Skins. Shovel. Probe. Layers. Goggles. Food. Water. Check. Packing for a ski tour isn’t rocket science, but dialing in your ski pack for easy access to the gear you want when you want it takes practice and a pack with thoughtful organization. The Osprey Soelden 32 backcountry ski pack balances a quick-access main body with just enough smaller storage pockets to keep the little stuff organized and easy to find.
It’s a panel loader pack, which means the main body is accessible from the back panel versus a large top opening (that’s called a top loader). In fact, the only way into the main body is from the back panel. Add a dedicated avalanche safety tools compartment accessible from the front and three smaller organizer pockets accessible from various points, and you’ve got 32 liters of storage – a volume sweet spot for winter day trips without tempting you with too much unnecessry storage space.
The bulky stuff like warm layers, a thermos, spare gloves and skins are easily stored in the main body of the Osprey Soleden 32. The main body also includes two sleeves, one for a radio (with remote mic) and one for a thermos or water bottle. The sleeves add zero bulk, but keep key items easy to find. The dedicated avalanche tools pocket organizes your shovel, probe and saw. The pocket is big enough to handle full-size avalanche rescue shovels. In fact, it’s roomy enough to hold a minimal repair kit and your skins if you prefer to keep them seperate from your dry gear.
Three additional storage pockets – a modest zip pouch on the inside of the back panel, a large zip compartment on the top and a small hipbelt pocket offer the space to keep high-use stuff easy to access. The best of these smaller storage zones is the zip compartment on the top of the pack. It’s large enough to hold a mix of stuff like goggles, snacks, a camera and a ball cap. It’s the top lid equivilent in a panel loader pack, and Osprey did right by making it roomy. A small zip pocket in the avy tools compartment for a fieldbook or snowpit kit would be a nice addition to the pack.
The Osprey Soelden 32 has all the usual ski and board carry options, plus dedicated ice tool straps and a stow-away helmet carry harness.
Back Panel Access
If you’ve never used a back panel access pack, the idea is that you can access the body without laying the back panel in the snow. Back panels are notorious for picking up snow when you lay a traditonal pack down. Back panel access lets you lay the pack on the front side thus keeping back panel free of snow and your back dry.
Functional Design, Bomber Build
Osprey packs are well known for their quality construction and attention to detail. The Soelden 32 uses bomber zippers, quality materials and, simply put, is clearly built to last. The shoulder straps and harness feel great under load. But the best part of the pack is that it’s not complicated. I often judge gear, especially packs, by the credo that something is well-designed when there’s nothing left to be removed. Osprey does a nice job of keeping the Soelden clean and functional. It’s far from minimalist, but it has everything you need for ski touring and nothing you don’t.
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