Wil Rickards was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education and emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snow falls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking and skiing throughout the States, Europe and Australia, and regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. If his outdoor qualification pins were the size of shields, he likes to think they might fill a castle.
Photos by John Countryman at Berthoud Pass, CO
‘Quality’ is the first word that sprung to mind when the Kode 22 + 10 ABS bag arrived in the mail. I wasn’t surprised, as I’ve had an Osprey Pack since shortly after I arrived in the States 15 years ago. The fact that my red ‘Taco Sack’ is still in one piece is a testament to the company. Osprey packs are like our trusty old Subaru- they just kept on going. I almost feel bad when it’s no longer shiny and I want to replace it because you see all the bells and whistles on the new ones. Thankfully, the guilt dissolved as soon as I took the new model for a test drive.
When I pulled the Kode 22 + 10 ABS out of the box I was jonesing because the bag is a testament to workmanship and my excitement only heightened as I discovered each of the features. To be fair, my usual approach to all gear is that ‘light is right.’ My poor son suffers the tyranny of a father who culls everything he can from our loads. A pack of this nature with all its features does not fit into this category (about 3 lbs). That said I am still excited.
Here’s why: Firstly, skiing is a dynamic balance sport, weight distribution is key and that weight needs to be stabilized and kept consistently in the same place. Secondly, I carry more ‘stuff’ for a day backcountry skiing than I do the other dynamic sports. The added weight of the pack means I can both organize my stuff and I will be able to ski comfortably without being thrown around by the load on my back. I am also able to zip an Avalanche Airbag (ABS) system in or out depending on what the mission is. This is definitely a comfortable carry even when loaded and I love how organized my safety gear is. The last thing anyone wants is to have to search around for safety gear when it is needed.
The straps on this pack mean I can load my skis in several fashions, which is convenient as I hate it when my only option is to kick my skis each time my foot travels behind my body. Likewise I get really frustrated when I am booting a traverse under a rock outcrop and my skis keep on trying to pitch me into the abyss.
Other features I like include:
- A zipper that allows me to either expand or cinch down the load size: I never thought I would like that additional weight.
- A spiffy goggles pocket (just don’t sit on the top of the pack).
- Bladder tube insulation, great because I hate it when my water source freezes and it hasn’t yet.
The verdict? Since selling my Denali Pro, the Osprey Kode 22 + ABS is likely the only ‘heavy’ pack I will own. The pack does its job, and it does it well.