Runner-Up Review: The Packs That Almost Made Our 2022 Winter Buyer’s Guide
In a lineup of touring packs, this boot bag and small daypack didn't make the cut, but they're still well worth your attention
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This year, there are tons of great new packs for skiing and climbing, which we highlight in our 2022 Winter Buyer’s Guide. But our testers also came across two other bags—a cross-country ski pack and a boot bag—that warrant your attention even though we didn’t have space for them in print.
USWE Nordic 10 ($120)
USWE built this entire pack around keeping water flowing. A mesh back panel funnels body heat into the area around the hydration bladder, while a heat-reflective liner locks it in to keep your fluid from freezing. In temperatures where we normally give up on bladders, we were drinking freely, which meant we stayed moving. The stretchy four-point harness system, which unites the shoulder straps at a single chest buckle, locked the pack to our body without constricting. It’s designed specifically for nordic skiing, so it didn’t quite make the cut in a pack line-up focused on big tours. But we found it worked well for any cold weather aerobic activity, like bike rides or hikes that don’t require loads of carrying capacity. —Ryan Stuart and Elizabeth Miller, pack test managers
Switch Ski Boot Bag ($239)
Most boot bags are awkward and ugly. Not this one. The three-segment design herds boots into padded corrals, leaving a spacious area in between for all the accoutrements. For travel, undo one buckle at the front of the backpack-style boot bag; this makes the boot compartments pivot, converting the pack into a narrower duffel that fits in overhead bins. The 500-denier Cordura outer is tough enough for shuttle-bus abuse. This is the boot bag, refined. —R.S. and E.M.