Arc’teryx Alpha SK 32
Available Volumes: 32 litre
Coming in lightest, the Alpha SK 32 was born from the needs of backcountry skiers who were modifying Arc’teryx’s lightweight, yet durable Alpha FL climbing pack to create a ski touring pack that worked for them. After much tinkering, Arc’teryx finally saw the light, creating the Alpha SK 32 – a pack that remains lightweight and durable, but with features specifically tailored to backcountry skiers.
“After much tinkering, Arc’teryx finally saw the light”
The first thing you’ll notice when you take a look at this pack is the unique ski carry system, that allows for both A-Frame and diagonal ski carry. This system uses ski straps to strap your skis to the pack (two are included). It’s an extremely well thought out way of carrying skis – there when you need it, removable when you don’t, creating an extremely sleek pack when removed. We’re also big fans of having two more ski straps at hand – for emergency use.
If you do like to carry your axe on the outside of the pack, then you’re going to have to get used to sliding it into the snow safety compartment – something that’ll become be an issue if you’re looking to carry two ice tools for any steep climbing. If you would like to carry your skis in the A-Frame method, then you’ll have to grab yourself two extra ski straps although I’m sure most of you will have two spare kicking about.
We’re also yet to test the long term durability of the Alpha SK 32 – the laminated sections look like they could fall victim while carrying heavy loads such as large freeride skis. Give us a couple more months of testing, and we’ll let you know if this is the case.
Blue Ice Kume 30
Available Volumes: 30 & 38 litres
Whenever you get a relatively young brand developing products, whether that be skis, boots, bindings and even backpacks, they always approach the design with a fresh pair of eyes and some novel ways around common flaws – this is certainly true with the Blue Ice Kume 30.
Firstly, we’re big fans of the double zipped side access, allowing you to reach anything hidden at the bottom of the pack – perfect if you like keeping your crampons or glacial rope at the bottom of your pack.
“This’ll definitely come in use when you find yourself on a steep slope”
Also, you’re able to attach your skis to the pack without having to take the pack off – this’ll definitely come in use when you find yourself on a steep slope and need to attach your skis quickly, or if you’d just like to save a minute or so on the transitions. To do this, all you’ve got to do is slot your skis through a loop sat at the back of your right hip, then attach the tips with the shoulder strap on your left shoulder. Nice work, Blue Ice.
Tying the pack all together is a nifty top loading design that doubles up as a quick point to stash your helmet or rope underneath while also hiding the separate snow safety compartment, similar to that found on the Alpha SK 32.