This medium capacity sac is designed to carry the gear you need for short ski tours, day trips out to the main range with your snow board and fly-in or hut based alpine climbing and ski-mountaineering. This is the first time we've offered such a streamlined pack purely dedicated to alpinism.
The Alpine Express uses 450 denier high-tenacity ripstop polyester. This fabric, around 30% lighter than canvas, 1000d Cordura or Kodra, is tough but its real advantages lie in its snow repellency and the yarn's low water retention when soaked. For external reinforcing of common wear areas we have chosen a dense weave, 600 denier Kodra. The base of the pack bag also has a 5mm layer of closed-cell foam sandwiched between fabric layers. (Some years back we discovered the effectiveness of adding thin padding under wear areas when making sailing bib & brace overpants required to resist deadly, no-skid deck finishes). The remaining pack features are described below. You may notice a similarity to those of the Mountain Expedition model, the Alpine Express' much bigger brother. The photo on the Mountain Expedition page also illustrates the snow shovel housing.
The Alpine Express bag fabric extends high to a single drawcord rim. Either draw up the throat, fold up any excess length, then secure it all under the over bag compression strap or simply roll down the throat dry bag style and clip the roll end buckles together. To finish off, fasten down the the top cover. If the top cover has been removed you can alternatively fasten the roll ends down to the top cover straps, a neat and positive way to close the pack. On the top cover, shockcord loops around the rim of the compact yet surprisingly useful 'camera' pocket. Use the shockcord as a tempory place to stash clothing layers while sorting other things out. The compact top cover is radically scalloped for look-up head clearance and can be easily extended upward along its webbing back straps to still properly cover the throat of a pack bag loaded to the max.
Sometimes it is essential to have quick access into the pack bag. The procedure of unfastening the top cover straps and opening the throat, and then doing it all up again, is too laborious. The Alpine Express has direct, heavy-duty zip access into the bag so you can quickly stuff away or extract a clothing layer, or other bit of gear. The pack's triple side compression straps are circular (you get a 2:1 force advantage), progressively inclined to control bag shape and removeable (and able to be used for any number of emergencies). Compression tensions are distributed into the pack side seams by fabric carriers. The compression geometry is designed to work effectively on a relatively empty pack bag. The bottom straps fold up the base, and so on upwards. Hip side-stabiliser anchor buckles have been integrated with the multi-function, double-layer fabric 'spiders' that form the bottom side pockets. The pockets hold snow stakes or the tails of skis carried high. Apertures are provided so skis can also be mounted lower, with tails inclined backwards so as to not smash into you're calves.
Towards the back the pocket 'spiders' run out to catch the bottom of a snow shovel blade. The strong webbing loops across the side bottom pockets can be used as temporary holsters or attachment points. The back panel of the pack includes a number of useful features. Ice tool mounting webbing is integrated with the bag compression system, shockcord back lacing and snowboard racking. To keep the weight under control we've avoided going overboard on extra reinforcing layers. If you fit your crampons under the shockcord lacing it's a simple matter to make sure they are 'points out'.
Finally, the Synchro-FORM shoulder harness uses a tough, textured polyester fabric for the body faces. It is non-slippery yet sheds snow and absorbs little moisture. The Hi-Load Thin hip pads are faced with a similar textured fabric, in this case a spun Kodra nylon with an elastane component. This hard-wearing, slightly elastic fabric follows any curvature of the hip pad maintaining a smooth, comfortable, contact face over any thickness of clothing layers. If you wish to carry the pack on the shoulders and free the hips for a climbing harness, remove the hip pads and simply swing the hip plates up to lay vertically over the harness panel, behind your back. You can also use just the hip plates as an effective hip harness anyway. They are lightly padded and their independent suspension tracks hip movements perfectly. This freedom of movement largely replaces the need for heavy padding. Even if you are not wearing thick clothing layers you will be amazed at how comfortable the stripped-down set up is).
If you require hip pads with a longer reach to fully span your pelvic structure, size Large pads are available and can be exchanged for the standard Medium size fitted (provided these are not soiled or worn). If you are particularly slim and require smaller reach hip wings both the standard medium hip pads and medium hip plates need to be changed to size Small. (Small pads do not fit on the standard medium length plates).
If you often load up the Alpine Express with a lot of hardware (over 18kg, say) and also regularly wear the hip harness over light clothing layers it is possible to fit the Synchro-FORM Hi-Load TPS hip harness system, available as a 'spare part kit' for purchase separately. The Hi-Load hip plates and pads, with greater surface area and thicker padding, and will noticeably improve comfort.
Follow the link to the Sea To Summit website for pack liner bags and dry sacs. The use a a dry-sac type pack liner bag will make this pack suitable for river-crossings and the wettest weather.
The links beside the picture at the top of this page lead to a wide range of information, advice, instructions , technical background, and so on, probably much more than may interest you. If you purchase or already own this product we strongly advise you to read the use and care pages carefully. The info on the DIY repairs page could also be worth a scan, just so you are prepared incase of a field mishap.