Backcountry safety has been on my mind recently as we wait for snow to start falling in the Sierras. I just finished re-certifying my WFR and picked up a BCA Float 36 for this upcoming season. I’ve been trending towards more touring, and have a heli day booked so I figured this would be a wise investment.
In short the pack is well built, comfortable, extremely adjustable, and pretty spacious. The 36 liters feels like a true 36 and easily accommodates anything I could reasonably want to pack for a day trip. If not completely full it stays slim enough to not feel bulky at all. The ski carry system is simple and functional, having no trouble fitting the large rockerred tails of some Atomic Bentchetlers (123mm underfoot). The hide away helmet carry is a nice touch and the axe carry works as it should. At 7.7 pounds it distributes the weight nicely and doesn’t feel heavy at all.
I was nervous about the sizing being sort of one size fits most with the torso going from 17-22 inches. It was pretty hard to find a photo online of the pack being worn and knowing the dimensions of that person. For perspective I’m on the svelte side, 5’9″ 150ish. My torso is right around 20 and the pack is comfortable, and fits just right when adjusted. I’ll have to do some trimming of some of the straps as the waist and what not will expand to fit someone quite a bit larger than me.
The waist buckle is hard core and obviously meant to not easily come off in a worst case scenario. It takes some practice with gloves but is pretty straightforward overall. The single leg loop is a nice touch as well. The holy mother of god cord is out of the way but easily located and gripped if need be.
Overall I like the float 36 a lot. It The fit feels really good for someone my size and the pack isn’t bulky at all. The 18 would be a nice minimalist product but I think for one to do it all the 36 is pretty dialed. The only change I would make, as others have noted, would be to add a dedicated avy tool pouch.