However, we highly recommend that those venturing into the backcountry purchase a ski-specific pack for one main reason: safety. These straps are also especially helpful for streamlining larger-capacity bags. Or how you could even prevent such a frightening, yet not uncommon, occurrence to begin with? Diagonal ski carry. This redesign makes the Freerider Pro a highly versatile pack that is compact and streamlined for casual day tours yet still able to accommodate a rope, harness, and hardware for more technical missions. The Dawn Patrol is also AvaLung-compatible for that extra margin of safety when you venture out of bounds. Right off the bat, we’ll note that this is one of the most feature-rich packs on our list. All the sites below are reputable companies... Best Backcountry (Touring) Skis of 2020-2021, The 5 Best Sites to Buy Skis and Ski Gear, Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L ($930), See the Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L, See the Women's Deuter Freerider Pro 32+ SL, CamelBak Powderhound 12 Hydration Pack ($105), Back to Our Ski Backpack Comparison Table. In the end, those frequenting lift-access terrain will benefit from the smaller capacity (16-22L is great), and you can even go more streamlined with a design like the CamelBak Powderhound 12 below. But the true cherry on top here is fit. The Descensionist has been one of our favorite ski mountaineering packs for the past few winters, and this year it got a full overhaul. Gear Loops; Ski Carry; Hydration Compatible; ... ARVA Ski Trip 30L Backpack. In the end, we prefer an airbag for its ease of use and proven performance. In fact, researcher Dr. John Seifert has reported that—every hour— a minimum of twelve ounces of water or sports drink should be consumed while skiing. For skiers, backpacks … And as expected from the brand, carrying comfort was a priority with dedicated men’s and women’s variations (the Sopris Pro 30 is the women’s model), a padded hipbelt, and a sturdy frame. It’ll cost you a pretty penny (and with an average lifespan of 5 years, you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth it), but electric airbag designs are the wave of the future and Black Diamond’s JetForce Pro is far and away the best yet. There is also a system called the AvaLung, which basically allows a skier caught in an avalanche to breathe residual air from within the pockets of their clothes. However, while the Alpha SK is aimed squarely at the ski mountaineering crowd, the extremely simple design limits the type of gear it can carry. Most ski backpacks feature at least one pocket in addition to the main compartment and avalanche gear compartment. The new Descensionist is a cut-and-dried ski-touring pack that offers all the backcountry essentials and nothing more to weigh you down. Although BCA is a very reputable and respected name in backcountry skiing, we think the Mammut and Ortovox models above are better overall performers. And with added Bluetooth capability, the Pro allows you to run diagnostic tests, update software, and customize settings, which is quite simply next level. What we like: The most cutting-edge electric airbag available; modular design allows for multiple capacities.What we don’t: Expensive and not time-tested. Adding the airbag and canister tacks on another $630 to the bottom line, but at $865 all-in, you get excellent versatility for day touring or hut adventures. Sure any old backpack would do, but today's backcountry skiing packs have dedicated avlanche tool … There are lighter canister-powered airbags and more affordable packs (the BCA Access Float 2.0 below comes in $180 less), but the Light Protection 3.0 puts it together better than most. Backpacks designed for backcountry skiing and snowboarding come with specialized features designed to make traveling through backcountry terrain as smooth as possible. Capacities: 18, 25L. The 20-liter pack also hits a nice sweet spot in terms of capacity for mixed resort and light backcountry use (especially great for weight-conscious missions), and its narrow profile and U-shaped frame help keep everything locked into place. There currently are two types of mechanisms used to inflate airbags: compressed air or gas cartridges and electric fans. With only 12 liters of capacity, you won’t be going very far from the car or lodge with the CamelBak Powderhound, but we think it’s a great companion for resort skiers who like to stay hydrated throughout the day. All told, the Cirque gets our top pick due to its more streamlined weight and time-tested design, but the new Descensionist is a very worthy choice for ski mountaineers and will save you $20 in the process.See the Patagonia Descensionist 40L. As we’ve come to expect from Patagonia, the bag is durable, comfortable, and offers functional organization. We don’t feature any AvaLung-equipped packs in this article, but we do list a couple that are compatible with the device, including the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol and Cirque. Resort The Pro 34+ in particular stands out for its all-around nature, and it received a noteworthy update for fall 2020 that gives it 10 liters of expandable capacity via a roll-top closure. Deuter Freerider Pro 30. And it’s worth noting that standard packs generally feature some variety of compression straps or ski-carry straps, which can be used to carry gear externally in a pinch. Some, like the Osprey Soelden, feature a dedicated zip pocket, while others, like the Black Diamond Cirque, have a pouch in the main compartment. These small ski backpacks are perfect for trips into the side country that are served by chairlifts, helicopter, or snowcats. Additionally, the lack of external straps means you can’t compress a half-full pack or carry skis in an A-frame configuration (although the streamlined exterior won’t get caught on the chairlift). Lay it on its front to access your gear via the full-zip backpanel, which is accessible even with skis or a snowboard attached, or prop it on its base to grab your avalanche tools. What are the downsides of the Poacher RAS? But in our experience, the sweet spot for most skiers is in the 30- to 40-liter range, which is where the majority of the picks above fall. What we don’t: Canister airbags are less convenient than battery designs. But it’s hard to beat Osprey’s top-notch carrying comfort and fit (women can opt for the female-specific Kresta 14), which ensures that the pack won’t get in the way while you’re bombing downhill. SKI TOURING PACKS. Ski Mountaineering Plus, organization is excellent with a zippered backpanel access, helmet attachment, and dedicated pockets for avy tools and a ski goggle. But the Light Protection is an attractive option nevertheless that is significantly more affordable and over a pound lighter. Further, because the top load strap doubles as the diagonal ski carry strap, we’ve found it difficult to max out the capacity while carrying our skis diagonally (and there’s no option for carrying a snowboard). Dakine Mission Pro 18L ($90) Category: Resort/day touring. These two technologies differ greatly in form and function, but both serve to keep you alive and breathing. Some of our favorite designs in this category include the Osprey Kamber 16 and CamelBak Powderhound 12, and it’s also worth checking out smaller-capacity versions of many of the other packs above. First and foremost, while canister airbags are generally lighter and less expensive than electric systems, they can only be deployed once. Category: Day touring/ski mountaineeringCapacities: 32, 40LWeight: 2 lbs. Taking cues from their popular Alpha FL climbing pack, the Alpha SK shares the same focus on minimalism, weather protection in harsh alpine environments, and a sleek design that moves with the body. That said, the AvaLung is pounds lighter and much cheaper than an airbag ($100), making it a more approachable avalanche safety tool and one that we expect will continue gaining popularity. Backcountry Stories. Finally, the Descensionist comes fully equipped to handle all your technical tools, with rope straps, internal and external ice tool attachments, and a dedicated safety tool pocket that keeps your avy gear organized and easy to access. Learn more. In terms of design, some packs allow you to attach lightweight skis in both diagonal and A-frame configurations, while others limit you to one setup or the other (many airbag-equipped packs, for example, do not support A-frame carry). … There are three major categories that gear capacity can fall under. Finally, you should keep in mind that a pack’s weight is generally correlated with its level of supportiveness: the lighter the pack, the less padding and suspension it offers. When you purchase select backpacking packs on Osprey.com, you can receive a professional fit from a qualifying local gear shop. For those focused on moving quickly on the skin track or who don’t want to be weighed down on the descent, a lightweight pack—along with lightweight gear both inside and underfoot—should be a top priority. The two biggest downsides are cost and weight. In fact, researcher Dr. John Seifert has, The primary pieces of equipment for backcountry skiing is the avalanche beacon and the. And unlike many back-access models, the SnowDrifter also features a wide U-shaped top lid that provides alternate entry to the main compartment, making gear retrieval incredibly convenient. You can make it your boot bag as you can carry your ski … And similar to Ortovox’s non-airbag-equipped Haute Route below, it’s nicely appointed with an ice axe and pole attachment points, a rope strap, a removable helmet net, and straps for securing skis, a snowboard, or snowshoes. First, the BCA feels much smaller than its stated 32 liters, and we’ve found it particularly challenging to pack. Unlike their lift-assisted alpine cousins, backcountry skis have two jobs: getting you uphill efficiently while retaining enough power to make the downhill worth the effort (and fun). Specs. For that, you’ll need a pack that can carry everything you need without weighing you down, and the Black Diamond Cirque fits the bill nicely. Comparison Table - The Best Ski Backpacks, BEST FOR SKIING IN THE SIDE OR BACKCOUNTRY, BEST FOR SIDECOUNTRY OR CHAIRLIFT ACCESSIBLE SKIING, For more of our top ski gear recommendations, check out the, These small ski backpacks are perfect for trips into the side country that are served by chairlifts, helicopter, or snowcats. No matter the design, the goal is to make your rescue equipment easily accessible. Time will tell if the packs can match the reliability of the options above, but the entire Soelden/Sopris lineup looks to be a winner.See the Men's Osprey Soelden 32 See the Women's Osprey Sopris 30. Like the Black Diamond Cirque above, the Patagonia Descensionist is built for long days in the mountains when fast and light is the name of the game. Ice … Women’s packs can differ in both shape (namely of the suspension system) and capacity, and often vary in colorway as well. 13.6 oz.What we like: Lightweight, great price, and offered in a women’s-specific version.What we don’t: Thin construction, and we’d prefer a few more features. For instance, the Gregory Targhee 45 is one of the most comfortable packs on our list, but some will find that its heavy-duty suspension is too restrictive for aggressive skiing. Avalanche Gear Compartment We find this extra pocket extremely useful for smaller items such as goggles, sunglasses, lip balm, and snacks. Best For: Overall. For starters, although the largest version can accommodate 45 liters of gear, the lack of load lifters and stiff suspension means it isn’t quite as comfortabe as we’d like. 8 oz. Namely, Patagonia upgraded the design with a more supportive suspension system, better access to the snow tools pocket, and a strap on the shoulder to accommodate a hydration tube. Mammut was one of the first companies to develop an airbag-equipped ski pack, so it comes as little surprise that their Light Protection Airbag 3.0 is among the most well-respected designs on the market. Have you ever wondered what you would do if a friend was swept away in an avalanche in the backcountry? However, some people prefer to add additional safety measures, such as an avalanche airbag system. Plus, some of those unisex skiing backpacks offer two sizes (small/medium and medium/large) instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, the American Avalanche Association’s journal, The Avalanche Review, reported in October 2014 that 36 out of every 100 skiers who were killed in an avalanche would have survived if they had an avalanche airbag system. However, airbag packs are commonly used in heli-skiing, cat-skiing, lift-served backcountry skiing, or day-touring applications. Read all the backpack reviews here. The Cirque has earned its place as our top pick for ski mountaineering objectives, but it does have room for improvement. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. As the name implies, airbag packs are equipped with either a compressed air/gas- or fan-powered airbag. Expect a heavier bag, but more features and room. Curbside Pickup Available NOW! If this is the case, you can get away with a lighter, simpler design like the Patagonia SnowDrifter above or Arc’teryx Alpha SK below. Airbag System: Yes. We hesitate to rank the Freerider Pro higher as we haven’t yet taken it for a test drive, but it’s certainly caught our eye as an intriguing new option from a dependable backpack company.See the Deuter Freerider Pro 34+ See the Women's Deuter Freerider Pro 32+ SL. Shop for Ski Packs at REI - FREE SHIPPING With $50 minimum purchase. 8 oz.What we like: All you really need for a day at the resort.What we don’t: 12-liter capacity is fairly limiting for other uses. And interestingly, most manufacturers offer larger-capacity packs with the same suspension as their smaller counterparts (the Patagonia Descensionist 40, for example, has the same harness and backpanel as the 32-liter version), so don’t necessarily expect to find increased support as you size up. Because skiing tends to be very transition-heavy and you’re in an out of your pack a great deal, multiple access points allow you to get at gear in every nook and cranny without needing to take anything out. And with a redesigned backpanel and hipbelt in the most recent (winter 2020-2021) update, the Haute Route is up for the task and carries a heavy load better than most. Whether you’re headed to the resort or gearing up for a big backcountry outing, a pack is useful for carrying your essentials: extra layers, water, snacks, and—if you’re going out of bounds—avalanche equipment. There are important considerations when making a purchase: What is your skill level? Backcountry Skiing; Backcountry Snowboarding; Ski Mountaineering; Backcountry Snowshoeing; Show 2 more. To complete your kit, check out our comprehensive collection of ski gear reviews. We covered the feature-rich Deuter Freerider Pro 34+ above, but we’d be remiss not to include the Freerider Lite here as well. But what really sets the Poacher RAS apart is its compatibility with Mammut’s Removable Airbag System 3.0. ... Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest 40L Backpack. Available in both 32 and 40-liter versions, it features a breathable harness and backpanel that keep you cool on the skin track, and on the boot pack an innovative strap system carries skis or a snowboard in a variety of configurations. With gear prices as they are and relatively few people interested in compiling a large quiver of different options, versatility in touring packs is also key. That said, while the AvaLung can certainly be an effective safety tool, riders must ski with the tube in their mouth in order for it to work—a very tall order should you suddenly be outrunning a slide. These ski backpacks are often used for overnight hut trips because of their abundance of room. In most cases, it goes hand-in-hand with the type of skiing you will do. For one, an A-frame-style carry isn’t possible with the Freerider Lite (you can only utilize the front panel for strapping skis diagonally or a board vertically). For every type of ski trip, whether it is a day in the chutes, a backcountry adventure, or a day at the resort, having the best ski backpack can make a difference. The 32-liter model features one main compartment … Many ski packs—and especially those tailored to ski mountaineering—are made with various external attachment points, designed specifically for convenient storage of ice tools, poles, crampons, rope, and a ski helmet. External Attachment Points All that said, packs with compression straps or other external straps generally aren’t ideal for resort skiers, as they’re more likely to get caught on the chairlift. For 2020-2021, Black Diamond’s top-of-the-line JetForce Pro is our favorite all-around design, featuring a proprietary battery-powered airbag that’s exceptionally lightweight and easy to recharge. *Editor's note: prices and weights include batteries or canisters where applicable. The Patrol features an Alpride E1 airbag that—similar to the JetForce Pro—is fully electric and rechargeable via USB (it can also be charged by AA batteries in the field). For those who want to open their pack on the chairlift, a top zip is great for getting at snacks, water, or a goggle wipe. We’ll break down the features that you should consider, explain why those features are important— depending on the type of skiing you will do — and review a range of ski backpacks to help you find the best one for you. 13 oz.What we like: A roll-top expands to fit 10L of extra space.What we don’t: Not proven and could be too feature-rich for some. $209.95 . As the leader in custom-fit backpacks, we’ve adapted our pack-fitting … For the occasional bootpack to access sidecountry terrain, tuck-away straps come out to secure your ski or snowboard in various configurations. Category: AirbagCapacity: 30LWeight: 5 lbs. The fan also continues to spin once the airbag is deployed, keeping it inflated even if punctured by a rock or tree, and it’s suitable for air travel (compressed air/gas canisters are not permitted on airplanes). Day Touring Typically, women’s ski backpacks have shoulder straps that are closer together and form an s-shape. The Float also carries skis or a snowboard in a variety of positions, and we love the external helmet-carry system for saving space inside on the uphill. With thicker skis and beefier bindings, today's backcountry … By adding insulation and a zippered pocket along the shoulder strap, the Powderhound help prevent water inside your bite valve and drink tube from freezing. Before making a purchase, it’s important to consider whether or not you really need these features—if you don’t, they might feel unnecessary and burdensome. Ski mountaineers might encounter glaciers, ice, steep snow, and even dry trail along their route, and missions can often be multiple days long. 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