I figured I'd share my thoughts on a piece of gear that I've been really happy with: the Gregory Aplinisto 50L backpack. Since I'm starting to get more into the backcountry touring side of kiting, I decided last year that I wanted a dedicated pack with some nicer features like plenty of space, bomber-proof construction, and strip-down capability. I found the Alpinisto on sale for about $150, and couldn't be happier with it. I used it all last winter and am looking forward to more adventures this winter.
Here are the features that I really like about the bag:
1. Packs skis nicely: It was designed with ski touring in mind, so it has big burly side straps for sticking your skis through and A-framing. I'm typically running 120mm skis, and they fit just fine.
2. Accessibility: I love the big side zipper that runs the length of the bag. It allows you to grab stuff like a water bottle that might have migrated to the bottom; it also makes grabbing a kite out the side or stuffing your kite into the bag super easy. The long zipper, combined with the pull-string top are perfect for stuffing and compressing kites.
3. Nice Size: I found the 50L to be a great size. At full capacity, I was able to fit everything I needed in there for a 3 day hut trip, including sleeping bag, 8m Montana and 16m Empulse foil kites, 2 bars, minimal clothing and some dried food. With that said, its not so big that it's overkill: its the perfect size for your not-overly-compressed 2-kite quiver on a normal day excursion, and is relatively light at around 3 lbs.
4. Strip-down capability: I like the fact that if you're doing a multi day excursion, you can strip the bag down to the bare necessities once you get where you're going. Pretty much everything comes off - the top, even the web belt if you want - leaving you with a nice stuff sack for a normal day out. I can't remember the exact weight, but it gets pretty light once you take all of the accessories off.
5: Bright Color: I like the loud green (or orange) color - it sticks out nicely on the snow, so you can drop your bag off at the base of the mountain, do some laps, and easily find it again.
6. Front crampon pocket: I've found that pocket works perfectly for stuffing your skins and/or your collapsible poles.
7. Pulk-compatible: I haven't used it yet, but the bag was built to be pulk-compatible. Hope to use that one of these days.
Anyhoo, if any of you are into that side of kiting, might be worth looking into. I tend to be one whose pretty thrifty when it comes to spending money on new gear, but I don't regret this purchase in the slightest.