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Gear Guy

Q:

I need a backpack that stays put while I’m running. Any ideas?

I’m looking for a compact and lightweight backpack that I can take running. It should move with me securely through rough terrain. Do you have suggestions? Jay Vancouver, Washington

I’m looking for a compact and lightweight backpack that I can take running. It should move with me securely through rough terrain. Do you have suggestions? Jay Vancouver, Washington

A:

Well, for big loads, you’d be out of luck; nothing is going to be all that good at keeping a load comfortable when you’re running. But it sounds as if you plan to carry something fairly light. And thanks to the adventure racing scene, a number of packs will work well.

Osprey Stratos 24

Stratos 24 Backpack

For instance, Gregory’s new Z30 ($120) has a suspension designed to keep the load stable and close to your body, so you and the pack move as one unit. It’s not a huge pack—1,800 cubic inches—but it can handle a light load for day trips or super-frugal overnights. Plus it has six pockets to help with organization. It’s slightly bigger cousin is the Z35 ($159).

I’d also suggest Osprey’s Stratos 24 ($129). It too is designed to keep loads stable when you’re running, bouldering, and that sort of thing. The harness is entirely sewn into the bag, so that really helps stabilize the pack and the load. It’s even a little smaller than the Z30 (1,500 cubic inches), so you’ll have to pack carefully. But it will work.

Lastly, there’s Salomon’s Raid Revo 30 ($80). It draws directly from Salomon’s extensive adventure racing experience, so it’s very light (one pound, six ounces) but has a good suspension and a stable fit. And it’s actually quite large—3,000 cubic inches of capacity. So if you need a bit more space for your stuff, this may be the pack for you.

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Can you recommend a Nordic setup for groomed and off-trail conditions?

I'm fairly new to cross-country skiing but find I really like it, so I'd like your recommendation for skis, bindings, and boots good for both groomed trails and off track. I'm six-foot-two in excellent condition. Maybe the 189-centimeter Fischer Rebound Crowns? Jes Seattle, Washington

XCD Pinnacle

That's a tough question, actually, because the demands of groomed trails and backcountry (assuming that is what you mean by off track) skiing are so very different. But I will say this: Skis designed for groomed trails aren't worth squat when off-trail, whereas off-trail skis will at least work on groomers, if not spectacularly well.

Which brings us to the skis you mention, the Fischer Rebound Crowns ($260; www.fischerskis.com). They're a very nice ski, with a generous sidecut to help in the turns, and a patterned bottom so you don't have to fuss over wax. You can put them on and go most anywhere. But, they're really going to be happiest off-trail. You might find them too wide for tracks. They're excellent skis, however.

Take a look as well at Karhu's XCD Pinnacle ($229; www.karhu.com). These are, like the Fischers, a waxless ski with metal edges and a backcountry-friendly cut. But they're also a little narrower than the Rebound Crowns, and can be skied reasonably effectively on groomed trails.

You ought to be able to find either of these skis on sale now with stores closing out their winter stock. So that will save you some money. Also, it would be great if you could rent some skis of this type and try them out to see what works best.

As for boots, the Alpina Sierra 75 ($150; www.alpinasports.com) would be a reliable choice. It's more of a backcountry boot than a groomed-course boot, but it's comfortable, warm, and flexible enough to manage a ski track, while offering the support you need to manage ungroomed snow. Salomon's X-Adventure 7 ($180; www.salomonsports.com) would also work well, and has a bit more heft than the Alpinas. With the Salomon, you'd need to use Salomon SNS BC bindings ($80). The Alpinas use traditional three-pin bindings, which go for $15 or so.

Get more skiing inspiration in Outside Online's Ski Gear Buying Guide.

Filed To: Running / Day Packs / Skis

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