Good idea - Someone needs to make a daypack with PHAT suspension for the long summertime approach carrying board, boots, etc. Call it the Rainer or Shasta or some of the other summertime hotspot where you'd use it.
I really need a new pack this season and I've been thinking along these lines lately. So I put some effort into tracking down an alpine day pack with decent suspension. I found one and brought it home so I could fill it with gear before deciding whether or not I'll keep it. I'm naming this product review...
The Arc'teryx M30... Odd? Or oddly effective??
First, some stats. This is a 28 liter pack with a board carry system and a nice little lightweight aluminum suspension. As predicted by BCR, it is heavier and more expensive than another top-quality pack of the same size. The size large Osprey Switch 26 is also 28 liters and it weighs 1.47 kg, to the M30's 1.85 kg. That's a difference of about 13 ounces. The price difference is pretty radical, though. $130 for the Switch 26 vs $190 for the M30, which puts it in the crazy-ass expensive range. I think part of that cost goes toward waterproof fabric, zippers, and construction. The rest must go into the pockets of some shady Canadian.
Now... What's odd about the M30? Pretty much everything.
Exhibit 1 is the touted 'hose clip,' a feature they point out in every ad.
Uhm... Is that just a crap rubber gasket?
Or how about the two external pockets? The top pocket is just big enought to maybe hold a king-size snickers bar.
Good thing it has that waterproof zipper so that my king-size snicker will stay nice and dry!
I really had trouble finding the advertised "shovel pocket."
Here it is... you just have to open three compression straps and look under a flap to find it. I guess you can fit a shovel in there. But not the handle.
So as you can see, my relationship with the M30 was a little rocky at the start. Next I had to figure out how to open the much vaunted RollTop lid closure. What the hell is a RollTop lid, anyway?
Well, first you loosen this vertical strap on each side...
Then you unfold the top...
And then wow! The whole main compartment is wide open in about 2 seconds!
The main compartment is just a big, featureless bag with a wide open mouth that you can huck gear into. If you like zipping shit into a million little pockets, then this is not the pack for you. The only thing in the main compartment is little piece of stretchy mesh up against the framesheet which does a fantastic job of holding a hydration bladder snugly in place. You would have to have some stuff sacks to use this pack effectively because there are no other usable pockets.
The board carry systems is odd, too. Check out these little Hypalon loop thingy's.
Each loop has a buckle in the middle. Each side of the main buckle is buckled directly to the frame with an adjustable strap. You open the loop...
You lay the board on top, close the loop, and then cinch the board up tight to the frame, compressing the pack as you go.
Jimw - you will love how steady this holds a board. The board is tight on the frame and immobile. All the weight is carried comfortable and stable on the big, padded hip belt. I loaded the pack with gear. (helmet, jacket, extra layer, shovel, probe, skins, splitboard crampons, repair kit, and food) With the board, the whole thing weighed 32 pounds and it was just incredibly comfortable on my back.
Now here's the part I love. Suppose it gets windy and cold halfway up a steep climb and you decide you could use an extra layer. Remember that weird RollTop?
You just unroll it, and pop open the buckles that compress the board to the frame, and you have access to the whole main compartment in about 2 seconds!!
Anyway, this pack is definitely an odd concept and probably not something everyone would like. But I like it because it carries weight and a board really well you can access your gear really easily.
And some of those other odd features aren't that bad, either. Remember that little top zip? It actually hold a camera pretty well and it is easy to access with the pack on your back.
No - there is no A-frame carry system. Arcteryx claims that the hypalon loop thingy is a 'snowboard or ski carrying system,' but I didn't try it with skis or with the board in split mode and it's not clear to me that it would work well. I'll have to try it when I get a chance.
Oh yeah - ReeferMadness - no horizontal carry on this model either. I think some of the Da Kine packs have it. My Blade did, but I despised that pack.
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:08 pm Posts: 241 Location: 109-blocks-of-watch-yo-f'n-back, CA
Anybody have a favorite that's 25L-30L, under 2 lbs? No day pack need be over 2lbs, no matter how far the approach, IMHO.
I was thinking of doing a BD Speed with the Avalung separate instead of the integrated (I climb & mountaineer a lot too so I like the versatility). Anyone else have a good option in this weight class?
For daytrips, I've been using a pack similar to the BD Bbee, a Vortex Backcountry skiing pack prototype, or an old Arctyryx Bora 30
I've been using a GoLite Gust when I need more capacity, but it has zero structure and no real sidestraps so it doesn't really carry a board, A frame or otherwise, though I've found a way to rig it when I've needed to.
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:56 pm Posts: 474 Location: Meyers, CA
I have not found a good light <2lb day pack.
By default I've been using a Dakine Helipro w/ some of the unnecessary straps removed. I'd guess it's about 2.5 lbs (and about 1300 cubic inches). Too heavy considering its small size, but it does everything I want it too and any weight penalty I just consider to be "training."
For overnights I really like the Granite Gear Vapor Trail. At about 3600 cubic inches and 2 lbs it's light and can carry decently (not perfectly) in either split or solid mode. After several years of abuse, mine is starting to deteriorate. The Alpine Vapor would probably last longer, but it is a little heavier.
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:10 am Posts: 83 Location: above Reno
I got a granite gear contrail last winter. Its a sturdy and very padded 3LB10oz 2200ci. I like that it carrys a lot of stuff on the outside, snugly. Best is the dedicated shovel pocket that you can get into without taking off the pack.and u don't have to carry it brokendown.
I wanna get one in every color.