The Rescuer 27 comes in only one size, which obviously won’t work for everyone. I have a 20” torso, and this pack fit me perfect, but so has any other pack I’ve ever used. The waist straps and belt are nice and wide to distribute the pack’s weight onto your hips. The hip straps also have small zippered pockets that are perfect for a point-and-shoot camera, cell phone, energy bar, or whatever else you want to keep handy. The shoulder straps are great for the loads this pack can carry, but load lifter straps would make this pack even better.
At 27 liters, the capacity of the pack isn’t huge, but it is the perfect size for sidecountry excursions and shorter forays. I personally like how the pack isn’t overly deep, so the load doesn’t fall too far behind your body. This keeps the pack from feeling too cumbersome on the way down, and is especially nice when skis are strapped to the pack.
Speaking of strapping stuff to the pack, the diagonal ski carry worked very well and fit any size ski I could ever want to throw back there. The non-adjustable strap at the bottom of the pack is very large and makes for easy loading of even the biggest pow boards. The upper strap for the diagonal carry is also huge, and, just like the bottom, makes loading your skis a piece of cake.
The ice ax loop works with the compression straps to hold the ax in place. The only drawback was when carrying an ice ax and the diagonal ski carry simultaneously: the skis chafed on the ax and had to be loosened a bit from the pack to remove the ax easily.
The A-Frame/vertical ski carry worked exceptionally well and will fit most pow boards with its large loops. A big drawback of this pack, however, is that this ski carry method severely hindered access to the main storage and a smaller accessory storage at the top. I could still get into them, but it was a pain.
The Arva Rescuer 27’s main compartment can easily fit extra base and mid layers along with some food and a water bottle, if you choose. Skins also slide into this section well, but another drawback of this pack is that there isn’t a wet/dry divider in the main compartment, like in the Osprey Kode 30. (Once you’ve made your way to the top, I’d suggest throwing the skins in with your avi gear to keep your extra layers dry in the main storage.) This section also has a separate pouch for a 100 fl. oz. / 3-liter hydration bladder, and the hose can be run inside the shoulder straps for a little extra freeze protection.
The smaller compartment at the top of the pack was great for stashing goggles and sunglasses, keys, and any food items you don’t want to subject to the wrath of the main compartment (like a PB&J). It also featured a small mesh compartment inside to help keep items organized.
After two months of moderate use, the Arva Rescuer 27 has been a mix of outstanding features and comfort, with a little heartbreak and some headaches. If it weren’t for the YKK QBZ zipper, I would be more than happy to recommend this pack to anyone looking for the perfect sidecountry and shorter day-trip pack. I love the size, the organization, the fit, and it seems to be holding up really well to some decent abuse. But for me, at least, the back access compartment popping open all the time nearly trumps everything positive about the pack. Fix the zipper, though, and Arva would have an outstanding pack.