South Sister, Omak & the Deuter Rise 32+ SL Women's Pack

 Omak & me.   Photo: Grant Roush

Omak & me. 

Photo: Grant Roush

I took the Deuter Rise 32+ SL on a day ski of South Sister in Central Oregon. The moderate ski, down a 10,358-foot volcano west of Bend, is best right when the Cascade Lakes Highway reopens from its annual winter closure at Mount Bachelor—usually around the end of May. (Unless you have a snowmobile to hit it sooner, lucky duck.) The floodgates opened after the three-day weekend in both 2016 and 2017 (boo), so I was thrilled to get a shot this Memorial Day.

 Omak & me part II.   Photo: Grant Roush

Omak & me part II. 

Photo: Grant Roush

Considering we had a 12-mile roundtrip, both brain-melting sun and a healthy wallop of wind, and three dogs in our party, I had a lot to carry. (Mostly snacks.) The Rise 32+ turned out to be the ideal day pack, offering just enough storage for extra layers, food, dog goggles, lots of cheese, and a few ski accoutrements. My helmet even fit inside. As a woman with fairly narrow shoulders, I found the fit perfect.

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And the pack had to perform immediately, thanks to a few miles of dirt from the Devil's Lake Trailhead; there was patchy snow in the trees as we approached the flats at Moraine Lake, but we carried all the way to that midway point. A-frame carry was secure even with boots attached. If there's one thing you want to avoid when you have skis and boots strapped to your pack, it's take off the entire thing every time you need a gummy bear or to slather on sunscreen; thank god the Rise 32+ has a hip belt pocket, omitted from so many ski day packs. However, the single hip belt pocket gets a little crowded once you add a cell phone.

 

Once our sneakers were stowed near Moraine Lake and our skis finally hit the snow, the pack performed well on the skin up South Sister. The front avalanche gear pocket keeps equipment accessible but out of the way, and the main body had plenty of room even as I shed layer after layer. The backside zipper entry? Didn't think I'd use it. But I was a convert by the time we hit some volcanic scree halfway up the mountain. I quickly found that rear access to the main compartment is ideal for anyone who gets fussy with layers in the backcountry (me) or who likes constant snack breaks (me again), especially when stopped on a slope. It also makes water bladder access incredibly simple. 

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As before, the A-frame ski carry was secure, especially when winds smacked us from the east while booting up scree. The accessory loops make for a slightly awkward axe carry, though, and I never quite found a good angle for the axe. I'll need to experiment with it more and perhaps add my own tie. After a calm summit, we skied back to the flats. On the downhill, the pack was secure on the turns we found, even as I had to dodge a dog who doesn't recognize personal ski boundaries. The pack never feels like skiing with a drunk monkey on your back—and we’ve all been there. 

The Rise 32+ had everything I wanted from a ski day pack—save a good ice axe carry, and maybe a helmet sling—and nothing I didn't. I'm a fan.