I went through the process of buying a sidecountry backpack this past fall and walked away from it fairly disappointed. The pack I ended up buying works fine, looks okay and fits well enough, but it's nothing out of the ordinary. As such, it wasn't much of a surprise to me that packs started catching my eyes while wandering the floors of SIA this past January. The one that stood out to me the most was Arc'teryx's Quintic 28 backpack because it not only looked good but was thoughtfully designed in a functional way that few other of today's packs seem to be.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sample and can say without hesitation that this is a pack I'd use on an everyday basis. Here in Jackson, I'm a sidecountry powder skier. I'll ski the resort on storm days and when the avalanche danger is elevated, but skiing in Jackson really takes off when exiting a gate or driving up to Teton Pass can extend even the smallest of storms by numerous days. The Quintic 28 fits perfectly into my needs that arise out of this.
While many packs on the market seem to have adapted variations of two compartment approach (one for avalanche gear, the other for everything else), the Quintic takes a highly specialized and nutritional one. It has three zippers on top: the first accesses a dedicated skin pocket, the second is for avalanche gear and the third fits a pair of goggles perfectly. The pack also has a pocket on each of its sides. The first is well suited for a water bottle and the second accesses the main compartment, which can also be reached from the top by pulling away Velcro at the base of the dedicated skin pocket. While the pack's compartmentalization initially struck me as unusual, it's highly functional, making it easy for me to get what I want when I need it.
On the outside, the pack features a set of multi-use straps, buckles and loops that allow me to carry my skis, snowboard or ice axe however I want (diagonally or in an A-frame for skis and vertically or horizontally for a board). Few other packs seem to provide this full range of flexibility when, but the Quintic seems to have achieved it in a simple and elegant way.
I'll avoiding digging too deeply into looks and fit, as they are more subjective matters, but the design wizards at Arc'teryx have put together a product that not only looks great, but fits really well. The Quintic 28 is perfectly suited resort and sidecountry day pack, whether you find yourself boot packing up Cardiac Ridge to Cody Peak or skinning on South Teton Pass. and I'd highly recommend it. Keep an eye out for it online and in stores this fall where you'll also be able to find a 38 liter version.