Home > Outdoor

Hut Trip Capacity, Ski Touring Size: Blue Ice Kume 40L Review

Blue Ice added innovative features to a simple, tried-and-true pack design to maximize functionality and versatility for committed winter outings.

(Photo/Clayton Shaver)
Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

Winter backcountry gear is bulky. As the season progresses and the snowpack stabilizes, the outings only get longer, the routes get techier, and the gear list grows. And over the last decade, I’ve learned a few packing lessons the hard way — you won’t find me skimping on my first-aid kit, repair tools, emergency tow rope, extra insulating layers, or a minimalist insulating pad.

As I’ve fine-tuned my kit for longer days in the backcountry, my 30L ski packs, the ones that ski so well, just haven’t been cutting it, especially when more technical objectives are on the menu. It looks like 38-45 L is the sweet spot for my needs on the biggest days, which is why I was eager to try out Blue Ice’s new Kume 40L Ski Touring backpack.

While Colorado’s winter snowpack hasn’t offered many ski mountaineering opportunities yet, I backcountry skied and ice climbed extensively with Blue Ice’s new Kume 40L. My outings and notes point to a promising companion for spring season vertical endeavors at an impressive 1,005g.

Dare I say, it has ousted my other favorite ski-touring pack.

In short: Ski touring backpacks don’t have to be complicated, futuristic, or overloaded with compartments and zippers to be the best tool for the job. Chamonix-based Blue Ice leaned into a basic formula for its new Kume 40L ski touring pack, and only added features that backcountry skiers, ski mountaineers, alpinists, and ice climbers actually need. The result is a highly functional and streamlined top-loading backpack that also happens to weigh less than most others.

Blue Ice Kume 40L Backpack


  • Materials 420d Robic / N6.6 Ripstop
  • Weight 1005g
  • Comes in two back lengths (S/M & M/L)
  • Dual ice axe carry
  • Ski carry Diagonal, A-frame or quick carry
  • Side compression straps
  • Hybrid laminated shoulder straps with lanyard loops
  • Low profile hip pads with pockets and gear loops
  • Removable Spring steel frame
  • Separate avalanche tool storage
  • Quick-deploy vertical rope compartment
  • Full length side access zip


  • Streamlined and minimalist
  • Big enough for multi-day ski tours
  • Easily accommodates gear for ice climbing, mountaineering and skiing
  • Very lightweight


  • Could use more pocket storage options
  • Not the best pack for ski descents

Blue Ice Kume 40L Backpack Review

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

Pack Design

I’ve been testing a few different backpacks this season, and the Kume 40L has been a standout. Not because it’s loaded with features or is particularly innovative. But because Blue Ice did more with less.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

At first glance, the Kume 40L is remarkably similar to my all-time favorite ski touring pack, the Black Diamond Cirque 35. It’s the main reason that I wanted to get my hands on a sample for testing.

The Cirque, which has been around for about 6 years, is all about pared-down simplicity. The features are minimal, yet the functionality for ski touring is maximized. How much could Blue Ice improve on such a basic design? A lot, it turns out.

The Kume’s architecture is refreshingly basic. It’s a top-loading sack with a cinch closure and a removable internal wire frame to give it structure.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

A zippered tongue-like top cover pulls open to reveal both the main pocket cinch closure and a separate avalanche tools pocket. The tongue accepts a hooked top strap, which doubles as a rope carry strap, to close both the avalanche pocket and main compartment. It’s simple, tidy, and functional.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

For a backcountry ski pack, 40 L is a versatile volume, and the Kume 40L doesn’t skimp. There are certainly 40 functional liters of space in there. It may be slightly overkill for a daily driver backcountry ski pack (it also comes in a 30L). But the 40L is the perfect size for longer days in the backcountry.

On a recent traverse in nasty weather, I came prepared with an extra-big down jacket, a full-size lunch, extra water, small rope, and shell pants in addition to my typical backcountry kit — and I still had plenty of extra room. It’s big enough for hut trips and spring ski mountaineering load-outs that require ropes, anchor material, crampons, etc.

Kume 40L’s Features

(Photo/Jack Sunderland)

What separates the Kume 40L from other minimalist top-loading packs is its focus on subtle, functional features.

Strap Features

The pack offers all types of ski carry — diagonal, A-Frame, and vertical. Like faster skimo packs, it has also adopted a fast carry option. That allows you to stow your skis without taking the pack off. It’s slick. You just put your skis’ tails through the loop near your hip, tilt the skis diagonally, loop the carabiner-adorned shoulder leash around them, and clip it to the opposite shoulder loop.

Interestingly, all of the diagonal ski carry straps are girth hitched to daisy chains on the backpack. They can be removed or swapped to the other side. Users who are doing more skiing and less mountaineering will enjoy being able to remove unnecessary straps altogether.

The compression straps, which double as vertical/A-Frame ski carry, cut out the plastic buckles of previous models (and most other backpacks). Instead, they utilize metal hook closures. That’s four fewer buckles that are vulnerable to getting stepped on or broken.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)


The Blue Ice Kume 40L pack includes a non-integrated helmet carry net that attaches to the outside of the pack. It works as needed, but I’m torn. I don’t love having loose pack accessories that aren’t attached to anything floating around, especially since the Kume doesn’t have a lot of “things” pockets.

I prefer helmet-carry systems like the Black Diamond Cirque. That carry system pulls out of an integrated sleeve and stows quickly. It doesn’t take up valuable small pocket space, either.

That all said, I went with the 40L Kume over the 32L version because I prefer to stow my helmet inside the pack instead of outside. So I didn’t end up needing the helmet net very often. When I did, it worked as needed.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

Zipper Access

The Kume 40L also sports a generous side access zipper, which I used far more often than the top opening for reaching my puffy and shell jackets, water bottle, and first-aid/repair kit. I prefer side access over back panel access because I find that my gear stays more organized and compact, so this is a plus in my book.


As you’d expect, the Kume 40L is plenty durable thanks to its 420-denier main fabric interwoven with nylon ripstop. While I haven’t hauled this pack through a full spring skiing season, I so far have no reason to question its durability. Heavy tree skiing and branch bashing have left nary a scuff on the pack’s exterior.

Technical Gear Carry

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

Given that the Kume 40L was born in the crevasse-riddled steep skiing mecca of Chamonix, it makes sense that Blue Ice took the time to dial in technical tool carry for a wide variety of situations.

Carrying Ropes

For starters, it carries a big 70m single rope easily over the top using the hooked rope keeper strap. Unlike some packs I’ve used, the keeper strap is long enough to secure a bulky rope even when the main compartment is stuffed full. The hooked side compression straps are generous enough to keep the coils from flopping around.

Inside the pack’s main compartment is a separated cinch-closure sleeve that’s just big enough for 60m of hyperstatic rope like Petzl’s RAD Line or Mammut’s Glacier Cord, or 30m of a skinny twin/double rope.

The sleeve is up against the skier’s left pack wall, and has its own two-way side access zipper. That means the end of the rope can route through the bottom zipper opening and fasten with a carabiner to a dedicated loop on the hip for quick deployment without taking the pack off. Or, it can route through the top zipper opening and over the shoulder for short-roping or glacier travel storage in lieu of chest coils. Both routing options work elegantly.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

Ice Axe/Tools Storage

The Kume 40L makes it easy to stow an ice axe or a pair of ice tools externally. It utilizes elastically secured dogbones for the tool eyes and uniquely nonadjustable loops for the shafts/grips.

At first glance, I was skeptical that they would accommodate ice tool drop handles. But I was quickly proved wrong. The system accommodated every tool I threw at it.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

At one point while approaching an ice climbing route, I found myself in a fairly precarious position trying to overcome a snowy ledge from a leaning tree. I assumed the dogbone ice tool attachments wouldn’t accommodate quick draw action without taking the pack off. But I gave it a shot anyway out of desperation.

To my surprise and relief, I was easily able to manipulate the dogbone fastener and slide my Petzl Nomic Ice Tool out of the handle loops with a gloved hand.

What Feature Is It Missing?

I found myself wishing for one more external pocket that could hold my sunglasses, sunscreen, leatherman, and other random things. The hip belt pockets are nice. But I ended up filling them with snacks pretty quickly. Each one could hold a Cliff Bar, two Honey Stinger Waffles, and a GU — but not much else.

More things ended up in my pants pockets or inside the pack than I’d prefer. I think there’s room for a low-profile external pocket on the pack’s top tongue flap, similar to the Black Diamond Cirque.

Carrying the Pack

(Photo/Peter Van Dyke)

Lumbering around, ceaselessly post-holing with a full steel ice climbing rack, crampons, tools, and 70m of rope on your back is hard. But for being so minimal, the removable internal frame gave the Kume 40L sufficient structure for the heavy load.

The hip straps, which sport both zipped pockets and gear loops, did a fine job supporting the weight decently comfortably. Load adjustment straps on the shoulder also help distribute and balance the weight.

The back panel isn’t the most comfortable example out there. It isn’t curved or ergonomic in any way, nor is it padded. It was clearly designed with weight savings and minimalism in mind. I got over it pretty quickly, though, in the name of simplicity. It’s the right design for the pack’s intended purpose, and it comes in two sizes: S/M and M/L.

(Photo/Bergen Tjossem)

So how did the pack ski once it was loaded up with gear? I’d call it average for a ski pack. It doesn’t integrate any kind of shoulder strap or hip belt articulation, yet bouncing was mostly minimal when I tightened the shoulder straps. I mostly forgot it was there, which is exactly what I’m looking for in a ski pack.

Blue Ice Kume 40L Backpack: Conclusion

(Photo/Jack Sunderland)

Letting go of a beloved piece of gear is hard. But I have no choice — the Blue Ice Kume 40L is my new favorite large-volume ski touring backpack. It simply does what it needs to do. It carries all the gear required for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering in a pared-down, fuss-free, easy-carrying package. The essential features are slick, side access plentiful, and it’s easy to open, close, overstuff, and deploy avalanche gear.

Would I love one more external pocket and maybe a slightly more ergonomic back panel? Sure. But I’ll adapt. This pack checks all my other boxes for long days in the backcountry, and the minimal weight is tough to beat.

Backcountry skiers, climbers, alpinists, mountaineers, and winter hikers in the market for a versatile pack, especially those who subscribe to the “less is more” design mentality, will be psyched to venture into the mountains with their gear stuffed into the Blue Ice Kume 40L.

hiker on mountain with mec serratus pack

Small Pack for Big, Fast Adventures: MEC Serratus Pace UL 25 Review

The Serratus UL 25 was designed to add comfort on long-distance multisport outings, with one goal: maximize space without sacrificing speed. Read more…

Subscribe Now

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!

Join Our GearJunkie Newsletter

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!