In Longfellows poem The Rainy Day, he writes, “Into each life some rain must fall”. But in my case, it just seems to be snow at this point. I’m a skier so I love the white stuff between December and March. But it’s now April and the snow just keeps coming. I suppose the silver lining is a few extra days that I can get out there and make some turns. So I recently headed up to the local ski area after 10″ of fluffy snow fell only to find a single chair lift operating. To access some of the new snow that wasn’t tracked out yet, I had to work for it and hike. Fortunately, the new Explorer ski backpack from Douchebags was just what I needed to haul everything up the hill.
I’ve covered products from Douchebags before like the Aviator 40L as well as their slick travel accessories. It’s because of their high quality that I thought I’d try The Explorer. Founded in 2012 by Swedish free-ski legend Jon Olsson along with Norwegian product designer Truls Brataas, Douchebags has become a globally recognized brand. The Explorer, with its slender profile, is clearly designed with the skier/rider in mind. Many ski packs I’ve used in the past were too bulky to wear on the chairlift. Forcing me to remove it prior to loading the lift. The Explorer is definitely not that kind of pack. The rider has no problem leaving the pack on while loading and unloading the chairlift. Which is a major plus in my opinion.
Constructed from heavy duty thermal formed 1680D ballistic polyester, this 20-liter pack will withstand any abuse you can dish out. The smaller outer compartment is designed to hold avalanche emergency equipment (seen above). Long pockets are easily accessible to quickly grab a collapsible avalanche probe and shovel should the need arise. Additionally, a small mesh pocket on the inside flap is perfect for a phone or GoPro. Located atop the Explorer you’ll find an EVA protected zippered pocket to store goggles, sunglasses or camera. Just rigid enough to protect these items from the daily bumps.
The large main compartment on the Explorer is accessed through a “U” shaped zipper along the wearers back. This brings me to my only complaint regarding this pack. Due to the location of the zipper, the pack must be removed to open it. Placing the shoulder straps in the way while accessing this compartment. Although the shoulder straps can be rotated out of the way, the main compartment is not easily accessible for someone to add or remove anything while on your back. Inside this compartment, however, you’ll find a hydration sleeve along with 3 smaller zippered pockets around the perimeter. Keeping everything tidy and organized.
A pair of durable straps fitted with heavy-duty metal buckles can be found on the rear of The Explorer. Designed specifically for lashing a snowboard to your pack while hiking up to that elusive powder or epic line. A pair of low profile but very comfortable shoulder straps help distribute the load evenly. Additionally, a removable waist belt and adjustable sternum strap help stabilize the load. Especially when hauling longer skis that tend to sway back and forth with each step. Finally, a diagonal ski attachment system featuring a stowable strap is located in the side pocket. Helping secure a pair of skis for the hike (seen above).
Explorer Specifications courtesy of douchebags.com
- Thermal formed 1680D ballistic polyester on front panel
- EVA back panel
- Chest strap
- Removable waist strap
- Room for a Camelback reservoir
- Top protected EVA pocket for goggles / sunglasses
- Inner avalanche gear pockets
- Mesh pockets inside
- Protective & secure top pocket for valuables
- Front, easy opening
- Diagonal ski attachment system
- Vertical snowboard attachment system
- Height: 52 cm / 20.4 in
- Width: 26 cm / 10.2 in
- Depth: 17 cm / 6.7 in
- Weight: 1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs
- Volume: 20 L
- MSRP $249
Final thoughts: I’ve used many “ski packs” over the years and The Explorer ranks among the best tested. I only wish the zipper to the main compartment was more easily accessible. Although designed for skiers and snowboarders, The Explorer can be worn around town as well. The waist strap is removable, further streamlining the pack for urban use. Available in a few unique colors, the one I have is a limited edition black camo pattern. From a distance, it appears all black. But as you get closer, the subdued camo pattern on the side panels become visible. A subtle reminder of my military background.
Some images courtesy of the author