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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ski Packs? Camp USA 260 and 600, Arcteryx Khamski 38

Truth is I am spoiled ("no chit", some of you must say) because I really do have some amazing gear.  And I get exposed to a lot more that isn't so amazing.   Packs in particular for this discussion. Randy at Cold Cold World has indulged me over the last few years by making what I still think is the best climbing sac I have ever used, let alone seen..  And that opinion includes the newest Arcteryx and Patagonia climbing packs along with the no name stuff floating around the Internet as a "alpine pack".   But sadly, a climbing pack is clearly not a ski pack.   It is close mind you but without the ski attachments and the extra "bag" for touring kit you still only have a climbing sack.  Useful but not idea for my own use. 

More on CCW and my own packs here:

The first is a series I wrote earlier:

and my personal climbing pack here:

While you can easily ski in a good climbing pack, it is all the other nonsense you need while touring that demands a real, ski specific, pack.

I have several really good small ski packs which is why I know what I want for a really good big ski pack. (suitable for short  multi day trips or better yet, longer hut supported trips)

At some point I have no interest in a larger pack.  40 L is all I will ever carry these days.  Past that I go to plan B...which is,  a shorter trip or I'll go a lot lighter, faster or shorter.  Something will give but a heavier pack won't be an option.  I do this for the fun!

Quick run through on my favorite ski packs.  Priorities for me in a ski pack means 3 things.    1st is a diagonal ski carry that is quick and easy to use.  2nd a hydration system.  And third is the right size for the planned adventure .

these are not the packs I use today

One I do use almost every outing is an older Dynafit Broad Peak.  Less than 20 liter I suspect.  But it takes a 1liter water bladder with ease, dry gloves, extra hat and a lwt insulation layer.  Most importantly, it will carry any ski I am willing to put on a pack.   Virtually every selfie on Cold Thistle with skis on my back I'm using the old Broad Peak pack.  I still use it almost every outing, lift served or BC.  If not on my back, it is on Tracy's.


Bottom line?  The little pack is awesome.  Everything I need, nothing I don't.  Dynafit no longer makes it how ever. 
Spring in a Grubstake gully 
But Dynafit does make a current Broad Peak pack.  I just don't own one.  More on Dynafit ski packs here:
Camp USA Ski Packs?

The Camp 260 is my choice for skiing on Rainier with lwt gear.

Interest in other ski packs generally stops with my 2 Camp USA.
They will do everything else I need on skis 95%  of the time.
Camp USA is also some of the few pieces of gear I don;lt need to modify.
I have friends who do...btu I haven't found the need.  The are good to go for me, "as is".
Gear/packs I really don't notice in the best kind.

The Rapid 260

My choice if I need to bring the entire BC kit and some real insulation. (down jacket as an example)  Only down side is its a little small for me size wise.  So the fit could be better.  If you are thin or the typical ski-mo person I'd bet it will fit you perfectly.  Awesome pack.    Price is  $100 retail.  Buy them early as they generally are hard to find by Spring time.

And the X3 600

I'd use this pack a bunch if it fit me better.  But I still own it.  Which says something.  Again,  price is right.  $120.  You need look no further for ski packs IMO if either of the these two Camp USA versions fit you.  I could write more about them but no need.  Both take hydration systems if required.  Both do a diagonal ski carry very easily.  Both are the perfect size for my own needs....small and medium/small volume wise.  For 99% of my own skiing in the PNW these two packs cover it.

A couple of additional comments on the 260 here:

The Arcteryx Khamski 38

This is a bigger pack than I would prefer to ski with.    But for the size it is a pack I really like.  Just takes some effort to make it a better pack IMO.  Caveat Emptor here as always.

I paid retail for this one.  Even on sale at REI I didn't fancy taking a pair of scissors and a razor knife to what is normally $300 pack @ retail.  But the foundation I was looking for could been seen easy enough in the bare bones of the Khamski.  So, in short order out came the snips.  But I did think about what I was about to do for a minute or two prior.

The Khamski has a outside zippered pouch pocket for skins, glacier and avi gear.  Even my ski and boot crampons can go in there easy enough.  Two out of the way (like really out of the way) inside zipper pockets in the main compartment as well.  Pack volume is good.  Side zippers seem workable  and closure with or with out lid is good.  Not the best mind you, but good enough for my needs with out major modifications needed.  Even have room for my Thermos ;-) 

This is the kind of use and load I am thinking of for this pack.

 On my scale a new  Khamski 38 weights 48.7oz or 1380g.

When I got done removing, pulling and cutting off things I didn't require on my Khamski, weight is down to 37oz ( 2# 5 oz) or 1050g total.   Really decent I think for a incredibly useful and good sized ski pack.

The modified Khamski is a very clean ski pack with excellent support, plenty of room inside, with a hydration system, a water proof "drop bag" and an easy to use diagonal ski carry.  All in a pack I find easy to live out of and live with.  Nothing on the outside of the pack on the tram, hut, cafe or the back of the car going to Rainier.

That said packed with everything and a bit more than John Race has packed in his video above.

Pictured above is everything I either unclipped, pulled or simply chopped off the current Khamski pack.  An 11.7oz drop in weight.  With no ill effect on function that I can see                         .  
The  Khamski below is loaded with 19 Kilos for a week's worth of hut touring on glaciated, alpine terrain.

back panel

side view with the diagonal ski carry loop visible bottom right

front panel of a loaded Khamski

My insulated hydration hose is visible on the right shoulder strap and of course my rubber tie wraps in two colors ;-)  I really like this one for its size as a ski pack once I dropped/chopped the extra 11.7oz.  Being able to purchase a "tall" size makes a huge difference on what pack I use a lot and what I'll use on occasion
Just like boots, you really want to buy what actually fits.
The older Dynafit (really) and the new Arcteryx will carry the lightweights easy enough and both do well with something heavy in the 115mm range like the RPC, Hang5, Huascaran or GPO.   Hauled all those skis around on the Broad Peak for a boot pack at some point  The Camp USA packs are best used for the lwt ski-mo rigs IMO.


CapacityCSO said...

Dane, curious how you attach skis at the top of the stripped version of the Khamski, and what the braided cord (crevasse leash?) is in your image. Best, Thom

Dane said...

Thom, I used the regular fastex buckle and leash on the top of the Kamsski to strap the ski top to the pack. Works great, but you do have to take the pack of to do it. No big deal as I really like that method of carry. The braided color wires I took thinking they would be handy..they weren't. So eventually just ditched them.

Anonymous said...

Great post Dane. This is definitely peaking my interest in the khamski, especially once I cut some things off it. It looks like you decided to cut off the straps for the ice axe attachments. Did you do this just because you wouldn't use tools with this pack, or because you rigged it another way?

Thanks again,


Dane said...

Hi Carl,

I use the Kamski for touring. Not a technical pack for me or an approach pack. But a mountain axe I can strap on with the side compression straps if needed. Once stripped I think it is a great ski pack. I used it on the Haute Route and was exceptionally pleased. My buddy Andrew summited Mt Blanc with it as well after a short night in the hut.

Not sure but think he bought one after using mine.

Not too small and not too big. I really like the lwt hip belt with the supportive shoulder straps and the side zip entry. Took it along on a summer alpine traverse. That trip was a failure but the pack was a success ;-)