Last year I reviewed Salomon’s X Alp 20 and called it the perfect pack. Since that time Salomon released an updated version, adding 3 liters to the capacity and including a side shovel handle and probe pocket. The perfect pack became even better. I switched to the 23 and it remains my go to bag for most shorter day ski tours. It’s also what I take for most days in the mountains, excluding trail running. For me, with its rear entry vertical zipper, the pack doubles as the perfect camera bag/mountain sport pack. The only thing it doesn’t do is hold more than 23 liters.
Thankfully, there is a 30 liter version.
The 30 is much the same pack as the 23, but with the addition of a top access zipper and top pocket. It remains super simple and light, with no unnecessary anything. The only thing missing on the 30 that the 23 has is a wide shoulder strap with water flask sleeve, much like a running vest. While the 23 has a fairly short torso, the 30 will likely fit a wider range of heights. The pack includes the genius vertical rear zipper and the invaluable bottom side zip access compartment.
I’ve been ski touring with the 30 for the last couple of months and can say that when I need a pack at this size, it is ideal. In combination with the 23, you have two very well designed packs for most all your needs.
Advantages & Key Features
- There is no plastic waist belt buckle, instead, Salomon added a metal hook and loop attachment. This prevents the possibility of having a broken waist belt buckle ruin your trip. In the Alps, it’s quite common to hear your buckle explode under a ski or alpine boot while inside a crowded hut or tram.
- Contents of the pack can be accessed through either the top or rear zippers.
- The bottom rope/crampon compartment is separated from the main pocket by waterproof, bomber material. No more crampons wreaking havoc inside your pack.
- The side compartment zipper is easily within reach, allowing you to grab whatever is inside without taking off the pack.
- The pack is ideal for both ski touring and alpine climbing. Actually, it’s perfect for most anything requiring a big-ish backpack.
- Lots of features for relatively little weight. 1000 grams.
- Ski stow system that allows you to put your skis on your pack without removing the pack, skimo style. The ski holster system is easily removed for non-ski days. But, this great feature leads to one of the only disadvantages…
- While the skis can quickly and easily be stowed for carrying in the side holster, the top strap for holding the skis on the pack is poorly designed. The ski carrying strap’s attachment point on the right shoulder is fixed too far behind the shoulder, making it difficult to reach. Plus, Salomon used a clip that is nearly impossible to open with gloved hands. Thankfully, it’s an easy fix. I simply removed the plastic hook and replaced it with a good quality accessory carabiner. Done.
- I found that by always throwing the pack down on its back, so as to access the rear zipper, I was seeing wear on the pack material due to the shovel rubbing against the ground. While on a week long ski tour, I built up the pack material with duct tape where the shovel poked into the ground. Maybe a light foam back and/or shovel sleeve would be worth the extra grams.
By Dan Patitucci