Ortovox Haute Route Backpack Gear Review

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All in all, the 35L Ortovox Haute Route pack, with its versatile equipment carry options and great detailed features, is a solid choice for the day touring backcountry skier or splitboarder.

This review is from a splitboarders perspective – which means that this pack has been put through its paces.  We splitboarders use the heck out of our packs.  Every lap we are taking it on and off, taking things in and out, strapping on and off poles, placing our board in ride mode and/or ski mode, so it has to hold up and it has to be versatile.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
My main first impression of this pack was not good… I told Jess: “this thing just looks too small for even a day pack.”  Other than that, this pack is well put together with rugged reinforced nylon throughout.  The pack is clean looking too, with waterproof zippers and sturdy zipper pulls.  Overall, it’s a nice looking pack but just does not LOOK like it would fit everything I would need for a day of backcountry splitboard touring.

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FEATURES:
The Haute Route line from Ortovox comes in 3 sizes including a women’s pack, a 35L and 45L option.  I have the 35L version and it really has everything you could ask for in a ski/ride pack*

  • Dedicated – easy to access avalanche rescue gear compartment
  • Board and ski carry modes
  • Gear and ice axe loops
  • Handy hip belt pockets
  • Hydration Bladder sleeve and hose routing
  • Rear Access to the main compartment
  • Helmet attachment system

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THE FINAL WORD:
Overall, the Haute Route has impressed me in use.  It looks small and it feels small on your back but it has held everything I have needed for a day tour.  The helmet attachment and ski and board carry options are pretty sweet too.  The only negative so far is that there is ONLY rear access to the main compartment which makes it hard to get to gear when you just want to sling it off one shoulder.  Also the rear access zipper has a tendency to catch and can be a pain to open up- especially with gloves on.

All in all, the 35L Haute Route pack, with its versatile equipment carry options and great detailed features, is a solid choice for the day touring skiier or splitboarder.

*Detailed specs can be found at ortovox’s website.

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First Day Out: Jones Pass/Butler Gulch

Watching the snow fly this last week, I had determined that I HAD to go get out and at least see it, feel it, touch it (yeah, it’s like that).  I decided to check out a new area and decided on the Jones Pass/Butler Gulch area.  Not knowing how much snow was really out there, I optimistically packed my splitboard in the car hoping against hope that there would be enough to slide on.
Well, pulling up to the trailhead was not promising:

Not too promising out of the gate at the Jones Pass TH

Almost immediately after leaving the trailhead though, things started to gradually improve into a skinable 4-6 inches on the trail.

Skinning in, things are improving

After climbing to about 11,000′ things got a bit deaper and I actually made a few (very cautious) light turns.

Splitboard and Tracks – Like Pees and Carrots

All in all, I was not optimistic that I would even be able to skin up there, but it turns out it was much better than I thought.  About 12-18″ more up there and it should open up quite a bit.

Snow + Me = Smiles

Split Decision: DIY Splitboard Part I

Oh the splitboard… an answer for all those years of slogging up snow covered hillsides in clunky snowshoes with a 5′ board strapped to your back, I liken the invention to a miraculous gift from heaven (or Ullr if you’re into that sort of thing).

Snowshoe/Snowboarding RMNP

Owning a splitboard has been a dream of mine since probably 2001 where I got my first taste of backcountry snowboarding in the Mammoth Lakes, CA area. Joining the military and being stationed in Mississippi didn’t help my cause and it isn’t until now, living in Colorado, that the dream finally looks to become reality.

This is less of a step by step DIY and more of a documentation of this momentous occasion. There are some awesome How-To videos on the Voile site and YouTube that walk you through the whole thing if you are interested.

So the first (pre) step to the whole process is deciding whether or not you want to buy a factory split or go for it and split your own. The cost of splitboards is dropping drastically and you can get a sweet one for like $450-500 now. With that in mind, if you don’t like to do somewhat lengthy and moderately challenging home projects, just buy one. If you are like me, and really just get stoked at the idea of making your own splitboard for the fun of it then hop on the DIY train, buy a kit and let’s get started.

Step 1 is getting a board that will be good to split. Check out splitboard.com forums for a bunch of other folks boards that they have split and like (or dislike) to get an idea. When I was asking about mine, the best piece of info I got was “If you don’t like it before splitting it, you’ll hate it after.” For me, I had a great board in mind. I have had this Burton Custom 169 for about 10 years that was mostly just sitting there since I have upgraded and it became kinda obsolete.

The board - pre-split

Once you have a good board to split, you have to get the kit.  The most popular of which is the Voile Split Decision (Saw your old board) kit.  Make sure you get this one and not the universal split kit since that is for an already split board.

Love how it's called the "Saw your old board" kit

Lots of stuff in there.

Once you have the board and the kit, it’s time to get down to business.  Next, take some blue painters tape and run it down the middle of your board where you will be cutting, on top and on bottom.

Make sure you measure almost every two inches along the length of your board and check it a zillion times.  This mark is crucial.  Make sure you use a very straight edge like a piece of manufactured wood or metal to ensure your line is straight, if this is jacked then there is no going back, so get it right and take your time on this step.  It’s also a good idea to put your bindings on and mark out their general location/angles for future reference.

Looks good to me

Alright, now that that is done, you need to set yourself up a good work station.  Something firm that you can clamp the board to so it won’t budge during the cutting.  Also, make sure there is a nice little gap for where the saw blade will pass through so you don’t have to stop and move anything or cut your saw horses in half.

Nice and stable

Now you should be set up for success.  Now comes the most stressful part: actually cutting your frickin board in half!  If you are like me, you have a bit of an attachments to your old boards, I mean they are quiet, loyal little friends that you’ve counted on for days of fun sliding down snow covered mountains.  So, say your goodbyes to your old solid board and just remember that it will all be for the best, I mean once you’re done you can use this guy to get you to stashes it would never have seen.

"Scalpel!"

The most common way to cut a splitboard is with a circular saw with a carbide tipped blade attached, I have one, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use it.  I have not been too successful with past circular saw projects and you really have one shot at it.  I decided to go the Amish way and use a variety of hand saws to get it split. Either way, just commit and do it as smoothly and continuously as possible.

No going back now.

My burton board has the 3D inserts to cut through which made it a total pain in the ass, but I think the saw could have handled it pretty easily.  Going back, I think I would have just manned up and used the skil saw with similar or better results.

1 is now 2

Now the stressful part is over, but the fun is just beginning.  Now you get to drill all kinds of holes in your board!