Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pick of the Pack: Summit Packs

Summit packs are designed to get you to and from the top of the mountain, regardless of weather thats your local ski hill or a a 8000m giant. The best ones are designed to be comfortable on the approach as they are speedy on the summit push. Key features to look for are snowshoe, ski, and snowboard storage points, removable frames, ice axe loops, storm collars, and of course capacity. Let's get into it.

summit packs

summit packs

  • Osprey Talon ($149) - The feather light contender in the group with a 44 leter capacity and weighing in at just over 2 lbs. Not as well adapted for ski mountaineering & vertical climbing.
  • The North Face Prophet ($309) - The monster truck of the group. It carries a staggering 65L and somehow weights less than the REI Pinnacle (40L). Suitable for any climb, even expedition style ascents.
  • Millet Prolight ($160 on Sale at REI for $124.93)- Light, comfortable, and perfect for speedy ascents. You might just forget its there.

summit packs

  • Osprey Kode - THE ski mountaineering pack. Feather light, sturdy, and well designed, too small for most overnighters but perfect for fast and light ascents.
  • Osprey Kestrel (MY PICK) ($158) - Have I plugged Osprey enough yet? No. The Kestrel is the most versatile back in this group. It's equally at home on a weekend backpacking trip down a dusty trail and ascending a snowy chute. WIth frame and all it comes in under 3 1/2 lbs which is remarkably in line with some of the frameless packs. Strip it down and boogie up to the top. This pack's my pick, and it's a monster.
  • REI Ridgecrest (Temporarily Unavailable)- Another hybrid summit & overnight backpack. The ridgecrest strips down enough to satisfy ULers and is fully featured enough to satisfy mountaineers and skiiers alike. At 65L it's a little large to be a true entry into the summit pack group though.

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