So, I’m picky.  Deal
with it.  For about ten years I rocked
the “purple” back pack.  It was day bag
from “Free Time” that I picked up in Edmonton.  It got me around the world, literally.  But in the end, it was always a compromise.  No specific sleeves for back country
gear.  No sleeve for a bladder.  An inadequate harness etc…  So, with my new found interest in back
country skiing, I decided I really needed some sport specific day packs.  Enter the CamelBak Hellion and the Gregory
Z25.

 

The trusty “Purple Pack” – Flinders Range, Australia, 2004

CamelBak Hellion

 

I only bought this pack because it has a helmet holder.  Otherwise, it shares features common to most
day bags in the range.  Complete with an
insulated 3 l (100 oz) water bladder and hose that very neatly tucks into the
right shoulder strap, you won’t go thirsty.  With a diagonal ski-carry and
either vertical or horizontal snow-board carry, boot packing or climbing that
steep approach is easy.  Separate fleece lined pockets for goggles and an
MP3 player are nice touches.  Ice axe and tool carry straps are also on
board.  The harness feels solid, with good quality shoulder straps and a
substantial padded waist belt and a chest level strap.  I have found the
minimalist 24 litre (1478 cu in) internal capacity a challenge when packing, but
this has just forced me to be picky about what I take.  The shovel handle
and probe holding sleeves work well, but I have found the shovel pocket a
little tight for my current shovel, and have generally stuffed my down jacket
in their keeping the shovel in the main compartment.  All in all, for $110
USD, it’s excellent value for money.

 

The Hellion wide open showing the black fleece of the MP 3 Pocket, sleeves for your B/C gear and the mesh pouch for whatever else.

The bladder sleeve is accessible from the front and the bladder is never in your way when you go into the back.

The Hellion survives an agressive tree on the way up Mt. Becher last year.

Gregory Z25

 

OK – so the only reason I own this is because one of Gregory’s designers
lives in the Comox
Valley and he dumped it
at Blue Toque for a ridiculous price.  It
has Gregory’s JetStream™ DTS Suspension technology, which means the pack is
held off your back for increased ventilation, which as a heavy sweater is
something I need.  This pack can also
carry a helmet, and although it’s not necessarily what its designed for, I have
hauled all of my mountain bike armour and my full face quite easily.  I like the hydration sleeve and the fact that
there are three little Velcro strappy’s for holding your bladder up in the
pack.  There are a lot of straps on the
outside for all sorts of gear, and in the end the only thing missing is a
fleece lined container for goggles etc. 
I also really like the two mesh pouches on the waste belt – when biking
they hold my tire irons, allen key/multi tool and chain tool.  This makes for easy access to the tools for
quick trailside repairs.  All in all, a
very useful, light and tough bag.

 

Lots of airspace for you back on the Z25

 

A simple interior belies the utility of this pack.

 

The Z25 at the Wheaton Hut in Marble Meadows.

Andrew