Here is what I really like about the Blue Ice Yeti 45 – throw anything in it and don’t worry about screws poking out or crampons tearing through. Frankly, I am tired of the ultra light pack I need to watch around sharp implements, branches during the inevitable bushwhack, or ski edges. There will no need to constantly patch this pack with Aqua Seal and a hodgepodge of Cordura scraps.
The lid is, of course, removable via four Fast Tex style nylon buckles made by Duraflex. A gripe I always seem to have in these systems is that the lid doesn’t cinch down as tight over the pack as I would like. Most of the time when I have a partially loaded pack I just tuck the lid insight and cinch it shut but, for moderate loads when you use the lid as intended, most lids fit sloppy at the back, flop around and don’t really seal all that well. On the Yeti, they sewed the rear lid buckles slightly further down the back so the lid fits as it should. Mine didn’t come with two zipper slides on the main pocket but they should in future production runs.
Speaking of strappage. The pack came with two long webbing straps for attaching crampons or whatever. Many packs have some daisy chained webbing that works well enough but involve a lot of extra sewing and so expense. The strap tie on points on the Yeti are stellar. The base is a thin neoprene impregnated nylon with well formed loops. Threading webbing or a Voile strap is a no brainer and clearly they are strong enough for haul loops if needed. Here is a request for Blue Ice – make straps out of the neoprene material with strong steel buckles. They would replace the old Beck Crampon Straps we used in the 70’s and still in use as accessory straps today. I’d buy them. And one other thing – I wish pack manufacturers would sew straps with a little extra on the ends. I seem to always strain compression straps to their full extent and a little extra webbing to grab on to would be very cool.
Reflecting the alpine roots, the pack has two small gear loops on the pack straps. I didn’t like them. They make the pack harder to get in and out of and I don’t quite see the point. I sometimes climb with a bandoleer system but these just seem to get in the way and make rack changeovers just that much more complicated. Others may feel differently and should give them a go. There are gear loops inside the pack but again, I don’t see the need. I hadn’t owned a pack with the new school axe system and was skeptical but they work well with my Quarks – easy off/easy on.Frame is a plastic sheet with two metal stays. I recently swapped it out for a piece of foam and it seems to work just as well, offers a bivi pad, and saves a few ounces. Again, it likely comes down to a personal preference or need.
Blue Ice gear is bomber – really well sewn and finished. My only real gripe is that the black color makes it hard to see in the pack in dim light. Not a deal breaker by any means.