I began using the Backcountry Access Float 32 Pack (on promo this month) this past spring. Initially I was deterred by the price and weight of airbag packs, but when you spend almost everyday of every winter in avalanche terrain it is better to be safe than sorry. I usually guide with a 45 liter airbag pack, but with guiding season coming to a close I was able to get away with a smaller pack. So this past spring I headed out into the mountains of Idaho with Backcountry Access’ Float 32 to ski corn and hunt for spring powder.
The Float 32 is an extremely comfortable pack. The heavily padded back, waist belt, and shoulder straps make for easy carrying even with all of your spring ski mountaineering gear. The pack fits close to your back and packs tall instead of out which keeps most the weight towards your back. The waist belt is easily adjustable up and down to dial in the pack to your torso length.
I find a dedicated avalanche rescue pocket is crucial for fast access to rescue gear. The Float 32 has all of this and an internal ice axe carrier. I like this addition to the pack. Carrying your piolet internally keeps the pack looking clean and is great for tram accessed ski mountaineering. An external goggle pocket makes for easy switches between goggles and sunglasses during quick transitions. There is also an internal pocket for headlamp, sunscreen, snacks, et cetera.
I also really like that the airbag is removable. Often during the spring I will remove my airbag to make more room for gear and to lighten my load for big days. The airbag is easily removable and just as easy to reinstall.
There are only two things I would like to see changed for the next edition of this pack. The Float 32 does not have back panel access. The back panel access is really nice for getting things from deep in your pack without have to ruffle around blind in your pack or unpack a bunch of items onto the snow. The next is that the diagonal ski carry hangs the skis fairly far off the side of the pack. It would be nice to carry the skis more centered on the backpack as long as it did not interfere with airbag deployment.
The pack is made of what feels like very durable material. It has held up well to the abuse of spring ski mountaineering and I think it will continue to do so.
The Backcountry Access Float 32 is an awesome addition to my quiver of ski packs. It is the perfect size for a recreationalist throughout the winter and spring seasons. It carries well, has a dedicated rescue pocket, and plenty of space in the main compartment for all my gear. I would like to see back panel access and a more centered ski carry on future editions of the Float 32.