Joe Pyle is an avid skier, climber, and outdoor photographer based in Estes Park, Colorado.
At first glance the Stash 30 backpack from Backcountry Access in the blue color with orange highlights is a little flashy for my taste (it also comes in black), however, after giving it some thought, it’s perfect for Denver Broncos fans and for additional visibility on the mountain.
I also used the Backcountry Access ice axe and shovel combo, a.k.a. the “Shaxe.” It was super useful as I skidded across a snow field that was a little sketchy for a traverse. The first thing to notice about this pack, shovel and axe combo is the weight, especially the axe and shovel.
When compared to the weight of my axe/shovel combo that I used to carry, it’s especially light: 1.4lbs. for the shovel, 0.6 lbs for the axe. Holy S***! That’s light! As a backcountry skier and hiker, this is a huge improvement. When you’ve got several miles to skin/hike and most of it is uphill, every bit of weight counts.
The Stash 30 is, I feel, the perfect size and is very comfortable. It’s great for day-long backcountry skiing days. The straps, while small, are comfortable and have a few zippered compartments to hold your energy gels, food, chapstick, etc. without feeling bulky. The main compartment is separate from the shovel compartment. This may sound a bit trivial, but it’s a relief to worry less about your extra layers getting wet, and being able to focus on getting to and from your destination.
There are many (many!) zippered pockets on this pack and, for those that are organized, it really is helpful to know exactly where everything is – food, water, layers, beer, etc.- and there is plenty of room for all of that and a lot more.
If I were to be picky, and this is a stretch because I love everything about this pack, I would need to say that the buckles could stand to be a bit beefier. I broke one trying to cinch it down onto a camera tripod. (I know, not it’s intended use, but hey, people will be trying to attached skis to it). Overall I give it a 9/10 on the great-stuff-o-meter and can’t wait to use it this season.
(Note that BCA addressed the buckle durability issue for their production models, the pack reviewed was a early sample prototype.)