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Gear Review

4 5

Great for Its Intended Use

I normally like to carry a pillow and a ham sandwich with me in the backcountry - just in case I run into trouble. I was nervous that the Float 18 wouldn't hold the pillow. To my delight, it's bigger than I expected.

In all seriousness, I was surprised that the 18 has enough volume for sidecountry and heli-ski days. Getting a rescue sled, first aid kit, repair kit, etc. in the pack isn't really possible, but an extra layer, water, a little food, and a camera is. (Shovel and probe are a given.)

This pack is not designed for touring. If you access the backcountry from a resort, or go heli-skiing, you are counting on help being relatively close, and you might be making quick decisions without the benefit of gathering information on the way up. This is what the Float 18 was designed for.

I've blown up a lot of these as demonstrations, and putting the airbag back in the pack is pretty easy once you figure out the best system. Changing the canister is easy. It would be nice if the 18 was a zipper closing system like the 36, rather than velcro. If you pop open the velcro will carrying your skis in the ski carrier, use the haul loop to connect the skis and the problem is solved with no change in function.

It's not a touring pack, but it's great for those days when mechanical assistance gets you more vertical.