Chicks Gear Review: Osprey Kamber ABS®

Osprey Kamber

Angela wearing Osprey’s Kamber Pack in the San Juan Backcountry.

The Kamber, formerly known as the Kode, has been my favorite pack for the past 3 winter seasons. It’s withstood 200 days of backcountry skiing, heli-ski guiding and ski mountaineering off a boat in the Antarctic Peninsula with minimal wear, which is impressive for a pack with so many zippers. I’m typically a minimalist and cut off any excess straps, bells and whistles but every zipper on this pack has a well designed purpose giving access to thoughtful components and panels.

Why am I am huge fan?  The list goes on but my top features include:

  • Compatibility with the ABS® Vario airbag system. Unique to airbags, the ABS® system has two separate side mounted twin airbags which in the event of a puncture, you’re more likely to maintain at least 50% floatation. This system integrates with a number of different packs, including Osprey’s Kamber 42 which I use for overnighter’s and ski mountaineering. The ABS system zips on easily giving me the option to use it as a piece of safety equipment or removing it to go lighter when conditions are less spicy. Buyer beware of the sticker shock. The cost of the ABS unit is over $650 but relative to an insurance policy, it’s a good investment.
  • Extremely comfortable to skin and ski with. The padded back panel has excellent support with heavy or light loads and the hip belt and shoulder straps are easy to adjust with when wearing gloves. All the zipper pulls and fastex buckles are well designed to be used with gloves.
  • Designated panels make organization and keeping key gear dry. The front loading panel is the best of any pack I’ve used. It accommodates a beefy shovel, probe, snow saw and ski mountaineering axe (45cm). It’s amply large that I can fit my aluminum boot crampons under the shovel blade with everything else in there! This large panel makes it easy to get my shovel and probe in and out quickly which is key for getting observations frequently.

    Osprey Kamber

    Osprey Kamber in action. Photo by: Avery Stonich

  • Large zippered back loading panel gives easy access to the goods. It’s remarkable how much fits in this pack even without expanding it another 10+. Guiding a ski mountaineering trip to the Antarctic Peninsula I packed it as full as it’s ever been with a first aid kit, rescue sled/shelter, repair kit, 60m 8.5 rope, ski crampons, thermos, extra gloves, hat and puffy jacket. In addition I was able to shove a picket down from the top into the separate +10 compartment and have easy access to it without feeling it or having to carry it on the outside of the pack.
  • Huge goggle compartment with scratch free lining. More than enough room for goggles, snacks, a sunglasses case and buff with room to spare.
  • Two zipped pockets on the hip belt are large enough for GPS, iPhone, compass, sunscreen and lip balm. When using the ABS® system, the hip belt only has one pocket.
  • Fits my small frame perfectly, which isn’t the same for many packs of this quality. Comes in both S/M and M/L sizes (with an additional 3 liters of room in the M/L).
  • Pocket on the front panel has a stowable helmet carrier with room for a map, snacks, etc.
  • Diagonal carrying system for skis (vertical for Boards) is fast, easy and extremely adjustable.
  • Ice axe loop is beefy, if you can’t get yours inside the pack.
  • Insulated hydration sleeve in the shoulder strap keeps your hose from freezing.
  • Suitcase style grab loop is an awesome unique feature that makes for easy hauling and grabbing with gloves.

I’ve tried many other airbag packs and have always gone back to this one. Much of the time I remove the ABS® system for tours without even having to unpack everything. Another winner from Osprey.  If you’re in the market for an airbag system give this one some serious consideration.

Learn more on Osprey’s website.

Chicks Gear Review: Osprey Kresta Ski Pack

Nancy Emerick and Mary White happily testing out the Kode 32 and Kresta 30 on their way to ski 25 Short, a classic Teton summit ski tour of almost 4,000 vertical feet

Nancy Emerick and Mary White happily testing out the Kode 32 and Kresta 30 on their way to ski 25 Short, a classic Teton summit ski tour of almost 4,000 vertical feet

Autumn is here. The days are getting short, and a chill is in the air when you step outdoors in the mornings.  The mountaintops sport a dusting of snow.  At Chicks, this is when we start to dream of winter.  And not only are we dreaming, we are in fact getting prepared and ready, anticipating our next favorite season.  For me, that means getting my ski gear in order and adding any new pieces of equipment I might need.  On this year’s list is a new Osprey Kresta 30L ski pack.

Last winter, during our women’s ski clinics, we were able to offer this pack in our demo gear line, and it was a favorite.  This women’s ski pack has all the same proven bells and whistles as the Kode 32, but is sized just slightly smaller and more comfortable to fit on a woman’s back.

Here are the details:

The Kresta 30 has a separate compartment to store your snow safety gear, easily accessible with a full-length zipper and quick-grab loop.  Not only as a guide, but a skitouring partner, this is an important feature when things don’t go as planned and you have to get your shovel and probe out quickly.The main compartment is accessed via a long zipper below your shoulder straps, allowing you to reach anything in the bottom of your pack such as that pair of mitts you’ll desperately need when your hands get cold.  At the top of the Kresta you’ll find a nice little fleece-lined zippered pouch for your goggles and other breakable things like your phone.

img_4986True to Osprey’s tradition of excellence in technical features, this pack has a number of well-placed attachment options:  Skis can be carried diagonally across the back of the pack, which is really convenient for quick boot packs in the side country.  Skis can also be carried vertically on the sides in the traditional way, which comes in handy when the going gets more technical.  With the same ease and security, a snowboard can be attached vertically on the backside, and the same goes for showshoes.   Additionally, you can attach an ice axe, but be warned that if you are heading on a bigger ski mountaineering adventure, this pack might not be quite big enough to carry all your tools and layers.For overnights and more technical routes, I choose a larger pack.  One feature that helps to save space is the stowable helmet carry.

Now let’s talk about comfort and carrying a loaded pack – another category where Osprey packs shine.  The hipbelt on the Kresta 30 is lightweight but padded and comfortable, and provides good support for heavy loads, in combination with the LightWire suspension system and the contoured shoulder straps.  This pack can definitely go the distance.A few more fine features on this pack are the thermoformed backpanel, which sheds snows and keeps you dry, and the glove friendly buckles and zippers.

Overall, the Kresta is a very well designed pack.   I like having multiple options for carrying my equipment.  This pack is great for day tours in non-technical terrain.  I am looking forward to having mine packed and ready in a few shorts months!  Yay for winter, I am stoked already!