Cold Cold World Backpacks

I was out today doing some gear testing, trying to figure out the best way to carry snowshoes on one of my existing backpacks. It looks like the system shown here is pretty workable: I’ve stowed the bottoms of my Atlas 830 snowshoes into the shovel pocket of an REI UL60 pack I bought a few years ago for extended day hiking trips. This pack has daisy chains on the left and right sides of the back of the pack that let me lash the tops of the showshoes down so they won’t sway from side to side as I walk.

I’m using my REI pack to carry snowshoes this way because the exteriors of the other four higher volume Ultralight packs I own are covered with mesh pockets that would rip easily on the sharp edges of my snowshoe crampons. Putting the snowshoes inside a pack is not an option because the crampons will rip up my backpack liner and fill the pack with moisture if I need to take off my snowshoes and carry them for a while.

You don’t see many 3 season pack designs these days that have shovel pockets like the one above. A shovel pocket is an extra pocket, open at the top or on the top and sides, that is attached to the back panel of a backpack and is useful for stowing wet or snow covered gear. It’s a lot like an exterior mesh pocket, but made out of heavier material and only partially connected to the pack’s outer surface by straps. I first discovered shovel pockets about 10 years ago when I bought an Lowe day pack for hill walking in Scotland on my first trip there. I think it was a Contour 60.

When I got home from gear testing, I did a little surfing about shovel pockets and other backpack designs that are best suited to hauling snowshoes (I am really trying to avoid buying another pack.) During that process I came across a cool alpine backpacking company that I’d never heard of before called Cold Cold World Packs.

Their packs, like the Chernobyl shown here, are much better suited for hauling winter gear. Here the daisy chains are sensibly attached to the side of the pack so that showshoes can be lashed to them and braced underneath the side compresion straps. This pack also has two ice axe holders on the pack of the pack, which by the way, only weighs 3 lbs. 4 oz. with a 3000 cu capacity.

The Chernobly backpack shown here costs $175. I going to have to keep my eye on this company. They have some pretty cool stuff and they’re based nearby in Jackson, New Hampshire.

Written 2008.

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  1. I've owned both the CCW Chernobyl and the Chaos, bought from IME in North Conway NH during the early days of CCW when you actually had to wait days or weeks for a new shipment to arrive from the wilds of Jackson NH (about 3 miles up the road).

    Anyway I loved both packs. The Chaos looks too minimalist but ends up being perfect for carrying rockclimbing ropes and racks and all the ancillary gear. The internal zipped pocket on the lid is just about right for wallet, keys, and sunglasses. The real magic of the CCW packs including the Chaos is that they carry like a dream and are bomber indestructable. I brought my Chaos on a trekking trip to Nepal solely because it carried and balanced so well, almost like you're not carrying a pack.

    Later I bought the Chernobyl for winter hiking in the Presidentials of NH because necessarily you're carrying more gear (snowshoes, ice axe, clothing, crampons) and that's where the slightly extra capacity and all the loops and straps come in handy. Like the Choas, the Chernobyl somehow ends up being the most balanced and easy-carrying pack I've ever owned. The thing rides perfectly on the your

    back and you hardly know you're wearing it. Of course it's also mega-bomber construction.

    I'd recommend that anyone who can go to the nearest CCW outlet and actually try one of these packs fully-loaded. That's the test and I have not ever encountered a pack that carries as well.

  2. That's a heck of a recommendation! Happens that I will be up at IME in North Conway on Saturday trying on Plastic Boots. I'll check them out then. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Make sure you load it up. Ask IME for a couple ropes and/or other heavy munge because that's where CCW packs really shine.

    Also I'd be very surprised if they WERE NOT still made in Jackson (or nearby) and pretty much by hand. That seemed to be the CCW ethic.

    And check the stitching and workmanship. Very nice!

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