Osprey Kode 38 Backpack Review

The Osprey Kode 38 is the largest pack in the Kode series and in their ski mountaineering category as well. What’s nice about the Osprey Kode 38 backpack is it features an avalanche gear compartment that is top loading with several pockets to organize your probe, shovel handle, and other miscellaneous gear that you do not mind getting wet.

The main compartment access panel

The main compartment access panel

The main compartment can be accessed from a horseshoe zipper on the back panel and from a zipper just underneath the helmet lid. The back panel of the main compartment has another pouch for a water bladder with a zipper-accessed insulated sleeve on the right shoulder strap to prevent your water from freezing.

Water compartment

Water compartment

The placement also keeps the water close to your back which aids in cushioning and keeping your water from freezing in very low temperatures. The helmet lid features an expandable top pocket for helmets and a small zippered pocket inside for smaller items. The pack also has one attachment point for an ice axe.

Ice axe mounted to pack

Ice axe mounted to pack

Pros

  • The avalanche gear compartment easily holds a large shovel

  • The helmet pocket is large enough for my L-XL helmet, with room to spare for goggles and a balaclava

  • Insulated hydration tube sleeve

  • Spacious main compartment

  • Very comfortable carry, even with a full load

  • Two very large hip pockets

  • Zipper pulls and specially designed buckles specifically meant for use with gloves on (Why don’t all packs come with them?)

Lock down clasp, with glove friendly buckles

Lock down clasp, with glove friendly buckles

 

Cons

  • The avalanche gear compartment is not water resistant in any way – I put a down jacket in there during a rain storm and it was drenched the next morning

  • When carrying skis in the A-Frame position, the upper V-Carry straps make it difficult to remove items out of the avalanche compartment

  • The sternum strap does not adjust up and down enough. The strap was up too high and impossible to see with goggles on

  • With a helmet in the top pocket it can be hard to attach an ice axe, especially with the hard plastic buckle right in the middle of ice axe shaft attachment point

 

Overall, this pack is very comfortable to carry when fully loaded. The Kode has seven pockets total and is built with very heavy-duty yet lightweight material. The main compartments are quite big; I could easily fit a day’s worth of ski touring gear such as an inflatable 3/4 length Thermarest, stove, fuel, and 1L Olicamp pot, an emergency shelter, crampons, food, ultralight down jacket, gloves, a small first aid kit, shovel, probe, helmet, goggles, and 70oz of water in my pack for all day tours.

With a compact sleeping bag and a floor-less shelter, this pack could double as an overnight pack as well but you would be traveling very light. For $159 this pack is a great buy for someone who likes to be fully prepared on all their ski tours.

Day trip with Isaac up to Valley Falls.

Manufacturer: Osprey

Date available: Currently available

Manufacturer’s Website: Osprey Kode 38

MSRP: $159

Listed Weight: Small size-2 Pounds 15 Ounces; Large size-3 Pounds 4 Ounces

Actual Weight: Medium tested: 3 Pounds 11 Ounces

Materials: Nylon

Warranty info: Osprey will repair for any reason, free of charge, any damage or defect in their product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If they are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, they will happily replace it.

Day trip with Isaac up to Valley Falls.

 

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About the author

Isaac Tait is the Gear Manager for Seattle Backpackers Magazine. He has been a rock climber and backpacker for over two decades and a skier for three years. He also spent nearly ten years in the Marine Corps Infantry with two tours overseas. He is a member of the American Alpine Club (AAC), Mountain Rescue Association (MRA), American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), Access Fund, and is nationally certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). In the course of his adventures he has discovered a love for outdoor leadership and education and is pursuing his certification as a mountain guide. In his spare time he can be found exploring the wild-lands surrounding his new home in the greater Washington DC area.

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