I've just returned from 2 weeks skiing using this pack. I'd been struggling for years with my Alpine pack, which, though well-made, never really fitted me properly.
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Straight off, the Outlaw is incredibly comfy to carry and the weight sits really well on your hips and against your back, when you're throwing yourself around on skis. It doesn't have a massive hip belt, but it's neatly shaped and just the right size – I never understand why, on 30 – 40L packs they put heavy, over the top hip belts? There's plenty of adjustment and the size of the pack is perfect for day touring or, if you go very lightweight, for hut-to-hut tours. It doesn't feel to big to ski with around the resort. It's 32L and comes in two back lengths. The long version that I have feels bigger than 32L, and I managed to get away with it on a 6-day tour in the Gran Paradiso.
The pack has an interior pocket for stashing your shovel/probe, and there's a hydration bladder pouch. The pockets on the side of the hip belt are the right size and shape for carrying sun block etc. There are dual compression straps, with one big fastex style buckle.
What Black Diamond say
© Tom Briggs - Jagged Globe, Apr 2009
A deluxe all-purpose snowboard or ski pack with unique “back door” access, the Outlaw has plenty of room to comfortably carry all your day-tripping needs. The Hypalon®-reinforced snowboard wings ensure your deck will be strapped down tight, and the slick “back door” zippered access allows you to get at your gear without having to take off your board or skis. An interior pocket serves as the dedicated avy-tools organizer with room for shovel and probe, plus there's a hydration bladder sleeve for housing your H2O. Additional features include dual compression straps, hipbelt pockets, an insulated hydration sleeve on the right shoulder strap and a fleece-lined exterior goggle pocket.Weight:1.25kg
You can compartmentalise your gear
The best thing about this pack is the “back door” zippered access. It is designed so that you can get your gear without having to take your skis (or board) off. It's hard to emphasise how incredibly useful it is to be able to, for example, get your crampons out from the bottom of a tightly-filled pack, without pulling everything out from above first. You can compartmentalise your gear, then get at it easily from the top of the pack and from the “back door” access. Now there might be issues with waterproofing, but how long before this feature becomes more standard on mountaineering packs? Waterproof zip anyone? Yes, it's something else that can break, but I really love this feature and am now using the pack as a general cragging pack.
In addition to the back door access, you have access at the top, as well as another exterior pocket for your goggles/sunglasses/snacks.
I can't really fault this pack in any way. Black Diamond also make the Covert, which is basically the same but without a board attachment. It also has two ice tool loops (the Outlaw just has one). There are Avalung versions of both packs.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Tom Briggs - Jagged Globe: