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We review Thule's Upslope ski touring back pack to see how well its deceptively simple design performs in the mountains
thule upslope ski touring and splitboarding bag2
Overall Score
True on-back access to the main compartment

There are few things more frustrating than having to take off a pack and rifle through a dozen backpack pockets for that one piece of elusive gear - with the potential of risk added to the occasion when you're off piste.

To solve this problem, the Upslope cuts down on what pretentious outdoors marketeers sometimes call pocketisation to the absolute minimum.

Almost everything is stowed in the main compartment, where a pouch houses your hydration bladder, and there are loops to hold your avalanche probe, and broken down spade components in place.

On the outside there is a top-accessed goggle pocket with a fleecy lining, as well as a, side zippered pocket which can be accessed with the bag on your back. And that is it.

But it's on-the-back, secure access that is the Upslope's calling card. With its full-length main compartment zip you can get into it with your right hand either by reaching into the bottom of the pack with it in place, or by slipping the right shoulder strap off and reaching right into the bag with it still hanging from your left shoulder, sling style.

Anyone who's ever watched a bag disappear down a windy mountain after a cold-fingered fumble will appreciate the sense in this functionality.

The upslope works equally well for carrying skis or a snowboard, with adjustable hooked bottom and top straps able to adapt to any width of skis or snowboard. When not in use the strap quickly stows away to prevent snagging while you ride.

While skis are carried diagonally, boards can be carried either vertically or horizontally.

For stability and comfort, the back of the pack is curved to fit your back shape, with ventilation ducts for those uphill slogs, and a height-adjustable chest strap. The left shoulder strap houses a zippered, insulated route for your hydration tube so that, hopefully, it will resist freezing.

Empty the bag weighs just 800g, and is available in either an orangey red or black. There is also a bigger 35 litre version.




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