Exped Glissade 35
$229, 35L/2,136 c.i., 3 lbs. 2 oz.
Making a pack for backcountry skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing day trips that’s lighter than most competitors is difficult to pull off without sacrificing support or features. But several days of backcountry skiing with the streamlined Glissade 35 in Idaho’s Boise Mountains and Galena Summit area convinced me that it makes few sacrifices while delivering all you’d want in a snow pack.
It held tightly to my back whether going hard uphill or skiing telemark turns downhill. A removable, foam back panel with two aluminum stays deliver enough support to comfortably carry about 30 pounds—more than you’re likely to stuff inside the pack on an all-day backcountry tour. The pack comes in only one size that fit my 18-inch torso well, and fits average to long torsos.
The capacity is adequate for day tours: I stuffed a three-liter bladder, a fat down jacket, extra gloves, an emergency bivy sack, a fleece vest, a DSLR, and alternately my shell jacket or skins into the main compartment, and still had a little space leftover; plus, there’s a mesh pocket inside for small items. The panel-loading main compartment has a zipper shaped like an inverted “J”—extending deeper on one side than the other. The advantage is that contents don’t spill out when you open it, and it provides easy access to anything on the side with the full-length zipper; but it’s also a little difficult to access items on the side that opens only halfway when the goggles pocket is full.
The front snow-tools pocket easily swallows a saw, probe, and a large-blade shovel like the Black Diamond Deploy 7 (whereas I’ve seen ski packs with snow-tools pockets that, annoyingly, don’t fit that shovel). Its only tradeoff: minimalist loops for holding a saw and probe instead of longer fabric tubes. The roomy, fleece-lined goggles pocket fit goggles and sunglasses in a hard case, as well as a couple of energy bars. The two zippered hipbelt pockets each carry a couple of bars. That said, the Glissade 35 is not big enough for a yurt trip or for most guides.
The 630-denier, water-resistant nylon material is certainly tough enough for typical use. You can carry skis diagonally or A-frame, but the latter setup impedes access to the pack’s main compartment. Removable netting on the front secures a helmet. Overall, I’d give only a few minor demerits against this pack for snow sports that carries well and is fully featured while weighing barely more than three pounds.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.