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September 7, 2008:


With 6" of fresh snow this week at Camp Muir, my thoughts turned to ski touring. I picked up a nice new Arc'teryx Silo 30 on sale from e-OMC, and with a bit of snipping and sewing altered the diagonal carrying system to fit my own (narrower) skis - seems they think anyone buying this pack is either going to carry a snowboard or some huge-ass 105mm underfoot skis. The reinforcing synthetic pads had to be removed and the straps reattached to allow them to cinch tight on my 73mm Trabs, but it was a pretty straightforward process. Helps to have an industrial sewing machine, of course. I had done the same sort of mod on my well-worn Arc'teryx M30 years ago, and it's held up well, so I'm not too worried about longevity.

Silo 30 post-surgery - I removed the ultra-large reinforcing pads under the diagonal carry straps, and re-routed the straps to fit skinny skis

Then there was the multi-tool question.

For the past few years, I've been carrying a Leatherman Juice S2, a "mini" tool with a decent knife, some pliers, three widths of standard screwdrivers and a #2 Phillips, as well as a can opener and scissors. I filed down the tip of the Phillips head to better fit the ski binding standard #3 PoziDriv screws universally used by binding manufacturers, but the fit is still pretty loose. I pretty much prayed that I would never have to remove an epoxied binding screw in the field.

I went so far as to e-mail Leatherman (a nice Portland company) and express my view that they should offer a tool around the size of the Juice series that included a PoziDriv #3 head and a Torx T10 driver (what you need when your Dynafit heel plates start to come loose, since they are all that hold down the heel pins). They replied politely that this was the first time they had ever heard this request and that even though I swore that all my backcountry ski friends would stand in line to buy such a tool, they had no plans to make it.

Leatherman Skeletool with #3 PoziDriv head installed (left) and Juice S2 (right)

Recently the new Terminator-esque Skeletool caught my eye. Though heavier than the S2 by 20 grams (139 to be exact), the Skeletool knife and pliers are significantly burlier than those of the Juice (the Juice plier handles flex quite a bit when you grip them hard). Thanks to my friend Jonathan, I had several loose PoziDriv #3 heads lying around with a standard hex bit end, and I ground one down to fit the mini-width Skeletool bit driver. It seems pretty bomber and the fit with a binding screw is, of course, perfect. Time will tell (maybe) if it will generate enough torque to remove a glued-in binding screw in a snowstorm. The Torx T10 bit is on order from Leatherman - unfortunately the only way you can get this is to order the 21 piece "Bit Kit" from them.

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