Having spent the past decade running Dakine backpacks I was stoked to try out the 36L Dakine Poacher backpack here in the Tetons, featuring a airbag system otherwise known as R.A.S.
Before I dive into the review I want to get one thing out of the way, I don’t currently ride with an airbag, or plan to for that matter. That being said what makes this pack unique is the fact you have the option to add or remove the Mammut Removable Airbag System depending on the type of terrain you plan on riding.
Dakine Poacher Review
This years Dakine Poacher backpack will be a hit with just about anyone that spends time skiing or riding in the backcountry thanks to a ton of touring specific designs built into the pack. Starting with the pockets the outside of the backpack has 6 separate places to store gear.
At the top of the backpack is a dedicated google pocket which I find works great for storing a bunch of small gear that you may want quick access to while touring. In my pack I have the following in the goggle pocket alone:
-Personal Locator Beacon
-Glob Stopper Wax
Otherwise that pocket would work great for your Goggles too especially with the cozy fleece lining!
Next up is the dedicated snow safety pocket that’s easily accessed via 2 zippers (colored in black) once the compartment is open there’s plenty of room to store all your snow safety gear and even 2 dedicated sleeves to hold stuff in place. I have the following in my backpack:
-Snow Shovel (handle & blade)
The only feature that I could see Dakine adding to the snow safety compartment would be a way for water to drain out. After digging pits all days most of my gear is snowy when it goes into the bag, and snowy when it comes out.
The main compartment of the backpack can store 36L so basically everything and anything you want to bring into the mountains for a day tour can find a home here. This compartment can be accessed from the front of the pack as well as the way it was designed to be used for back entry. I did find the front zipper only opened 1/4 of the way on one side which made accessing most gear from the top a pain in the ass. Luckily you can just toss the backpack on the ground and open up the back zippers to gain access to the inside.
Possibly my favorite and most used pocket is the dedicated water bottle / coffee mug holder. It can also be used to store your poles on the way down.
Having tried many different sized packs over the years I really enjoy the sizing on the 36L Dakine Poacher. Literally everything I need to stay comfortable, safe and sane in the backcountry can go in here and much much more. The saying here in the Tetons goes the bigger your pack, the more gear you will end up carrying. And to be honest my days of trading safety over weight are long gone. With the Dakine Poacher Removable Airbag System 36L Backpack you can be prepared for long days in the mountains without having to sacrifice anything. I tend to keep the following in my backpack throughout the winter.
-First Aid Kit
-Packable Down Layer
And there is always rooms to spare. You may even be the type of person that adds things like a rescue sled, bivy sack etc, know that Dakine really though this pack out and it does a great job of keeping everything in place while its on your back.
Dakine Poacher Comfort
This backpack fits very well, especially for a 36L backpack which may be bigger than most people are used to. There is zero sacrifice in performance while wearing this backpack going downhill, and for the most part uphill as well. Because this backpack can be used with an airbag, it comes with metal buckles to attach around your waist instead of traditional plastic clip buckles. Once on your back the fit is great and there is even a padded back panel for added comfort. The only thing that could be improved would be the ability to remove the frame for the airbag while not in use as it tends to push you forward a bit when trying to stand up tall touring.
Don’t want to wear your helmet on the way up? Who does? Dakine has you covered with a mesh helmet cover that can easily be attached to the outside of the pack.
What can be Improved
As mentioned above the backpack comes with a padded back panel, however there were times that padding would sort of snap into place against my back. This was only noticeable while touring and could possibly be a flaw in the pack I tested and not the case in the one currently for sale? I would love to see this as a removable piece of foam in the future. Also when the pack is fully opened from the back zipper panel the zippers can be tough to dig back out as they fall between the back panel and loops for the waist belt. You may just find yourself digging around a bit for the zippers.
This backpack is just about perfect, that being said it’s my favorite backpack from Dakine that’s designed specifically for skiing and riding. I have hiked over 2,000 feet while wearing this backpack and toured for days on end. If you are hard on your gear, need a reliable backpack or possibly want to use an airbag in the future, the Dakine Poacher Removable Airbag System 36L Backpack should be on your radar.