Will Wolffepack’s innovative design solve chairlift queue woes of wearing a backpack?

Digital Editor Joe Troman takes a closer look at the novel orbital bag design and whether it makes the difference.

Slide through the gate. Gloves off. Undo the sternum strap, then the hip belt, before slipping the bag from your shoulder and round to the front. Shuffle into position, sit on the chairlift. Quickly check you haven’t dropped your gloves. Wait for the bar to drop, then relax. Then repeat the whole process in reverse when you get to the top of the lift. 

All backpack wearing skiers and snowboarders have experienced the mild panic and major faff of mounting a chairlift with a backpack. Newcomer Wolffepack aims to solve these issues with their Summit backpack that uses their innovative new orbital bag system.

Wolffepack's video introduction to the Summit

 

First impressions of the pack are good with the build quality being generally high and the sleek black look suiting most tastes. At a glance, there is little to tell the pack apart from a conventional backpack, save for the parachute style pull chord on the right shoulder strap. Appearances can be deceptive though as this pack has an ace up its sleeve that no other bag on the market does.

The orbital design allows you to release the bulk of the storage from your back and swing it round to the front of your body where you can access the contents. 

By releasing the latch on the conveniently located pull chord, users can separate the harness and storage components of the bag. This can be done by lowering the storage pod on strong para-chord, before pulling the bag to their front and securing it to the shoulder straps, to allow for fast access to the contents of the bag. To return the bag to its original position, all you have to do is unclip it from the front and extend the pull chord until you hear a click, then the bag is back in place.

Particularly applicable for snowsports, this mechanism allows you to mount a chairlift safely, without having to undo fiddly shoulder and chest straps. The bulk of the bag’s contents has other useful applications, like allowing for fast access to hydration while on the piste and avalanche gear in emergency situations.

The bag’s concept champions access to contents by allowing users to bring the pack around to their front, without removing the shoulder straps, in order to access their kit.

In practice, the mechanism works well, although it does take a couple of tries to get used to it. Before long you will be able to swing your valuables securely from your back to your front in one fluid movement.

Loading the pack with kit was a doddle, with handy pockets for essential bits of kit. The 16 litres accommodated all of our essential items for a day on the hill. There has obviously been great consideration taken for the needs to snow sports enthusiasts when creating the pack with a fleece lined goggle pocket and a separate pocket for phones, cameras and other valuables suspended in the main cavity. Waterproof zips keep the snow out while the chunky zip handles make opening and closing the bag a simple operation even with gloves on.

Backcountry riders will be pleased to find a pouch that houses a shovel, although the lack of specific sleeves for probe and shovel handles may leave filing fanatics wanting. Usefully, the compartment doubles as a laptop sleeve for when you are back in the real world. 

The straps are well padded and breathable, and the addition of hip and chest straps keep the pack secure on the move, particularly useful for snowsports. We also tested the bag when cycling and running and were surprised by the stability of the bag across all activities. Commuters will appreciate the reflective tabs scattered over the bag.

The only downside of the extra straps is that when they are hanging undone they have a habit of getting in the way of the orbital system. However, there are different bags in the Wolffepack range that are aimed at more urban applications which do not have the additional straps. When wearing thinner clothes, the zip of the valuables/hydration pocket pressed into our shoulder blades and the more padding on the hip belt would improve comfort – something which we hadn’t noticed when wearing winter jackets.

Pros:

  • Well thought out system offering unparalleled access
  • Provides a safe and easy solution to mounting chairlifts
  • Useful compartments for a variety of snow sports specific kit

Cons:

  • Straps need to be done up all the way for seamless use
  • Sporty styling may not be to everyone's taste, see the rest of the Wolffepack range
  • Zip placement on the back panel can be annoying when only wearing thin layers

Bottom line:

The Wolffepack Summit bag definitely solves the age-old problem of mounting a chairlift with a backpack and allows for easy access to essential items while also performing well in other activities. 

Ski Club members enjoy a 25% discount on the Summit pack

What Wolffepack say about the Summit:

“Summit is an incredible backpack for snowsports. The Wolffepack system makes ski-lifts SO much quicker and easier, without the endless restrapping.”

View the full range of Wolffepack products here.