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3 5

Durable, simple, well-designed...but take away those stupid ribs.

+ Nice size and shape
+ Great handle (bright, good angle)
+ Flat-ish shovel blade makes it easier to have flat pit walls

- Even with the new end-caps, the extendable handle still freezes up way more than my old BD shovel
- The strengthening "ribs" on the blade make it look tough, but they make unsightly marks on my pit walls -- using this shovel makes it significantly more difficult to achieve my anal-retentive-standard smooth pit walls for layer ID.


5 5

I'll begin by saying that all airbag packs have some huge advantages (a potential life saving tool) and some minor disadvantages (will we someday talk about the "airbag heuristic"?). This season, I decided that the advantages far outweighed my excuses (so heavy/so expensive/not a very good pack).

What an incredible improvement over the first crop of float packs! This pack is much lighter and has a much more well-thought-out design. Thanks BCA!

1. Tons of internal volume. BCA says 32 liters, and it feels even more spacious inside.
2. Well-organized: a large avalanche tool pocket, a nice goggle pocket, a large waist belt pocket...all nicely laid out. The helmet holder tucks out of the way easily as do the diagonal ski carry straps. This pack has a nice clean appearance.
3. Catridge system is simple, refillable and you can fly with it (empty)

1. Heavier than my non-airbag pack. But I need the exercise anyway.
2. The "safety" buckles on all airbag packs are more of a pain than a traditional plastic snap buckle...
3. While this pack will take a hydration bladder hose inside one of the shoulder straps (the one not being used by the pull cord), it requires unfolding the airbag and threading the hose carefully. I'd recommend using the new generation of camelbacks with unclipable hoses and leaving the hose in the pack all season.