Last week, I joined a select group of journalists and Arc’teryx designers to test both products. We travelled to Callaghan Country’s cozy Journeyman Lodge, southwest of Whistler, and spent three days snowmobiling, ski touring, and ice climbing. Both products performed exceptionally well, demonstrating that The Bird remains focused on doing what it does best: making rock-solid, beautiful, innovative gear.
I found the pack carries nicely, thanks to its overbuilt harness. “We want it to feel comfortable even fully loaded and skis strapped to the back,” says Peter Hill, who designed the body of the pack. (Skis or boards carry vertically.) For an airbag pack the Voltair is relatively light: 7.6 pounds for the 30 liter and 7.1 pounds for the 20 liter.
The 20-liter version has one main zip pocket, while the 30-liter has a tool pocket and a bigger main pocket. The volumes are exclusive of the airbag system—meaning you actually get 20- and 30-liters of space. I used the 30 liter and it was quite roomy, easily swallowing crampons, a helmet, and my usual day-touring kit.
The most innovative feature of the boot may be the rear cuff. While most other ski boots use one piece of plastic that wraps around the lower leg, the Procline’s cuff is split in two. In walk mode this allows both pieces of the cuff to move independently, eliminating any rigidity to the upper boot. On the foot, this translates into full ankle mobility: 70 degrees of forward and backward range and 30 degrees side to side. The result: freedom. Not only was the boot incredibly comfortable—it felt more like a hiking boot than a ski boot—it also allowed more precision when ice climbing and better traction ski touring. When skinning across wind hammered snow, the lateral flex let my ski follow a sloped track while my leg stayed straight. The cuff comes in an all carbon fiber construction or a mix of carbon and plastic.