Osprey Soelden Pro 32 Review
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Osprey Soelden Pro 32
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|$1,200 at REI|
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|Check Price at Backcountry|
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|$770 List||$750 List|
$699.95 at Amazon
|Pros||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||Easy to manage, huge snow safety tools pocket, lightweight, easy to travel with, multiple deployments if you carry extra AA batteries, trigger can be worn at either shoulder||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-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|
|Cons||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||Wide shoulder straps, frame lengths geared toward taller folks, few organizational options||One size, average weight||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|
|Bottom Line||This comfortable pack features a functional design and our favorite airbag system||This tour-friendly pack features supercapacitors to power an electric fan, making it lighter than most battery-powered options||A great pack design with a basic but functional and reliable airbag, all at a respectable weight and a good price||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|
|Rating Categories||Osprey Soelden Pro 32||Black Diamond JetFo...||Backcountry Access...||Mammut Pro X Remova...||Backcountry Access...|
|Backcountry Utility (22%)|
|Airbag System (20%)|
|Downhill Performance (13%)|
|Specs||Osprey Soelden Pro 32||Black Diamond JetFo...||Backcountry Access...||Mammut Pro X Remova...||Backcountry Access...|
|Volume (liters)||32L||26L||32L||35L, 33L with system||42L|
|Weight with Cartridge (pounds)||6.5 lbs||5.7 lbs||6.4 lbs||6.5 lbs||7.1 lbs|
|Airbag unit or packs can be purchased separately/independently||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cartridge type||Electric fan||Electric fan||Compressed Air||Compressed Air||Compressed Air|
|Approximate cost to Refill||Not Applicable||Not Applicable||$5-20||$5-20||$5-20|
|Volume of Bag(s)||150L||150L||150L||150L||150L|
|Frame sizes||One size||SM/ML||One size||One size||One size|
|Can you fly with it?||Yes, no cartridge||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||Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal||A-Frame and Diagonal|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Osprey Soelden Pro 32 combines our favorite overall airbag system, the Alpineride E1, with one of our team's favorite pack designs. It is also among the most comfortable — it feels every bit as solid on the way down as on the way up. There were a few things we didn't like about this pack — most notably, a "stash pocket" that was difficult to search for items in and a price that was among the most expensive in the review. However, if you're looking for a model that works for a wide range of applications, provides excellent functionality, and sports a cutting-edge airbag system, then this is your pack.
The Osprey Soelden 32 offers one of our favorite overall backcountry pack designs. Its separate snow-safety gear pocket is ultra deep and will fit the vast majority of probes and shovels on the market (and even most larger ones). It is also big enough to make it a "wet pocket" or a place to stash your skins on the descent.
What all of our testers noted is its volume. It feels like a spacious 32L model and most users will find it plenty big enough for overnights or light hut-based overnights. We feel this is a combination of the volume itself, the shape of the main compartment, and how little space the Alpride system takes up. Our testers also found its helmet-carrying system easy to use and quick to deploy.
The only thing we didn't care for was its smaller "stash pocket". Unlike a lot of packs that feature a smaller interior mesh pocket, Osprey put a larger zipper pocket on the front of the pack. Because it's the outside of where your shovel frequently is, it's hard to search around in if the pack (or the pocket) are full. You also can't see inside it easily, so you just have to "feel" for things, and it's easy for them to become lost. The pocket is also very difficult to access when wearing gloves.
Carrying Skis or a Snowboard
The Soelden Pro 32 is one of only a handful of airbags that can carry skis both diagonally or A-frame style. We appreciate this option, as we prefer to carry our skis A-frame style when possible, which is generally more comfortable for extended periods of time. However, it's not recommended to carry skis in an A-frame while in avalanche terrain, because it could affect the deployment of the airbag. This pack is also one of the few that can carry a snowboard or a split board put together in snowboard mode.
This model's diagonal carry is functional, but you'll need to cinch the heck out of it, otherwise the skis can be a little floppy. This is because you drop your tails into one side of the snowboard carry's bottom loop that is threaded through the inside of the pack and clip the top straps that are one side of the same threaded sleeve on the other. Again, this works but wasn't as fast, easy, or solid as a number of other options. It is also a total pain if you pull on the wrong side of the strap and pull it back out of its sleeve. It is easy to re-thread when the pack is empty, but challenging with the pack is full.
The Osprey Soelden Pro 32 licenses the Swiss company Alpride's groundbreaking E1 electronic airbag system. What sets this company's airbag system apart from all other systems is it utilizes a supercapacitor to power the fan rather than the more traditional compressed air or ultra-powerful (and ultra-large, heavy, and expensive) lithium-ion battery. Supercapacitors offer several advantages over models that use previous technologies.
Lithium-ion batteries powering a fan must be mega powerful, because the energy required to inflate a 150L in 3-5 seconds in cold temps is so immense. Simply put you need a huge battery to be able to pull that energy quickly enough to fill the bag in such a short period of time. Cold temperatures have such a negative effect on the ability of these batteries to quickly discharge. As a result, the non-supercapacitor battery-powered models are typically amongst the heaviest, even heavier than compressed gas.
Supercapacitors, though, are a very unique and cool solution. A supercapacitor isn't actually that "versatile" when it comes to power storage or use for a lot of other everyday items that require power. However, it has a very distinct advantage over a traditional battery because it is minimally affected by the cold and can provide a lot of power in a very short period of time.
Again, it isn't the volume of energy that needs to be great to fill a 150L bag, it's the speed at which it needs to be delivered. As the supercapacitor can deliver energy extremely quickly the amount of power that needs to be stored is significantly less than a traditional battery.
The Osprey Soelden 32 comes with a micro USB cable that can charge the system in around 20 minutes. Additionally, the system can be charged off of (but not necessarily run directly off of) two AA batteries and charges in just 40 minutes. This model uses three LED indicator lights with red, yellow, and green colors to let the user know how much charge is in the battery. When the Soelden is powered up, it gives an audible sound to indicate that it is performing a self-check on the function of more than 15 aspects of the E1 to make sure everything is in working order. Once fully charged, the Alpride claims the charge is good for three months when stored in the OFF position.
This model's trigger is interchangeable, meaning it can be set on the right or left shoulder. Our testing team really appreciates this small but important design aspect, as it really helps fine-tune this potentially live-saving device to help a wide range of people out there. Wearing it on the left side works well for the majority of right-handed backcountry travelers who will want to grab the trigger with their dominant hand. However, the option for the trigger to be worn on the right side is nice for folks who are left-handed or for snowmobilers who will likely want the option to keep their left hand on the throttle and pull the trigger with their left hand (in an attempt to continue to get off of the avalanche). We like that the Alpride E1 system uses a mechanical trigger instead an electronic one because we feel mechanical triggers are more reliable over the long term.
A major benefit of the Alpride E1 system is there are absolutely no travel restrictions. Models that use extremely powerful lithium-ion batteries are easy to fly with domestically within the United States but can be a hassle internationally. This is because the battery used in these packs is technically too big even in a checked bag for international flights. There is an exemption for large batteries used in airbag packs by the FAA, but like so many things, depending on who you talk to at the airline counter and their familiarity with airbag packs, you may run into issues. For example, we nearly had a battery taken away in Japan, and only after 30 minutes of arguing with the gate agent did we get to keep it. Compressed air canisters are also a hassle, since they must be empty to fly with and then refilled at your destination.
This model weighs 6 lbs 6 oz, a bit lighter than the average airback pack and far lighter than lithium-ion powered models. However, there are a few lighter packs in our test that use the Alpride system.
This pack has very good overall backcountry utility, with a great snow safety pocket and a great helmet carrier. We didn't love the "stash pocket", and it also doesn't have a goggle pocket — hardly a deal-breaker, but it should be noted that most packs of this volume and weight do have them. We liked its single waist belt pocket which was big enough for a ski strap, some snacks, lip balm, or other items you may want easily accessible.
Our review team found this full-sized pack moves with its user pretty well compared to other models geared towards all-day touring. Its compression straps cinch the pack down tightly when it's not packed full, and we felt its frame struck a nice balance between support and flexibility.
All of our testers in the 5'7"-6'3" range loved this pack. Its shoulder straps are some of the best articulated you'll find on an airbag pack and among the most comfortable overall. The foam on the back panel is very high quality and strikes a great balance of comfort and protection. Likewise, the foam on the shoulder straps and waistbelt was also pleasant, making this one of the most comfortable packs tested.
This model only comes in one frame length which Osprey says they recommend for folks with 17-22" frames. We completely agree with this and found the measurements pretty dang accurate. We think in general this pack is best for folks between 5'7" to 6'3", depending on frame length. It will probably fit folks with broader shoulders better.
Should You Buy the Osprey Soelden Pro 32?
The Osprey Soelden Pro 32 is our favorite airbag pack because of its top-tier all-around performance. It's comfortable and moves well with us while skiing or riding, has a utilitarian design, and sports what we feel is currently the best overall airbag system on the market. The Soelden's fantastic functionality, respectable weight, and utilitarian design will be appreciated by nearly any user, and the fact that you can recharge it on the fly using AA batteries means you don't have to fret about whether or not to pull the trigger.
What Other Avalanche Airbags Should You Consider?
If you have a smaller frame, check out the Mammut Pro X Removable 3.0 35L - Women's or the Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26. Osprey also makes this pack with a women's-specific fit, the Sopris Pro 30. If you're seeking a lighter-weight pack, be sure to check out the Black Diamond JetForce UL (4.4 lbs).
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