Backcountry Access, a company who made its mark as the purveyor of the “pocket copter”, or what’s commonly known as Alpine Trekkers, also manufacturers some of the most innovative packs in the industry. BCA was the first company to address the freezing hydration tube issue with a real-world solution. Why not zip the tube into the shoulder strap? They’ve stepped it up by introducing the big brother to the original Stash pack with the Stash BC.
My initial thought upon seeing the Stash BC was that this could be the perfect pack for day trips into the backcountry. After a few days of use I began to think that I wasn’t too far off in my initial assessment. With 2400 cu inches of capacity, it’ll carry all you need for a long day of skiing. Despite the large carrying capacity, I used it for a day of resort yo-yoing and found that it’ll carry just the essentials and compress down quite well unlike other bulky packs.
The attention to detail and the many features are what set this pack apart from the rest of the crowd. The obvious is the integrated hydration tube in the shoulder strap. Body heat and insulation keep the water flowin’ even in the burliest winter storm. Because the hydration tube is integrated into the shoulder strap, the shoulder straps are connected so the load is distributed across the top of your back. This keeps the load from straining your shoulders, which you’ll be thankful for at the end of a long day of ski touring.
There are two options for carrying your skis: Cross-carry them using the large loop (yellow/black) or affix your skis using the old school yet proven A-frame style. For either method, use the rubber/cordura straps seen on either side of the top of the pack. They were big enough to hold my Monsters which are 120+ in the tip. The added bonus is that you can roll up your shell and affix it to the top of the pack using these straps. Or pull them out, feed them through a loop on the daisy chains seen on the front of the pack and you can affix extra gear, like and ice axe, to the outside of the pack. But chances are if you need to affix extra gear, you’ve got too much stuff for a day trip.
There are two gear pockets for accessories and essentials. One small exterior pocket will hold a Clif bar, pocketknife, TP and some sun screen. The larger interior gear pocket is built inside the main pocket in the approximate location where the shovel blade will curve to utilize that space. It’s ample size. Inside the main compartment is a nylon sleeve set to one side which will keep your probe and shovel handle from bouncing around the pack. Although the shape of this sleeve is tapered I was even able to fit my skins in it during the descents.
The zippers on the shoulder strap (for the hydration tube access), the main compartment, and the exterior gear pocket are all waterproof zippers. Not only is this stylie but effective as it shaves a bit of weight from the unneeded zipper flap. Often overlooked, the zipper pulls seem to be bomber enough to last for years…which you’ll appreciate only if you’ve had some break or disappear on your pack or jacket.
The one feature that I wasn’t too stoked about was how tight my shovel blade was as I put it in or took it out of the shovel pocket. Accessed from the side, the opening was a bit tight for easy access to the shovel. Once I managed to squeeze it in, it fit like a glove. I use a regular sized Voile shovel. I’m thinking a smaller bladed Life Link or Ortovox shovel would fit in and out with ease. Granted it isn’t often that one needs to quickly access the shovel, but were it an avie situation I don’t think the extra time trying to pry my shovel blade out of the pack would help the already tense situation.
The Bottom Line on the Backcountry Access Stash BC Pack
Built specifically for day trips into the BC, the Stash BC surely lives up to its name. While skiing it carried like a dream, even on long 2000′ technical descents. It’s streamlined construction and suspension system made me forget I had a pack on while skiing. On the uphill, weather hiking or skinning, it shined. The ample storage space was great for shedding layers or for toting along a small rope or extra layers should the conditions dictate.
The fabric is a combination of strong cordura and reinforced ripstop nylon with rubber reinforced areas where ski edges would normally create some air conditioning vents. I didn’t worry about tree branches tearing the strong materials. Chances are this pack could outlast the rest of my gear.
Overall, I think I’ll be hard pressed to find such an all encompassing ski pack that shines on day trips but will hold it’s own (if you must use it) in a resort yo-yo scenario.
If you are looking for a mid sized ski pack that will keep your water in liquid form, is well designed and has a bundle of great features, drop some coin now and get yourself the BCA Stash BC.