If you’re the type of backcountry skier who loves to get to the top of the mountain, rip off your skins, and quickly drop in, then odds are the Gregory Targhee FastTrack backpack is for you.
This innovative pack is designed to make the transition from climbing uphill to shredding powder seamless, quick, and easy. The Gregory Targhee FT ($230) does this with its unique FastTrack (FT) ski-carry system, which allows you to stow and remove skis without ever having to take your pack off.
How? The Targhee FT does this with a big bungee cord that loops around your skis and affixes them firmly to the back of the pack with what is called the “friction hook system.” To remove the skis, simply reverse the process. And before you can say “get some fresh pow,” you are ready to ski.
In short: The FastTrack Ski-Carry system is not just a ploy to sell packs. It works well and makes carrying skis easier. Here’s why and how we liked the Gregory Targhee FT.
Gregory Targhee FT Pack Review
- Unisex fit
- Internal wishbone frame
- Fusion Lite suspension
- Zippered/internal drawcord compartment access
- Four external pockets
- Removable hip belt
- Hip belt pocket
- Trekking pole attachment
- Verified weight: 3.15 lbs. (35L size)
- Minimum weight: 1.8 lbs. (35L size)
- Maximum carry weight: 35 lbs. (35L size)
- Volume: 35 L (also comes in 24L and 45L options)
Targhee FastTrack Pack: Your Home Away From Home
Backpacks are a very personal item, especially for backcountry skiing. They become a little home away from home, holding all of the valuable gear that you need to make it through an alpine touring excursion.
Right off the bat, I noted that the Gregory FT looks more like a backpacking backpack than a ski pack. It’s beefy yet light. There is essentially one large compartment accessible with a big drawstring and a zipper that extends the entire length of the pack. This makes finding something in your bag easier.
There is also an external pouch with compartments for a shovel, probe, and any other avalanche gear you may need to get to quickly. The detachable top of the pack has two zippered pockets for goggles, a first-aid kit, keys, snacks, etc.
One pocket is internal and one is external for easy access. It also includes a dedicated pocket for a water bladder and a hole for a hydration tube to go through.
The pack has a helmet carry system, which is great to have, and a pocket on one of the hip belts with a loop for carabiners on the other hip belt. It also has aluminum pegs to hold an ice axe. Basically, the pack has all the basics — and then some — for a day in the backcountry.
One thing the pack does not have that I would have liked to see is a soft pocket dedicated to holding goggles. The pack also does not have any sort of avalanche technology such as an airbag or RECCO technology. The sternum strap does have a built-in whistle in case of an emergency.
In the Backcountry: Targhee FT Put to the Test
It’s hard to really tell if a pack works until you have put it through its paces in the backcountry. So that’s what I did in a remote region of northern Colorado. I loaded up the Targhee FT 35 with all of my avalanche gear, layers, and food and hit the trail.
The first thing I was curious to test was the FastTrack ski-carry system. Is this just a gimmick? Not at all; I was pleased to find that I could get my skis on and off my pack without ever removing the pack itself. My buddy looked as if I had performed a magic trick when I busted out the FastTrack bungee and whipped my skis on.
It may take a little practice to get the hang of getting the skis on and off smoothly, and if you have large twin-tip skis, you may find it more challenging to get them through the loop on the pack. But I made it through an entire tour without ever removing my pack — impressing even myself.
The Gregory Targhee FT fit comfortably and carried all my gear with ease. It’s a very light pack, and it offers the option to go even lighter. Some of the heavier components are removable such as the hip belts, top pocket, and frame sheet, which drops the pack’s weight from just over 3 pounds to 1.8 pounds.
As I broke a new trail through fresh snow heading up the mountain, the pack fit comfortably on my back. The exterior is made with 100% nylon, making it extremely durable and weatherproof.
The anodized aluminum hardware on the pack is made to withstand the cold. And there is a dual-layer bottom panel composed of 210D high-density nylon for added durability when you set the pack down.
On the mountain, I was able to affix the skis to my pack when I had to hike using the FastTrack ski-carry system and inversely remove the skis when ready to head down. It’s actually pretty fun to do, and it’s sure to raise some jealous eyebrows from fellow skiers.
Gregory Targhee Conclusion
The Targhee FT delivers on its promise of being a lightweight quick pack. It is comfortable, durable, and fully functional. And if for whatever reason the FastTrack carry option doesn’t work for you — there’s A-frame carry for your skis too.
One drawback: the padding on the shoulder straps and back is not huge, but it is enough to keep the load comfortable. The pack’s shape also makes it tough to set down and keep upright. It can tend to slide down, even when fully loaded, making it hard to access while standing (so be careful when you set it down).