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I will start off by saying I am a huge fan of the base unit design, it is incredibly comfortable and the 97% survival rating is fantastic. That being said there are a few things I don't like about this design. The ski carry needs to be redone, I am planning on changing the diagonal carry a bit. I would like to see a way to compress the pack that does not cross the airbags. I also would prefer a from shovel pocket that is more easily accessible. I just purchased the Dakine Altitude 40L for longer tours and I am extremely happy with it. Over all I will always ski with an ABS pack for the safety it provides but this needs some minor tweaks.
I just got this today and Have yet to put it to use, however I am already impressed. I have the ABS Vario 25L and it is a good pack, there are a few specific things I don't like about it but I plan to make some modifications. This Dakine pack makes up for a lot of the Vario downfalls. It has plenty of room for a long trip, I wantd something that could easily pack a rope, crampons, and maybe a Jetboil. I am much happier with the ski carry on this pack, this is something that I feel is seriously lacking on the Vario. The front shovel compartment is a huge plus, the vario I find is hard to get into. Overall this is a great pack, Dakine knows what they are doing. I have to give huge props to ABS though because of the airbag design is fantastic.
I am kind of on the fence when it comes to helmets. At a certain point a helmet becomes useless. At around 15-20 MPH a helmet is not going to protect your brain (believe me). For a long time I refused to wear one, I have seen people die from head trauma while wearing a helmet. However I do see a purpose to them when it comes to low speed incidents in an area where there is a very real possibility of hitting a rock or tree. Don't think that because you have a helmet on means you can crash hard with no consequences.
That being said, this is a very comfortable, well vented helmet. I would highly recommend it.
I am on my second pair. My first gave up last summer while walking across campus. The first pair lasted 4 years and were threadbare. I use these year round, I hate shoes and wear these even in the snow. They have good arch support and the traction is fantastic. I have hiked with these in the spring when approaching snow because they fit well in the bottom of my pack.