The Dakine Heli Pack 12L is the smallest pack in the Dakine Heli range carrying 12 litre and is ideal for those days on the piste or for shorter excursions into the back country.
The pack is constructed from a durable Rip Stop Nylon fabric and features a front open sided pocket that is designed for a shovel base, with side compression straps to make sure it stays in place. Above this a fleece lined zipped pocket is designed to accommodate your goggles or to protect small electrical devices. The main zipped compartment features a sleeve for your drinks bladder, with a Velcro tab at the top to secure it and a centrally placed bladder hose exit point. Two internal sleeves inside the main compartment will hold a shovel handle and probe. The two-way adjustable chest strap and webbing hip belt with hip fits assist in pulling the pack into your body giving a secure fit. The chest strap buckle also cleverly doubles up as a safety whistle.
Skis can be carried diagonally and are securely attached with the retractable straps. A snowboard can be attached vertically ensuring stability and comfort as you travel between slopes. The Heli Pack 12L will also fit a Dakine Impact Spine Protector, this can be purchased separately should you require it. A large grab handle on the top of the pack makes the bag easy to move around.
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I'd been looking for a slim pack to use for lift-served skiing for a while, as a straight replacement for a K2 one I've had for years. I've used this one for a week. Back length is really good on me. I'm short (1.7 / 5'7") but have a long back for my height so I'd say it's medium. Space between shoulder straps was a bit narrow but I have climber's shoulders and get this on other packs too. I suspect they'll wear in OK. Interior organisation and shovel flap all work well with my BCA tour shovel & probe.
One of the features I was looking for was very clean lines, with nothing to snag on chairlifts - a weakness with the K2 - and the Heli absolutely hits the spot, with everything tucked away. Fully extended, the ski loop easily takes the tails of my Prophet 98s without splitting the skis to flatten the twin tip. I'm less convinced by the upper ski strap, where I found the way the skis pressed on the fastex buckle a bit worrying.
Where the Heli does lose out to the K2 is the waist belt - the hip wings are minimal and don't offer much support. It's basically a shoulder carry with a waist strap to keep it in place when skiing. I actually find this OK on such a small pack, just don't expect the 'wrap around' of some Ortovox and Mammut packs.
Overall, I really like this pack - 4.5 stars would be fair and a few tweaks would make it a 5.
Excellent bag, great quality, roomy, sturdy but slim and not too bulky. The only thing I would say is it doesn't have many pocket / compartments inside, but that's the trade off you take for having a slimmer pack and not looking like you're wearing an armadillo shell!
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