Few topics get the fur flying among backcountry skiers more than discussing the merits of A-frame vs. diagonal ski carrying modes on backpacks. Blood will be spilled.
I’m solidly in the A-Frame camp, but will occasionally go diagonal, especially if that’s the only option a pack has. I like A-Framing as it keeps the ski tails high, away from your calves, ties the whole ski & pack combo together in a tight bundle and most importantly, keeps the weight of your skis/binders/skins close to your center of gravity instead of yawing off of the back of your pack.
The main objection to A-Framing is that it takes longer and requires a ski strap to tie your tips together. In regards to taking longer, practice makes perfect. Before I saw my first Calf Roping at a rodeo, I was guessing a fast time would be somewhere around 60 seconds (it would take me a matter of hours), and was blown away that the top riders can do it in way under 10 seconds, which is about how long it take me to set up an A-Frame carry. Thunk, thunk – tails in the loops, clip, clip – secure the top straps, zip – on goes the ski strap and you are off. For any booting session over about five minutes the lost time is more than made up for in increased uphill speed.
The advantage of diagonaling is that it is quicker to set up. Skis together, drop the tails in the loop, clip the top strap and off you go. To me, the disadvantage is that the skis tend to flop around more and the center of weight is further off your back, especially if you have a big, full pack.
Yes, all of the Ski Mountaineering Racers use the diagonal set-up, but their packs are almost empty and the tricked-out race packs have a system where you can get your skis on/off of the pack without ever taking it off, or even stopping. In the case of racing, every second counts, but for general touring, if you have to take your pack off, you just negated 99% of the diagonal carry advantage.
Category: 02 Gear