I've been using a CamelBak Hellion (which has now been replaced by the Pit Boss in the Camelbak line-up) for back country skiing since midway through last season (see my post from November 6th for a review here). While it has done most of what I needed, it has always had two major drawbacks. The first being its diminutive size and the second being no separate pocket for the shovel and probe.
Enter the Dakine Poacher. I have seen this pack recommended on a couple of forums, and recently my buddy Phil went and got one as he found the Dakine Pro II to be a little on the small side also. So, off to Ski Tak hut where after a little wheeling and dealing, I had me a brand new "last year's model" Dakine Poacher. I've only used it a couple of times now, so I will have to post a more in depth review later, but for now here are some photo's of my Poacher and Phil's from this season to highlight the features and the differences between model years.
2010 Model on the left in black, 2009 model on the right in blue. The first obvious difference is that the 2009 model has gear loops.
Here are the separate snow tool pouches. The opening on the 2009 model is much bigger but the tool sleeves are closed at the bottom, which means you can't use the full height of the pocket for your shovel and probe. The 2009 model also has an additional sip-up mesh enclosure in the snow tool pouch, which I have used for zap-straps.
Both 2009 and 2010 models have a zip-up rear access to the main container. You can see the water bladder sleeve in the 2009 model on the right which hangs from the top of the pack inside at the back.
Here's the bladder sleeve in the 2010 model - its at the front of the main compartment.
Another small difference, the key pouch on the 2009 model looks a little sturdier, and has a weatherproof zipper. 2010 on the left.
Waterbottle pouch. The 2010 model wins here with a large, zip up pouch compared to the 2009 model with a cinch top open sleeve.
Both have pretty much the same diagonal ski carry system with a steel wire loop at the bottom.
The 2010 model recieved a dedicated "A-frame" ski carry system. In the 2009 model, the side compression straps will serve the purpose, but they aren't as convenient.
Here's another, closer look at the A-Frame ski-carry. The 2010 model on top has a clip on the top strap and reinforcement on the bottom strap. I may get my pack modified to match...
Both 2010 and 2009 models have a tuck-away vertical snowboard carry.
Both have two zip access compartments in the main compartment lid. The 2009 model (on the right) has larger access zips and a fleece lined "goggle" compartment. 2009 FTW!
Here's the internal frame on the 2010 model (looking into the top of the main compartment). It's a single steel? aluminum? rod in an exaggerated "M" shape.
Here's the frame of the 2009 model (or half of it) - two straight bars - one on either side of the pack.
Overall, I'd say the 2009 model is slightly heavier duty in construction, with more compartments being lined in comparison to the 2010 model. The harness on the 2009 model also appears to be a little more heavy-duty, but of course this means the 2010 model is lighter. The 2010 model also boasts a superior "A-Frame" ski carry, but I am pretty sure some simple mods to the 2009 version could make it just as good.
I'll post up a review of the 2009 model after I have used it a bit more, and see if I can get Phil to throw down on his 2010 Poacher. So far, I'm pretty happy and when I went out Sunday, my bagels didn't get squished!