Ortovox – not actually a transformer, it turns out, although with all the features it shames Optimus Prime - makes rock-solid gear for serious backcountry touring. Their Haute Route 45 is named after the famed 112 mile high country ski tour from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. It has everything you could possibly need to navigate the route and then some.
The 45 liter pack is the biggest of four in the Ortovox Tour series, one of which is a woman's specific pack. Specs for the 45 claim a 3.5lb curb weight, but ours weighed in at over 4lb with all the extra straps and whatnot, a not insignificant difference, but still not a bad overall weight given the features. And oh, what features there are!
The main compartment can be accessed two ways: a smaller half-moon zip on the top front, or a 3/4 zip on the inside of the pack where it rests against your back. That could be useful in a number of situations, mostly involving wanting to throw your pack on the ground and get to everything quickly. A hydration pouch and velcro tie downs let you set up your preferred liquid quickly. Quick access is kind of the mantra for this pack. A second full-height compartment has red zipper pulls to indicate that it holds emergency gear, in this case shovel (broken down into shaft and blade) and probe. There's also a smaller mesh zipped pocket here. Finally a third full-height pocket has a small zipped camera pocket, pen sleeves, etc.
On to external attachments. The a-frame ski straps take up to 135mm of tail width (for some reason the vendor web site says 120mm…), or you can carry any size diagonal if that's your fetish. Extra included straps affix your snowsoes or snowboard to the front. A hypalon pocket hides most of your ice tool picks, and various other external attachment points mean you'll never be without an option. Finally, a stretchy mesh panel attaches at four corners to hold your helmet or any light item that can be secured by compression.
The Haute Route carries very well, with a thin and stiff dual-pull belt that sports a gear loop on the right and a small zipped pouch on the left. The vertically adjustable sternum strap has a whistle, and the shoulder straps are curved for all-day comfort on the move. All the details are fully dialed in, including water-resistant zippers for all external compartments, a stiff shield to protect your head from getting shoveled in a fall, and a bendable adjustable frame. Even the pack material against your back has an anti-microbial treatment called Polygiene. Bottom line: a seriously organized pack for those serious about organizing their pack. Really if you're anal-retentive about organizing your pack contents, you should already have ordered the Haute Route at this point.