Ortovox Peak 29L and 42L Ski Packs.
When I first started to get serious about backcountry skiing in the late nineties, I owned an Ortovox ski pack. I remember liking it a lot. It had lot’s organizing features and carried my skis nicely in many different configurations. Last season, my friend Marcus from Ortovox in New Hampshire sent me a Peak 42. I didn’t use it very much because of its 42L size, and with the heavy snows, I found myself only occasionally carrying enough equipment to warrant using that size of a pack. Though I did use it while skiing the Southeast Couloir on Buck Mountain last year, and carried ropes, harnesses, helmet, etc… This year, I have two more Ortovox pack to choose from, and with both being in the 30L range, I think I will be using them a lot this winter.
The horizontal aluminum stays of the Ortovox O-Flex frame
are moldable and allows the pack to move with your body.
Last week, I was able to run the Ortovox Peak 29 pack through the motions, skiing in fact, and I was pleased at its similarity and differences from the 42L option. First off, the 29L size is much better for daily backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering….even when you need to carry ropes and such, as it sure seems to swallow gear like a much bigger pack. The O-Flex support system, though very different from other designs, is customizable and comfortable, and consists of two horizontally aluminum stays in the bottom and upper-middle portions of the back panel. Combined with an oval shaped frame sheet, it offers a good combination of support and flexibility for a ski specific backpack. The 29L size fits smaller torsos well and the 42L is more applicable for larger skiers. Both packs offer a large range of expansion and compressibility, with an extra buckle on the side of the pack for a horizontal strap, and two hidden buckles that help compress the pack vertically.
Extra buckles and straps on the Ortovox Peak pack allow for great compressibility
when you wearing or using everything you brought with you.
If there one thing these packs have, it lots of features and extras. The lid of the pack has some bungee cord for quickly stashing your jacket or helmet, and the zipper for the pocket open upward, which makes finding things inside easy. Though the Ortovox Peak packs don’t have insulated sleeves for a hydration tube in the shoulder strap, they are compatible with a port hole in the top to run the tube through. The hip-belts are nice and comfortably padded, but not too much to make them bulky. One side has gear loop will be nice for holstering an ice axe on sketchy descents, as well as for clipping gloves and a camera to. The other side has a pocket, and a bigger sized one at that, and will hold plenty of energy gels and hard candies to keep you going non-stop for a long time.
The ski slots pass the Megawatt test.
The Peak ski packs are fully outfitted to carry skis A-Frame style, and its bottom ski slots pass the Megawatt test, even though they look to be on the small side. With a minor reconfiguration of some of the straps, I also found the Peak pack to carry skis nicely quiver-style as well. I like packs to be able to do both well and I find myself alternating between the two carrying style often. Two ice axe loops, completely unassociated with the quiver style carrying system, add to the versatility of the backpack.
The Ortovox Peak packs carry skis A-Frame and Quiver style.
Access to the main compartment of the Peak 29 pack is achieved by a zippered side opening and top opening, which is accompanied by a spindrift collar and compression/rope holder strap. The 42L size has an extendible lid which is great for when you are over stuffing the pack, and although it comes still attached to lower portion of the pack, it is something that is easily modified with some scissors…which is what I did to mine. Organizing you avy gear is simple with a shovel pocket that will store even the largest shovels, and sleeves for the handle and a probe are a given. There is also a cool pocket located below the shovel pocket, which I think would be a great place to stash something that you want to forget about, but also want accessible when you need it…like a bivy bag and/or a first aid/repair kit.
For those that aren’t aware, Ortovox is a European based company, and it shows in some of the styling and colors of the Peak ski packs. Personally, I like the flashy colors, and I find the little labels found on the pack amusing…especially the martini glass. I think most skiers looking for a top-loading, ski specific pack will find the Ortovox Peak pack to their liking and they have so many features I many have missed a few. If your local shop doesn’t carry them, check them out at Ortovox.com.