“This pack holds a lot more gear than you’d expect,” one tester said after using the Upslope on a three-day hut trip in Gothic, Colorado. The packbag, even with the airbag system, swallows a sleeping bag and gear for a hut overnight, while the massive hipbelt pockets fit skins, snacks, water, gloves, and a puffy (there’s also a helmet carry on the exterior and an avy tool pocket). Using the hipbelt pockets for storage keeps the pack from feeling back-heavy and adds carrying comfort: “It feels like a koala hugging my back,” one tester says. (Drawback: With all that contact, you can sweat through a baselayer quickly in warm conditions.)
Thule uses the Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0, with an aluminum compressed-air cylinder that’s refillable at SCUBA shops, and a 150-liter airbag. (It’s not TSA-friendly; you’ll need to empty the cylinder and then refill it using a kit from Mammut, sold separately for $30.) Five internal pockets kept our type-A packers happy; one noted the cavernous, fleece-lined goggle pocket on top, where he stowed valuables and breakables.
“I was able to stow skins in the hipbelt pockets without removing the pack, saving time and warmth during transitions,” one tester says.
Weight: 5 lbs. 8 oz. (with R.A.S. 3.0);
Size: 35 liters
See more of the best Snow Safety Tools for Winter 2018
See the entire Winter Gear Guide