Osprey Kode 30 Backcountry Ski Pack Review

Osprey Kode 30 Backcountry Ski Pack Review

When the Osprey Kode ski backpacks were introduced just over a year ago, I must say I was impressed. With a slew of great features and the renowned Osprey fit, the Kode series (Kode 38, Kode 30 and Kode 22) was bound for greatness, right? After a full season of use, the Osprey Kode 30 is an excellent backcountry ski pack with only a few weaknesses.

About the Osprey Kode 30 Backpack

A great all around snowplay pack, the Kode 30 is great for a few hour to all-day side and backcountry tours.  Unique features include front panel access to avy gear compartment, backpanel access to dry pocket, stowable helmet carry and a LightWire™ frame to support heavier loads with flex for dynamic movement.

Features:

  • Multiple ski carrying options: A-frame, diagonal or vertical
  • Snowboard carry straps
  • Ice axe carry
  • Insulated hydration sleeve
  • Contoured, shingled back panel
  • Fleece-lined goggle pocket
  • Expandable helmet carry system
  • Waistbelt pockets
  • Dedicated avalanche tool pocket
  • Back panel access
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Size: 1800 cu in
  • MSRP: $139

Osprey Kode 30 Ski Pack Review

My review timeframe for this pack has spanned nearly a full year with thousands of feet of vertical on backcountry ski tours spanning much of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. My initial tour with the Kode 30 and I was sold on the back panel design for its comfort and load-balancing abilities. After a season’s worth of use, I can also appreciate some of the other creature comforts, like the helmet carry and fleece-lined goggle pocket.

So, the fit and load carrying of the pack is solid eh? Yessir, but what else hits the mark with the Kode 30? Tops on that list is the back-panel access allowing you to see and access anything in the pack–even at the very bottom. It has really changed the way I packed for my tours because I knew exactly where I placed an item and could strategically access it on-the-fly.

The insulated hydration sleeve is also excellent and has kept my water flowing in spite of single-digit mornings.

The pack skis well and carries weight with aplomb, yep, aplomb. I would simply cinch things down and proceed to farm the backcountry without feeling unbalanced–even when I was carrying the heaviest pack of the bunch.

The few gripes I’ve got with the pack revolve around its weight and small-ish buckles. Tackling the weight issue first-off… lets be honest, how many backcountry snowboarders do you know? Honestly? Of the hundreds of backcountry travelers I know, only two of them tour on a board and one of those ski tours more than half the time. In all my years backcountry touring, I’ve seen a whopping 4-5 actual backcountry snowboarders.

That said, don’t even bother making a snowboard and ski-friendly pack. Just focus on one or the other and reduce complexity for both types of riders. Lighter-weight material could be used throughout to further reduce weight.

The other annoyance is in the difficult-to-buckle waistbelt buckle. I like buckles that can be buckled blind. The waistbelt buckle requires careful attention–especially with gloves on.

Good Kode 30

  • The most comfortable ski pack I’ve used
  • Back panel access simplifies gear access
  • Waistbelt pockets for misc items–perfect for a camera
  • Helmet carry capability–very nice
  • Fleece-lined goggle pocket is awesome
  • Flexible ski carrying options
  • Built-in insulated hydration hose keeps the water flowing

Bad Kode 30

  • Small waistbelt buckle is difficult to clip blind
  • Locking compression buckles make cinching a two-step process
  • Questionable need for both snowboard and ski carry capabilities
  • Could go on a diet to shave some weight

Bottom Line: Osprey Kode 30 Ski Pack

While I went on my soapbox about the true need for snowboard carrying capability, that really has little to do with the actual function of this pack. It is supremely-comfortable and versatile in the backcountry. The Osprey Kode 30 is a great ski pack for sidecountry or longer backcountry tours.

Buy Now: Osprey Kode 30 at REI.com

Written By

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground. Follow Jason Mitchell on Google+.