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Backpack for Lightweight Backcountry Skiing: Ultimate Direction SkiMo 28 [Review]

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Published on Apr 30, 2017

I've long been a fan of lightweight and fast. While many people seem to plan for every contingency and end up with a heavy backpack to cover only a handful of miles every day, I usually go as light as possible to allow myself to cover a lot of ground. I'm also usually carrying camera equipment and possible a beer or two so if I can cut weight anywhere, I'm always thankful.

Ultimate Direction has long been famous for crafting lightweight trail running vests and belts. Why is this important you ask? Well, the SkiMo 28 isn't really a backpack; rather, it's a bag built on to a vest. There is an important distinction to make here when you're trying to go light and fast. Vests vastly outperform packs when you're running or you need to be flexible; on skis for instance.

All the bulky padding and heavy straps have been eliminated on the SkiMo 28. The fabric is lightweight but still tough and very breathable. At only 580 grams it's so light that measuring it in pounds is too imprecise.

Most impressive is what this vest/backpack does. Remember the days of taking your backpack on and off and laboring to attach your skis? Well, say goodbye to them forever. Simply slip your skis into the loop, reach around your head with your opposite hand to attach the integrated clip and you barely have to stop walking to do it.

At this point you're probably thinking, "But I still have to take the pack off to stuff my skins." Wrong again. Keep the waist belt connected, slip off your shoulder straps and spin the bag around. You can let it hang from your waist as you unzip the vertical pocket that offers just enough room for a pair of skins to warm themselves on your back as you find your way down. This zipper is also where you'll stash your water reservoir. I've found it stays more protected from freezing as compared to a traditional backpack with the added barrier of more padding and perhaps air gaps.

You'll find stretch and zippered pockets in the places you need them and a stash pocket for a shovel and probe. At the bottom is a compartment separated from the main storage area by a zipper. Open it up to use the full volume of the pack or close it off to safely stash your crampons or camera. Ultimate Direction built in a side access cover held close by hook and loop closure. With the pack on, reach around and easily pull it open to access your gear, again without removing the pack.

Ultimate Directions seems to have thought of everything when they built the SkiMo 28. I normally ski with an air bag pack but on those days where I'm playing it safer and especially for spring skiing, the SkiMo 28 is my pack, sorry - vest, of choice.

Links

Ultimate Direction SkiMo 28: https://goo.gl/pmZbsl

More gear reviews: http://goo.gl/0x4zz

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