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Last year, my wife and I were both in the market for good new winter packs. We both needed something that could carry snowshoes and I needed something that could carry skis A-frame style as well. After a lot of research, we easily settled on the recently redesigned Alpinisto by Gregory Packs.
The packs have already served much more than just winter packs for us. Because of the lack of ventilation, but the design is so good that we frequently use them in early spring and fall when there’s little to no snow, but the temperatures are still cool.
For hiking and snowshoeing (all-around)
The packs are based on the old Alpinisto design that’s been around for years. For some reason, a few years back they ditched the high-vis color schemes, which kept me from buying them earlier. But, about three years ago with the redesign, they brought it back with a high visibility green color.
One of my favorite features is the full side zipper. It opens all the way from the mouth of the back, allowing duffle bag-like access to all of the contents within the pack. The zipper is beefy, with a large zipper pull making it easy to operate in winter with gloves on.
For climbing and skiing
For climbing and ski mountaineering the hip belt fits ice clippers nicely. It has durable loops for A-frame carry that aren’t needlessly oversized, saving weight. The hip belt and frame are also removable if you’re really needing to shed pounds. Ice tools are easy to secure and the thick, reinforced sleeve prevents them from tearing up the pack. Trekking poles are equally as easy to secure.
The pack has a good-sized removable bivy pad that I’ve used for standing or sitting on a few times to keep my feet or butt warm. All of my crampons (lever lock and strap) fit easily in the large and reinforced crampon pocket. When I’m not out on snow and ice this makes a great place to put all my easy to reach junk. The large opening and drawstring for toploading make it easy to fit a helmet, and like most packs, it has a top compression/rope strap.
Other features and considerations
The shoulder straps are comfortable and plenty sturdy enough to use my camera clip. It has plenty of other loops on the shoulder straps for keeping a GPS or our Garmin InReach device handy. All of the zippers have large zipper pulls, making compartments easy to access with gloves on. The compression straps tuck away nicely so they don’t swing around or get caught on things. They do have hydration sleeves, which don’t get a lot of use from me in the winter months.
The comfort of the Gregory Alpinisto is incredible! They come in small, medium, and largely based on torso length and hip/waist size. It’s definitely important to get the right size because unlike many summer packs, the shoulder straps can’t adjust up and down. If you aren’t sure about your size, or how to measure torso length, you may want to go to a store that does pack-fitting. If you do, please try to purchase it from them (even if it means a loss of commission for me)! I’m a huge supporter of small shops and brick-and-mortar stores that offer these services and want them to stick around.
Neither pack is big enough for winter camping in the Alaska interior so for us, both sizes are daypacks. My -20° F sleeping bag would fill up the majority of the compartment of the 50 liter. If I only needed a 0° F or 15° F sleeping bag, the 50 liter would be suitable, but probably still a little tight. However, we have found that we can do long day trips with one of us carrying the 35 and the other with the 50.
All around, I think this pack is pretty versatile in colder weather, and definitely one of my favorite packs I’ve ever owned.
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