Size: Small (originally started with a size Medium)
Volume: 30 L / 1831 cu. in.
Weight (size Medium): 3 lbs. 2 oz / 1.41 kg
Dimensions (height x width x depth): 21.5 x 13 x 12 in. / 55 x 33 x 30 cm
- A-frame ski carry
- Avalanche Gear Compartment
- Diagonal Ski Carry
- Goggle pocket
- Helmet Carry
- Hipbelt Pockets
- Ice-ax carry
- Insulated hydration sleeve
- Snowboard Carry
- Vertical Ski Carry
I really have only two criteria when it comes to ski backpacks. The first is a pack’s capacity to carry and organize everything required for backcountry skiing. The second is that the pack be comfortable in regards to weight and bulk, both while hiking uphill and skiing back down.
But what can make or break a really great backpack is how its elements are arranged and organized, and just how well it fits your back. All too often, compartments and pockets are difficult to access on the go, frames are bulky and heavy, and packs either lack or have too many straps and attachments on the outside.
My ongoing quest for a comfortable, light, and user-friendly ski touring pack eventually led me to the Osprey Kode 30, which has a reputation as one of the best ski touring backpacks out there.
This pack has accompanied me for the past few months on many snow-related pursuits, and so far lives up to my criteria as an organized, roomy, and comfortable pack. I have done just about everything with it, from quick and light backcountry tours to ski mountaineering epics. It’s even been used in other less glamorous moments, like hauling work clothes and toiletries in and out of my car.
When I first received the pack and tried it on, the most notable aspect was the construction and substantial feel of the suspension system, which is made up of a light, barely noticeable “peripheral alloy frame”—basically a metal rod that shapes the perimeter of the back panel. This panel is composed of a thin, sturdy yet pliable piece of plastic coated by a comfy layer of foam. It is curved to fit the contour of your back, is pliable yet strong, and moves with you without compromising any ability to bear weight.
Not only was it comfortable at home, but when I finally got it on snow, the sleek shape held weight tight against my back and hips, and therefore didn’t feel like a counterweight when skiing.
That being said, pay close attention to sizing. I started with a size Medium pack. It was a size too big, which seemed like a minor thing…until I wore it while skiing with my helmet. The top of the pack was well above my shoulders, and every time I looked up, it pushed my goggles down and generally felt awkward and annoying.
Downsizing helped dramatically and permitted more motion, but I still think the pack sticks a little bit too high off my shoulders. I don’t imagine too much space would be lost if it were even just an inch lower, and you wouldn’t then have to think twice about moving your head around with the pack on.
Airbag packs are a phenomenal piece of backcountry safety gear, but the problem's always been their substantial weight and price tag. BCA's Float 18 Airbag, however, reduces both. If you like to play beyond the ropes, you should certainly take a look.