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!

Chicks Gear Review: Osprey Mutant Pack

Osprey Mutant Backpack
Reviewed by: Karen Bockel

Chicks Climbing and Skiing gets you out into the mountains.  Whether you’re packing your rock gear for a steep multi-pitch adventure in Red Rock Canyon or carrying your ice tools and ropes to base of a long crystal blue ice flow in Isafjordur, Iceland, the Osprey Mutant makes for a perfect travel companion.  Osprey offers this pack in 2 sizes, 28 and 38 liters.

Built with the alpine adage of “Light and Fast”, the Mutant doesn’t let you waste time and energy.  The 38 L Mutant weighs in at 2 lbs 15 oz and comes with a lightweight yet stable design.  Support and stability come in the form of a HDPE framesheet and an aluminum stay, which are both removable for the most technical of objectives where every ounce matters.  The low-profile waist belt holds the load where you need it yet when reversed and clipped around the back of the pack gives you good access to your harness, an important feature for big gear-intensive routes.

Osprey Mutant PackIf you’re out in Cody climbing long ice climbs, bring the Mutant 38 along!  Its easy ice axe attachment fits all modern leashless ice tools, and the pack is large enough to swallow all your extra layers for keeping warm in the backcountry.  On a desert rock climb, the Mutant 28 shines.  You’ll stay ventilated with the Airspace back panel, and keep the loads light with the floating top lid removed.  If an overnight ski trip is on your calendar, pack your gear in the Mutant 38.  With it’s A-frame ski-carrying system and outside compression straps to adjust your loads, you’ll make it off the top the fun way.  The Osprey Mutants packs are versatile, light, and strong – great for any Chicks adventure!

Karen Bockel is an AMGA Certified Rock and Ski Guide and a new proud owner of Chicks Climbing and Skiing.  Learn more about Karen, here.

Thank You to the Sponsors & Supporters of “The Complete”!

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters of the Chicks with Picks “Complete” that is going on right now. Here is a little sampling of the goodies our gals get to take home with them (not to mention all of the demo gear they are outfitted in as well)!

Thank you Marmot, our title sponsor! These programs would not happen without your support!

Patagonia! A company that supports Chicks, sponsors Kitty & provides tons of soft goods to keep our gals warm in the park. Oh, and gives everyone one of these awesome shopping bags!

Osprey Packs, which also makes awesome hats. Our Chicks are always easy to spot in the Ice Park with all the bright Osprey demo packs, which have tons of space for everything inside so we don’t have junk shows with things strapped all over the outside 😉

Pistl! Could these gals look any cuter with these awesome hats?

Fox River socks! These are always a favorite with the gals!

Nothing worse than a hungry Chick trying to ice climb. Thankfully, Luna bars keep our Chicks satisfied!

Beyond Coastal/Chums keeps our Chicks from getting sunburned!

Too cold to eat but need some quick fuel? That’s what these Gu’s are great for!

Last, but certainly not least – Grabber! Helping Chicks keep hands, toes and everything in between WARM! Love these things!!!

We also want to thank The Victorian Inn for continuing to host our gals in Ouray as well as Eddie Bauer First Ascent which is sponsoring some brand new Chicks to come out and climb in “The Quickie” in just a couple of weeks!

Our Chicks Climbing programs really and truly rely on the support of our sponsors and we hope you will sponsor those that sponsor us in turn! 🙂


Thank you sponsors & supporters of Chicks Rock! Devil’s Lake

Thank you, Wisconsin, for another great Chicks Rock! clinic at Devil’s Lake. Our Chicks had a great time getting out with Girly Guides Dawn Glanc & Kitty Calhoun to learn better climbing techniques. Of course, none of our Chicks Climbing events would be possible without our sponsors, so we wanted to give a big THANK YOU to the sponsors and supporters that make it happen.

So many goodies to give to our Chicks!

Thank you to our financial supporters at Marmot, Osprey Packs, Sterling Rope, First Ascent, Rock & Ice, Patagonia and Omega Pacific for believing in our programs and the positive changes they make in the lives of our Chicks. We truly could not do it without you!

Thank you also to our many supporters who contribute product for our Girly Guides and our Chicks! We are very fortunate to have a long list of companies here like Keen, JetBoil, Beyond Coastal, Chums, Luna Bars, Isis, Fox River, Rock On, Women’s Adventure and more!

Our Chicks are always THRILLED with the bag of goodies our sponsors and supporters provide. At Devil’s Lake we heard “it’s like Christmas morning!” 🙂

But it’s about more than the fun goodies. It’s about climbing and self discovery.

Nancy Lee topping out!

Lisa in the chimney!

Eva crushing it (with the greatest smile ever!)

Julia eating up “Push Me Pull You”

What a shot of Sophia on Condolences!

Melissa making a traverse on Michael’s Project while daughter Sophia belays!

In just a few short days at a Chicks clinic it’s amazing how much the focused effort on technique can help you change, but even more so I believe (as a participant in many clinics) that it is the positive support system of the fellow Chicks that really help to change your mental state from “Geez, this looks hard…I don’t know if I can do this…” to “Whoa, this is going to be fun, and I am going to do my best to use the new _____ that Dawn/Kitty showed me to send this thing!” And 9 times out of 10, sendage happens, and the rest of the time positive progress is still made. We save our tears for the final ceremony when the Chicks talk about what they learned at the clinic – about climbing and often more importantly, about themselves.

The lovely Eva shares at the final ceremony.

And I’m not just blowing smoke. I’ve even seen Kitty get tears in her eyes before!

Kitty giving Tracey a hug at the final ceremony after talking about Tracey’s development over the past three days.

So while our sponsors and supporters are happy to back our climbing programs, we want to let you all know that you are supporting Chicks in doing much more than climbing, and we just love that 🙂 so thank you all!

Speaking of climbing, there are still THREE Chicks Rock! events on the calendar for this year including:

Chicks Rock! Girly Gathering at the New River Gorge, West Va., Sept. 21-23 (2 days)
Chicks Rock! Girly Gathering at the Keene Valley, Adirondacks NY, Oct. 5-8 (3 days!)
Chicks Rock at Red Rock Canyon, Nev. Oct. 18-21 with optional multi-pitch day Oct. 22 

Please contact us at info[at] if you are interested in signing up for any one of our remaining clinics! We are continuing to update our Devil’s Lake Chicks Rock! 2012 photo album here as our Chicks send in more photos, and also have this great album to share from Skillet Creek Media here.

You can learn more about our financial sponsors here, while the list of our dozens of awesome supporters can be found here. Do you want to support Chicks? We’d love to hear from you!!!

Whether on rock or ice, the Osprey Variant 37 is all the pack you need!

Today’s sponsor spotlight is on our dear friends at Osprey Packs, who are year-round loyal supporters of our Chicks Rock! and Chicks with Picks climbing programs. They not only provide us with the financial support to keep our programs running, but they ship packs to nearly half a dozen locations for our Chicks to demo at every single climbing clinic, and donate packs to our annual slide show and auction fundraiser events for the Ouray Ice Park and local women’s shelter! It’s so generous of Osprey to ship packs because it’s really helpful to try out a pack before committing to a purchase so that you can test out the capacity and sizing before making the financial commitment. And Osprey wants you to do just that at our Chicks clinics!

As an individual, I can honestly say that I’ve been a fan of Osprey packs since long before I became involved with the Chicks organization. For several years I had an older version of the Variant 37, which is the focus of this blog post today (the new one that is, not the old one!). My recent upgrade to the Variant 37 was made after one of those fat, greedy squirrels in Yosemite ate a hole through the lid of the pack (which had NO FOOD in it, by the way!). Other than that (which I’m pretty sure I could get fixed if I took some initiative; I just couldn’t deal with not having a lid!) I loved the older version of the Variant *almost* as much as the new one. Let me tell you why.

Since I like to ice climb just a wee bit more than rock climb, the Variant 37 was a pretty obvious choice for me. The exterior features easy storage of not only your ice tools, but your crampons as well. The exterior crampon pouch was the stellar upgraded feature I got with my new Variant 37, and I absolutely think it’s the best part about the pack. The size of the Variant 37 is perfect for stowing all the extra layers I need to bring with not only for climbing in the park, but in Canada’s much colder weather as well. It is no problem to have two water bottles, lunch, three(+) extra layers, two extra pairs of gloves, along with ice screws, draws & helmet comfortably stuffed in the pack. If you also want to get a 60m rope into the pack, well then you may want to upgrade to the 52L, but I don’t mind carrying it on the top, just underneath the lid since there’s a perfect strap for that there, too.

So, even though Osprey makes packs specifically for rock climbing, I actually prefer to continue using my Variant 37 year-round. Why? Not only because it’s so comfortable and the hipbelt is absolutely right-on for my torso but…(drumroll please) the crampon pouch is the perfect place to stuff flip-flops for cragging days, or even a guidebook for multi-pitch and/or route finding days. I actually love that feature, as silly as it sounds, but it’s actually quite practical. Let’s say, for example, you’re at Indian Creek and you don’t want to hike up to the base in sandals. Right on, I am with you. However, after jamming and twisting your feet in cracks for hours on end, a little bit of flip-flop time can feel like absolute heaven, and it’s just the perfect storage space. It’s also really nice to have the guidebook easily accessible on the outside of the pack in the perfect spot for your partner to pull out and consult – sometimes quite frequently when you’re in an unfamiliar area!

[I should mention that the Variant 37 capacity is a perfect fit for rock climbing too – when I’m carrying ropes it’s no trouble to fit two 60m doubles inside along with all of my other assorted gear, and my partner Tonya is able to easily fit her large trad rack into her own (identical!) 37L along with the rest of the day’s climbing supplies.]

The only issue I have with the Variant 37 is that lots of us Chicks have the exact same pack (literally) so I put a piece of (pretty) duct tape on mine just to decrease the amount of random goodies I’d sometimes find in my lid 🙂

Learn more about all the technical features the Variant 37 has to offer here, and for those needing more space here’s the link to the Variant 52. Those of you signed up for a clinic you can look forward to checking out even MORE Osprey packs (and getting a MAY-JAH coupon for purchasing one afterwards 😉 since Osprey takes good care of us Chicks!)

Finally, thanks again to the team at Osprey for seeing the value in our Chicks Climbing women’s climbing clinics. If you are so inclined, you too can say thank you to them here on their Facebook page.

Dacks giveaway from Sterling Rope & Osprey!

Have you been thinking about joining us in the Keene Valley Aug. 19-21 for our Chicks Rock! Girly Gathering?

Still can’t decide whether or not to commit?

Well, we have a little incentive to help those that do by Monday, Aug. 15!

We will be giving away an awesome prize pack to one of our registered Keene Valley Chicks on Aug. 16. The prize pack includes a Verve 7 hydration pack from Osprey and an Evolution Kosmos rope from the event’s sponsor, Sterling Rope!

The Evolution Kosmos is a 60m, 10.2 mm mid-sized all purpose rope that features a DryCore. The Evolution series are the original ropes Sterling offered for sale, and are engineered for an ideal balance of diameter to weight.

Osprey’s Verve 7 hydration pack is specifically designed for women in a shorter torso size for excellent fit. This pack is great for recreational mountain bikers and hikers, featuring sophisticated hands-free hydration to keep you moving!

So, how do you enter to win? It’s easy! All you have to do is register for our Keene Valley Girly Gathering (Aug. 19-21) by Monday, Aug. 15. We will announce the winner Tuesday, Aug. 16! That lucky Chick will be able to pick up her gear on site at the Mountaineer during our weekend clinic 🙂

Please help us spread the word of not only the great giveaway, but the awesome Chicks Rock! clinic to any east coast climbing Chicks, or any that you know want to give climbing a go!

Poster Plaster winners & a big thanks to all the Chicks Ambassadors!

One of our winning Chicks Ambassador posters, plastered by Margaret Gorman in the Brooklyn Boulders

Jill, our Head Office Chick, has been packing and shipping out Chicks Rock! summer 2011 posters for our several dozen new Chicks Ambassadors across the country for the past two months.

In that time, our wonderful volunteer ambassadors have plastered the posters in climbing gyms, coffee and gear shops across the states helping us get more exposure than ever before!

We want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who took part in the poster plaster to help us spread the word about our summer rock clinics.

As we detailed at the start of the poster plaster, three lucky winners will be rewarded for their efforts as Chicks Ambassadors with prizes from some of our sponsors. Among the giveaways are one Osprey Hornet 24 daypack, a pair of Julbo Guide Glasses, and a Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp!

AND, we are excited to announce that the winners of the Chicks Ambassador Poster Plaster giveaway (who were randomly drawn) are: Katie Levy in Pennsylvania, Margaret Gorman in New York, and Paula  Gillispie in Missouri!

Katie is the winner of the Osprey Hornet 24 daypack, Margaret the Julbo Guide Glasses, and Paula the Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp! We will be shipping out the prizes to the same address we sent the posters, so make sure to check the mail for your prizes!

Thank you again to everyone that helped get Chicks posters up in more than half the states! We’re psyched to know there are now Chicks Ambassador posters up in the following states:
– Arizona
– California
– Colorado
– Florida
– Georgia
– Indiana
– Kentucky
– Maryland
– Massachusetts
– Michigan
– Missouri
– Nebraska
– New Hampshire
– New Jersey
– New Mexico
– New York
– North Carolina
– North Dakota
– Ohio
– Oregon
– Pennsylvania
– South Dakota
– Tennessee
– Texas
– Washington
– Wyoming

And maybe more?! If you’ve seen a Chicks poster up in a state not listed, please leave us a comment so we can add to the list! 🙂