High Gear: Colorado company innovates again with Switch 24 and Slay 22 daypacks
February 25, 2016
Editor's note: High Gear features outdoor sports gear, technology and innovations useful in the High Sierra and America's West.
These guys keep sending us stuff to play with, and every time we've been impressed. The guys are from Denver-based Mile High Mountaineering, and they've done it again — this time in versatile daypack form.
Since the company's first packs came off the line in 2011, it's been about innovative zipper designs and practical pocketry — it's a thing. Whether it's the 80-liter backpacks or the 22- to 24-liter daypacks, it's all about accessibility. In the larger packs that means dual zippers on both sides. For the smaller ones it's either an S-shaped "Snake-Loader" zipper, or one that encircles the bag. Either way, the designs make it easy to access all parts of a pack.
You might end up paying a little more for these styles, but it's worth it. Each pack also comes with a lifetime warranty — excluding normal wear and tear.
This week we're taking a look at the ski- and snowboarded-oriented Slay 22 and the all-purpose Switch 24. If you're looking for something with a little more volume, both have bigger brothers in the form of the PowderKeg 32 and the Salute 34. (The numbers refer to pack volume in liters.)
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Of the two tested, the Switch isn't the one necessarily designed for winter. But if Alpine touring is your thing, one look at the exterior mesh pouch and you're likely to think as we did: "My climbing skins'll fit in that."
At 24 liters with a removable hip belt, this might just be the ultimate all-season daypack. MHM's trademarked Snake-Loader zipper design — with three zippers on the same track — makes the entire main compartment of the pack easily accessible. Pockets in the main compartment are solid options for storing anything from extra tools and snacks to maps and books. The fleece-lined exterior pocket on top of the pack is perfect for ski goggles or camera gear.
Another thing we really liked was the medium-sized exterior compartment with cell phone and pen pockets. In addition to the mesh pouch on the back of the pack, there are water-bottle-shaped pouches on both sides. A number of loops near the zippers also make the pack carabiner friendly.
All in all, it's a great all-purpose size without being remotely cumbersome. We've been stuffing our shovel and avalanche probe in this pack, along with camera gear and an extra layer, and using it for quick side and backcountry ski trips this winter. We're confident it's just as solid an option for tackling a 14er in the summertime as it is a winter daypack.
If you're looking for something a little more winter oriented, and strapping skis or a snowboard to your back is a pack requisite, then the Slay 22 is a better option. Instead of the Switch's mesh back pouch, it has stowable ski/snowboard straps; otherwise it's almost the same design. With mini-pockets to stow the ski straps, this pack is practical for all seasons.
This is a solid daypack for the inbound skier looking to hit up some hike-to terrain. It's also good for a quick backcountry trip.
Instead of the Snake-Loader zipper, the Slay's main compartment is accessible by an equally practical circular design — also with three zippers on one track.
And rather than the Switch's open-mesh water bottle pouches, this pack has zippered exterior compartments about the size of a telephoto camera lens or a smaller water bottle. Like the Switch, the Slay has a goggle-sized fleece-lined top pocket.
Both the Slay and the Switch have a mesh inner pouch suitable for a hydration bladder. Both also have cell phone or snack-sized pockets on their removable hip belts. We like the Switch's medium-sized secondary compartment, which the Slay does not have.
This story originally ran in the Summit Daily News, serving Breckenridge, Colorado, and the surrounding area. The Summit Daily is a sister publication to Tahoe Daily Tribune.