Lift lines to skin track. Heli-drops to sidecountry laps. Snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding. We subjected more than 20 new winter packs to serious use and abuse to whittle the list down to seven, a mix of generalists and specialists. But if you're anything like us, you want one pack to do it alland nothing went up, down, and sideways better than the Gregory Targhee.
1. Versatility is the Targhee's mantra. With a 2,100-cubic-inch capacity, slick design, and various ski- and board-carrying options (skis can be carried A-frame, diagonally, or vertically), it proved ideal for everything from quick dawn patrols to a 7,000-foot ski-mountaineering day trip in British Columbia. And, when not in use, all the straps and clips disappear into pockets for snag-free skiing.
2. Even though it's a respectably light pack, comfort is king. Its suspension is the only one we've seen designed specifically to carry the awkward load of your skis, with two extra support bars that transfer your boards' cumbersome weight directly to the pack's frame. Toss in the thin but surprisingly plush padding and it's no wonder our testers were all politicking to keep this pack after the test.
3. Our team appreciated the insulated sleeve for a hydration bladder (sold separately), all the pocketsincluding two avy-tool sleevesand the tough proprietary fabric and webbing (which Gregory claims is three times stronger than comparable stuff). After four days of abuseincluding throwing it in the helicopter's basket and boot-packing up narrow rock chimneysit still looked brand-new.
(3.8 lbs) gregorypacks.com