Gear Guide 2012: Salomon Quest 30 Backpack

This ultralight daypack is perfect for spring skiing and offers a U-shapped zipper that's great for quick packing.

[featherweight spring ski pack]

It’s rare to find so many usable ski-friendly features in such a small pack. “My skis rode snug in the side carriers,” reports one tester who toted his alpine touring gear in Oregon’s Central Cascades. “The fixed, rubberized straps not only kept the skis from banging around, but they also resisted cutting from freshly sharpened edges, a must for late-spring and early-summer forays onto icy snowfields.” He dubbed the hipbelt buckle and big zipper pulls eminently glove-friendly: The pulls have round, rubber stiffeners that easily accommodate a glove-encased digit.

The Quest has organization aplenty: two internal side pockets (for an avalanche probe and shovel handle), a full-length exterior zippered pouch (for stuffing a puffy and munchies), and a fleece-lined top pouch for goggles, sunglasses, or other breakables. While our testers don’t recommend the pack for loads of more than 20 pounds (the shoulder straps and hipbelt are a light, mesh-encased foam that distorted under heavier weight), they loved the egg-carton lumbar panel, which expelled snow better than most.

Best feature: A wraparound U-shaped zipper peels back the pack’s entire front panel for quick sorting and packing. $125; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; 30 liters;