No doubt many hikers and backpackers who take up backcountry skiing or snowboarding initially make do with packs already on hand. In my case, those were a 30-liter Gregory daypack and a 65-liter Osprey backpack. But size matters, and the Gregory was too small and the Osprey too big. Plus, neither was specific for snow sports. But the Osprey Kamber 42 (also available in 33 and 22 liter versions) and the women’s Osprey Kresta 40, 30, and 20 backpacks, are packs specifically designed for snowsports.
Specs at a Glance
- Volume: 40L
- Weight: 4 lbs 2 oz.
- Type: Internal Frame
- Materials: 420HD nylon packcloth
The Kamber 42 proved perfectly sized for my skiing, which includes skinning in the backcountry and on designated trails at resorts, as well as cross-country skiing. Temperature management is key in winter sports, so you need lots of layers and extra gloves or mittens – and space to carry them, which can be most of the time when traveling uphill and working up a sweat. But you don’t want a huge, nearly empty pack after you’ve layered up for the cold trip down. The Kamber comfortably accommodated my layers, gear, food and water during climbs, and its upper and lower compression straps cinched down nicely over what was left once I dressed for the descent.
The Kamber 42 weighs 4 pounds and has a max recommended load of 40 pounds. It features Osprey’s LightWire, peripheral frame, a high-density polyethylene framesheet and a thermoformed, contoured back panel.
Snowsport specific features include:
- Easy to access, J-zip panel on the front with sleeves for a shovel and an avalanche probe. I found this compartment a convenient place to store wet climbing skins separate from dry clothing in the main compartment of the pack.
- Internal hydration pocket with an insulated sleeve in the shoulder strap for the hose.
- Multiple carrying options for skis: vertical, diagonal or A-frame; and for snowboards: vertical or horizontal.
- Fleece-lined goggles pocket and a helmet net. I loved these features. In the bag I use to haul gear to ski resorts, the helmet fits inside, and I nest my goggles in the helmet. The net provided with the Kamber enables you to securely clip the helmet outside the pack, saving lots of space. And the pouch for the goggles makes a handy, scratch-free place to keep them.
- Two ice tool loops with bungee tie-offs.
- Oversize zipper pulls and buckles, making them easier to use with gloves.
- Reinforced contact points to prevent damage from sharp edges.
There is dual access to the pack’s main compartment, from the drawstring opening at its top and from a dual-zippered entry in the back. These options make it easier to get into the main compartment, even with skis or other gear attached outside.
Unlike those on my Osprey Atmos 65 backpack, the hipbelt pockets on the Kamber are adequately sized, big enough for a map, medium-sized phone, snack or extra handwarmers. And the sternum strap has a built-in whistle, a nice touch.
So, with all these nifty features, what’s not to like about the Kamber 42? For me, at least, it’s the lack of side pockets for water bottles. Yes, you could take advantage of the insulated bladder feature or attach an insulated bottle holder outside the pack. But I don’t like using a bladder and find a holder and bottle hanging from a carabiner or attached to the compression straps to be annoying.
Often, it’s too cold to avoid using an insulated bottle holder, whether inside or outside a pack. But often, it’s not that cold, and having a water bottle in a pocket and within reach would really be appreciated on a sweaty climb.
That nitpick aside, the Osprey Kamber 42 is a great pack for the backcountry skier or snowboarder.
I’ve also used it cross-country skiing with my wife in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Early winter there has been brutally cold, and skiing cross-country has enabled us to get onto the snow when it’s just too frigid for downhill. You can heat up even in single-digit temperatures, however, so I carried the Kamber for shed layers, both hers and mine. Chivalry is not dead.
Disclosure: The backpack in this review was provided at no cost to me by Section Hiker with the understanding that I would review it as I saw fit, in other words, with no restrictions or preconditions. I have reviewed the pack accordingly. I do not have any financial relationship with Osprey Packs, the manufacturer of the equipment reviewed.
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