Overall: Five Stars for a skimo race pack that is pretty much perfect for, well, skimo racing! Also great for ski touring when you don’t need to carry sharps or any other hard objects (for which better choices are available, including CAMP’s own Rapid Racing). Fine for off-snow uses too, although probably would flop around a bit too much for really fast trail running.
Background on product familiarity: I bought my Rapid 260 pack in Fall 2011 and have used it for many hundreds of thousands of vertical feet since then.
First, the first impressions out of the box: Something this light and seemingly insubstantial is really a fully functional 20-liter backpack? Yes indeed! CAMP has pared the weight down to almost nothing, yet somehow included many highly useful features, e.g., quick-attach system for skis, side-accessed lower compartment, mesh pockets for gel packets, partner towing system with included elastic tow line (though faster partner is not included).
But how to attach an ice axe? I have the official instructions, although for some reason my copy from 2011 is entirely in French. Maybe something was lost in translation, but even the pictures don’t inspire confidence. Plus many other competing models are better for carrying sharps, including CAMP’s own Rapid Racing.
Second impressions, in use: Everything works very well as designed. Only drawback is that the back is designed for ventilation, so when I used it in a very wet snowstorm, the contents got damp (though I was pretty damp too). And the shoulder straps can get confusingly twisted up sometimes when putting the pack back on, but you hardly ever need to take the pack on and off.
Third impressions, for long-term durability: The only durability issue I’ve experienced so far was from some serious overloading beyond its intended application … I had skied the Mt Adams SW Chutes then climbed back up to Lunch Counter, and was able to ski almost all the way back to the trailhead – on the second-to-last day of July! To do it all over again the next day, I had only a 35-liter pack intended for carrying both skis and boots on my back, but now knowing that I had no need to do that, hmm, could I carry everything for a big day in my little Rapid 260 pack? Yes, but I carelessly placed a metal shovel shaft right up against the inside of the fabric section where my skis would sometimes be rubbing against on the outside. Even with such a torture test, the abrasion was very mild, and with a combination of duct tape and seam sealer the pack is still fine now over two years later.
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