Hans Ludwigwrote a review of CamelBak Pit Boss Winter Hydration Pack - 1800cu in on January 8, 2012
This is my fifth Camelbak and seventh hydration system. All I can say is when it comes to hydration systems, you get what you pay for. Camelbak is certainly pricy but worth every extra penny. Its hard to put into words all the thought Camelbak put into the details of this bag. So I wrote an ekphrastic tome.
I really didnt think you could make a better bladder but they did. The 2011 bladders feature a quarter-turn opening large enough for ice cubes and easy cleaning, Camelbaks signature bite valve, a baffling inside the bladder keeping it flat, and a detachable hose. The Pit Bosss bladder nozzle automatically shuts off once the insulated hose is detached; meaning you no longer have to monkey around fishing the hose though the zippable, insulated hose-sleeve before you can get a refill. All you have to do is open the insulated pouch, unclip the bladder (leaving the hose in place), refill, clip it back in, and you are good to go.
The arrangement of straps and clips on the outside is my favorite feature. Reinforced loops on the side allow for packing of skis in the A position. The compression straps make it possible to hold skis (or snowshoes) parallel on the sides. Retractable, adjustable, and reinforced straps on the upper left and lower right of the front allow you to carry skis in the diagonal position. Horizontal straps in the front allow you to carry a snowboard vertically and the bladder insulation flap (next to your back) allows you to carry a snowboard horizontally. Bottom line is there are plenty of straps and things to attach all the winter things you could possibly need.
The Tri-zip feature is great. I can open the top flap (which is actually a pouch) to access the main pouch without unclipping my skis or snowboard. The third zipper allows easy access to the whole main pouch; albeit by unclipping the two horizontal straps. The main pouch is HUGE. It can easily fit a days food, first-aid kit, parka, fleece, and a helmet. The top flap/pouch opens from the back (right next to your head) allowing access without removing attached skis or board. This pouch is just big enough for all the little knick-knacks that get lost in a big pouch (map, compass, knife, tools, wax, gloves, keys, wallet).
There is a designated shovel pouch in front fits a 10 wide blade. Another nice feature is the top loading, quick-access, side probe pouch. I use it for my probe, shovel handle, and tail mix. I can get at it without putting the pack down.
All straps come with elastic bands to tuck extra strap away so they wont snag trees or get confused while you are tightening something you cant see.
I put this bag to the ultimate test this weekend. My wife and I set out to ski/board down 2700 vertical feet of a local mountain. I made a bad call and navigated us into a couloir which was above our skill level. 700 ft into the run we decided boot our way down the rest of the slope to the highway. I ended up carrying her skis, my board, and snowshoes at the same time. The load never shifted. 5 hrs and 2000 of vertical later we got back safely.
Camelback also makes a slightly smaller womens version the Roulette, with a S-shaped frame and the more in-bounds oriented Tycoon and Ante (for men and women respectively).