It seems that everyone is making a ski pack these days. Some go minimal and miss the mark and others have piles of “features” that just add weight and leave you wanting more. Half the time I wonder if the people designing these backcountry ski packs actually backcountry ski. I have to admit that when I found out Gregory had also come out with a ski pack I rolled my eyes thinking that they were yet another pack company thinking they could lure in a few skiers, but boy was I mistaken when the Gregory Targhee arrived. This is a skiers pack designed by backcountry skiers.
It’s not the sexiest pack on the shelf, but what it lacks in “cool” factor and color variety it more than makes up with piles of redeeming features that were definately the result of hours of field testing and time in the R&D design room. What they came up with is worth your hard earned dollars.
Gregory Targhee Overview
At first site the 2200 cu in (I’m in the Large pack, the range is 1900-2000 size dependent) appears that it will fill up fast, but the pockets and other storage areas keep on giving. It’s size doesn’t really lend well to the yo-yo lift pack category but I like this size for the one and done as well as the extended day tour.
The fit is made even better with years of Gregory technology in pack building which gives it a feel that is second to none and more importantly barely felt. A good pack in my opinion needs to be forgotten once on and the Targhee does just that. Put it on and you can get on to the skiing and climbing. The back is supported by one metal stay that rests inside a plastic contoured frame which tappers from the shoulders to the waist, just like the shape of your body. Imagine that.
You want pockets? The Targhee has an exterior gear stash pocket, one interior gear stash, the main compartment accessible by the top and the side, front shovel pocket that inside has two other micro pockets for things like TP and your snow science kit and finally a side pocket that stowes your probe and avie shovel arm. There’s no reason to be rolling through the mountains unorganized.
Before I get going on listing the many cool “I should of thought of that” features, I will point out that the side pocket for your probe and shovel arm is a bit long with a smallish opening and in the event of an avalanche it may prove to be a little harder than not to get the life saving tools out of the pack. That said, practice makes perfect and I found myself practicing a few times (with a full pack) to not fumble with the access.
Some well thought out features include:
- The ski cross carry and snowboard carry straps all stow away nicely avoiding the common strapitis.
- The ski cross carry strap is reinforced to protect it from edges but cooler than that is the handy slider that will cinch down to prevent the strap from loosening up thereby yielding the strap ineffective.
- The top of the front shovel blade pocket has a pass through hole for the handle part. This keeps the shovel from determining the total shape of the pack
- The bottom of the pack has two mini metal stays. This helps maintain the shape of the pack but more importantly it transfers the weight of the skis or board to the pack’s suspension system – a FIRST in ski pack design. It also helps to protect your goodies inside the pack from getting crushed when you set it down
There are more features both big and small that you’ll continue to find as you get to know the Targhee. In summary the Targhee is a well thought out pack.
Gregory Targhee Backcountry Ski Pack Review
Shouldering the Targhee for my first ski tour I was pleased at how well it rode. There are a number of adjustments from the shoulder straps and waist belt that keep the pack snug and against your body. If a pack is measured by the way it seems to become one with you despite how much bouncing around and movement you encounter, this pack is tops. In addition to the adjustments is the metal stay in the suspension that when removed is actually shaped like the spine of your back. The result was a comfortable ride that didn’t inhibit at all!
In the 20 or so days I put on this pack I never had it leak or items get wet inside. The shovel pocket has a couple of drain holes which was nice after digging pits and then stowing the shovel. While spinning some yo-yo laps at The Canyons I barely lost any time putting my skis on the pack while the rest of my crew shouldered them for the booter. The adjustable anchor on the ski strap is worth it’s weight in gold as it keeps the skis from loosening the buckle, an issue I’ve had with just about every pack I’ve owned. From booting up steep chutes, long tours and one and done laps I was very pleased.
A couple of things that I encountered on the flip side of the coin. I did end up breaking two of the zipper pulls which was a little disconcerting but more an annoyance than anything. The one feature that I think is the only detriment to the pack is the side access zipper. It’s a very necessary feature as it provides you with two access points to the main compartment but I think it either needs to be shortened by about 3″ or adjusted along a different trajectory.
The reason being is that the pack contours at the bottom right where the zipper terminates. Even with minimal gear in the pack if you take the side zip all the way down it is a pain to zip back up and more than once I felt like I was about to rip the zipper off. Perhaps the waterproof zipper is a compounding element but this is the one thing I think they should re-tool for the pack.
I don’t mean to dwell on that issue, but it’s something to think about.
- Pockets, Pockets, Pockets
- Excellent fit and comfort
- A-frame or cross carry – both options are well thought out and fit super fat skis.
- Lightweight construction without excessive straps
- Need to change the bottom of the side zipper
- 2 zipper pulls that just break – an annoyance for sure
The Bottom Line: Gregory Targhee Pack
Like I said before, the Targhee may not be the hottest looking pack on the market but few packs will outperform this one in the skin track or on the descent. I’ll certainly be shouldering the Targhee through the spring mountaineering season and beyond.