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Black Diamond Outlaw Pack with Avalung

outlawavalungBlack Diamond Outlaw Pack with Avalung—an all-purpose backcountry pack with a life saving avalanche breathing device

Any backcountry skier already knows about the virtues of the Avalung, a breathing device deisgned by Black Diamond that can help you breath in and potentially survive getting buried in an avalanche. The Black Diamon Outlaw pack with Avalung has a breathing tube, which is deployed from a zippered pouch in the left shoulder strap. The idea is to keep this tube handy when skiing avalanche terrain and in your mouth if you are skiing especially dangerous terrain (i.e. a touchy slope you fear might go).

While there are debates on the effectiveness of the Avalung (you have to get the mouthpiece in your mouth and have it stay there for it to work), this new technology has saved some lives, including Dan Morisey of my home state of Colorado who was buried by an avalanche and whose Avalung probably saved his life (read this interview with Morsiey about the Avalung).

When it comes to the Black Diamond Outlaw pack, it’s a good backcountry pack loaded with performace while stay light (3 lbs. 6 oz.). There is a full front and backpanel zippered access, a insulated hydration sleeve that keeps your water supply from freezing, a padded goggle pocket and has vertical snowboard and ski carry options.

The Outlaw also features hip belt where you can stash your camera for that great shot of your buddy hitting a cliff. Plus at 32L, it’s the perfect size for the daily-grind in the backcountry. It’s a lot less bulky than the earlier Covert model. It also has snow shedding capabilities, which means snow brushes off easily and does not leave you with a wet back or hips.

The Outlaw also boasts dual compression straps, the top straps have a nice cam-feature that makes adjustment really easy, as well as A-frame and diagonal ski-carrying strap options. The compression straps also allow you to compress the back into a really tight package if you need.

>>Check out more of the best snowboard and ski backpacks

The Quick & Dirty:
Where you can get one:
Buy Black Diamond Outlaw Pack w/ AvaLung $159.99

Why it Rocks:

    • Integrated AvaLung apparatus can increase the time you have to breathe if trapped in an avalanche; air is pulled in directly from the snowpack via a mouthpiece

    • Exhaled carbon dioxide is directed out the exhaust port at the bottom right of the pack, extending the time available before an ice layer builds up and seals out oxygen

    • Breathing tube runs through the left shoulder strap and can be positioned such that the mouthpiece is readily available

    • Full front and backpanel access to main compartment lets you get to your gear quickly and easily, even with skis or a snowboard attached

    • Dedicated avalanche pocket keeps a shovel and probe accessible

    • Insulated sleeve helps prevent your hydration reservoir (sold separately) from freezing up; drinking tube routes through insulated right shoulder strap

    • Padded pocket protects your goggles while they are stowed

    • Hipbelt stash pockets keep energy bars and gels within reach

    • Bag is designed to carry skis A-frame, diagonal or vertical; also accommodates a snowboard

    • Reinforced handle lets you grab and carry the pack when time is critical

    • As with avalanche beacons, the Outlaw AvaLung pack is not a substitute for wise assessment of hazardous avalanche terrain

Seat-of-the-pants rating 9 out of 10:

The Outlaw is an improvement from the earlier Black Diamond Avalung packs—it’s more streamlined and less bulky—making it feel like it disappears when you’re hitting big lines. While the hydration bladder could be a little bigger (it carries a little less than 2L) and there could be a few more pockets and zippered sections to make finding your gear a little easier, this an overall great pack to hit the backcountry with. It does all the important stuff right—comfortable, streamlined, sheds snow well, has a hydration bladder and could potentially save your life. If you are looking for a smaller, non top-loading pack with an Avalung, this one is a good bet.

Looking to Buy? Here is where you can get one:
Buy Black Diamond Outlaw Pack w/ AvaLung $159.99