The Osprey Kode 22 + 10 compatible ABS backpack is a backpack designed specifically for off-piste and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Among other things this is noticeable by the possibility to increase the pack volume from 22 to 32 liters and the ability to zip-attach an ABS Vario Base to the backpack.
The Osprey Kode was used during two snowboard trips in Saas Fee, Galtur and Ischgl al in the Alps. During both trips, there was lots of snowfall, high winds and low temperatures. Unfortunately, due to weather and snow conditions we did not have the opportunity to make a splitboarding tour.
First, we’ll take a look at what the ABS compatibility means for the Kode. The ABS stands for Avalanche Balloon Secure System, and is actually a company that specializes in avalanche security since 1980. With over 35 years of experience, ABS has become the standard for backcountry skiers.
In 2008 ABS first came with a zip-on system. The part of the backpack that actually houses the airbags, could be zipped into/onto different sized backpacks. That meant you could vary with the storage volume of your pack. The Osprey Kode makes clever use of this.
The back panel of the Kode can be fully zipped off, so that an ABS Vario Base Unit can be zipped on.
If you feel like a day of touring, you can just change the basic back panel of the Kode and zip on the Vario Base Unit. An ABS system is not an inexpensive purchase, I myself always rent the packs. What is important to know is that although in many resorts, ABS packs can be rented as a complete backpack system, the Vario Base Unit is less widespread. So it pays to check beforehand with the local ski rental if a Vario Base Unit is available. The latest version of the ABS backpacks are actually all based on a Vario Base Unit with zip-on bags. So the newer the bag, the more likely you will be able to zip it to your Osprey Kode.
The backpack has several compartments, the largest of which will also have to accommodate the ABS system. If you do not have the Vario Base Unit, you will have a very large compartment for extra clothes, food or other supplies to store.
This compartment will also hold your hydration pack. The Osprey Kode offers a seperate pouch for the pack and the hose is led internally to the shoulder strap. In order to prevent the water in the hose from freezing, the hose runs through “an insulated shoulder harness hydration sleeve”. This sleeve, which you can zip open over its entire length to access hose, works really well. But I noticed that if you need to pull out the hose a bit further for a drink (or to offer a drink to someone else) it is difficult to put the back into the sleeve. You actually have to go inside the pack, closer to the hydration pack and pull the hose back in again a bit. This should therefore be more practical. Especially with full packed backpacks this will cause irritation.
At the front of the pack you can find the compartment for avalanche equipment snow shovel and probe. The compartment can be accessed from above and the side where I noticed that one of the compression straps can actually block the zipper. The strap goes over the zipper and can be a bit annoying; however there’s a fairly easy-release buckle; so you can still access your rescue equipment quickly.
In addition, there are two separate smaller compartments at the top of the backpack, one with micro fleece material for your goggles and another smaller one where an elastic cover is stowed that lets you attach your helmet to the backpack when not wearing it; for example, during the ascent of ski tours or on the way to the skilifts.
All in all very practical additions and truly “dedicated” compartements that helps even a scatterbrain like me in keeping the backpack organized. On the mountain, where you’re tired, it’s cold and sometimes harsh wind is blowing knowing where everything is in your pack and being able to access it quickly is more than useful. Especially in emergency situations.
The feature list is even longer: very practical with zipper pockets on the hip belt (very handy for your action cam, energy bars or other smaller items), straps with which you can strap your ski’s or snowboard, on to the back back vertically, horizontally or diagonally and loops for ice axes.
All in all a really complete an verstalie backpack that you can enjoy during many different winter sports. Where some of the Osprey backpacks, such as the Osprey Mutant tend to have long straps especially if you had the backpack really trimmed tightly this was not an issue with the Kode. The compressions straps work really well.
The backpack is just very good in terms of materials and construction. The back panel has a strong molded material that fits along the back. The shoulder straps are wide and well formed, as well as the wide waistband. The backpack is comfortable to wear although I did find it felt quite heavy, even when it was empty(1.67 kg according Osprey). Have said that, it is the consequence of the quality materials used and the many features of the backpack.
When you use the zipper to “unlock” the additional liters of this volume, you can really stuff a lot in there. But for the shorter trips zips up the backpack tight, and you can put trim it with the compression stage.
- ABS compatibility
- Versatility volume
- Division into lots of dedicated courses
- Fit and comfort
- Material: Very strong and robust material.
- Hydration hose snafu in the pack itself
- Weight of the backpack.