How does the cliché go, “Third time’s the charm?” Three years ago I picked up the first version of the Elvn (pronounced ‘eleven’) to test and generally beat up. Truth be told, it just didn’t measure up. Because they are a young, nimble company and most importantly they actually get out and use the gear they are making, Indigo Equipment went back to the drawing board with the Elvn which now in it’s third season is emerging as a top contender in the backcountry ski day pack category.
Getting acquainted with Indigo Equipment over the past couple of years and their gear making philosophy to “keep it simple, make it bomber” it is no surprise that the new Elvn is a direct hit on both points. Indigo is a unique company who isn’t just making gear for the sake of an additional sku and pages in a catalog. They are making gear that makes sense and has specific uses.
Details on the Indigo Elvn Ski Pack
The new Elvn looks and functions like no other ski pack on the market. Most notable is the Tool Box design that keeps your most essential backcountry skiing gear in one concise and easy to get to location. Although it is built for the specially designed Indigo Shovel, I found that the shovel slot my big Voile shovel blade with ease. The shovel blade goes in upside down and allows for a narrow bottom of the pack vs. a wide bottom like most other packs which tends to ride wide and pulling down. Two internal sleeves in the Tool Box keep your shovel handle and probe right where you need them.
The Elvn allows for two different styles of carrying the pack – traditional A frame style and cross carrying using the Lariat Loop, a uniquely designed carry system. (covered below) Indigo didn’t intend for the compression straps on the side to be used for carrying skis, but they worked fine for me when I tested them. If you used it this way all the time the straps may not hold up as they are intended for…well, compression. They’ve even added an additional strap for carrying a snowboard if one plank suits you.
One of the only details I found myself looking for or wanting was a small external zip pocket for the few random things that you like to access but don’t really want to put in your pockets. The only time this became challenging was if I didn’t want to remove the pack but wanted a ski partner to quickly access that Clif bar I had been craving but forgot to stash in my pants pocket. On the flip side, the internal accessories pocket is nicely lined with fleece allowing for your sunglasses to be put in there to limit scratching the lenses. There is a strategically placed accessories pocket in the curve of the tool box shovel stow which is an often lost area in most ski packs. This allowed me to stow a sandwich or other item that required a separate pocket and utilized space that otherwise is forgotten.
Indigo Elvn Ski Pack Performance
At 1500 cu inches the Elvn easily became the pack of choice for me. It got all the love and the other packs in my gear closet gathered dust, despite the outing. Only on the longest tours did the Elvn get a day off.
When I first put it on I was worried that the more narrow than “normal” shoulder straps would cause pressure points or leave me aching at the end of a long tour. Not so. The suspension, with a thermoformed back panel that includes a frame sheet and an aluminum stay rode so comfortable I hardly noticed it was there – which is EXACTLY what a ski pack should do. I tried carrying heavier stuff with the intent to test the suspension but each time it carried perfectly. Big descents, fast lines, tight chutes, hop turns and the occasional huck couldn’t alter the performance.
The one thing that definitely takes some getting used to (at least for this non-engineering type personality) is the ski Lariat Loop. A unique system for carrying skis, the Lariat Loop is a wire loop that pulls down from a yellow tab allowing you to slip your skis into the loop after which you cinch them up from a top pull that ads tension. The skis are secured to the pack by a clip from the upper pull strap. If that made sense, you’ve got the mind for the Lariat. If it didn’t, well, give it a trip or two and you’ll have it dialed. My first go at it with the Lariat and my skis were wobbling all over the place. After a call to Indigo and a little instructional from them the second and subsequent uses of the Lariat have reassured me that they didn’t get too techie with what is a simple feature.
The Bottom Line on the Indigo Elvn Ski Pack
The new 2005 Indigo Elvn ski pack is ideally built for laps off the top of the tram to laps off the top of the skin track. Built with all the functionality that you demand in a ski pack, this little gem takes ski packs to a new level. Most of my touring partners hadn’t heard of Indigo and rightly so for a new company embarking into a huge market dominated by brands that are less and less about innovation and more and more about useless features. Not Indigo – no nonsense designs with just the right amount of features keeps me grabbing the Elvn each time I need to get my powder fix. For a fair price of $115 this is one investment you should make this season. If you have been thinking about a ski pack upgrade for the resort or better for those single day trips into the backcountry, look no further.