The rise of the avalanche airbag pack has taken some attention away from the traditional backcountry ski pack. Airbag packs are a solid innovation in avalanche safety and have proven to be true life savers, but the reality is that most of us still use regular, non-airbag ski packs for human powered ski touring.
The latest traditional backcountry ski pack to make our test fleet is the Deuter Rise Lite 28. It’s a well designed but modest-sized day pack for skiers who know how to pack reasonably light.
The Rise Lite measures in at 28 liters, and the traditional top-loading pack is trimmed with all of the standard features you’d expect on a backcountry ski pack including a dedicated avalanche tools / shovel pocket, multiple ski attachment options and several accessory pockets including a small hip-belt pocket and two zip pockets in the lid.
The first thing I check on a new backcountry ski pack is the shovel / avalanche tools pocket. Will it fit my shovel and handle? Can it accommodate a full three meter probe? Is their room for my snow saw? The avalanche tools pocket on the Rise Lite has a great opening. The zipper spans the top and runs all the the way down one side to allow ample access to shovel, probe, saw etc. It’s not the biggest shovel pocket I’ve seen, nor is it the smallest. It fit my mid-size K2 shovel and handle perfectly and swallowed a full three-meter probe without issue. It even took my saw with a little fiddling – but my saw is definitely on the long side and it’s not something I carry on every tour.
Just shy of 30 liters, the pack may sound small, but I have been able to pack all of the essentials for a solid day of ski touring in the Rise Lite – shovel, probe, skins, 2x layers, thermos, spare gloves, goggles, hat, food, small repair/first-aid, radio, etc without even trying to limit my normal day touring load. That said, I have a knack for packing reasonably light and 28-liters could be on the small side for some skiers.
What sets the Rise Lite apart from similar top-loading backcountry ski packs is its overall weight. At 1150 grams (about 2.5 lb), it may not win over the light-is-right crowd, but it weighs between 250 and 450 grams (0.5-1.0 lb) less than many similar sized packs. And who is going to complain about less weight on their back – not me.
It’s modest 28-liter size may not extend into the overnight range or satisfy a real gear hog, ski guide or avalanche pro who needs more volume for safety gear, however it packs a very functional load for a wide range of winter and spring ski pursuits for us mere mortals. It also features a modest price tag at $150 and Deuter makes a women’s specific edition designed to better accommodate woman’s torso and body shape.
While full of functional features, the pack is not overloaded with straps and pockets of questionable value or unknown use. It carries nicely with a good close-to-the-back feel and a narrow, low-profile fit suited to skiing down as well as moving up the hill. You could spend more dollars and get a similar but heavier pack with options like pack panel or side zip access. But my preference is to keep it simple. A mesh zip pocket in the avalanche tools area would be a nice addition to hold a small repair or snow study kit, but the overall clean, uncluttered style of the Deuter Rise Lite wins my full seal of approval.
If you are in the market for a traditional backcountry ski pack and are not prone to packing the proverbial kitchen sink, the Deuter Rise Lite 28 offers a clean, low profile package capable of carry everything you need for a great day of powder skiing in the backcountry.