A few weeks back now I received a new rucksack from Blue Ice – a new company based out in Chamonix that is aimed at developing some high end products for ‘real mountaineers’. Their equipment has been developed with the Alps as a test ground, and as such the equipment has been designed with Alpine mountaineer in mind, in spite of this whether you are a Rock Climber, Ice Climber, Ski Mountaineer or Alpinist, the rucksack is perfect for the all round mountaineer.
I have been road testing the new Blue Ice 45 litre Day Pack, and have used it all over the mountains and cliffs of north wales. For walking I have found the pack very comfy to wear, and its narrow design, has made it good for scrambling. Whilst I haven’t used the zip to get into the main compartment of the sack, as being based in the UK the rain means that I always use a rucksack liner when out on the hill. However, that said even out in the rain, and there was a lot when I was testing it, there was very little evidence of water inside the pack at the moment, I suspect that will change like it does in all rucksacks given enough wear and tear, and of course real biblical English rain.
In terms of adjustibilty, there is some degree of length that can be changed, although it is a bit of a faff, however you should only be changing once. So not really an issue in my mind. Most importantly for me I like to carry as much weight on my hip, and one problem I have had with some packs is the waist belt doesn’t tighten enough, not here though, and with adjustability on both sodes you can get the buckle centralised.
My only problem has been with the compression/side straps hook releasing from the loop that attaches it to the bag on a couple of occasions, but I put that down to me not tightening them up when I throw my rack in, so more me being lazy than a real problem, even when they have detached there was no fear of losing them. This feature though, strikes me as being pure genius though if you were to use the pack Ski Touring and needed to stash your ski’s on your pack rapidly.
Where the rucksacks has come into its own is for rock climbing. I have found that I can fit a whole UK trad rack in the sack, with harness, helmet and a single or half rope. With a little room for lightweight waterproofs and extra warm clothing. Then a small lunch in the lid pocket, in which I have managed to not loose my keys for sometime!
Basically this bag has been used in all my climbing in the last couple of months. It has survived the sharp edges of the slate, the rough sandstone of Hoy and the rugged quartzite of Gogarth, and seeing as I am not kind on my kit, with a tendency to hammer it until it falls apart it is doing well. My hope is that this bag will be with me for a long, long time, and looking at how its standing up to the rigours of Wales I have high hopes for it.
I was asked by someone looking to buy a new Scottish winter mountaineering bag, about it, and I hadn’t really thought about how it would work, but my initial thoughts are it will work well. It has a different way to stash the axes, seen in the picture below. However I am more into storing my axes down the side straps so I can access them easily if necessary, as I have a habit of forgetting about them until I need them, rather than realising that I need to use them, especially when winter climbing. For winter walking, when the axe is in my hand a lot more, I doubt it will make too much difference, and I suspect that I will have a few chocolate bars and my flask just inside that handy zip pocket for rapid retrieval.
This rucksack is more than a comfy, practical sack, with plenty of space, I really like the design of the Blue Ice 45l sack, I also like that it is only available in one shop at the moment, so it feels exclusive. Hopefully by the end of the year it will be in a few more shops and on a few more backs, and Blue Ice will take off, as what they have started to produce is really nice kit with a great style, and its certainly an improvement on my 10 year old Karrimor.
If you want to buy the bag in the UK you have to go to LakesClimber.com where they are selling the rucksac for a reasonable £100. Which is definitely not going to break the bank, compared to other bags of similar sizes.