BCA Alp 40 Skiing Backpack Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 10, 2005      

Shop for BCA backpacks.

Over the past couple of seasons Backcountry Access (BCA) has re-designed their top line backcountry skiing and alpinism pack. Called the “Alp40,” the pack is a leaner and more attractive version of their original toploader. It includes BCA’s excellent zippered shoulder-strap hydration tube hideaway, dedicated ski carrying systems, and a current color scheme that might breath new life into my drab ensemble.

Taking a cue from those of us who keep razor blades at the ready to eliminate “strapomania” from our backpacks, the Alp40 comes off-the-shelf with a lean waist belt, a reasonable pair of daisy chains on the back (rather than four like the older model), and lighter fabric. It has a slightly more compact profile, resulting in less volume but better comfort when carrying smaller loads of today’s minimalist gear.

Of course, I’ve got my reputation to uphold and have to find a few things to gripe about. It’s too bad BCA went to a snow sponge system on the back panel, rather than the clean-and-mean flat fabric panel of the older model. Sponge systems look good on the store shelf, but they don’t work during long days of cold winter powder, when they eventually become wads of ice. Another bummer is the elimination of the flap over the probe pocket. Get caught in even a moderate spring rainstorm, and water will be flowing down there immediately. Why am I concerned about getting rain on my avy probe? I’m not, because I don’t keep my probe in there, but rather my backcountry skiing emergency hardshell (sorry BCA), which needs to stay dry. One other concern is that the excellent rigid backboard forms a hard wear-point at the bottom of the pack, but said point is only thin fabric, with no wear protection. One fall backwards on a scree slope and it’ll be time for a patch when you get home. Of course, just make that patch out of Cordura and you’ve solved the problem. Or put some duct tape over that area if you’re scree scrambling. Homebrew rules.

Above are minor grips, more excellent features: While they might seem like a gimmick, we like the reflective “glow stripes” built into the Alp40 pack. During last winter and spring’s dawn patrols I was amazed how useful this feature is. You can glance around with your headlamp and easily spot folks up ahead of you. More, it’s an excellent safety feature if you get caught out in the evening, hiking a highway shoulder back to your rig.

While I’m not a big fan of dividing backpacks into compartments (because of added weight), BCA does a good job with this. They didn’t go overboard, and simply provided a skin or shovel compartment on the back, probe pocket on the side, and a place for your water bladder next to your back (where it gets warmed by your body heat). And speaking of hydration, the Alp40 now comes with a Nalgene bottle sip-tube top instead of a bladder. This is a cool feature I’m excited to try, as hydration bladders have never been totally acceptable to the Dawson crew (mostly because of freezing problems). With a Nalgene tube system, you sip if it works, if not just open the Alp40 side zipper, pull out the bottle, unscrew the lid, and take a nice long drink while your companions are cursing their frozen bladder tubes (then give ’em a drink, of course).

In all, the Alp40 is a super functional ski mountaineering sack that’s my pack of choice for this season’s full day trips. And as I said in a previous BCA backcountry skiing pack review, I’m honored that someone would build such a nice pack and design it specifically for our sport.

Comments

Got something to say? Please do so.





Anti-Spam Quiz:

You can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box to left, but you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments

  • Matt Kinney: Excellent work. Not sure what your up to in AK but hopefully see you in Tho...
  • Alex: Thanks Charlie! The adventure-work balance is a challenge, but persistence ...
  • Charlie Hagedorn: Congratulations on the job! The academic market is a tough one, especially ...
  • Ponderosa: OK! Thanks for the reply!...
  • pockets: Beautiful pictures! Makes me excited to try out ski touring next season....
  • daniel: For the record: Zzero4 boots size 27 Marker Tour/Dynafit original Spe...
  • See: https://www.wildsnow.com/9303/ski-boot-cuff-pivot-wear-fix-dynafit/...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Easy there pardner... after you've calmed down, just smear some epoxy on th...
  • Ponderosa: Nothing? Really? No one's ever had a similar thing happen and needed to...
  • Selko: What Sarah said! I've using the F1 since early December 2016, mostly around...
  • Eric B: That put a smile on my face! I feel the same way about my Scarpa Maestrale...
  • darin: Best thing on the internet that I've read in a while....
  • See: Comfort is key....
  • See: Helicopters, satellites, etc., have changed how we approach outdoor activit...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Pushing the envelope of "reviews!"...
  • Ricardo H: I am just about to buy a pair of these boots from Telemark Pyrenees but not...
  • Ponderosa: Hey Guys, So i was just doing the end-of-season gear inspection and notice...
  • Rudi: I'm not sure if that was a review or a poem, but it sounds like those F1s a...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'm often the person with the repair kit, but it's minimal. Multi-use items...
  • See: Don’t get me wrong— I’ve paid for evacuation insurance more than once, and ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Actually, that's just about it. In other words, we don't carry sleeping bag...
  • See: What’s “eurostyle?” I hope not “go light and depend on helicopter.”...
  • Lisa Dawson: I hope Louie kept up the Dawson family tradition and made some hot buttered...
  • Leslie: I'm glad to hear the Asulkan is in good shape. What great conditions!...
  • Pete Anzalone: An additional observation about the C3 external lean lock mechanism ... it'...
  • Lou Dawson 2: It's a big 20, but for me my fave is around 30 liters, just because I like ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks for the comments guys, I've been busy with website backend work, the...
  • swissiphic: I have some input regarding the fit of the Cosmos for less than 'normal' fe...
  • PQ: A couple of comments. I haven't skied with the 20L Voltair, but I've skied...
  • Mark W: If external lean locks are the coming wave, some of the current crop are ve...

  Recent Posts


Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version