Let me preface this review by first admitting that I already LOVE Dakine packs — we have three at home. But I saw that the Tactic filled a niche, so it’s time time to welcome another to the family.
Here’s how this new addition came to be:
I get wind of a most recent UPS drop at WildSnow headquarters Saturday night. Sunday morning I make the call; “Did the Tactic come in? Yeah? I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” I make the pick up around 8am and do a quick bicycle grocery run (Lou buys snowmobile carbon offsets from me, since I live on a bike). Pack performs perfectly.
We’re at Aspen Highlands by 9am. Wanting to get feel for the Tactic as a Resort/Side Country/Back Country pack, I threw in a shovel, probe and hydration bladder to see how things ski under load. Down Snyder’s Ridge, what pack? I noticed no excessive swing weight, and my body is free to move unobstructively.
Ok, now to check out one of my favorite features on Dakine Ski Packs, the diagonal ski carry system. For detailed examination, I’m off to The Bowl. Skis on the back, and everything feels like I have come to expect, nice and stable, no body-to-ski contact at head, helmet or boots. Nice. An improvement from Dakines of yore. The ski carry system is slightly more vertical than in past meaning I meandered casually by trees and branches that caught my skis in the past. No more sideways shimmying!
For the gear snob in us all, one of the best parts about Tactic is the attention to detail throughout the design. You start with the standard accessories of most packs, and then add little elements to really streamline everything. The ski carry system tucks away so that nothing more is visible than a 1-inch Dakine branded tab, so nothing to snag a branch on your way down. On the right side, a quick release ice axe holster does duty for an avy shovel handle as well. The camera pocket on the waist-belt is compact enough to seemingly disappear, even with a point-and-shoot inside.
Okay, nothing is perfect. While the tuck-a-way ski holder is slick, it’s a little awkward to use with gloves — pretty much requires you to take them off. Also, getting the hydration tube into the shoulder strap sleeve was best done by removing the tube from the bladder and reverse threading it into the pack, meaning you have to fill the bladder after it’s installed in the pack. (It might get easier to install a hydration tube after the pack gets broken in and the fabric softens). To me those are minor things, but worth mention.
At 1500 cu. in. Tactic will make you pick your backcountry gear carefully. Heading up to Marble for a little BC skiing a week later, I had to be very specific about what extras I took with me (extra gloves beat out the puffy vest this time). If you like to pack a few extras, or like a 3-meter probe over a 2.4-meter, you might need to look at a larger pack (I have a Dakine Poacher as well at 2300 cu. in.). But if you can pack tight, or want the perfect sidecountry or resort accessed BC pack, Tactic is definitely your backpack. (Weight: 46 oz, 1304 grams)
Dave “Snowman” Downing lives in Whitefish, Montana where Dave is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab Dave’s ski career began due to a lack of quality skiing video games for NES.