Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Review
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Capacity: S/M – 1831 cu in, M/L – 1953 cu in
Weight: S/M – 4 lb 5 oz., M/L – 4 lb 7 oz.
Getting into the backcountry to find some fresh tracks can be one of the best escapes from the day to day minutia as it gets. To keep life real and to get the most out of your excursions, it’s important to make sure that you bring a few things into the backcountry with you to stay safe and alive. First and foremost, bring the knowledge with you. Take an avi 1 class and go with friends or groups who are familiar with the backcountry. There’s no amount of gear that you can substitute for good training and knowledge. Next, make sure you and everyone you go with has a beacon, probe, and shovel. Those are the basics, but one of the more recent add ons to your avi gear checklist is an Avalung pack such as the Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Pack or an airbag pack such as the BD Jetforce packs listed here
Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Pack Features
For most of us that enjoy backcountry skiing or snowboarding, we’ve heard of the BD Avalung. And for those new to the sport/activity, here’s a quick intro into what the Avalung is used for. The general concept is that when you are caught in an avalanche, you have a finite amount of time in which you have fresh oxogen to breath in. As you exhale, you breath out CO2 which can be poisonous to breath in if you take in too much. By breathing out through the tube in the Avalung, it expels the CO2 away from the air you are breathing. This allows for you to have a longer storage of fresh air on average extending the amount of time you can stay trapped which increases the likelihood of your friends finding you alive.
In the Black Diamond Outlaw, the Avalung is incorporated into the pack. You can also purchase this device separately as well from retailers such as [linker q=”avalung” gtm=”merchant” ct=”US” id=”eff35bab6c766d6403bad04ad9e2b349,” ft=”fetchProducts” w=”auto”]REI[/linker] or [linker q=”avalung ii” gtm=”merchant” ct=”US” id=”fe5c2422a185f86f8f0451d236753ae2,” ft=”fetchProducts” w=”auto”]Backcountry.com[/linker] for a retail price of $139.95.
Rear Entry into Main Compartment
For the days in which you’re out in the backcountry making the most out of your day, getting in and out of your back is pretty common. One of the pitfalls to skiing with a regular daypack is that it’s not designed for skiing or snowboarding and that there is no rear entry. The purpose of having a rear entry option in a backcountry ski and snowboard pack like the Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung pack is that you don’t have to put the back of the pack that is pressing up against you in the snow. By laying the front side of your pack in the snow, you’re able to easily access your gear without having to get the backpack full of snow. On a wet snow day, this can mean the different between a dry back and a wet soggy back. Which one would you rather have…
The compartment is extremely easy to get your gear in and out of. When running laps on your favorite slope, it’s easy to pack up your skins and throw them in the pack as well as any other items such as warmer jackets and gloves you typically want to ditch when skinning or hiking back up.
Avi Tools Pocket
As with most avi packs, the Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Pack has a dedicated tools pocket on the front of the pack that is easy to access. This pocket has dedicated sections for your probe, shovel handle, and shovel blade. There is also additional space with this equipment in which you can store items you want easy access to.
Insulated Hydrated Hose Sleeve
If you’ve ever been out on a day of backcountry fun to only find that you’re hose has frozen on your hydration bladder, you know it’s potentially cause for panic. When you’re out for a half or full day and you lose easy access to water, it can turn what would be a fun day into a day of trying to keep your hose from freezing and figuring out how your going to get to your water. On super cold days where the temps drop below 0F this is much more dangerous than if the temps are around 15-25F. My explanation for this all is to let you know that you don’t have to worry about this with the Black Diamond Outlaw Pack, it has a zippered insulated hydration hose sleeve which will help keep your hose from freezing. Let your water flow!!
Pivoting Hip Belt
As I’ve worn Black Diamond packs in the past with their pivoting hip belt system, I am hear to tell you that your hips and upper body will thank you. The pivoting system allows the pack to move with your movements instead of staying rigid and fighting your every move. While skinning and going through a back and forth motion on every stride, you will be able to save a little energy and you don’t find any odd hot spots. In addition to the hip belt pivoting, it also comes with a storage pocket that is great for energy bars and gels. Most phones will not fit into this pocket, and it is generally not advisable to keep your phone that close to where most people place their beacon on their chest. Easier said that done for a lot of people and I hope that we can someone come up with a product or system in which cell phones and beacons will play nice.
If you’re in constant search of fresh powder and the best lines, skinning to your destination isn’t always an option. I’ve found hiking/climbing with the Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Pack is extremely easy. For the snowboarders out there, you can also strap your board flat on the pack as well.
The one downside that I found with the Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung is that the main compartment in the pack doesn’t completely open from the front side. This is due to the zippers not going down far enough on the pack. This has not been a deal breaker for me, but it would be an option that I found found helpful on other backcountry packs.
Options for purchase
The Black Diamond Outlaw is a great backcountry ski and snowboard pack that incorporates the BD Avalung system. Moving into the future backcountry seasons, BD will not be carrying this pack in their line anymore. As we all know, there are a number of options for an Avalung backcountry ski/snowboard back from Black Diamond and from what I’ve seen of their new line up, there are some great new products coming down the pipe. That said, there are still a number of online retailers that you can purchase the Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Pack from.
The Black Diamond Outlaw Avalung Pack is an excellent option for skiing the backcountry. With the inclusion of the Avalung system, the Outlaw meets the needs of most backcountry lovers out there. Having skied with this pack numerous times, I have been extremely satisfied and happy with Outlaw. For more info on the Outlaw Avalung Pack and other Black Diamond gear, visit www.blackdiamondequipment.com.