Outdoor Retailer Roundup: BACKPACKS!

On Day 2 this reporter had one focus: backpacks.

Packs, packs and more packs! I enjoyed Day 2 of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market by focusing on a key ingredient to any adventure, the backpack.

The Granite Gear Aji 50 makes you want to plan a long adventure. Weighing under 3 lbs., I thought the pack would float off my back. The panel loading with a continuous zipper lets you access stuff from the top, bottom, or side. The Vapor Current is their newest suspension and features vent channels on the backpad. With a removable framesheet that saves 6 oz. and the ability to haul 35 lbs., this could be one of the lightest packs of this size at the show. Coming to stores this September for $219. granitegear.com

A 65+10 liter pack is for the hiker with a mission. Deuter’s Aircontact system at 65+10 liters (mens) and 60+10 liters (women’s) has a nice combination of backframe and storage features. The pack’s Aircontact system uses specific cutouts in the padding to allow the best airflow, leading to 15% less perspiration, they claim. The pack has the Variquick back adjust to help tailor to different body types. I also am a big fan of the Veriflex hipbelt design which allows the pack to move with you as you hike various grades. The pack comes with Deuter’s built-in rain cover, compression straps, daisy chains, and a U-shaped front panel. This pack is about 6 lbs. without gear, retails for $269, and will be on sale spring 2012. deuter.com

Traveling towards an adventure destination or just visiting family, the Osprey Ozone is made to reduce travel stresses. The ultralight wheeled Ozone comes in three sizes (28”, 22”, 18”) and all are under 6 lbs. The Chasis frame system will help you maneuver through any airport congestion and cause heads to roll with jealousy. In stores this Fall (2012) for $199t o $249. ospreypacks.com

I couldn’t avoid the ski packs and found the updates to Black Diamond’s Avalung Alias 32L necessary to mention. First, they updated the Avalung design within the pack to reduce hose movement/discomfort. Second, they added ErgoActiv which allows the shoulder straps to move with the hiker’s body; a three-dimensional system added to the back of the hipbelt also moves with the body and has a contour aluminum frame. This pack has a sleek pack design and duel ski/snowboard holder. See these improvements in stores this Fall (2012) for $159. blackdiamondequipment.com

The Arva Freerider 12 offers a sleek design that can be used for inbounds or side country riding. Made to fit close and have a sleek design at only 950 grams, this pack also has a special, removable safety pocket for your necessary avy gear and removable ski/board carrying straps. I also liked how the hydration sleeve will keep your hose from freezing and from getting in your way by going through the back strap. Available Fall 2012, MSRP: $170 en.arva-equipment.com

And finally, just the basics with the CamelBak Gambler. A CamelBak hydration bladder combined with their Therminator hose-warming system and an avalanche gear pocket to holds the necessary avy shovel, probe, and beacon. Available Fall 2012 for $90. camelbak.com

Which packs are a must-test? Drop us a comment below.