Words By: Alison McPherson
Being super eager to start the ski season this year, I’ve already had a fair number of days out in the backcountry so far which has given me a fair chance to test out my new Thule Upslope 35L ski backpack. This pack has left me with nothing poor to say about the well-thought out design.
AVALANCHE SAFETY GEAR COMPARTMENT
First and foremost, there’s a front compartment specific for avalanche safety gear. This pocket not only has designated slots for your shovel handle and probe but it is also tapered near the bottom so that your shovel blade doesn’t slide down to the bottom of your pack.
One of my personal favourite features is the large side pockets on the waist-belt, which are big enough to fit my skins or a 1L Nalgene water bottle. Keeping my skins on one side and my water bottle and snacks on the other, I don’t even need to take my bag off for transitions.
The overall volume of 35L is the perfect size for day trips. The back pocket has a very wide opening so I don’t find myself having to toss everything out of my bag in order to find one thing that’s at the bottom of my pack. Even though this bag only has one size, as a smaller person (5’5”), I don’t find the frame to be too large. On the opposite side of the spectrum, my co-worker who is 5’10” doesn’t having any issues with the same pack being too small.
I have to admit when I first saw the pack I was a bit overwhelmed from all the straps hanging out but after playing with it for a few minutes and watching the video online, the straps are simple and useful. You can easily carry skis in an A-frame or diagonal position as well as a snowboard in a vertical or horizontal position. When you’re not using the straps, they can be tucked away to prevent them from getting caught or getting in the way.
A few other features that top this bag off include an attached helmet holder (which can also be tucked away real easily), a soft-lined goggle pocket, and an insulated hydration sleeve pocket. When I first used the hydration pocket, I found it a bit hard to close the zipper of the back pocket when the hydration pack was full of water because it was weighted down. It just took a bit of figuring out to get that part dialed in; however, I still prefer to store a Nalgene bottle in one of the waist-belt pockets.
All in all, this backpack has been great for suiting all my needs out in the backcountry. At a very reasonable price point of $179 +GST, I’d say you can’t really go wrong with this pack. Thule is known for their well-designed and durable roof racks but they can also make a great backpack!
CLICK HERE to check out more photos and specifications of the Thule Upslope 35L pack.