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

  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Harpo, we're working on a lot of things, not sure exactly when that will...
  • Tyler Eardley: I'm 99% sure this is the boot of choice for splitboarders. I'm taking the p...
  • harpo: Hi Wildsnow, I think you indicated in the comments that you would be doing ...
  • Eric B: I agree with the "one deploy" philosophy. If you ever had to use one of th...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Finn, my understanding from our extensive comment threads is that there are...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi See, I didn't feel like you were detracting from anything, but thanks fo...
  • See: I am in no way trying to detract from your project here, Lou. I’m totally i...
  • finn: Ok, after reading all of this, what is the opinion of the safest tech bindi...
  • Stewart: Seems just another example of technological fetishism and consumerism unhin...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I found what's possibly a better, lighter weight converter, ordered it. ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: See, good points. My UsbAir wiring harness indeed weighs less than yet anot...
  • Jeremy C: I doubt a USB feed off your avalanche airbag, is something that any manufac...
  • See: Great fun, but a 9000 mAh usb charger weighs less than 8 ounces, can be kep...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Drew, I actually do agree with you, I think the "one deploy" model is way b...
  • Lou Dawson 2: It's a Galaxy Note 1, been in use for about 18 months with the same battery...
  • Buck: "Speaking of the Galaxy Note, it’s got a massive aftermarket battery on it....
  • Drew Tabke: The philosophy behind the multiple-deploy design principle is madness. If y...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I don't see why not. It would run your tablet as well. It's basically a hig...
  • Billy: Can you charge your galaxy with that contraption while flying on a commerci...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks Andrew, I was hoping someone who knew something would chime in and h...
  • Dan: Lou, you are sick...brilliant, but sick....
  • Andrew: Battery size appears super-conservative, assuming you somehow keep the batt...
  • Joe John: Pretty crafty Lou!...
  • Max: So here is the problem I have. "Pack without battery, with controller u...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Bear in mind that weight is the pack without battery but WITH the black-box...
  • Trent: Thank you. Very helpful. "Pack without battery, with controller unit, ba...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks Eric, we played around with that for a while but the packs change so...
  • Eric B: Lou, as you get more avi packs in this season it would be great to get a Wi...
  • Eric B: I'd agree, I've got the BMT 94s and love 'em in trees. The full rocker mak...
  • ted: At the same time rolled up at a high edge angle on groomers they feel like ...

  Recent Posts


Facebook Twitter Google Instagram Youtube
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