Da Kine Heli Pro Pack
By Cori Jones

Many of you have seen them, those over anxious skiers and snowboarders that just can't wait a few more weeks or days for the resorts to open. They have to strap on all there equipment and struggle up the snow packed slopes on foot, spending hours hiking for only a few minutes of ride time. Sometimes we see them at the resorts where in spite of paying around $50 for a lift pass they spend most of their days hiking to ridges that are not accessible by lift. If I were to use a stupid name I would call them "Powder Dogs." These people are so addicted to fresh powder turns and extreme or less traveled lines that they are willing to make the sacrifice and the slow trudge up the mountains.

Here is where I have to admit that I am one of these "Powder Dogs" and even though this type of activity seams a little extreme, what you are really witnessing is a history lesson. Skiing and Snowboarding were started by people who got it in thier heads that they could ride down the hills standing on wooden planks coated with wax. In the beginning with skiing there were no lifts and with snowboarding the resorts didn't let them ride the lifts. So hiking is very much a part of both skiing and snowboarding. One thing that many people don't realize is that a lot of the awesome terrain we see in the snowboarding videos and Warren Miller films is terrain only accessible by hiking.

So now that I got that out of the way lets talk about how we used to carry our equipment up the mountains. We would ether just sling our boards or skis over the shoulder and start hiking, thus ruining our backs, shoulders, and necks. Besides wasting a lot of energy. Or we would take a normal backpack and using extra straps or some rope we would tie on the board or skis. This second option had several problems: The metal edges of our boards would cut into the straps and sometimes into our backpacks. It was quite time consuming attaching all the straps and usually the board would end up bouncing against the back of our legs.

Well thank goodness someone has seen our plight and developed a line of packs specifically designed to carry snowboards or skis. Da Kine is a unique little company that has been making packs and accessories for surfing, snow sports, and action sports in general since 1979 now.

The Heli Pro is designed to carry a snowboard ether vertically or horizontally and it can carry skis at an angle. It has a super tough rubberized material anyware that metal edges might rub to make sure they don't cut threw. I general all the materials used on the Heli Pro are super high tech and ultra durable. It has a pocket inside the main compartment to hold your favorite water bladder, and a snow proof access hole out the top for the drinking hose. It has a nice fleece coated goggle pocket and an external shovel pocket. The waist belt has a small snack pouch and a gear loop. The pack also has straps for ice axes for those super extreme trips.

As for fit and ride comfort I was surprised at how well the pack fit and with the waist and chest straps tightened I never felt the pack bounce or shift. In fact I hardly noticed I had it on until I tried so more technical moves in the snow park or when riding the lifts. The Heli Pro comes in two sizes, large (1100cu. In.) and small (900 cu. In.) I tested the Large, which is great for a long day of hiking in the backcountry, plenty of room to carry some extra equipment and your lunch. With the compression straps you can make the Heli Pro have quite a low profile.

Of course there are a few things to consider. For one even with the straps all the way cinched down I found that for resort riding the large Heli Pro is a bit bulky on the lifts. Another thing is that all those features and all that toughness will cost you some weight, the Heli Pro is quite heavy and you would probably not want to use it for summer hiking.

Over all I have been very impressed with all Da Kine packs, they are well made with excellent materials and have lots of useful features. The Heli Pro is very reasonably prices at $80. If you are going to be hiking in the backcountry I would defiantly recommend checking out the Heli Pro from Da Kine.

Cori Jones is a new contributor to GearReview.com and specializes in snownboarding and mountain biking.

For more information, contact:
408 Columbia Ave. Hood River, Oregon 97031

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