One of my goals this year is to build a good, light, efficient ski mountaineering kit so that I can explore more and more places to ski! I am really enjoying climbing (of all kinds, but here I'm talking about the ascent before the ski descent), and have always loved multi-day trips (my longest so far being 28 days in Nepal about a decade ago).
We are fortunate here in Bozeman to have an AMAZING outdoors store, Northern Lights, with incredibly helpful people who really know what they are talking about! One of the best parts of shopping at Northern Lights... the total lack of ego in the employees. Every single time I've gone in looking for something or needing to learn about something, the employees have always been knowledgeable, welcoming, and really happy to explain anything you are curious about!
Before our trip to the Beartooths, Kurt and I stopped by Northern Lights and one of the "upstairs" employees, Lauren, helped us out with maps and tips on visiting Cooke City. It was a great experience, Lauren was nothing but helpful and informative, there was no elitist additude that one can run into in so many shops (I really don't think you should ever have to "trot out your resume" to get good customer service...).
Anyhow, I ran into Lauren again while I was looking for a new backpack, and he happily helped me learn all about the proper fit of the pack I was in love with.
Here it is, in all its glory: the Osprey Atmos 50: super light weight, big enough for multi day trips, loops for skis (I wish they were fastek buckles, having to slide the skis in is a bummer), it has a shovel pocket made out of some sort of soft, stretchy pocket, and two mesh zipper pockets on the super light weight waist harness, where I can put my camera and Gu, so I don't have to stop hiking to take a photo.
The pack fits more snugly even than my CamelBak Isis, which I run with, and I took the Osprey for a run up the M Trail, and it was perfect! The mesh panel on the back not only keeps the air flowing, but it keeps the lumpy load off your spine.
The only complaint I have is that the hydration pocket, while large enough for a 3 liter bladder, takes up a huge amount of space inside the pack, so there isn't so far a great place to stow ski boots. Because the pack fits so well, hanging them around my skis to dangle puts them in an uncomfortable position. But I am pretty sure with some wrangling I'll get it figured out.
Climbing up and skiing down with this pack was amazing: I forgot entirely that I was wearing it, an experience I haven't had yet with a pack!
Thanks, Northern Lights for the terrific selection and great help!