Backcountry Access, a company who made its mark as the purveyor of the “pocket copter”, or what’s commonly known as Alpine Trekkers, also manufactures some of the most innovative packs in the industry. Their revolutionary Stash pack was the first pack to address the freezing hydration tube issue with a real-world solution. Why not zip the tube into the shoulder strap? That design has pushed other manufacturers to attempt similar designs.
This innovative method of insulating the tube from freezing also protects the bite-valve from getting dirty. How many times have you set down your pack only to take a swig from a dirt-covered bite-valve? Let me tell you… this feature is awesome by itself.
The Stash pack is aimed at resort yo-yo’s and quick jaunts into the backcountry. It’s small… very small, but all the necessities fit into it quite nicely. In keeping with the svelte design, the Stash pack is lightweight since it lacks any true suspension design. There are no aluminum or plastic stays to steady the load. But, why would you need such unnecessary weight with such a small pack. It serves its purpose well.
In the Backcountry
The Backcountry Access Stash Pack is small, but everything you need fits right in there. The only issue I had was getting the shovel handle to fit inside the pack. I have a Voile full-size aluminum shovel with a “D-shaped” grip. Because of that, the handle is a couple of inches longer than a “T-shaped” grip. I finally had to swap out shovels with Kendall to get it to fit–otherwise the handle would stick out of the pack.
Included with the pack are two straps which have rubber grippers on them to keep items in place. This worked great for stashing an extra layer while skinning or lashing some extra gear onto the pack. Because the straps can be positioned on the top, side or bottom of the pack, you can use the same straps to carry a shovel handle, probe, rope or an extra jacket.
Included with the Stash Pack is a nicely designed hydration bladder and insulated hose. I skied the Stash pack on a stormy day at Snowbird Resort–it was cold and windy. Actually, it was the coldest day I’d skied all season. When I wanted to take a sip of water, it was always liquid. How nice is that? The liquids stay liquid with the Stash pack!
The Stash Pack can carry skis, though it’s not well-suited for extended hiking. Short, quick hikes should be just fine, though the included straps don’t seem as beefy as they should be to shoulder the load of cross-carrying your sticks. And, there is no built-in bottom loop at the base of the pack to insert your skis like the Stash BC. The pack also includes a small inside mesh pocket to store little things like keys and a couple of energy bars.
My only gripe with the Stash Pack was that the waistbelt hit me right in the gut. I couldn’t tighten it up or I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I don’t have a particularly long torso, but it just hit me in the wrong place, so I couldn’t cinch it down like I wanted to.
The Bottom Line on the BCA Stash Pack
The Stash Pack is a great pack for short, quick trips in the backcountry. It’s minimalistic approach is great for weight weenies, but the lack of stays does limit its usage. This is a great pack for quick backcountry trips, resort backcountry laps or as a dedicated resort pack.
What really shines on the Stash Pack is the insulated tube and insulating garage to keep the tube out of the way and warm. With other packs, sometimes the tube and bite-valve would flop around or get in the way, but since it’s tucked neatly away in the left shoulder strap, it never flopped around and was always conveniently ready for the next swig.
Other nice features are the use of waterproof zippers to reduce some bulk and make it easier to zip open and closed. Since there’s nothing for the zipper to snag on, getting in and out of the pack and the hydration tube was easy. Overall, it’s a great pack for its intended purpose–quick trips in the backcountry.