I've taken this out on a number of backcountry day trips so far. I know I've said this about a few other things, but this pack is just about perfect. Let's get the bad out of the way first. The bombastic material on the shovel pocket ripped on day one. I'm thinking of just ignoring it until it gets worse (it hasn't so far so i'm guessing this was an isolated incident). I have no idea how this happened; we were on a 3 mile hike and I had my skis with dynafit bindings strapped on the whole time, so i'm guessing the toe wings just dug through the fabric. Like I said, the whole hasn't worsened and the shovel isn't going to fall out of it, so maybe it's no big deal. Were it not for this, i'd have given it 5 stars. On to the good stuff. 1) The Hinch 2.0 is a vast improvement over the straps and buckles used in last year's models of these packs. It's easier to get on and off, the the straps are more limp making it easier to adjust their length, and finally they don't tend to fall off when you're just walking around without the skis lashed down. 2) The diagonal ski carry on this year's model is slanted at a slightly more up-and-down angle, given you greater balance and helping to the skis from getting tangled on every tree to the left of you. 3) This pack carries better than any pack I've ever owned. I think this is mostly due to the very slim profile they managed to get out of it and the elongated torso. The weight just rides really close to your body and distributes well. 4) The crampon pouch is the perfect size for my BD Sabretooth crampons; I store the crampons in the BD mesh case and then slide the whole thing into the crampon pouch. Have not used it for skins thus far. 5) The interal storage capacity is perfect for a long day trip. Apart from avy tools, I store MH Compressor Pants, MH Compressor Jacket or 800 Fill Down Jacket depending on the weather, extra gloves, water, snacks, my shell jacket and extra layers when not in use. There is a small mesh pocket toward the top for sundries (car keys, wallet, whatever). Nice to have. 6) The goggle pocket has been moved from the front panel to the lid which makes much more sense to me. It's a great place for anything delicate (GoPro accessories etc...). I typically store my goggles on my helmet, in turn strapped to the helmet lash loops on the top-front. This system works just fine. 7) The right hip belt has a pocket just big enough for a point-and-shoot camera, though if it's cold out you'll want that on your body somewhere. 8) The left hip belt has a loop for any kind of rock or ice rack you may be carrying. I use it for an altimeter which has a carabiner loop on it.
Bottom line - this is the one. I'm selling my Off Chute 26, switching to this for virtually all backcountry, and getting a Chugach 12 for resort / sidecountry.