It's no surprise when snowshoe companies started making packs that their product would be ideally suited for avid snowshoe participants. The Atlas Fast Pack is all that and more. It's equally well suited for backcountry skiing and ski touring.
The Fast Pack we tested is a regular and has enough carrying capacity (2500 cubic inches) for all the essentials anyone might need on a long day trip. The other size, a tall, features 2700 cubic inches. Key features our testers liked included the pack's ability to carry both snowshoes and skis. This is important as on many backcountry ski trips our SNEWS test team finds snowshoeing up the most direct route to a summit more efficient. Once on top, we stow our snowshoes and ski down.
Having a two-liter Platy hydration system internal pocket storage is a big plus. So are the extra large zipper pulls that make unzipping this panel loader easy with gloved hands. Having internal frame support makes for a better ride and easier loading and unloading. An external compression panel is great for holding a shell parka that may need to come off and on as the weather changes. Enhancing the overall carry is a wide, comfortable waist belt, sternum strap, and a slightly bowed back designed to allow air to flow up and down along the spine.
Atlas sent two regular size Fast Packs for the test. Using the smaller pack proved fortuitous for our taller and lankier team member. He likes to wear a camera fanny pack with a day pack when skiing, which is seldom a good mix as the daypack typically pushes down on the fanny pack making it ride uncomfortably. However, wearing the shorter Fast Pack on a long torso, a camera fanny pack can be worn comfortably. Our shorter, stockier tester -- quit snickering -- found the fit to be good, but not ideal as the shoulder straps rubbed annoyingly under the arms while ski touring. A less bulky shoulder strap would have been preferred.
Overall though, our testers feel the pack is well designed, durable and quite comfortable for most uses.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection.)
Suggested retail: $99 -- both regular and tall
For more information: www.atlassnowshoe.com