Backcountry Access Float 32 2.0 Review
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Backcountry Access Float 32 2.0
|Price||Check Price at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
|$770 List||$750 List|
$699.95 at Amazon
|Pros||Great overall pack design, affordable, good snow safety gear pocket, plethora of organizational pockets, canister doesn't take up extra space in the main compartment||Best airbag system on the market, utilitarian design, huge avy tools pocket, spacious main compartment, ability to carry skis diagonally and A-Frame, comfortable, durable, airbag zipper pops open way less than other models||Best-fitting pack for smaller users, awesome pack design, super comfortable, big snow safety tools pocket, great goggle pocket, well-executed back panel access||Tons of useful features, huge snow safety gear pocket, affordable, rides well for a large pack, half back-panel access, lots of pockets||Super lightweight, affordable, nice ski carry system|
|Cons||One size, average weight||Only one frame size, compression straps must be unbuckled to unzip the pack all the way, one-way zipper, no goggle pocket, "stash pocket" isn't user-friendly, mediocre diagonal ski carry||Mediocre helmet sling, no internal zippered pocket for keys, must access back panel to get to most of the pack, hard to maximize volume, waist buckle difficult to thread||Heavy, not great for smaller users||Uncomfortable if not packed correctly, U-shaped access zipper isn't ideal, no avy tool pocket, small capacity|
|Bottom Line||A great pack design with a basic but functional and reliable airbag, all at a respectable weight and a good price||This comfortable pack features a functional design and our favorite airbag system||This pack is designed for those with a short torso, narrow shoulders, or those under 5'4", and you'll be pleased with its well-thought-out design||A well-designed larger volume airbag pack that excels for patrollers, backcountry pros, or extended missions||For the right user/type of trip, this is one of the most lightweight models available, but you'll have to make some sacrifices in comfort|
|Rating Categories||Backcountry Access...||Osprey Soelden Pro 32||Mammut Pro X Remova...||Backcountry Access...||Mammut Ultralight R...|
|Backcountry Utility (22%)|
|Airbag System (20%)|
|Downhill Performance (13%)|
|Specs||Backcountry Access...||Osprey Soelden Pro 32||Mammut Pro X Remova...||Backcountry Access...||Mammut Ultralight R...|
|Volume (liters)||32L||32L||35L, 33L with system||42L||20L|
|Weight with Cartridge (pounds)||6.4 lbs||6.5 lbs||6.5 lbs||7.1 lbs||4.4 lbs|
|Airbag unit or packs can be purchased separately/independently||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cartridge type||Compressed Air||Electric fan||Compressed Air||Compressed Air||Compressed Air|
|Approximate cost to Refill||$5-20||Not Applicable||$5-20||$5-20||$5-20|
|Volume of Bag(s)||150L||150L||150L||150L||150L|
|Frame sizes||One size||One size||One size||One size||One size|
|Can you fly with it?||Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full||Yes, no cartridge||Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full||Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full||Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full|
|Carry skis A-frame or Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal||Diagonal|
Our Analysis and Test Results
BCA has updated the Float 32 2.0 pack since our test cycle ended. Above, compare the model we tested (left) to the updated pack (right). Changes appear to be minor, but note that some of the features we speak to in this review may be different in the latest version, which we are now linking to above.
The Float 32 is an incredibly versatile touring pack that delivers function to the fullest without breaking the bank. Though average in weight, this pack is big enough to work for essentially any day trip, and we've even squeezed several well-supported hut-to-hut trips out of it. We love the extremely functional and utilitarian pack design.
The Float 32 2.0 is one of our favorite packs for its overall user-friendliness and backcountry utility. We loved this model's huge dedicated snow safety gear pocket. We treated this like a "wet pocket", and it easily swallowed a shovel, probe, saw, and skins. We liked not having to put our snow-covered shovel or damp skins into the main compartment where they might make our puffy jacket or extra gloves damp.
This model's main compartment also feels voluminous, and it seems far bigger than some other packs of similar volumes. We love the interior mesh pocket and found it a great place for keys, an AIARE Blue book, most crystal cards, or other odds and ends to help stay organized. The other pocket is external, which is where the helmet carrier gets stowed away, but it's still big enough to fit a few small items. There is also a third fleece-lined goggle pocket accessible from the outside of the pack.
Carrying Skis or a Snowboard
The Float 32 features a fairly easy-to-use diagonal carry system that is fast and secure. It has straps that can be offset or completely undone, with two additional straps towards to top to carry a snowboard vertically. This design seems more prone to opening up the breakaway zipper that keeps the airbag in place. While hardly a deal-breaker, this annoying occurrence happened more frequently with a snowboard than skis and tended to happen more when the pack was maxed out, volume-wise.
BCA's Float 2.0 System is 30% more compact and 15% lighter than the previous 1.0 System. The Float 2.0 system is designed and built around a smaller canister that fits inside the same compartment as the airbag itself, saving pack space. This makes the pack feel roomier and makes it far easier to pack. BCA was able to use a smaller canister by increasing the pressure/capacity from 2500-2700 PSI to 2800-3000 PSI, and a redesigned venturi system further reduced weight and improved efficiency.
This model uses a 150L airbag which deploys from the top of the pack and inflates above your head through a breakaway zippered pocket. The breakaway portion of the zipper has been moved from the top to the side, which makes zipping the airbag compartment easier.
The trigger is modular on this model and can be worn on either the right or left shoulder strap. This means you can customize it so that you can reach across your body to grab and pull the trigger with your dominant hand. BCA uses a very simple mechanical and reliable system trigger system that is one of our favorites. However, you should regularly check that the inner connection attaches to the canister. After several days out, we have seen the inner threads vibrate loose, so we recommend checking before every tour.
On domestic flights, TSA allows compressed air canisters to be taken on commercial aircraft as long as it's empty and in your checked luggage. A good extra measure to help ensure that your canister makes it to your destination is to pack your canisters in its original packaging, which helps to clearly define what it is, lessening the chance that TSA will confiscate it. Better yet, completely unscrew the head from the canister to make it easy to identify that the canister is empty. BCA also has documents supporting the legality of taking the canister on commercial flights in an easily printable format on their website.
For international flights, amazingly enough, it is actually okay to fly with a full cylinder as long as it is packed away in checked luggage. Our testers have flown internationally with full canisters on several occasions. With that said, we always take the extra steps of boxing and labeling it to make it less likely to get confiscated.
The Float 32 features compressed air canisters, which are quite easy to refill. The fitting on the BCA canisters is common, and the same fitting used on scuba tanks, paintball, and some glass blowing operations. This means that you can refill these canisters nearly anywhere that deals with compressed air. If you or a friend happen to own a scuba tank or anything else that uses compressed air, you can purchase an adapter directly from BCA and refill canisters yourself.
While finding locations to fill a compressed air canister isn't a super common problem, it is worth noting that you can actually use certain floor pumps to refill your canister by hand if you'll be traveling to remote regions where compressed air is not available. Our favorite pump for this purpose is the Benjamin High-Pressure Hand Pump.
Despite the lighter airbag system, a few additional features keep this model's overall weight on the higher end of the spectrum (7 lbs 1 oz). The Float 32 pack is pretty average weight-wise among packs of 30L or more of useable space.
The removable helmet holder is quick and easy to engage. It's stowed inside an external zipper pocket and can also be offset when carrying your skis diagonally on the back by utilizing a different loop on the top of the pack.
There are two decent-sized zippered hip belt pockets, and a gear loop on each side. We loved the pockets for ski straps, a scraper, snacks, an Inclinometer, and they're even big enough to fit most medium-sized smartphones. There were also a lot of other small but useful features, like a hole in the bottom of the snow safety gear pocket to facilitate carrying longer ice axes without risking puncturing your airbag, a fleece lined goggle pocket, and loops for the BCA Link radios which can be routed into the shoulder straps.
Performance on the down is how well each pack handled and moved with us while skiing and snowboarding on the descent. The Float 32 2.0 provides a good blend of support and freedom of movement. It hugged our back and moved with us quite well.
This is one of the more comfortable packs we tested. It features a thermomolded back panel with a fair amount of support built in. That said, it only comes in one size, and while marginally adjustable in height, it fits taller users better.
The Float 32 features an adjustable waist belt that can slide up and down around 2.5" to accommodate a wider range of user heights. It still tends to fit taller folks better, but now has a slightly larger range than previous versions. Most folks between 5'6"- 6'6" will be able to comfortablt wear this pack, with the sweet spot being between 5'8"- 6'4" tall.
Should You Buy the BCA Float 32 2.0?
The Float 32 is best used by skiers and snowboarders looking for a solid all-day backcountry touring pack. It features one of our overall favorite pack designs, with all of our favorite features for backcountry skiing, but it's little big and bulky for side-country or heli/Cat skiing. For all-around backcountry touring, though, it's hard to beat this pack for the price. We love all of the pockets on this pack for staying organized.
What Other Avalanche Airbag Packs Should You Consider?
If you're shorter, we think you should take a look at the Mammut Pro X Removable Airbag 3.0 - Women's or the Black Diamond JetForce UL. The JetForce UL is one of the most lightweight packs we've tested, but it can't hold nearly as much volume as the Float 32. Our favorite overall airbag pack and system was the Osprey Soelden Pro 32, which utilizes Alpride's supercapacitor system, which is rechargeable and one of the best systems currently on the market.
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