Tracking innovations in the ski industry one trusted gear review at a time. From skis to underwear, if it makes your skiing better or worse, we want to know. Exposing the over-hyped gear and directing the love to where it belongs is the intention of these real people gear reviews. This go we’re looking into the new Osprey Soelden Pro avy pack 32.
THE GEAR REVIEWER
Jaret Bull is a quiet 26-year-old that’s a dirt nerd (Geotech) based in Squamish BC. Every weekend and weekdays with bragable snow, you can find him making quick work of Whistler Blackcomb. Despite growing up skiing a hill with a vertical gain equivalent to the Magic Chair, his annual family trips have Jaret acquainted with Blackcomb better than most long time locals. His focus is primarily on skiing technical freeride lines with speed, fluidity, and style. The guy you saw pole out of Spanky’s, with remnants of a face shot on his upper lip and a shit-eating grin on his face, at 2 pm on a Saturday, four days after the last storm? That was probably Jaret.
GEAR REVIEW OSPREY SOELDEN: IN SHORT
The Osprey Soelden Pro is a really comfy pack that just so happens to house an airbag. This is one of the better fitting packs I have worn (I’m picky as a gear tester should be so that’s a compliment!) and I am excited that airbag packs are beginning to not feel clunky and heavy. This is a pretty versatile pack that is well designed for most days in the mountains.
The best thing about the Osprey Soelden Pro Avy Airbag Pack?
Definitely the fit. This pack carries supper well. The back contouring and hip support are awesome. It makes it feel like you are carrying less than you actually are.
The fan is awesome, you can practice with it at no cost, travel with it, the list goes on for positives here, but don’t forget about charging the battery – unlike the CO2 can that is always good to go until it is pulled. The battery can die and needs to be checked frequently to ensure you have enough charge for a day of use. This is standard gear maintenance stuff, but it definitely needs to be added to the checklist.
Best used for?
Day trips. This is a super comfy pack with more than enough room for a day’s worth of gear. Whether that be touring off the resort, sled skiing, full-blown valley to peak missions, or just a simple resort day.
On this pack, the zippers zip the pack closed away from each other. So there is a zipper at each side of the zip track when the pack is closed. This is actually awesome for the avalanche rescue gear pouch – it makes finding the zipper really easy and could be a time-saver in an accident as both zippers are in the mid to upper third of the pack. However, for the main clamshell pouch, I think it would have been better to have the zippers close together. The zipper that closes to the bottom of the pack is really inconvenient to get to and that kind of defeats the purpose of having a double zipper.
Don’t use in these circumstances:
Really only when you have more than 32 L of gear. The space in this pack is generous and that’s really nice, but that could be tight for some people who get into bigger alpine missions and need space for ropes, etc.
As mentioned above, I really like the way this pack fits. The carry system definitely compensates for the added weight you sign up for when wearing an airbag. That is my favourite feature aside from the airbag system itself. I’m not really an ultra-light kinda guy so don’t quote me on weight, but I find the airbag system doesn’t add a tonne of weight to this pack compared to other systems I’ve used in the past. The fan inflates the bag quickly and the bag remains hard for quite a while. I was really impressed with the support my neck got from the bag. I’m no doctor but I would assume that kind of support could be pretty helpful in preventing spine trauma.
Would you recommend this pack?
If you’ve got the bones, let’r buck. This pack is pricey but investing in personal safety is a pretty great place to invest. You won’t be dissatisfied in the way the pack performs.
FULL GEAR GURU THOUGHTS
Overall this is a really awesome pack. It is way more streamlined than other airbag packs – so streamline in fact that the rear carry straps are hidden out of the way behind a facing on the back of the bag. This significantly reduces the risk of getting stuck on the chairlift, a tree, a signpost, your buddy’s pack, or really any other pack snake. The ripcord height is adjustable to suit a wide variety of body types and the shoulders have adjustable straps which isn’t true for all airbags. Packing the airbag, after use (for practice or for real) is super simple and after reading the instructions once, the process is quite routine. The manual provides an easy to follow summary of LEDs that indicate the battery status, and an associated paragraph that discusses battery longevity and the performance you can expect from the fan on a battery that isn’t fully charged. The charging cord is USB so it works with your phone charging block, or your car, Bivy Stick, or other devices if you’re desperate. I think this is a pack that people will buy for the airbag system and find so comfortable that it becomes their daily driver even when the airbag is not needed. As a bonus, the airbag is removable so the pack could be a one-pack quiver for someone who only needs a pack in the 32 L range – and this really makes the price a bit easier to swallow when you consider that you are getting a high-quality multi-use pack.