Ski Touring

Blue Ice Kume 38l Review

Edit Blue Ice are now supplying a bigger loop for fatter skis for the diagonal carry methods.

I was looking to replace my old ski touring rucksack which was a Patagonia ascensionist 35l I loved this bag and it’s only through the fact that the material was so old and thin you could see through it and held together by seam sealer that I decided to replace it. I wanted a more dedicated ski touring pack and opted for the Kume 38L as it has some feature that looked useful for the type of skiing I do.

The Kume comes in two sizes the 30L (150 euros, 1145g) and the 38L (170 euros, 1185g) and both sizes come in two colours blue and gold.They are both advertised as ski mountaineering packs and come with a range of feature aimed at the ski tourer/mountaineer. I went for the 38L model; I will discuss the sizes more later.

Fit

This is always subjective but overall I found this a really comfy rucksack, it comes with a wire frame in the back, that is removable, I always take these out of pack’s, without the frame it leaves you with a nice foam padded back, it feels a little wider than my old rucksack but that’s not a problem.  I recently used it when skiing in to a winter room to climb a mixed route in the high mountains, full of climbing kit, cooking equipment, food, ski stuff and a sleeping bag, it was full to bursting.  But even with two ropes on top as well it was as comfy as could be expected and even skiing down after the route it felt good and stable, the hip belt is padded and comfy but not removable.
Even fully loaded it was comfy up and stable on the down.

Access

The top is a draw cord that is easy to operate and usable with big gloves on, it has a flap that comes over the top, and is secured with a strap and buckle (doubles as a rope holder) again easy to use with big gloves on.  The opening of the pack isn’t the biggest but there is a side entry zip so it is easy to get stuff in and out the side zip.  Its self-locking meaning that if you have the end of the rope out ready to use, the zip stays where it is, so it won’t open any further and let your stuff fall out.
Pockets – there are three pockets on the back the first is on one side of the pack, it is advertised as a water bottle pocket and will take a 1L nalgene water bottle, but I preferred to use it as a replacement top rucksack pocket (as there isn’t one) and put glasses, snacks and stuff in there and stow my water bottle next to the full side zip, still have easy access to both. The pack it is also compatible with hydration bladders. Then you have an avalanche tool pocket, this is great, its big with lots of room for shovel and probe, but also enough room to store your skins if wet, and then a pocket on the waist belt which is small but handy, I managed to squeeze 4 snack bars in there. Lastly there is a zip pocket in the main compartment against the back panel.
Big pocket for avalanche kit, my shovel is 22cm wide and an easy fit.
Split compartment – the main compartment has the ability to be divided, this allows rope to be stowed at the bottom, or sharp things such as crampons or wet kit and the other stuff above, it works well as it can be accessed from the side zip, and if you don’t need it you and undo it so you just have one big compartment, that said you can’t take it out completely which is a shame.

Ski Carry

I have tried all the different options with this bag and they all work well.

The ruck sack boasts 4 different ways of carrying skis, A frame and the 3 versions of diagonal, there is a video below showing them (explains it better than I can).
The one that was of most interest to me was a way of attaching your skis without taking your rucksack off.  I thought this was a great idea, I likes to stay on skis as long as possible going up, so often end up changing to booting up on steep ground, not having to take the rucksack off would be great. I got to test this the other day, I was on steep ground and decided to change to booting up, and it didn’t go well.  
The loop you stick the bottom of the skis in is too small, I had checked that my skis fit in at home and they did but it was tight, on the hill with skins on and balancing no chance.  I ended up trying to putting them in one at a time, but because of the skins they then wouldn’t slide together level, then once I attached the strap from the shoulder strap, the heal piece of the binding just dug into my shoulder and was very painful.  As the skis were so tight in the loop it wasn’t possible to twist them to move the binding, I tried taking the rucksack off to change it but still didn’t work and it’s a pain to get the rucksack back on in this mode, in the end changed to an A frame.
Now before you write it off as a gimmick, I have tried it with my thinner skis and it works, both skis slide in together and there is room to twist the skis to set them to make it comfy, it is a bit of a faff but the more you do it the easier it becomes and I am now happy to use it on steep ground with theses skis and really like the feature.  For my fatter skis, (95mm underfoot and 118mm at the tail so not mega fat) I have made a bigger loop and this works very well with my bigger ski’s, maybe blue ice could sell the pack with two different size loops or cord to make your own?

My new home made loop for fatter skis, works really well.

Ice axe carrying

There are two standard axe attachments you slide the pick in a sleeve and slide a metal bar through the head of the axe, and there are Velcro holders at the top which can be removed.  Also and I really like this, on both sides of the avalanche pocket there is a slot for the ice axe shaft to slide in, then the flap of the rucksack covers the head, it hold the axe well, and it is possible to get the axe out without taking the pack off this is very easy to use, which is a handy feature.
The axe slides in a hole next to the avalanche tool pocket.
Then the lid flap holds it in place.

Size  

I went for the 38L mainly because that’s what the shop had in, it’s a good size and probably more in line with my old 35l rucksack, it works well for overnight trips, and if not full the side compression straps pull it in tight and it never feels to big, to be honest in hindsight I would have probably go for the 30L, as most of my touring is day trips and even with ropes and other technical kit I think it would have been better. They do have a 25l model Yagi which shares many of the features.

Helmet holder

It comes with a helmet holder which slides on to other loops on the pack, it works well for a full ski helmet or a climbing one, it goes on the back of the pack, maybe it would have been nice to have the option to attach it on the top of the pack too.

Hard wearing

I haven’t had it long enough to comment on this yet, but it seems very well made and my girlfriend has an older blue ice rucksack and that is bomb proof so I have high hopes.

Conclusion

Overall I love this pack and would recommend it, you get a lot for your money, it’s comfy and it works really well as a ski pack.  It’s well thought out with features that actually help you when out skiing, it is aimed at ski mountaineers with features for making changing to booting easier and easy access to rope and other technical gear, but it would also be a great pack for all types of ski touring and even though I would have gone for the smaller size it will still be my go to ski pack. And I have to say even the carry system I struggled with is a good idea they just need to add a bigger loop for fatter skis.

Pros

·        Price
·        comfy
·        Weight (considering the features)
·        Clever features for attaching skis and ice axe
·        Quality
·        The ability to split the pack and give quick access to rope etc.

Cons

·        One of the four carry systems is a bit fiddly and needs a bigger loop for fatter skis.
·        It would be nice to be able to completely remove the divider for the main body of the pack
·        Have a helmet hold that can also be used on the top of the pack.

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