Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $943 - $1,179 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Great pack design, comfortable, best airbag system.
Cons: Expensive, small volumne.
Best Uses: Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding.
This pack wins our Top Pick award for combining a great and light pack with the ABS twin airbag system, our favorite among airbag system designs. The pack design is well thought out, easy to use and one of the highest scoring in our review. It features a durable and effective tuck-away ski/snowboard carrying system, dual-zippered waist belt pockets and an awesome over-sized safety gear pocket that we could also squeeze our skins into. The Patrol 24 was one of the trimmer riding packs we tested, but this did cut down on the overall volume. Because the Patrol 24 is on the smaller volume airbag packs on the market, we think it would be best used for side-country laps, shorter tours, Heli and Cat-skiing or people who pack light. At nearly $1200 it is also one of the most expensive packs out there and was only edged out by the ABS Vario.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Patrol 24 licenses the ABS Airbag technology, in our opinion the best on the market. The ABS systems are the only airbag packs to use two airbags to keep the wearer on the surface. These two airbags total 170L of volume, greater than all the other non-ABS airbag packs that feature 150L. The two airbags also give you a certain level of redundancy; if one doesn't inflate or is punctured you would still have a single 85L bag.
Comfort and Fit
One of the trimmer riding packs, the Patrol 24 snugged right against your back and was one of the better packs to ride and ski with. The North Face Patrol 24 is available in two sizes, a S/M and a M/L, which will will help dial in your size more effectively. The size Small will fit many narrower shoulder folks and even many smaller women. The larger size will fit most people up to 6'4", depending on torso length. The Patrol 24 features nicely articulated shoulder straps that fit medium to wider torsos. The Patrol 24 has one of the better flexing frames, offering freedom of movement, but it is still able to carry a small backcountry load. This frame, which is on the more flexible side, wouldn't handle a big load. But with only 24L it's hard to overfill it. The frameless style Patrol instead moved with us through bumps and jump turned wonderfully down steep gulleys.
We liked the Patrol 24's overall pack design. One of our favorite features was its deep and easy-to-use safety gear pocket. We treated this like a "wet pocket" and it easily swallowed our shovel, probe, saw, and skins. This was nice because we didn't have to put our snowy shovel or damp skins into the main compartment with our puffy coat or our extra gloves. Only the Back Country Access Float 32 and the ABS Vario 40 had as nice a safety gear pocket. We liked the Patrol 24's snow safety gear pocket far more than the Snowpulse Lifebag Lite 35 or the Mammut Ride RAS.
The "Tuck-away" carrying system work great for both skis or a snowboard. The metal buckle which closes the waist belt is bomber and easy to use even with big gloves on. Like all the other airbag packs we tested, the Patrol 24 features a leg strap to help keep the pack from being pulled off the top of you. The small pockets on the waist belt were easy to operate and were the perfect size for a GU, inclinometer, ski straps or the activation handle when it's not in use. The over-sized fleeced-lined goggle pocket was also nice for goggles or sunglasses or smaller items like a map or chap stick.
The only down side is that the airbag system doesn't have a separate compartment and definitely eats into the volume of the main compartment. We think the Patrol is great for heli and Cat skiing, side-country adventures, shorter tours or folks who pack light. For a bigger pack we would recommend the ABS Vario 40 or the BCA Float 32. These two packs feel about the same volume despite being 8 liters different.
At 6 lbs 9 oz the The North Face Patrol 24 was the second lightest pack in our review, with the Snowpulse Lite 35 at 5 lbs 3 oz being over a pound lighter. The Snowpulse is significantly less durable than the Patrol 24, which is made with The North Face's propriatary "Bombastic fabric" that we have found is as durable as the name implies. The North Face Patrol 24 was only one oz heavier than the larger volume BCA Float 32; the Mammut Ride RAS 35 wasn't too far behind both of them at 7 lbs. The ABS Vario 40 was around a pound heavier at 7 lbs 9 oz.
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 30, 2012
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