Guest Blog – BCA Squall Pack is a Winner


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 13, 2007      
BCA Squall backcountry skiing pack.
Squall pack in action. Straps on back are for diagonal ski carry system. Black fabric stripes are the stretch panels.

By Lisa Dawson

Sometimes whining works. I try to control myself but gear envy is inevitable when you live with two males who are constantly trying out the latest and greatest, and when every dinner conversation is dominated with discussions about how to modify the new thing that came in the mail that day.

Last fall I told Lou I didn’t have a good pack. We have a closet full of packs but mine are either too big or too small or too heavy or too light. I needed something more mid-sized but still light, roomy, trim and with just the right lashing system. Lou gave me that “You’re from Venus” look and withdrew to the garage.

But ol’ Lou has a mind like a steel trap. When he returned from the OR show months later he tossed the Backcountry Access Squall my way. Impressive! (Lou and the pack) The Squall looked nice and I was anxious to try it out.

Opportunity for a test came this weekend when we slogged up two thousand vert through two feet of slush in wet snow and rain squalls. I packed the aptly named Squall with all the essentials for a long day in the backcountry: extra layers, food, survival gear, shovel and large water bottle. Everything fit nicely with room to spare. The Squall hugged my body all day and never felt too heavy. At the end of the day, my legs were tired but my shoulders didn’t ache. The Squall passed the test.

Squall is a mid-sized top loader without an internal frame or stiffner (the back is padded with foam which helps keep the pack shaped). At first glance, I thought this was a minimalist sack but it is packed with nifty features. Most obvious is the dual zipper back entry access hatch. When we stopped for a break, this was just the right size to fish around for food without emptying the pack in the wet snow. The pack has three main compartments: a large compartment accessed through the top and back entry, a top flap compartment, and a large skin compartment that is separated from the main compartment and accessible when you unzip the top flap. I hate it when my emergency layer gets wet, and that won’t happen with this pack because my wet skins will never touch my jacket again.

Designers cleverly used heavy stretch material strategically throughout this pack. The bottom of the skin pocket is bordered with stretch material allowing even a large shovel blade to fit. Along side the skin pocket are two long sleeves for probe poles. Thanks to the use of stretch material, a water bottle can also fit although the fit is tight. Skis can be carried via a diagonal Velcro strap system or they can be carried vertically on the sides of the pack in the traditional A-frame configuration.

About the only thing missing from this pack is a hydration system and shoulder strap sip tube compartment. While we use hydration systems in the spring and summer, we tend to use water bottles when it’s cold because our sip tubes have frozen so many times. So no worries about that — we’ll just retrofit a hydration system during the warm months.

I have scrawny shoulders and I was skeptical about the shoulder straps. They are not very cushy and may be uncomfortable if only wearing a tee shirt. But even with light winter layers, they were fine. On test day I wore a lightweight shell, and the shoulder straps were comfortable.

To sum it up, the Squall is a sweet, fully featured ski touring pack with a nice diagonal ski carry system, back panel access flap, combo zipper/topload opening, stretch panels and more all for about a $50.00 street price! Of course the latest dinner conversation was about how to modify my Squall. Hands off boys, it’s fine just the way it is!!
(Available late summer 2007.)

Shop for BCA Squall backpack here.

Rear panel of Squall backpack.
One of the Squall’s excellent features is a small but cleanly engineered back panel access flap. On some packs these are too large, this one is just right.

Comments

12 Responses to “Guest Blog – BCA Squall Pack is a Winner”

  1. Tim Carroll February 13th, 2007 11:23 am

    Thanks for that review, Lisa.

    Is there accommodation for a hydration bladder?

  2. Lou February 13th, 2007 12:10 pm

    No compartment in shoulder strap for bladder tube, but there is a tube hole above the left shoulder.

  3. Steve Seckinger February 13th, 2007 5:26 pm

    This looks like a great pack and you can’t beat the price. If I recall, the early-day JanSport Supersack went for $50. It had integrated ski slots (with leather tabs for a cinch-strap) but not many other features. The Squall looks have many more features, but for the same price from 20 years ago!

  4. Tim Carroll February 13th, 2007 6:41 pm

    Thanks, Lou.

    What about a pouch or similar for the hydration bladder? I understood that it doesn’t come with a bladder, but I’m wondering how compatible it is. Of course, the bladder can just go in loose too, I’ve done that with other packs. I’m really just curious.

  5. Lou February 13th, 2007 7:24 pm

    No pouch for bladder, but could easily be rigged as with other packs that don’t have a pouch. Also, remember BCA likes their Nalgene bottle sip tube rig, and that would work in this pack just fine.

  6. RobinB February 13th, 2007 7:40 pm

    Can you fit the shovel handle and a probe in the skin/shovel pocket as well as the blade? I am looking for a pack for avalanche control work, and we need to keep all metal items separate from the charges in the pack. The back access zips make for easy access and that or a side zip is essential IMO.

  7. Lisa Dawson February 13th, 2007 8:55 pm

    Robin,

    Yes, with the Squall you could keep all metal items separate from charges in the pack.

    What I call the skin/shovel compartment runs down the entire face of the pack, so it’s quite large and is completely separated from the main compartment. Dimensions are approximately 11.5â€? wide by 19″ high. The side pockets run along the length of the skin/shovel compartment and are wide enough to fit a Nalgene bottle. These three compartments are partially constructed with stretch material so there’s some give.

    Our biggest backcountry shovel head, the Black Diamond Deploy (volume .7 gallons) easily fit in the middle skin/shovel compartment with room to spare for rope or skins. Probes and shovel handle fit in the side compartments which can be cinched down with handy compression straps. Your charges could be kept separate in the main pack. I think this pack would work nicely for you. Let us know and be careful with the fireworks!

  8. Dave February 14th, 2007 11:30 pm

    Where can one purchase this pack? No reference to the Squall on the BCA site that I can find.

  9. Lou February 15th, 2007 7:01 am

    Hi Dave, as mentioned in the review, it’ll be available late summer 2007. I usually don’t review gear that’s not on the market (though I mention things, such as boots), but since I had a production sample of this pack and it was to be such a good deal, I thought it fun and useful to get the info out there.

  10. Dave February 15th, 2007 11:02 am

    Ah, missed that bit. I guess I’ll have to wait 🙁

  11. Rob April 14th, 2011 12:16 pm

    Useless pack. Heavy, doesnt hold much, way to big and boxy considering the low volume. I really dont get what all the hype is about for BCA. Seems very trendy to me. I am selling this stupid pack and buying a low profile, high volume climbing pack. 🙄

  12. venus factor April 14th, 2015 2:15 pm

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much
    about this, like you wrote the guide in it or something.

    I feel that you just can do with some percent to drive the message home a bit, but other than that,
    that is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly
    be back.

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

  • Scott S Allen: Thanks Lou for the feed back, I really appreciate it! I have worked with B...
  • Topi: I have used Mammut RAS Light 30 for two past seasons (Euro). No durability ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: All fine Dave, appreciate the industry voice chiming in here with useful st...
  • Mammut Dave: Forgot to mention--regarding durability, with any of these light packs you ...
  • Mammut Dave: Harpo and Lou--a bit of info on the light fabric from Mammut. These two pa...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Maciej, in my opinion not quite a stiff feeling as TLT6-P, a bit stiffer th...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Scott, if lasting is your concern, when doing shell fit without liner you p...
  • Lou Dawson 2: John, I'd say your view is accurate. Until they reduce the weight and cost ...
  • John S: I have a little bit older BCA Float model, and this fall I'm helping my dau...
  • Scott: I got a 28 shell and seems tight with 1.5 fingers....may up it to the 29, b...
  • Lou2: There is no real industry standard for how lasts are measured. I go with SK...
  • Scott Allen: Scarpa site claims a 102 mm last in this model of F1 (one of the reasons I ...
  • Maciej Pike-Biegunski: This boot looks really appealing. My feet measure out at an 8D on a Brannoc...
  • Christian: I made the switch to these late last winter after giving up on my old TLT5 ...
  • Scott McCullough: You could make a bungy lock for split boarders. I bet someone might like t...
  • Kam Harris: Thin soles wear out ridiculously fast on my Dynafit boots, usually in about...
  • Bill H: Hey once we can sell a ski clothing brand on including panels of power gene...
  • Lou Dawson 2: As this could be a viable mod that folks would use in real life, I'll go ah...
  • See: From a social engineering standpoint, I don’t think I would want to make a ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jeremy, see my other comments about battery regulations. Arcteryx battery (...
  • Lou2: David, I'll look into it, but let me tell you that after spending literally...
  • Lou2: Update, I corrected the weights. Thanks Craig, I'll correct shortly. Sho...
  • Craig: Just so you know, with the conversion to metric is wrong... "30 liter veri...
  • David Hackbarth: Lou, Lithium battery safety issues are at the top of the list for FAA righ...
  • Jeremy C: Outside of the USA at least, under the IATA regulations Table 2.3A, I can c...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I have a new post for today but I think I'll let this one stay on top for a...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Wookie and Jcoats, Its been interesting reporting on the huge upsurge in up...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'd add that there is no reason the electric options can't be as light as t...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Wookie, indeed, for some of us I'd say that's exactly what's going on. I'm ...
  • Martin: Interesting hack! Definitely an improvement for airtravel. Though it's pr...

  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