Osprey Soelden 32 Backpack Review
The Osprey Soelden 32 is a 2.5-lb pack designed for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. The Soelden, and its counterpart the women’s Osprey Sopris (20 or 30), feature options for carrying skis and boards, with reinforced areas to protect the packs from metal edges. A large front panel with a J-shaped zipper provides easy access to avalanche gear and a place to separate wet clothing and climbing skins from the main compartment, which is accessed via an inverted U-shaped zipper.
Specs at a Glance
- Volume: 32L
- Gender: Men’s
- Weight: 40.6 oz (2 lbs 8.6 oz)
- Max Recommended Load: 30 lbs
- Materials: (Main) – 210D High Tenacity Nylon Shadowbox PFC Free DWR and (Bottom and Accent) – 210D Nylon Dobby PFC Free DWR
- See Full Specs for the Snoelden 32 at Osprey.com
Backpack Storage and Organization
My first thought when I saw the Osprey Soelden 32 winter sports pack was, “Too small.” I’ve been using an Osprey Kamber 42 the past two winters and it’s not unusual for me to just about fill it. But after using the Soelden for cross-country skiing, alpine touring, and short hiking trips, the pack has won me over. I’ve decided this is the Goldilocks snowsports pack, at least size-wise: Just right.
The Soelden has two large compartments, one front, and one rear. The front’s J-zipper opens to sleeves for an avalanche probe and shovel handle. That area can also be used to separate wet gear from the main compartment. Since I don’t ski or hike in avalanche terrain, I used this space for extra gloves, mittens, a hat, and climbing skins.
Access to the main compartment in the back of the pack is provided through the upside-down U-zipper. Unlike my Kamber, the Soelden is designed so you do not need to unclip the load levelers on the shoulder straps to do this – a huge improvement. There are narrow sleeves on either side of the compartment, which I found perfect for a thin thermos. The inside of the back panel has a nice-sized zip pouch for storing small items.
External Attachments and Compression
The pack has two straps across the front that worked well for strapping on snowshoes. When not needed, the straps can be hidden by threading them through openings on the front panel.
A stowaway net secures a helmet, either on the front of the top of the pack. I preferred carrying the helmet on the front, which enables easier access to the main compartments and the small pocket on top of the pack. With a pack of this size, you really need to take advantage of the net. The Soelden is just too small to store a helmet inside, something I often did with the Kamber, which also has a net.
While Osprey recommends the top pocket for goggles, I nested mine in my helmet under the net, freeing up the pocket for snacks, a headlamp, and other essentials. The pack has just one hip belt pocket, which I found too small for my 6 ½-inch phone. Instead of a second hip belt pocket, the Soelden has an extra gear loop.
Skis can be carried A-frame style, using the pack’s side compression straps, or diagonally, using the straps across its front. Snowboards can be carried like snowshoes, vertically, using the front straps, or horizontally, between the back panel and the wearer, threaded through the shoulder straps.
Ice axes are easily attached, using the top and bottom cross straps.
Frame and Suspension
The Soelden’s suspension consists of light wire threaded into a high-density polyethylene framesheet and an HDPE stay. While the pack’s contoured foam back panel doesn’t exactly lighten a load, it sure makes it more comfortable to carry. The pack is designed to carry 15 to 30 lbs.
I found the Soelden carried gear comfortably on ski touring ascents and, because it hugged my back so well, and seemingly disappeared on descents. Skiing through a glade or down backcountry trail, you want to focus on what’s in front of you, not worry that what’s behind you might throw you off balance.
The Osprey Soelden 32 is an excellent choice for most skiing, snowboarding, or hiking trips. As noted above, I was skeptical that a 32-liter pack was big enough, but for backcountry ski outings on the lower part of Mt. Washington’s east side, I fit a winter shell, fleece vest, two pairs of gloves, a slim thermos of tea, helmet and goggles, a first aid kit and other essentials. There was plenty of room, though not enough for the big lunch I might carry for my wife and me on an all-day hiking or alpine touring trip.
The pack carries comfortably and has convenient attachments for skis, snowboards, and snowshoes. Its durable water repellent finish kept contents dry on a cross-country ski venture during heavy, wet snow. Zipper pulls and buckles can be used with heavy gloves and even mittens – except perhaps for that small buckle on the chest strap.
I do have a few nits to pick
I wish the manufacturers of winter packs included exterior water bottle pockets. It’s not always below freezing when I venture into the backcountry, and I’d like easier access to water. It’s simple enough to hang an insulated bottle holder, but I don’t like things dangling off the pack. And for a ski descent, you’d have to move the bottle and holder inside anyway.
The Soelden I reviewed was black, and it would be helpful if all the zipper pulls and buckles were a different color to make them easily visible. There is one gray buckle and one gray pull, which really stand out, but most are black and are not easy to spot in a hurry.
I’d prefer two hip belt pockets, versus one and a gear loop. And it would be nice if the one it does have was at least big enough for my phone.
Disclosure: The author received a sample backpack from Osprey for this review.
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Last updated: 2021-03-15 23:02:20
About the author
Dave Greenslit is an outdoor enthusiast who lives in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley. He has section hiked the Appalachian Trail and Vermont’s Long Trail, and climbed New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-foot mountains. Dave is an avid downhill, cross-country, and backcountry skier. In the warmer months, he enjoys exploring the area’s myriad trails on his mountain bike. His current project is to hike all 650-plus trails in the White Mountain Guide with his wife, Paula Brown. He notes that at 70, he is unlikely to finish, but adds, “I’m going to die trying.”