For the past couple years I've been using a 38L F-stop Loka pack every day, most of the time without the camera block, and I've loved it. I was able to pick up an ABS Base unit pretty cheaply which came with a older 15L cover which I knew wouldn't cut it. I was hoping this 25L Dakine Vario would fit the bill, and I think it will, most of the time. A couple complaints: My G3 320cm probe does not fit in the avi tool pocket unless I absolutely jam it in there and stretch the fabric, so it has to sit in the main compartment (and in the middle). The shovel handle can fit inside the avi tool pocket (in two pieces) but really cuts down on space so it will sit in the outside sleeve. The helmet carry works well (I previously just used the compressions straps) but I am unsure as to how it will work with the diagonal ski carry. The ski carry system itself is much improved over past models.
I tend to carry a fair bit with me even on resort days(extra pairs of gloves, extra goggles, snacks, leatherman, 750ml water bottle and avi gear), just in case I want to go do a little slackcountry. All of that fits in easily, it's where packing for a full day tour gets a little trickier. (I've added two photos of the pack fully loaded for a day tour). In total it weighs 19.4 lbs. Even loaded to the brim the pack sits very nicely on your back and skis quite well. It isn't overly deep, and when only half full compresses nicely and fits on a lift without taking it off. The build quality is great, zippers are fantastic, lining is good and the pack is light.
- Slim fit, & easily compressible
- Carries well
- Avi tool pocket fits large shovel blade
- Build quality
- Large probe (G3 320cm) doesn't fit in avi tool pocket
- Shovel handle sticks out of outside sleeve preventing the pack from sitting flat when upright
- No A-frame ski carry
- No hydration capability
- Tight fit for everything on a full day tour.