Guiding is a profession that requires a myriad of equipment for various applications while holding up against years of abuse. I am no exception, and when it comes to packs I am not only abusive but picky as well. Finding a pack that will do the job it’s designed for is not an easy task, but I think I have nailed it with the Backcountry Access Alp 40 liter.
I used this pack almost exclusively ski touring for the 2010/2011 winter. The Alp 40 has a number of features I think are great. Most importantly, it carries well. The pack comes with ample shoulder and hip padding so your torso stays comfortable on that 7000ft Alaskan tour. The pockets on the hip belt are perfect for storing a compass, a snack, and chapstick for quick easy access. The pack also features back panel zippered access so you can grab your puffy coat that you accidently buried at the bottom of your pack when the mercury starts dropping.
Let’s talk professional features. The Alp 40 comes with a Velcro side pocket to conveniently store your avalanche probe and shovel handle as well as an external zippered pocket to store your shovel blade. The pack lid is removable to make it lower profile and comes with a helmet fly. BCA made the pack capable of carrying skis diagonally as well as A-frame style so you have options when booting couloirs in the spring. The side compression straps can be linked together to carry a snowboard or snowshoes if you aren’t on skis. The Alp 40 also comes with BCA’s patented freeze-proof hydration system that accommodates a bladder or wide-mouth water bottle.
All in all, this is a great pack for recreational and professional use. I look forward to another winter in my BCA Alp 40 and will be my go to for my upcoming American Mountain Guides Association Ski Mountaineering Guides Exam.
CMS Senior Guide
AMGA Certified Rock & Alpine Guide