Hey WY Rider, I am using last years Heli Pro. It is an awsome pack with lots of room. I originally bought it for back country sking, but it has made its way into my sledding gear. I know what you mean about having the shovel blade out accessable. It goes in the first large zipped pocket which is quite accessable. The handle holder is a nice change from my previous pack where i had to have extra straps to hold it in place. If you buy one get it with the hydration system. I was riding last weekend and could get a drink without taking of my helmet. As far as bulk its actually more comfortable than any of my previous packs. The back is like a neoprene material that is comfortable and doesn't allow anything in your pack to poke through against your back. You can carry anything you need in there, gloves, goggles, emergency equipment, etc.