The 3 Best Backcountry Ski Backpacks
While backcountry skiing can be dangerous, unmarked trails and unplowed slopes are a lot safer if you have important supplies, snacks, and first aid materials with you. The best backcountry ski backpacks carry all your important gear without weighing you down.
First, why is a backpack so important? Besides your equipment, a proper backpack is the most important piece of gear you'll need to keep you safe. They're often equipped with airbags (to keep you close to the snow's surface in case of an avalanche) and extra space (for hydration packs, ice picks, and other essentials).
The key to picking out the right pack is to consider the type of terrain you plan on exploring. If you're skiing an extremely frigid and icy region, you'll want to pick a backpack that has room for an icepick and full-blown avalanche safety gear. But if you're going on a milder day trip, consider a smaller, lighter pack. Also, keep in mind how you prefer to carry your skis. Some packs have restraints to strap in skis on an angle, while others allow you to cary them vertically.
Now that you know what to look for, keep reading to shop some of the best backcountry ski backpacks out there.
1. Best Overall, All Things Considered
Ski carry position: Vertical
Why it's great: This versatile ski backpack by Osprey has all the bells and whistles, yet it's light enough that it won't weigh you down on long, snowy hikes. The straps are reinforced and double-seamed, meaning it can hold up to wear and tear for the long haul. It also features a sewn-in hydration sleeve so you can easily carry water with you. There's even a loop to hold an ice pick or other ice tool, an extendable helmet carry system, and a zip-off pack that's compatible with an airbag system (sold separately) in case of an avalanche.
Overall, this backpack has every feature a backcountry skier could want, and it's several hundred dollars less expensive than other extreme adventure packs. If you're looking for a pack that works for just about any type of ski trip, this one is the way to go.
What skiers say: "Osprey products come at a hefty price. That said I think this pack is worth it. It has great features for skiing, is super durable, and osprey backs it up with a great warranty."
2. Runner Up: A Lightweight Option With Tons of Storage
Ski carry position: Vertical, horizontal, or on an angle
Why it's great: This lightweight backpack comes in a close second with its multiple stretchy pockets and versatile features. The multiple backcountry ski setups let you carry your skis vertically, horizontally, or on an angle — and it's easy to switch if you change your mind. On top of all that, all the straps are padded and adjustable for a perfect fit, which helps you stay comfortable and conserve energy. And then there are the pockets: There's a fleece-lined storage pocket, stretchy side pockets, a small snow shovel pocket, and three internal pockets to keep your valuable safe and dry.
The tradeoffs: While this backpack has some awesome features, it's lacking some of the proper gear and storage for anyone who wants to try more adventurous skiing. There's no space for an airbag, and while there's a spot for a hydration pouch (which is a necessity), the pouch itself is sold separately.
What skiers say: "After looking at quite a few bags, I fell in love with this one. Despite all its features and the many straps and attachments, the look of this backpack feels less sporty and outdoorsy to me than many others. [A]nd it sits on my back quite comfortably even when heavy."
3. Best Option For A Day Trip
Ski carry position: Diagonal
Why it's great: If you're planning a short backcountry ski trip, this slim and lightweight pack does the trick. The suspension system moves with your body, and the form-fitting frame sits snugly against your back for maximum comfort. The lightweight side panels and straps are sturdy enough to hold your gear but light enough to carry up the slope with ease. It also features the essentials — an ice tool pocket, a helmet holder, and room for avalanche rescue tools if needed, making it the perfect size for a quick outing.
The tradeoffs: If you're looking for all the bells and whistles, this pack doesn't have them. You'll need to invest in a separate pack for longer trips if you decide to explore more in the future.
What skiers say: "Overall a good day pack for mountain outings, especially if you enjoy ski or split board touring and want a durable, lightweight, and affordable pack."
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