Well, for big loads, youd be out of luck; nothing is going to be all that good at keeping a load comfortable when youre 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, Gregorys 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. Its not a huge pack1,800 cubic inchesbut it can handle a light load for day trips or super-frugal overnights. Plus it has six pockets to help with organization. Its slightly bigger cousin is the Z35 ($159).
Id also suggest Ospreys Stratos 24 ($129). It too is designed to keep loads stable when youre 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. Its even a little smaller than the Z30 (1,500 cubic inches), so youll have to pack carefully. But it will work.
Lastly, theres Salomons Raid Revo 30 ($80). It draws directly from Salomons extensive adventure racing experience, so its very light (one pound, six ounces) but has a good suspension and a stable fit. And its actually quite large3,000 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
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.
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