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Road Tests :: Osprey Kode 22 | Part 1

by , December 3, 2010

Osprey snow pack review

Initial impressions on the Kode 22 by Osprey

It’s hot. Hot enough to fry eggs on the road. The sand burns to walk across as a hot north wind fans a fun and peaky south east swell. But I’m not on the sand. I’m at home playing with a mountain pack. A brand new Osprey Kode 22. It must be summer in Oz…

When you grow up skiing in the Southern Hemisphere, you get used to travelling for snow. This year we’ll return to the relentless dumps of north island Japan. While we used to score endless turns inbounds, each season we’re having to walk a little further, as the growing crowds discover our stashes. Enter the Kode 22.

Reviewing snow packs in summer feels nuts

We had a quick look at the Kode with an earlier Specialist Carry. It’s a versatile mountain pack that can haul skis, snowboards, and whatever bits you need for short side-country jaunts. This time, the good folks at Osprey have sent us one to try out properly. So following are some initial impressions, before we give you a full run down in January when we return from the mountains.

Stoked about:

  • Great finish: Top shelf trekking brands rarely cut corners on finish. From the glove friendly componentry (a highlight), to solid construction, fabrics and coatings, it’s all sorted.
  • Sophisticated pattern work: There’s a level of complexity to Asian patterns that you don’t get with USA built bags. Sometimes it can be a little fussy, however in specialist packs it usually allows for better space utilisation. The Osprey pattern-work works. It’s sophisticated and purposeful.
  • Good weight: PU lined Nylon makes sense for mountain packs. Light but with just enough water-resistance for the snow. With little foam structure, it packs tight for luggage space, then opens up for use.
  • Size options: Once again, the top shelf trekking brands really distinguish themselves here. I’m 6’1″ and a bit, so get pretty amped when I can chose a Large for my longer torso.
  • Big waist strap pockets: Good for a small camera, food and quick access tidbits.
  • Versatile carry: I ski, telemark, and snowboard (not all at the same time…), depending on the conditions. There are very few carry systems that work well for all those, but on initial impressions, this one is looking the goods (the snowboard carry is the least sorted, but still OK).
  • No big mistakes: While this can sound like damning praise, it’s not meant to be. Having worked in brands where time and cost can compromise a product, I’m continually impressed by how few mistakes a brand like Osprey makes. Everything I can think to check for is there, and non of the regular mistakes that mountain packs make are present.

Big pockets swallow lots


Less sure about:

  • Strap-city: It’s hard to get around this one… there’s a strap to help with almost everything, but that means your pack has a set of dread-locks. They dangle and dance, but thankfully it looks like they have kept clips away from chair-lift danger. The one strap that is missing is a top snowboard stabiliser strap, which is no biggie, but the things do help (both for stopping your board bouncing, and for cinching it in up high so it angles away from your legs).
  • Goggles pocket: Goggles can be a nightmare to design for, as their size and shape varies more than you’d believe possible. The fleece lined pocket on the Kode is a little basic, and when used, limits access to the main compartment. It’s sufficient, just not amazing.
  • SLR limiting: This one is not really fair, but the pack is not great if you’re wanting to haul an SLR as I sometimes do. You can often get away with non camera specific packs, but the Kode 22 requires burying it pretty deep in the main section.
  • Low(ish) sex appeal: Unlike some of the youth focused brands, this pack is not going to win you glances from the opposite sex. But I’m now over 30 and married, so I’m very happy with the focus being on functionality rather than apres cool. Hopefully the mid-life crisis is still a few years away…

A missed opportunity for goggles?

I can’t wait to get it on my back and making some turns. We’ll keep you posted.

This is only OK…

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