Dynafit Packs: Teching It To The Max

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 26, 2010      
Dynafit backcountry skiing backpack

Dynafit RC 20 race backpack has become quite popular for ski touring in Europe. The idea of these packs is they carry the weight closer to your center of gravity, instead of high as climbing and backpacking packs do.

“A pack should just be a bag,” definitively pronounced internationally certified IFMGA mountain guide Joe Stock. I agreed wholeheartedly with him at the time, although then again as the sun glistened off the vast Alaskan glacier stretched out before us, I probably would have nodded along with just about anything anyone said on any topic.

But seriously, I had always preferred basic climbing-oriented packs with clean lightweight designs, while looking askance at “feature” laden “ski-specific” packs. Until of course Dynafit changed my mind.

Once nearly synonymous with its innovative and successful line of backcountry skiing bindings whose tour mode entails zero lifted weight and nearly no moving parts, Dynafit is now applying its innovation to a broad spectrum of backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering gear. (And just in time too, as new competitors move into Dynafit’s previously monopolized “Tech” binding market.)

My first dalliance away from climbing packs began innocently enough with the Dynafit RC 20 race pack, which enticed me with the ability to carry boot crampons safely in such a small pack. This is accomplished by means of the “safety box” at the bottom of the pack, reinforced with a removable Snow Claw (modified slightly with a little custom strap), allowing quick and easy access to boot crampons and/or ski crampons without removing your pack. I also liked the strap-mounted water bottle holder for spring and summer skiing, starting off super-long tours with only a single bike bottle, refilling frequently (given its easy access).

Even more impressive turned out to be the ability to quickly and easily affix and then remove skis without removing your backcountry skiing pack, as demonstrated in this video. (Certain CAMP packs have a similar attachment system.) Such a feature may seem trivial for anything but rando races, and perhaps the time differentials don’t add up to much over the course of even a long tour. But in the late spring and early summer when little portages become the norm, this feature takes the frustration out of the inevitable numerous transitions. (I’ve especially noticed this when partners with other ski-specific packs have had to play catch-up, and one partner even immediately vowed to buy a Dynafit pack for the following season during a rather long contour around the base of Middle Sister.)

The RC 20 additionally offers a clever little probe sleeve and shovel handle attachment, plus an equally clever ice axe holder, as well as a surprisingly generous amount of space overall for a pack that weighs only about a pound. (This model has been slightly redesigned for the current year, so I’ll omit any specific weight details.) But it is clearly not a general-purpose touring pack.

For general touring, and especially gear-intensive ski mountaineering, enter the Manaslu 35. A friend last spring was looking for a new pack, and so enamored of my RC 20, I suggested the Manaslu, then listed as the 32. He loved the pack, and I loved it so much too that I borrowed it for a summer ski trip on various volcanoes, after which I decided to buy my own.

The Manaslu 35 offers some small yet noticeable changes over prior seasons, although I’ll omit that from the discussion for the sake of (relative) brevity. Totally teched out the Manaslu weighs in at 3 pounds 3 ounces, although strip out the front water bottle carrier, safety box reinforcement (“Summit-Comfort”), ski carry, metal stay, and waist belt, but add back on a very basic webbing waist belt of your own devising, and the weight is down to only 2 pounds 5 ounces. All sorts of combinations part way in between are of course also possible.

So okay, three different water carrying systems (i.e., strap-mounted water bottle carrier, side mesh pockets, and internal sleeve for hydration bladder); three separate compartments for probe (and shovel shaft if relatively short), shovel blade, and crampons; super-slick and quick external attachments for shovel shaft, ice axe, and skis; quick-release tie-down straps (underneath the top lid) for climbing rope; two zippered pouches on waist belt; zippered rear access to the main compartment (with quick releases for the shoulder straps to get them completely out of the way); top lid compartment with separate see-through mesh sleeve — what’s possibly not to like?

Well, first and foremost, like many packs of its capacity, the Manaslu is one size fits most. For comfortable maximum weight-carrying capacity, I’m not quite sure, since my (borrowed) version last season lacked this year’s metal stay (although I did survive many hours of off-snow travel on a too-long Middle Sister daytrip carrying all my ski gear and glacier rescue gear on my pack).

The tail loop for the vertical ski carry is adjustable up to a circumference of about 320mm, which is more than enough for me, although accounting for cross sectional width of skis and skins, plus some clearance, that could rule out some very fat (by my standards at least) skis.

The separate compartments for shovel blade and probe are tight: I managed to get in all my medium-sized favorites, although some models probably won’t fit. Also no integrated bivy pad, no key clip (although easy to add your own), and no dedicated helmet carry (although with all the other attachment systems, something is bound to work for you).

Durability — based on a combination of my personal experience thus far and just the general feel of the materials — is probably just kind of typical for a pack. I did have a problem with a crampon point ripping into the safety box on last year’s Manaslu, but this has been addressed for this year with the removable reinforcement. I also had a problem with the stitching that attaches the ski clip to the elasticized strap, but I suspect this was just someone asleep at the switch with my bad luck of the draw, since I’ve used the ski attachment on my RC 20 and my friend’s Manaslu with no problems. (Might be a good idea to inspect any pack from this year though before use: you just have to slide up the little plastic/rubber cover to get a good view. If in doubt, any tailor can reinforce it in a few minutes.)

Finally, rounding out the line-up, 2010-11 introduces the Broad Peak 28, which is on my wish list as it is essentially half-way between the RC 20 and Manaslu 35 in most respects. And returning from last year is the Race Pro, which is essentially a wearable shirt that provides many pack features — yes, you read that correctly, and visit Dynafit.com for the mind-boggling details.

December 15 Addendum: Just received the Broad Peak 28, which is indeed a nice compromise between the Manaslu 35 and RC 20 just as I anticipated. Fully tricked out, weighs in at just under 2 lb 5 oz (which oddly enough is just what the Manaslu weighs when stripped down). Strip out the front water bottle carrier, safety box reinforcement (“Summit-Comfort”), some little removable strap, metal stay, and waist belt (ski carrier is not removable, just as on the RC 20), but add back on a very basic webbing waist belt of your own devising, and the weight is down to just over 1 lb 10 oz. Will be the perfect pack for light & fast spring daytrips out east here above treeline, as well as winter daytrips when avy gear is not carried. (With full winter clothing plus avy gear, seems like space would be too tight, although others might find it okay.)

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)


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42 Responses to “Dynafit Packs: Teching It To The Max”

  1. tony November 26th, 2010 10:25 am

    Does the Manaslu 32 have the ski carry qucik attach/release system that the RC20 has. Could you describe the carry system so we could possibly try to jury rig it on a pack we already have?

  2. Lee November 26th, 2010 10:26 am

    I’ve got a broad peak 28 and am very pleased with it – except for the probe and shovel handle pockets being so incredibly short. Gonna unpick some stitching so that I can get the equipment in.

    The ski carry is fantastic – really quick and well balanced.

  3. Dave B. November 26th, 2010 12:01 pm

    Is there room in the RC 20 to stash a light down jacket along with the essentials?

  4. henrik westling November 26th, 2010 11:04 am

    I’we got the same problem with the broad peak. I also find it a bit short in the back, and I’m only 175 cm. Otherwise a great pack. The diagonal carrying system can be a bit annoying when Climbing/traversing steep faces, with the mountain on the same side as the skis.

  5. Flax Fjord November 26th, 2010 1:15 pm

    Dave B-

    Yes, there is enough room for a light down jacket or sweater in the “safety box”


  6. Kevin November 26th, 2010 1:19 pm

    I used the Mansalu all last season and was quite happy with it. The best feature is the ski crampon compartment on the side. I use it to stow my skins and am able to do transitions without removing the backpack. The quick ski carry config. works great for short booting sections. Times when I probably would have carried my skis for a quick boot, I now can quickly attach them to the pack. I switched from a Voile shovel to a G3 shovel. The Voile would not fit. The G3 pretty much maxes out the blade compartment. The pack can be used as a top loader or has a clam style zipper as well. I prefer the clam style access. It allows one to easily get anything from anywhere in the pack, and can be accessed with skis attached to the pack.

  7. Jonathan Shefftz November 26th, 2010 1:38 pm

    Inside the main compartment of the RC 20, I’ve fit a MontBell insulated vest, MontBell insulated parka (i.e., w/ hood), windshirt, waterproof jacket, hat, balaclava, Spot, emergency bivy big, soft shell gloves, waterproof overglvoes, skins, Gu packet, Odwalla bars, emergency/first-aid kit. (Then boot crampons + ski crampons + snow claw in safety box, with ice axe, duct tape, water bottle, gps, and Petzl eLite carried on outside of pack.) But that of course is a pretty tight fit, and no avy rescue gear or bivy pad. The Broad Peak seems to be the perfect compromise between the RC 20 and Manaslu in terms of capacity, weight, and features, so the Broad Peak would seem to be the ideal choice if the RC 20 is looking too small.

    Regarding the ski carry system, agreed with Henrik on the rare occasions when I’ve been walking/climbing/hiking on a steep traverse with the left side of the body facing the hill — fortunately those are rare occasions though. And yes, essentially the same on RC 20, Broad Peak 28, Manaslu 32 from last two seasons, and Manaslu 35 for this season. Another benefit is that any sort of ski strap is superfluous — at first I would tightly lash my skis together with a Voile strap, but then I stopped bothering, and the skis were still super secure. As for how to jerry rig it on another pack (which I actually succeeded in doing using the detachable portion from a Camp race pack), you’ll need a secure loop toward the bottom of one side of the pack (for which I simply used an ice axe loop on my jerry rigged pack — obviously this works only with very narrow ski tails), which should be pretty easy to sew on. Then you need a hook on a long strap with some stretch attached to the shoulder strap on the other side of the pack. The Camp hook I have is a bit on the smaller side. The Dynafit hook is very big (similar in size to a version Ortovox used to have on a race pack), which is part of what makes it so secure (and eliminates the need for a ski strap).

  8. Christian November 26th, 2010 1:42 pm

    Love the manaslu. The ski carry config works really well till it is needed to take the pack off…then you have to take the backpack on, and then the skis.
    The bottle carrier works really well in cold weater, and it is not as demanding on the respatory system as suckin from a tube, and there is no need to blow the drink back to prevent freezing.
    The zipper on the camera-pocket broke the first day…
    Dynafit bindings, tlt5, these packs and tip-skin attachment – are products/technologies that have changed what I look for in bc equipment. Am I missing something?

  9. skian November 26th, 2010 11:58 pm

    Best Pack i have ever owned for fast ski mountaineering! And I have owned a lot

  10. Bill November 27th, 2010 12:14 pm

    I bought the Manaslu 35. Seems like a good pack BUT – the Ski loop is too small.

    I extended the loop to its absolute maximum size. It is too small to accomodate the 124mm turned up tail of the Fischer Watea 101 – my everyday touring ski.

    One can take the pack off, twist, turn, rock, strectch and pull and eventually get the skis through. But the benefit of “easily puttng skis on the back without taking off the pack” is lost.

  11. Lee November 27th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Bill, just cut the turned up tails off the skis : )

  12. Lou November 27th, 2010 4:28 pm

    This is WildSnow.com, our middle name is Mod.

  13. Craig November 27th, 2010 7:19 pm

    You guys are starting to sound more and more like a continuous ad for Dynafit and K2. Have you thought about looking at some other packs and accessories?
    Komperdell makes some pretty cool backcountry poles and ARVA has just come out with a series of touring specific packs – including some that accommodate the ABS system. Worth checking out.

  14. Lou November 27th, 2010 8:02 pm

    Um, were we not just talking about BCA and Scarpa, and Quiver Killer inserts? Sorry we missed a couple of days…. but yeah, we’ll always look at other stuff. Keep in mind that this is just a blog, not the oracle of gear with an army of thousands of gear gurus, isn’t Backcountry Magazine supposed to be doing that? .. Lou

  15. Jonathan Shefftz November 29th, 2010 11:41 am

    The Komperdell poles do look nice, although then again, so do the Dynafit ski poles, and they’ve never been reviewed here either.
    We did run a very complete review on the ARVA beacons, even though their availability is currently very limited in North America. And nice to see from their website that the Cross Over 18 is compatible with ABS Vario.

  16. Jonathan December 15th, 2010 5:54 pm

    Included an addendum for Broad Peak 28 specs.

  17. Jonathan Shefftz April 14th, 2011 8:28 am

    Used the Broad Peak 28 for a nearly 9k vert + 13mi tour with (far too) many transitions, which were all super slick thanks for the pack’s design (i.e., accessing and stowing away boot crampons, ski crampons, ice axe, and skis w/o removing the pack).
    Just one complaint: the probe sleeve is very short, so the sections of my two lightest probes (Camp cf & BCA cf) were too long to fit. Fortunately a BCA Arsenal probe was exactly the right length.
    Otherwise, a very slick design with exactly the right amount of support and space for spring touring.

  18. Jonathan Shefftz May 3rd, 2011 6:44 am

    Took the Manaslu 35 pack on a 2.5-day/2-night hut trip this past weekend (http://tinyurl.com/64td4v3) which I knew would entail far too many travel mode changes so I was really glad I could easily fit everything inside the pack for its super-quick booting-to-skinning/skiing transitions. Trailhead weight was just under 23 pounds, which the pack suspension carried very well. With skis-bindings-skins (Trab Duo Sint Aero + Dynafit Speed + BD Ascension) for the first hour of snowless hiking on Day 1, seemed a bit unbalanced using the quick-attach method, although still wasn’t worth the bother of A-framing it. On Day 3 for the final below-treeline exit of over two hours with the skis mainly attached to the pack, with a lower pack weight (i.e., almost no food left, and less fuel), and skins inside the pack (as opposed to on skis), everything carried beautifully, with not even the temptation to A-frame the skis.
    I’ve now had to repair three stitching areas. (Just several dollars worth of repairs at a tailor and then a cobbler.) I don’t think this is really a durability concern, as this occurred even before this trip with only a small amount of prior use. That is, the stitching in those three areas failed so quickly that I suspect it is more of an initial quality control problem. So, if you plan to take this pack on a long trip, I suggest taking it on some daytrips close to home first, just in case you end up with a pack sewn by whoever sewed mine on the same day!

  19. Tyler B July 22nd, 2011 1:46 pm

    Do guys know where to order any of the Dynafit packs?

  20. Dane July 23rd, 2011 2:24 pm

    I’ve been using a Broad Peak 28 all spring. Not as impressed as some others here obviously are.

    Lots of really neat ideas on the pack just none done very well in production imo. I am 6’1″ and have a 21″ back…so the pack is too short in length. I pulled the waist belt and aluminum frame and added a simple waist strap and Fastex buckle.. Pack is now 1#11oz. More reasonable and at least usable with a waist strap to haul skis around.

    I like the external bottle hoider and the ski carrier. But the water bottle needs to sit lower and the ski set up could be more secure imo. I do like the padding on the pack and the safe box. Not so thrilled about a velco seal though. Good spill on hard snow and you coudld easily loose anything in the “safe box”. The several compartments in the pack not so much either. The “quick” axe holder you can forget if you have tape of a rubber wrap on your shaft..you’ll never get it in and out. Hard to reach either way. Lots of cool tools that could all be done better imo. It is like someone sewed it up with all the right ideas but never bothered to sue it in the field.

    I still use the Broad Peak on occasion but have a really simple $30 pack from REI that with two rubber ski straps for lashing on skis works better althugh it is a good bit slower on transitions. It is just a simple bag and weights in at 9oz. Add the rubber straps to that figure and a super thin piece of foam that goes in the pack, maybe 12oz total? And a dream on long one day tours, with the same gear the Broad Peak 28 will carry….just does it better.

  21. Jonathan Shefftz July 23rd, 2011 7:24 pm

    Tyler, both the Manaslu and Broad Peak had good availability at the beginning of this past season, and I expect the same for this fall.
    Dane, I can certainly understand how a one-size-fits-most pack won’t work well for the 6’+. The water bottle does sit relatively high on all three Dynapacks I have, but it’s always seemed sufficiently stable when skiing.
    Out of all the heinous bushwhacks I’ve had with these packs, only once did some particularly ornery vegetation succeed in unclipping my skis. Since I was barely moving though (see prior reference to heinous buchwhacks), the skis still stayed in the tail slots, and reclipping the skis took less time than writing this paragraph. Had I taken the additional one or two seconds to first looped the stretchy strap around the back of the skis before clipping them, it probably would have held.
    I can see how a bad fall could possibly open up the safety box velcro.
    I don’t see why anyone would wrap tape or rubber on the kind of lightweight alu ice axe likely to be used with these packs. (If you really plan on gripping your ice axe that way a lot — as would be expected on all the trips and pictures on your website — wouldn’t you want a technical ice tool instead? My Camp Nanotech axe has that sandpaper-like grip at the bottom of the shaft, but it’s kind of pointless.) And with a regular axe, insertion/removal is super quick & easy.
    An REI pack that weighs only 9 ounces? Which model?

  22. Dane July 23rd, 2011 8:50 pm

    Jonathon, the Broad Peak works well enough for my size once the big and heavy waist belt was removed. Leaving out the frame and the waist belt brought the weight down into something I would consider using with lwt ski gear. Water bottle is stable enough, just sits too high as you noted as well. I use it just wish it were better placed. I’ve adjusted it down as far as possible.

    I use a Petzl race axe skiing generally. I also use that axe on some of the glacier stuff locally and like a little insulation in cold temps. Obviously for spring skiing (skiing?) the insulation isn’t needed. Finally ened up taking the wrap off to use the feature on the pack more adroitly. My Grivel Evo’s sand paper hooks on it as well. Any added material for friction or insulation on the shaft makes the axe hard to get in and out. Not an easy over the head slot in and pull out as expected from the design. That surprised me actually as I thought it a nice feature originally. Cool if it works. My take is the upper slot could be a bit bigger and then problem solved. Just thought it could be done better. Obvioulsy the pack sits pretty high on me so it should be easy!.

    Ski attachment? In general I like the elastic cord and loop. But the loop is funky for adjustment and is ski dependant. Nice on skiiny skis with not much side cut. Not so good on fat skis and/or big side cuts. I also don’t like a lot of bounce in my skis on the pack. The elastic makes that impossible. But no question the system is fast and easy to use. As long as your skis fit perfectly and you bindings hang on the lower loop securely. Old school but the rubber straps seem to work fine and I know are secure as the pack is..

    Climbs that require a technical tool? Likely I would have a different set of kit.

    The REI pack? You’ll laugh but I have been using the Flash 18 for all sorts of things it was never intended for, as have others. First time my buds saw it on a ski trip everyone was wondering how I was going to strap skis on. But easy enough. It is weird and certainly not fancy but works way better than I ever thought possible. Carries even mid weight skis easily and securely. $30, Flash 18.

    More here on the Flash 18. Somethng Joe Stock and I might agree on..”simple is good”.


    Dynafit does a great job on their gear…but nothing wrong wishing it was better ;).

  23. Jonathan Shefftz July 24th, 2011 6:27 am

    That REI pack does look very nice:
    Kudos to REI for producing a product that’s super-light, super-functional, and super-cheap!

  24. Jonathan Shefftz August 4th, 2011 1:15 pm

    Placed on order on Friday at Racing the Planet for some Raidlight water bottles w/ straw and they arrived today (Thursday) — all the way from Hong Kong!
    Fits absolutely perfectly in the Manaslu water bottle holder, and the valve at the end of the straw is positioned just right: close enough that only a small move is necessary to sip, but far enough away that it’s not in my face. And no more having to remove the bottle from the holder to drink. (Think of all the saved seconds throughout the day!)
    Looking forward to the field test later this month…

  25. Dane August 4th, 2011 6:27 pm

    Jonathan..you are a crazy man 🙂

    Hey since last we posted I got hold of a an older Dynafit Mustagh Ata Race Pack. A little funky, smaller and some obvious changes from the Broad Peak 28 but this one I really, really like. Better fit on the back and solid enough it has been carrying my skis and boots (11# total) up to snow line here on the literal goat paths.. Room for what I need for spring day trips, water bladder hanger and still takes my size 12 Cascadias easily for the ride down.

    Dynafit had them on close and last I heard still had a few available. I think it is the earlier version of the RC20?. It was a good purchase for my use as a day trip pack even hiking with the skis and boots on the back….that surprised me..

  26. Jonathan Shefftz August 5th, 2011 7:24 am

    What, other skiers in August don’t track down gear to order from East Asia? (Well, actually, I had remembered that the Camp rando race bottle isn’t available in North America, so I posted on TGR out of curiosity as to whether any other similar models existed, and sure enough, someone pointed me to the Raidlight, whose official international on-line store ships from Hong Kong – surprisingly cheaply & quickly too!)
    The Mustagh Ata 20-liter pack actually co-existed alongside the RC20 (at least for the 2007-08 season, maybe longer). I never understood why Dynafit back then had two different race 20-liter packs, within 70 grams of each other, and with one named after their widest (i.e., most non-race) ski. (Dynafit also had more touring-oriented 18- and 28-liter packs, with a women’s version of the 28, so that’s five packs all within 10 liters of each other.)
    The pictures though do look interesting. Especially since it’s wide on top then tapers down, which is the exact opposite of the RC20. Would be interesting to hear more – certainly has a very slick streamlined appearance.
    But if you like really basic lightweight packs, CAMP has models that must appeal to you. Then again, aren’t all hardcore climbers supposed to rave about Cilo Gear? (Then the backpacking crowd is supposed to be enamored of McHale I think.)

  27. Dane August 5th, 2011 11:30 am

    Crazy in a good way. But something my wife would likely roll her eyes at here when I do something similar 😉 Good info though, thanks.

    “RC20. Would be interesting to hear more –”

    18″ back panel and long straps so it fits me well. Open cell foam and mess back, tape waist belt, with good wings connecting both to the pack. Dated but workable earlier Dynafit ski carry system. Just took a zip tie to make the loop smaller which was easy. Main bag has a internal net devider for the water bladder and service entrances for the hose on either shoulder. The rest is just a big open compartment all accessed via a side zip. Second zippered compartment on the back of the bag about the size of a pair of skins. Works perfectly for my 167cm anyway. No hard box obviously so you need to be careful how you pack the main bag as there is little between you and gear. Ski crampons were a bit problematic.. There is an easy to use axe system.

    I was out yesterday with skis and boots (167s and.TLTs) on the pack and did 4 hrs of goat trails up and down several passes to get on n facing snow. I couldn’t have been happier with the ability of the little pack to lug 10# of ski and boots on the pack plus another 6# water and a few trinkets.

    Pack fits me well so it carries everything easily. Seems like a perfect sized pack for a one day ski of Rainier.

    Camp looks good. Cilo? BTDT myself and despite the reviews, not impressed. Which is why I don’t write a review on CT. Cold Cold World and Blue Ice makes a better climbing pack imo. Either is a good deal less expensive.

  28. Madisonian August 5th, 2011 9:29 pm

    Regarding Cilo Gear, has Graham made a proper ski carry system yet?

  29. Dane August 13th, 2011 1:41 pm

    I’ve got a Broad Peak 28 in very good condition for sale if anyone is interested. There is a link on my web site for price and the rest.

  30. Jonathan Shefftz August 25th, 2011 9:16 pm

    Following up on that Raidlight water bottle w/ straw from Racing the Planet — used it for four days of ski touring and really liked it:
    Yeah, I know, how excited can you get about a water bottle? But the great part about it this time of year is the easy refill (to take on more water) and also easy access (for constant hydration).
    For example, during a nearly 10-hour tour, I started off with only 750ml of water. Yet each of the four refills took a matter of seconds. So I drank about 127 oz, yet was never carrying much water, didn’t have anything bouncing around, had super-quick & easy access for refills, and had a hydration-like tube always at the ready for sipping.

  31. Jonathan Shefftz September 13th, 2011 12:03 pm

    Just noticed on the recently updated Dynafit website the new Baltoro 42 pack: looks pretty much like a larger version of the Manaslu 35, except that the “safety box” on the bottom can be zipped off to transform the pack into a smaller & lighter 28-liter version of itself after the approach to the overnight site. Clever!

  32. Forest December 1st, 2011 5:03 am

    I was eyeing that Baltoro 42, too, Jonathan. Have you been able to get your hands on one for an up-close look?

  33. Jonathan Shefftz December 1st, 2011 1:03 pm

    Sorry, haven’t seen it in person — very curious though how they can detach the bottom yet still have it ride comfortable in both the w/ & w/o configurations.

  34. Forest December 1st, 2011 1:13 pm

    Yes, looks like it may be awkward with the bottom attached and dropping below the hip belt. I need to replace my heavy, multi-day pack and will probably give the Baltoro a try. The worst part about removing the lower section is that you lose the “safety box”.

  35. Robin December 8th, 2011 7:28 am

    I have the older-style (black) Manaslu 32 sack.

    Like most of the comments here, I have likes and dislikes in use. In general the fit and layout of pockets, compartments and features is good; like other reviewers I had to change some of my gear to fit: an otherwise perfectly good BD Deploy shovel had to be replaced by a G3 compact Spadetech shovel to fit into the shovel pocket.

    I’ve struggled to get the rapid ski carry system to work properly, though. I don’t know if it is because both my skis (Manaslu and Seven Summits SL) have full ST bindings with a standard rotating riser post, rather than lighter race-type bindings. Both skis fit into the ski loop fine, but the elastic strap won’t stretch comfortably across behind my head to reach the skis, without significantly deforming the right shoulder strap. I’ve extended the strap out to it’s maximum length, and poked the two metal retaining buckles up inside the sleeve on the shoulder strap, but still no joy. It becomes an issue when the sack is at capacity on a multi-day tour, and produces a kind of quasimodo (quasi-skidoo?) hunched-up effect. Maybe the phantom Friday afternoon machinist that you spoke of (Jonathan) has been at work again, and short-changed me on the length of the loop!!

    The Safety Box works well in isolating pointy stuff from any other gear carried, and the overall quality of the sack is generally good, although the stitching is beginning to come apart on the velcro around the safety box. I like the zip access into the main compartment; you can see and access the full compartment easily by slipping off the shoulder straps and pulling the sack around with the hip belt still attached.

    There is a foam anti-penetration plate just inside the sack, behind the back padding. I’m assuming it’s an anti-penetration plate, because it doesn’t seem to be removable to use as as a sit mat! I’m not quite sure the benefit it provides as the rucksack already has sufficient padding in the back system as-is.

    Despite having two different types of toggles, the opening for this compartment is too narrow to put a full hydration bladder into; I’ve always used the next half-compartment/sleeve for that purpose which isn’t ideal as the bladder tends to sag into the main compartment and dampen the contents. (From reading the blog posts here, I’m going to dispense with using a bladder and re-attach the shoulder bottle…).

    These are mainly minor niggles in what is otherwise a very good product. I think if Dynafit shipped the sack with a comprehensive instruction manual, based around the equipment and mode of use that the designer intended, many of these niggles could be put to rest straight away.

    There’s always a trade-off between having enough space so that packed gear isn’t annoyingly ‘tight’ or impossible to access, and having too much where the law of over-packing comes into play! The Manaslu is right on the edge of being too small for multi-day trips, even when staying in huts, but that does install a bit of rigid discipline in choosing and packing gear, which is probably a good thing. The quality of the sack certainly makes you want to use it.

    Skiing in the Alps I notice many fellow tourers have amazingly small rucksacks; either they’re super-efficient packers, or they’re travelling without much safety gear. I know that’s always a personal decision, but I wouldn’t like to lose a friend because I decided to leave my metal shovel at home…

    Crux make some very high quality, light-tough-simple gear that will appeal to many of the ski tourers posting here. They have a very interesting new rucksack that’s been fully waterproofed over the kevlar cloth, producing a pretty bomb-proof arrangement: http://www.crux.uk.com/en/rucksacks.php?range=2&product=7. Their eVent waterproof down jackets and sleeping bags are worth a look too. Very light and yet have proved durable after a couple of seasons’ use 🙂

  36. Robin December 8th, 2011 7:40 am

    Oops the link I posted was for the RK40, which isn’t currently available – apologies. The RK30 is: http://www.crux.uk.com/en/rucksacks.php?range=2&product=6. I think you could quite easily rig up a quick-attach ski system onto this, using the base loop that is already fitted to the bag, and some dyneema or shock cord on the haul loop. Will post up an initial review when mine arrives next week.

  37. Forest December 8th, 2011 11:33 am

    Just received the Baltoro 42 today. After giving it the initial once-over, it looks like it will make a great overnight pack and is very light for the volume it holds. The removable bottom part is the safety box and while it does drop about 3.25″ below the bottom of the waist belt, the pack rides high enough on me so that it does not seem like it will interfere with movement. The probe/shovel compartment is about 15″. The top, removable lid should work well for storing the extra items for an overnight and easily unclips to leave at base camp. With the top removed the quick-access axe loop is exposed. I think I’m gonna like the water bottle holder since I have never been a fan of hydration bladders.

    I am not terribly impressed with the “summit comfort” liner for the safety box and will probably replace it with my old belay pad cut from a WalMart foam sleeping pad or steal Jonathan’s idea of the Snow-Claw. The summit comfort liner was quite kinked from packing; perhaps it will straighten out some with time.

    Overall construction looks to be of excellent quality… we’ll wait and see how the stitching holds up. It sure is an ORANGE pack if I ever saw one!

  38. Jonathan Shefftz December 8th, 2011 1:45 pm

    Forest, thanks for the info on the Baltoro. Although gotta give credit to Dynafit for the SnowClaw idea (which also at the time of the original RC20 counted under rando race rules as an avy “shovel). I recall that my “summit comfort” protector seemed a bit folded up at first, but it’s been fine ever since. The other plus is that it can be used as a divider within the safety box.
    Robin, some of your concerns are probably addressed in the 35 version, although I didn’t have problems with fitting a 70oz bladder in either version. I’m also really baffled at what is going on with your ski lasso? Maybe a picture would have clarify.
    For the shovel compartment, any model with a traditional neck is a tight fit, but the neck-less designs fit fine for me, even a full-sized blade. The avy probe compartment is just barely big enough for a full size probe from most companies – just another 1cm would make insertion way easier. (Fortunately removing it is still easy, since that of course counts way more.)
    I too wish the pad was removable. I’ve now added a small pad from Gossamer Gear for emergencies – I cut it to just barely fit, and it’s twice the length, so folded up it fits in the pack, then unfolded it could help insulate a (small) torso. Weighs essentially nothing. I also did this for the Broad Peak 28.
    Agreed on the need for a user manual! (The CAMP Rapid 260 also needs one – I never would have figured out some aspects of it w/o help from the U.S. distributor.)

  39. Forest February 16th, 2012 5:23 am

    After quite a few miles of both up and down, I am becoming attached to the new Baltoro 42. I have sewn a small webbing loop to the bottom edge of the back of the waistbelt for pulling my pulk, did 32 miles of pulling that in/out of Katahdin last weekend, plus numerous heavily weighted training tours, and the pack is holding up great. I very rarely remove the bottom section since I love having the safety box for ski/boot crampons and skins. The water bottle holder, after a little adjustment, is a delight to use and unobtrusive. The “summit comfort pad” was crap and I threw it in a corner and cut a new belay pad from closed-cell mat to fit the compartment – lighter and better. The rope attachment straps would benefit from the addition of quick release buckles instead of having to thread the strap through the buckle with cold, numb fingers. The top lid does work well for holding smaller, personal items; I only use it on overnights. No stitching or wear issues with the pack. I definitely give it a thumbs-up when a day pack just won’t do the job.

  40. Jonathan Shefftz February 17th, 2012 7:25 pm

    Forest, thanks for the feedback. (And hope you got in some good skiing on Katahdin — a friend and his fiancee are up there now … right after he proposed!)
    Odd though that the rope attachment straps are not quick release, since they are on my Manaslu 35 and Broad Peak 28 peaks.
    So although the “Summit Comfort” pad has worked well in both my Manaslu 35 and Broad Peak 28 packs, just now I tried cutting up an old blue foam pad: provides an excellent amount of stiffening and protection, has multi-use capabilities, plus (FTW!) weighs ~2oz lighter than the Manaslu pad and ~1oz lighter than the Broad Peak pad. Will probably get trashed eventually by crampon points, but cheap & easy to replace.

  41. Paul Pearce October 29th, 2012 5:00 am

    I noticed that Tyler asked where he could buy a Broad Peak 28 – I found just one retailer – Mountaingear.com. Otherwise, it seems very hard to find. I live in Australia and, as far as I am aware, we do not have a Dynafit distributor at present. So if anyone knows of other online retailers of this pack in the English-speaking world, I would love to find out.

  42. Greig October 29th, 2012 2:38 pm

    Telemark Pyrenees (in the English Speaking Euro-world) do the Broad Peak 28. Link below

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