North Cascades, Olympics, Mt. Rainier, B.C.

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Norman's Passions

Alpine Touring
Sport Climbing

Norman's Bio

I grew up winter camping in Maine, so the PNW climate is really quite pleasant in comparison. I moved here in 1996 to live among these mountains and glaciers where I now climb, ski, snowboard, backpack, flyfish, and more. I am especially fascinated by avalanches, and have dedicated myself to learning and teaching snow safety with the intention of sharing amazing and safe backcountry experiences with others.


Col wrote an answer about on November 3, 2009

The Arrakis has features designed specifically for backcountry ski touring, like a probe pocket and wider front pocket for a shovel blade. If these things are important to you, go for the Arrakis. It also has a large side zipper straight to the main compartment (which I don't like, as it compromises the drybag, and I always load from top down).

If those features are not important to you, the Naos is great and is a really clean design, with better & fewer (unneeded) features that most packs including the Bora series and others mentioned below (it's lighter too!). The suspension on these packs is absolutely amazing.

I like the narrow profile of the Naos, but the front pocket is not big enough for a shovel blade to slide easily in and out when it is full. If you're going out in winter, you can still carry a shovel with one handle in an axe loop and the blade tucked under the lid.




Col wrote a review of on October 27, 2009

3 5

I've been looking for a new small ski pack since the seams started separating on my old favorite. There are so many pack options, with many "special features" that it's been a tough choice. I like this one in concept, but when I received it and filled it with my day-touring gear, it just didn't feel right.

First of all, I expected it to have back-panel access like the Kode 30 (I had asked the salesperson at about this over the phone), but it does not.

Second, the avy gear pocket has a pretty short zipper, making it challenging to get to the bottom of things (maybe not necessary when pulling out your probe, but it's hard to get a shovel blade or skins out when the pack is full.)

The hip belt pockets are small, and don't have great ergonomics. I really like the stretch pockets on the GoLite Jam2 waistbelt.

The strap system seems to work for skis or snowboard, but is not as simple and clean as I would prefer. The pulley-like features that are cool but unneeded.

And finally, it just didn't feel great on my back compared to my old pack. It looks like a good product, but it's not for me...

The Kode 30 seems better in some ways, but is too large for what I want. I'm so picky!




Col wrote a review of on October 22, 2009

5 5

I notice the 175 Justice specs are off by a little... even on the BD website (unless you dig deep). The pair I've got are marked on the sidewall (cap): 138-111-123 and I weight them at just over 8 lbs. or about 3700g per pair.

These are really sweet skis, perfect for that Dynafit 110 brake and some deep powder touring! 125mm skins will work fine.





Col wrote an answer about on October 14, 2009

One theory is that Archaeopteryx is the...

One theory is that Archaeopteryx is the lizard that climbed up the rock and jumped off enough times to become a bird and fly! Kinda like the wingsuit flyers who are evolving human capacity at terminal velocity. This has got to be the best brand concept to date, not to mention some really epic products (and a few duds). Canadians are Rad!




Col wrote an answer about on October 9, 2009

I choose to size skins at least as wide as the tail width (usually 10-15mm less than the tip width). If you have too much base exposed near the edges it may be hard to traverse slopes in less than ideal conditions (windpack, crust, etc). Ski crampons will solve this but may be overkill in many situations (and add more $$ than the wider skins.)

Once you pay a little extra for the right size, you will never look back. You may regret saving $10-20 by getting poorly fitting skins.

That being said, you can always pick a lower angle skin track, or carry your skis up the steep slopes. Any skin will help greatly for traveling over low angle terrain. XC wax can work too, but takes knowledge & skill to use effectively.




Col wrote an answer about on October 7, 2009

Hi Linda,

For clarification, all avalanche beacons send a signal during the standard (transmit) mode, and will "beep" for hundreds of hours on new batteries when they are turned on (replace the batteries once they show any signs of weakness, usually on a meter on the device).

It takes a conscious effort to switch the beacon to receive, so that it cannot happen accidentally. The device then stops transmitting the signal, and operates in search mode. It is important for everyone in the area to understand how to switch to search mode immediately in an emergency (someone is caught in an avalanche) so that there is not an extra signal being picket up by the searchers. It is also important to understand how to switch back to send (transmit) in case of a second avalanche during the rescue.

No matter what beacon you choose, be sure to practice with it in as many scenarios as possible: single burials, deep burials, multiple burials, etc. There is a lot of educational information, but only real life practice (in the snow, in the forest, on steep slopes, near cliffs, and other challenging conditions, before you are ready to ski into those circumstances).

Also, find partners who are willing to practice with you until everyone can consistently find and uncover a beacon in a stuff sack (probe practice too!) within 5 minutes. Then go charge those big lines!

Avalanche education courses are super informative and well worth the $$$.

Have fun and make practicing like an adventure game (it can be easy to spend hours or a full day doing it when conditions aren't great for skiing). If you need inspiration to practice, read accident accounts at:




Col wrote a question about on October 4, 2009

How well does this pack carry avy gear? It seems like a shovel would have to be broken down (handle/blade), and even then might not fit into the outside pocket when the pack is full. Is there a pocket inside for probe/saw/shovelblade? Would you recommend this or a Silo 40 for hut touring & icefield traverses? I wish they hadn't put the side zipper on the Arrakis 50!




Col wrote an answer about on July 6, 2009

I don't put a water bladder inside my Naos... Why put water inside the drybag? Just this week the hose pulled off my full bladder after filling it at a spring, dumping a liter before I could catch it. Luckily there's a drain hole in the outer pocket where I keep it.

I do put my bladder inside my day/ski packs, but never in a pack with a down sleeping bag...