It was a powder day. The storm that was wreaking havoc throughout the country was the perfect mix of ingredients for a skier. Moisture was hosing the Sierra while a polar vortex spun down on the 48 states of America. This particular situation had been brewing for awhile and in Colorado’s Front Range at least 20 inches had fallen on Berthoud Pass, double that on the leeward side of the ridges poking above 12,000 feet. It was time to ski and check out Red Fox’s new Ride pack for skiers and snowboarders who earn their turns.
For those of us familiar with panel or top loading packs, there is a consistency to the way you arrange your stuff. The Ride pack allows you to do that, but also allows you to access any corner of the pack at anytime by how you arrange two pair of double-sliders. This option not only changes how quickly you can get to objects that are traditionally at the bottom of the pack, it changes how you might organize those items.For instance the side panels of the Ride can open up like a cabinet door. This made access to my thermos of hot tea buried at the bottom as easy as if were stashed at the top. Because of this adjustable access I purposely put the thermos at the bottom because it was heavier. The side panels are padded to give some shape and each side provides a pair of internal mesh pockets that are easy to get to. It is worth mentioning that in an emergency bivvy situation the padded panels of the Ride can allow it to be used as an insulated seat that wraps from your back, under your butt and down to your knees. Inside there is a big flat pocket for maps, a sleeve for holding a shovel blade and two circular sleeves for a probe and shovel shaft.
On the outside, up top, is a zippered goggle pocket lined with soft fleece to protect your expensively sensitive eyewear. Below that are two zippered sleeves, one deep and thin with a mesh inner sleeve and a second smaller pocket that houses a harness to hold onto your helmet on the outside.Where the Ride pack shines is the multiple ways skis or snowboards can be strapped to it, whether you’re cramponing up a steep couloir or walking on a dry trail. Two straps, one at the top, one near the bottom, securely hold a snowboard vertically with hypalon tabs to protect the webbing straps from being cut by steel edges. Skis can be slung diagonally through large ice-axe loops on the bottom, then held by the horizontal snowboard straps OR strapped to the sides in classic A-frame style. Even though skis may be strapped to the sides you can still access any corner inside thanks to the dual-slider zippers; you just might need to unbind the tips at the top of the A-frame.
The other function you’ll appreciate with the Ride pack is how well it carries. The weight you’re carrying is well distributed thanks to a molded back panel that cups your lumbar with dense foam against your back and a spinal channel to vent excess heat. The waist belt is wide and there’s a whistled sternum strap that can be adjusted up or down.
The Ride pack comes in two sizes, 35 liter for big days and hut-to-hut tours or a 20 liter version for short day trips.
Our final lap brought us about a quarter-mile from the parking lot; far enough to make it worth strapping the skis to the pack rather than merely shouldering them. It only took two minutes to secure my skis diagonally and then we made the short hike on foot back to the car and a hot meal.