Testing the new Raide Research LF40 Ski Mountaineering Pack

To hype or not to hype?

The first time I heard of the Raide Research LF 40 pack was the notification that we had just sold out at Alpenglow Sports. We sold our first pack the very same day that they arrived and it's been nearly impossible to keep them in stock since then. With this trend happening at retailers across the country, I decided that I needed to figure out what all the hype was about. I requested a pack for testing and as soon as it arrived so did a massive Sierra storm. What commenced was a whirlwind testing window in deep, stable pow.

My testing by the numbers: 

7 day testing window

25 laps

50 transitions

43,950 vertical feet

The details:

  • 40L extends to 50L with rolltop feature
  • 2 quick access stash pockets
  • Quick avy tool access
  • A-frame & diagonal ski carry
  • Vertical snowboard carry
  • Integrated helmet carry
  • Glove stash strap on shoulder strap
  • Removable foam back panel insert
  • Ice tool carry that keeps picks enclosed
  • Hip pad pocket
  • Radio/hydration pass through
  • Drainage holes out of cinch top and avy tools pocket
  • 1090g, strippable to 900 g with removable frame and back panel sheet
  • Main fabric: Challenge Ultra 400x, 400d Dyneema woven. 2x more tear resistant and 8x more abrasion resistant than comparable fabrics. Backed by a waterproof film and is 100% recycled.
  • 7mm tubular aluminum frame

Initial Impressions

The first thing that really impressed me with the new pack was the avvy tools pocket. I like that you can access your tools from both the external zipper AND from inside of the pack if that's where you go first. They also solved one of the long-standing issues with dedicated avy tools pockets by opening a small slit between the avy tools pocket and the main body of the pack. This allows the "dead space" created in the shovel blade to be available for storage in the main body of the pack. The helmet carry initially impressed me but I learned it has the same fallbacks(security!) that many others do.

The most lasting impression is how comfortable the pack is. I had a full-gas week of skiing and I can't remember the last time I spent that many hours in a pack and had no lower back pain or discomfort. 

How they did it

The standout feature of this pack is it's scant 1,080 gram weight. This impressively low weight is made possible by using the new Challenge Ultra 400x fabric. 

This woven dyneema fabric is two times as tear resistant and eight times more abrasion resistant than CORDURA. Thanks to a waterproof film backing, the pack also boast ten times the waterproofing of Gore. It acheves all these numbers while being 20% lighter than comparable fabrics. To top it off, the Ultra 400X fabric is 100% recycled.

How much volume do you need?

The single most important factor to decide how big of a pack you need is how big of a person you are. Almost everyone I tour with uses a 32 or 34 liter pack for daily missions here in Tahoe. Brendan, who stands a few inches taller than everyone else, considers a 38 liter pack the bare minimum. As a bigger person, all your layers and gear are more voluminous and you will need a bigger pack. 

We tend to bump up to bigger packs for east side missions where we increase our burden of tools, food, and water. As a beginner, I needed a 40 liter pack for daily missions and picked up a Headwall 55 when I needed my crampons and more. After chasing the Alpenglow team around and learning some great tips to remove bulk and duplicity, I'm down in a 32 liter pack for daily use and using my old 40 liter pack for big days requiring technical gear.

This experience had me asking my first big question about the LF 40. Is it too much for daily use?

I found, almost immediately, that the extra volume didn't bother me at all. It helps that the LF 40 is lighter than my previous 32 liter pack and that its removable aluminum frame makes it carry surpassingly well. I like this pack as a recommended carry as it has enough volume to be any humans daily carry and it has a compelling feature set for your biggest days when need to carry more gear. If you're feeling crammed at 40 liters, fear not. The pack expands to 50. 

Until we meet again...

We test everything that we stock here at Alpenglow Sports. After I concluded my testing, I passed the pack off to Brendan who will continue to test our theory about pack size for bigger folks. I'm sad to see it go! We skied an incredible storm cycle together and it kept me comfortable and my gear dry and well organized.

I found the pack to be well designed and appreciate the dedicated gear loop and a few other features that shone bright. My one complaint: I found the waist belt and chest strap buckles to be more fiddly than I like.

Come spring, this will be exactly the pack that I look for to empower bigger ski mountaineering missions in the Sierra and beyond. I'm hopeful that we can keep this pack in stock and get it around the shoulders of more community members here in Tahoe.

Continue reading

The new Dynafit Ridge Pro backcountry ski boot demonstrates it's forward cuff rotation
The new Zero G Tour Pro boot from Tecnica

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.