The Dakine Heli Pack is one of the first bits of snowboarding equipment that I bought, way back in 2003. At the time I was just looking for a bag to carry things in on the hill. The bag’s still going strong now, but my requirements have changed a little. Here’s the review.
The Heli Pack is slim design back pack, with 11L capacity (as per the website) and some handy features:
The vertical snowboard carry works pretty well – I’ve used it quite a few times. It’s dead easy: you put the two straps either side of your bottom binding, one above and one below. Once tight, the board is pretty secure. There’s definitely no problem walking around with the board in this position – it works. It’s worth noting I haven’t had the fortune of trying this feature out in really deep snow – and you can’t use the back pack to carry your board horizontally.
The pack also caters for ski carry – but I don’t know anything about that!
The expandable helmet carry. Helmets do fit within the external flap, which keeps the helmet in place. However I’ve got to say that I’ve never used this feature for real on the hill. Most of the time I’ve got my helmet on. At the few times that I’ve been riding and carrying the helmet – I’ve just clipped it to the bag, rather than using the helmet carry. You see, if the bag’s quite full, using the helmet carry can be a bit tight, and clipping it on is real fast. That said, from the pictures on Dakine’s sight it looks like the newer models have slightly longer straps for this feature, which should help. If you think you might make use of it, you can always check it out in the shop!
Hydration. There’s an internal sleeve to hold your hydration pack and a hole at the top for the tube to extend through. Then, one of the straps has clips on it to carry the tube over your shoulder whilst keeping it in place. The newer design has an insulated external sleeve, which is one better and will help to stop things freezing up when it’s cold! I discussed this more when considering the best ways to carry water when snowboarding.
Apart from the main compartment, there’s a small pocket at the top and another on the helmet flap. The pocket at the top is pretty handy for stuff like a small camera: it’s easy to access and it’s a relatively safe-none-squash place.
What can you fit in it?
The pack will take a two piece shovel no problem. On a back-country day I’ve had my shovel, my video camera bag, a small still camera, a small bottle of water plus small snack, an extra layer and some warmer gloves. That’s quite a bit of gear and it fits… but it is tight. If this is the extent of what you want to put in it, or you envisage taking less, then you’re set.
My only problem with the bag is that it’s not quite big enough for what I need now. The gear in the above example did fit, but getting things out was a hassle because the pack was right at it’s limit. But this is not a criticism of the pack itself: it’s designed to be small and Dakine have larger packs in their range. I just need a bigger option.
Dakine Heli Pack: Overall
The Heli Pack is a great low profile pack. It’s certainly durable. Mine is still going strong after extended use on the hill, use as carry on luggage through airports and day-to-day use for work. It’s even survived a pavement crash or two from my skateboard. The straps are good, there are two that come around to the front and the shape of the pack fits the back well. If you’re looking for a small pack on the hill, this fits the bill. Great.