Dakine Baker 16 L

Dakine Baker 16L 2013

Aaron Imber

 Happy Skier

Happy Skier

The Dakine Baker is an awesome smaller pack that has that overbuilt, Dakine feel to it. It does everything well, but it is on the smaller side of the spectrum. It is about as small as I would go for most of my uses.  I think it’s a great option for skiing the resort. It can handle a day of ski touring or side country hits, but it feels pretty maxed out. Plus, it’s an awesome travel daypack, and works well as an admittedly small hiking daypack and school bag. If you want a small, ski-oriented pack that’s just big enough, I’d take a look…

 

Tester: Aaron 6ft, 210lbs, 36” waist, 46” chest, big build

Days: 100+

Specs:

1000 cu. in. [16L]

20 x 11.5 x 5" [51 x 29 x 13cm]

1.8 lbs. [.8kg]

Materials:

2015: 630D Nylon x 400D Nylon Ripstop (according to Dakine.com)

2014:  630D Nylon x 400D Nylon Ripstop (according to Backcountry.com)

2013: 1260D x 630D Nylon (according to tactics.com)

Features:

Vertical snowboard carry

Retractable cable ski carry

Snow tool / shovel pocket

Insulated hydro sleeve

Fleece lined goggle pocket

Padded waist belt

Integrated rescue whistle / sternum strap

Awesome strap keepers

Warranty: Limited Lifetime

Made In China

Environmental Claims as of 3-16-15 Dakine.com website:

All our packs and bags are made from planet-friendly 100% PVC-free materials.

Social Responsibility: http://www.dakine.com/CustomerService/SocialCompliance

How did you get the gear? Purchased personally at a discount from an online retailer

Dakine Baker Front

 

Suspension

The Baker is simple, but beefy enough. This will be a recurring theme throughout the review. The shoulder straps are nicely padded. The waist belt has just enough padding to be legitimate. This is important for me because I like a real waist belt even on smaller packs. This waist belt is a nice compromise. It’s enough for me on a pack like this, but it’s not so big that it’s hard to stow. I wouldn’t mind if it was a bit more substantial. Like many waist belts, you can buckle it around the front of the pack body when you don’t want it.

There is no frame so heavy loads are definitely noticeable. This isn’t much of a problem unless you are ski touring, and have your skis lashed to the pack (boot pack mode + all of your gear = a pretty stressed out little pack). It can take the abuse though.

Dakine Baker Back

Adjustability/Sizing

As far as I understand the Baker 16L comes in one size. It fits me well. It’s on the larger side of smaller packs. The shoulder straps, waist belt, and sternum strap adjust traditionally. I love the strap keepers that I’ll discuss later on. This pack sits really nicely for me. It essentially disappears on me. This is about as small as I am willing to go for most uses. Remember, I am a big guy, who generally likes bigger packs.

Load Carrying

The Baker carries small loads very nicely, but as you start to load it up you will notice it. I will say it takes on “heaviesh” loads admirably considering it’s a small pack with no frame. I would say for loads < 20lbs it’s good to go.

Organization

The layout of Baker makes sense. The large wet locker/front panel can accommodate bigger shovels. The double panel layout also works well in general. It’s a classic design. The small pocket up front works fine for the small stuff. The goggle pocket is a really nice touch that I love. It is fleece lined, well proportioned, and the zipper has never bothered my back while carrying. It fits big goggles like the Oakley Canopy just fine.  

 It's the little things, I love the strap keepers, simple...

It's the little things, I love the strap keepers, simple...

Hardware/Materials

The hardware on the Baker has been perfectly durable. The zippers are smooth enough and have not been a problem once. It’s a small thing but the zipper pulls are perfect: not too short, not too long. You can grab them while wearing Kinco 901T mittens, well done Dakine.  The buckles are good too. They also function while wearing mittens. I still end up dropping the mittens via keeper straps when manipulating the pack.

One of my favorite elements in the Baker are the strap keepers! They are simple, permanent, and should be installed on every pack ever made ever. I love these little things. They keep the pack clean and not dangly. This is a convenience, safety, and sanity feature must.

The 630D Nylon that makes up the main pack body is glorious. It’s probably overkill. It’s been great. There is a front panel under the snowboard carry that is positively burly 1260D toughness. Overall the pack feels overbuilt, which I like.

BUUTTT, of course Dakine has changed it. The newer generations have switched to a 630D Nylon x 400D Nylon Ripstop configuration. Honestly, I don’t think that will be an issue. I’d have to test it to be sure. Chances are it’s the right move. Saving weight is always good as long as it still proves incredibly durable like this one. We’ll see, I can’t say unless I test a newer model.

2015: 630D Nylon x 400D Nylon Ripstop (according to Dakine.com)

2014:  630D Nylon x 400D Nylon Ripstop (according to Backcountry.com)

2013: 1260D x 630D Nylon (according to tactics.com

Insulated Hydro Sleeve

So the tube of your hydration reservoir runs through the left pack strap. There’s a zipper to access it. It is supposed to keep it from freezing. Honestly, I have completely given up on hydration reservoirs in winter. I have had multiple freezing issues with every system I’ve tried.

I will say that this system keeps the outside of the pack super clean and streamlined, which I like. But it makes it really difficult to feed the tube through the pack. I’m sure that Dakine’s own reservoir fits great. I don’t have one of those. If you want to fit a Camelback Antidote hose you just need to make sure it has a straight tip, not the right angled one. It works, but I think it’s a pain in the butt, and I end up having freezing problems anyway.

Again, I just don’t use hydrations reservoirs in the cold anymore, except for testing purposes. 

Resort Skiing

With my resort load out, the pack carries beautifully and disappears. Current resort load out:

Patagonia Nano Air

Platypus .5 liter

Smartwool Balaclava

Terramar Glove Liners

Trail Mix

Black Diamond

Storm Headlamp,

G3 Voile style strap

Magpie Gear Review Coozie

Keys

Leatherman Charge

Bic Lighter

Patagonia Promotional Chapstick

Samsung Note 3

All-Ett Wallet

Small Notebook & Pencil

Safety kit.

Loaded out like this the pack feels great and has plenty of space left over. You can even fit your buddy’s jacket when he overheats and has no place to put it.   

I like having water and a place to store my mid layer when I ski the resort. I overheat super easily and I hate tying jackets around my waist while skiing. I also like to have some water since I overheat so often. Finally, you need a place for the safety kit. So, I almost always ski with a pack or vest.

This pack is easy to get out of the way on the chair lift. You can definitely keep it on. It rides right above the backrest if you want it to. I prefer to sling it to the front, and that’s no problem either. Lifties generally like this better too.

The goggle pocket is simply awesome. I can stow my goggles and wear sunglasses in the spring or while hiking. I love this feature.

Also, imagine skiing the resort with nothing in your pockets! It’s a liberating feeling to empty your pockets. I love skiing with a little pack.

For me the Baker is the perfect resort hybrid pack. It’s a huge bonus that I can add a shovel, probe, and skins easily when I want to hit hike-to terrain right off the resort. I wear my beacon on my person. This hybrid nature is what the Baker is all about.

Touring/Backcountry

I can definitely use the Baker for touring, but I end up wanting more space. If you prioritize carrying a small pack, the Baker is an option. If I were glamorous enough to go heli-skiing, I would imagine this would be a good option.

I took the Baker on an AIRIE Avalanche 1 class. It fit everything fine, but just barely. Here was the load out for each day of the 3-day weekend:

Patagonia Nano Air

BCA B2 Shovel (It’s a big boy)

BCA Stealth 300 Probe (Also a big boy)

G3 Alpinist Climbing Skins

Platypus 1 liter 

Smartwool Balaclava,

Terramar Glove Liners

Trail Mix

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

G3 Voile style strap

Magpie Gear Review Coozie (Always)

Keys

Leatherman Charge

Bic Lighter

Patagonia Promotional Chapstick

Samsung Note 3

All-et Wallet

Aire notebook & pencil

Israeli Bandage

Quick Clot

Benadryl

Compass

Safety kit

It barely fit, but it worked. Remember I was using a big shovel and a long probe. That’s what she said. The BCA shovel barely fits in the wet locker/front panel. I tested my friend’s Black Diamond Deploy shovel, and it’s a much better fit.

The Stealth 300 probe does not fit in the wet locker/front panel. I have to put it in the dedicated outside sleeve. This works but it’s a bummer. It makes using the ski carry mode more difficult. You can still do it.

 I love Monarch...

I love Monarch...

Essentially, I think the Baker shines on quick sidecountry hits. It’s not my favorite choice as a true touring pack, even day trips. I just end up wanting more pack. I also end up wanting a frame to take the weight. However, it works much better when you use a smaller shovel/probe combo.

Hiking Daypack

The Dakine Baker works great as a small, hiking daypack. I wouldn’t go any smaller personally. Honestly, it is pretty much the perfect size for this, if you’re purely just going on a simple day hike. It lacks external water bottle pockets, but I don’t care. This will bother some users.

Town Bag/Travel Daypack/School Bag

Dakine Baker Office Space

The Baker is an excellent casual bag too. I can cruise around with a 13” MacBook Pro in a Viper sleeve and charger no problem. I usually have a spiral notebook with me too. I can also fit a shell and water, because I’m so prepared son.

It’s not as organized as a dedicated school or travel bag, but it works great for me. There is no dedicated laptop sleeve but I always use a standalone sleeve anyway.

However, if you want to carry a bunch of textbooks the Baker is not the right pack. You need more room, and I think that more students should consider carrying a backpack with a frame. Some students carry ridiculously heavy packs in dangerous ways.

Value

The Dakine Baker 16L represents an excellent value at $80.00 MSRP (Checked 03-16-15). It is well priced and it’s often on sale.

Ethics                    

We spend a lot of money on gear. The more gear you buy, over time, you might start considering some of the ethical implications that come along with objects made of plastic, by humans in a concrete box.

As of March 19, 2015

Dakine doesn’t give much information on their website about ethics. They include a link to a labor ethics policy http://www.dakine.com/CustomerService/SocialCompliance

That is great, but pretty hard to truly comprehend. They also claim to use PVC free materials.

Compared to some of their competition, Dakine doesn’t do a great job of explaining the steps they are taking towards sustainability, and ethical production. Dakine should step it up. I am not saying this as a reprimand, but as an honest challenge.

Conclusion

This is an excellent, ski-oriented, smaller pack. It comes in at a great price point, but remember, we know very little about its environmental impact.