qualms I have expressed on a routine basis, so I probably pick a pack apart more then most.

Doug Avec Le Sac A do de La Meije
Doug Avec Le Sac A do de La Meije


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By Nick Stayner
From The Magic City
Dec 6, 2011
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

JPVallone wrote:
Those mystery ranch ski packs look great if you never plan more then a front country scoot

Whatever. Clearly you didn't look beyond the Fuse.
That being said, you make some excellent points, particularly about the "rear entry" and dedicated avy tools organization. Both excellent features that I missed at first, but figured out ways to work around.

Something else to consider: attachment points and durability of the ski-carry straps. On an Osprey Kode I owned, I sawed through the a-frame carry strap (seam ripped out where it was sewn to the pack) within 6 spring tours (heavy on the ski-carrying). Apparently they have great customer service, but it's lame being out of your primary touring pack in prime season (even if they have a quick turnaround) to fix something like that.


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By JPVallone
Dec 7, 2011

Nick Stayner wrote:
Whatever. Clearly you didn't look beyond the Fuse.



Actually I did, I looked at the entire line before posting because I have never heard of the company, but am kind of a geek when it comes to ski packs so I checked it out. I didn't look at the whole line, but I looked at the basic and the specs write up of every pack in the skiing/snowboarding line. I am almost as picky about the pack I use as I am the ski or boot I choose and tend to have a quiver but I do have an everyday go to and can't go wrong pack as well.

That being said, I have never had my hands on any of their packs. (disclaimer to my opinions)

You go on to express your interest and preference in the big sky for overnight use or more space. I can only base my opinion on what I see and read, as I have not put my hands on the pack.

But the pack seems limited in it's carrying options as a ski pack. I am limited to an A fame or H frame carry because of the fixed shove it patch or whatever that is on the back of the pack. Please tell me what that is used for and what it's limitations and pros are. It seems like a bunch of excess material on the pack that has a singular use of stowing a helmet or my jacket. I hope to all the avy Gods in the universe it is not intended to stow a shovel blade.

That being said, I think the 3zip design thing is a nice concept, but with that flap on the outside of the pack that I fail to see the purpose for, it seems there are quite a few buckles, zippers, and flaps to drop to access the bottom of the pack. Will the skis stay engaged on the pack if I need to get to the bottom without removing the skis? I don't know because I have not put my hands on the pack. Hard to say from the demo video.

Two more questions about the pack. I watched the in use video of the 3zip design being opened. Looks like a different pack then the one pictured as a default photo of the Big Sky. I see a shove it pouch or whatever that is. It looks kind of like the old Dana Design packs like the bomb pack etc. I can't tell if it is sewn in and fixed or not. But in the video it doesn't exist on the opening demo.

A pack of that size is really nice to have in the quiver, but when packs start to get that big, it is way more versatile to not fix the lid, or should I say make it adjustable and removable which is even better. I also guess that all depends on your intentions and needs in a pack of that size, but if I am going for a 3000 Cu-in overnight backcountry pack that needs to be my home and carry my skis for an extended trip. I fail to see the ease of use in a system like that. You would get so much more out of a removable and extendable lid.

I am sure the pack has it's niche but for a one pack go to all day and maybe a night or two, seems very limited in versatility. Last but not least, Daisy chains on pack exteriors are useless and excess sewing and material. Probably costs more money too. I tried to explain that to BCA in the very early days. If you can remember back that far the first generation BCA packs were decorated with more Daisy chains then my xmas tree had ornaments. BCA has come a long way since then and we saw that go away. I really don't need to clip my coffee mug or locking carabiner to my pack when I am not on campus. Really who needs or uses Daisy chains on a technical pack of any kind?

I am also confused as to how I stow my Axe on that pack if I can't fit it inside. I see the axe loops, but after I invert my axe through the loop, the only strap I see that will take my axe home is clipped to the center strap above that shove it pouch thing, and the strap runs under the daisy chain. So I have to feed the spike of my axe somehow up and under that strap that feeds to the daisy chain and most likely unclip that strap which also looks like the same strap that is part of my A, or H frame ski fastener on the side of the pack? It seems over engineered? Correct me if I am not seeing this clearly, but that is what I interpret from the photo here www.mysteryranch.com/recreation/skiing-snowboarding-packs/bi>>>

Last, but not least, this Pack is carrying a 350$ price tag? Now don't get me wrong, I am all about start ups and supporting local labor and companies, but 350$? Please help me understand that!


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By Freddy.Mondale
From Boulder, CO
Dec 7, 2011

hmm i guess ill have to go check out some deuters.
The BCA pack has been a real bummer for me. the vertical rods in the back support have poked holes in the pack, the buckles are some unconventional design that uses less plastic and i have broken 3 or 4 of those, the side zip is pretty useless when the bag is actually packed and i really dislike the rolltop design... especially when compared to arcteryx's rolltops.
anyone have any experience with the arc'teryx arrakis 40 or 50L? It looks like a nice ski/cragging compromise that could come in handy... despite the ridiculous price of course.


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By The Hippy
From Boulder, Co
Dec 7, 2011

For day trips I really like my BD Bandit. It is just big enough for my avy gear, water, snacks and a down jacket. It keeps me from being tempted to bring too much shit and carries well with skis on it. I don't like carrying a larger pack for day trips because it seems like you have to fill it up or it will carry poorly with skis on it. For longer trips my alpine/cragging pack works just fine.


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By Mike Washburn
From Orem, Utah
Dec 7, 2011

I've had a bd anarchist for 2 seasons now and really like it. It has great access to the pack even when fully loaded, and and excellent avy gear/ skins/ snow study pocket. It carries skis/ split board well. I was originally looking at a deuter pack (I forget which one I was looking at) and had pretty much decided on it when I went for a tour with a guy who had the anarchist and it changed my mind.
Also, it comes with the avalung.
To add:
It's on the bigger end for a day pack but I'm a large guy and it fits me fine. It also compresses down nicely.


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Dec 7, 2011
tanuki

I wanted to add a few notes on Mystery Ranch in general. This is Dana Gleason's company. Some of you might remember Dana's old company, Dana Designs. Many people, me included, thought Dana Designs packs were some of the most durable and comfortable carrying packs ever made. From what I have seen, Mystery Ranch is continuing that tradition and making some of the best packs on the market today. I just purchased one of their 4200 ci packs, and I believe that it is a pack that will still be going strong in 15 or 20 years. Like Cold Cold World, Dana's Mystery Ranch packs are made to last.

As to the price, they are expensive. To me, the premium price is worth it. I think the quality, featuring and service are that good. Each pack is made by hand in the USA, and the tag inside the pack is signed by the sewer and the inspector. If you have questions or issues with your pack, pick up the phone. You can talk with a real person, maybe even the person who inspected or designed your pack. With all that in mind, I saved my money, paid the big bucks, and felt like the price reflected the value I received. YMMV.


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By Woodson
From Park City, Ut.
Dec 7, 2011
Climbing to ski the Fuhrer Finger Route. Photo by Darrell Finlayson

+1 on the BD Anarchist 42 L. Mine has seen three years of action in the Wasatch, and it has been bomber! I did formerly own a Dana Design bomb pack for BC skiing, and it lasted 10 years, so I just might have to check out Mystery Ranch...


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By Nick Stayner
From The Magic City
Dec 7, 2011
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

JPVallone wrote:
But the pack seems limited in it's carrying options as a ski pack. I am limited to an A fame or H frame carry because of the fixed shove it patch or whatever that is on the back of the pack. Please tell me what that is used for and what it's limitations and pros are. It seems like a bunch of excess material on the pack that has a singular use of stowing a helmet or my jacket.

I don't know of any other carry options for the Big Sky, but I've always been perfectly happy with the A-frame carry. It's slightly more time consuming, but is there really any disadvantage other than this? And (much to your horror), I do tuck my shovel blade into that flap, as do most of the ski patrol and other professionals I tour with. What's your beef with this? You can't see the way the flap is designed, but there's no way you'll lose the blade barring being the victim in a big slide. I suspect your reasoning will probably follow this logic...
And perhaps you're not visualizing it, but the lower carry strap that appears behind the flap in all of MR's photos can just as easily be positioned on the outside of the flap.
JP wrote:
Will the skis stay engaged on the pack if I need to get to the bottom without removing the skis?

No, but with a little planning in my packing and transitions, it's not an issue for me. That being said, I do miss the rear access that the Kode offered.
JP wrote:
Looks like a different pack then the one pictured as a default photo of the Big Sky. I see a shove it pouch or whatever that is. It looks kind of like the old Dana Design packs like the bomb pack etc.

MR packs can be customized with numerous add-ons (check the website), many of which make an all-around mountain pack like the Big Sky more functional as a pure ski pack.
JP wrote:
A pack of that size is really nice to have in the quiver, but when packs start to get that big, it is way more versatile to not fix the lid, or should I say make it adjustable and removable which is even better.

The lid has never been a problem for me when day touring with a small load. In fact, I find it way less cumbersome than smaller packs that have larger lids (like the Kode). As far as the size goes, again, I haven't noticed any issues. It compresses really well.
jp wrote:
I am also confused as to how I stow my Axe on that pack if I can't fit it inside.

Again, I don't know if you realize the lower strap is easily moved to the outside of the flap. As well, the upper strap isn't sewn underneath the daisy and can easily be moved out of the daisy loops. Hopefully that clarifies the axe thing.
As far as the price tag goes... I'll echo NC Rock Climber's points. Nothing's gone wrong with my pack, and if it did, I live in Bozeman and can just head to the factory. I have heard stories of excellent customer service. The price is worth it to me, but a big part of that is living in Bozeman and being able to head to the factory if anything goes wrong.
It's been fun answering your questions and clearly you put a lot of thought into your systems.


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