The mountain is calling and you must go — fresh powder awaits. If you’re a backcountry enthusiast, that means hiking through pristine snowfields, soaking up stunning mountaintop views, and soaring your way through heavenly sprays of powder. If you’re into resort riding, it means taking deep tree turns, fast parks laps, and smooth, freshly-groomed runs.
Wherever you plan to ski or snowboard, it helps to have a way to carry a bit of your gear. At a minimum, you’ll want space to stash things like spare google lenses, a tool for your bindings, a spare layer, or a hydration pack. If you’re on a multi-day tour — or even on a day trip out of bounds — you’ll want even more provisions on-hand such as emergency gear, beacons, shovels, food, extra insulation, a flashlight or headlamp, straps to hold your skis or snowboard, and possibly even an avalanche bag.
To help you know which pack is best for your winter adventures, we’ve sifted through what’s available and tested a slew of models from the best outdoor brands on the market. Here are our picks of the best ski backpacks perfect for either a day, or weekend, spent in the snow.
Made with bombproof Cordura material, Patagonia’s awesomely durable ski pack fits everything you need for any winter touring expedition. With a main compartment featuring an asymmetrical spindrift collar, the pack opens extra wide to let you pack everything into it while a secure drawcord cinches everything down tightly.
It features an ultra-convenient quick-access zipper on the side for added gear, along with a special pocket for a probe or any avalanche tools. Aside from being versatile, it’s also an extremely comfortable backpack with a high-density foam back panel and padded hipbelt which supports heavy loads without crushing your back.
If you plan on entering territory severe enough to carry an airbag, Orotovox’s Ascent 30 Avabag 30L is one of the lightest packs on the market. The company’s innovative built-in “Avabag” is constructed without a single stitch of sewing or additional sealing, making it extremely light and free of excess bulk. However, this isn’t even its best feature.
What truly makes this airbag-equipped backpack unique is that you can practice deploying it without wasting cartridges. That, combined with the bag’s release-optimized, front-facing ergonomic grip means you’re more able to properly activate it in the event of an actual avalanche. The pack also boasts water-resistant zippers, gear loops, a hydration sleeve, ice axe fasteners, SOS emergency information, an illustration of alpine emergency signals, and numerous backcountry-specific features, making it a superb all-around ski pack.
Gregory’s incredibly cool Targhee 32 touring pack is meant for the winter-obsessed adventurer who spends their weekends heading deep into the backcountry. The lightweight, four-pound bag has all the fixings: A dedicated avalanche safety pocket, goggle pocket, helmet holder, tool compartment, hydration sleeve, ski carry straps, ice axe retainers, and other ski and snowboard-specific components.
The company built the Targhee with Fusion Flex suspension technology which supplies load support for technical ascents while maintaining a supremely comfortable fit on the way down.
Dakine’s Heli Pro 24 is the ultimate crossover backpack, providing a smaller, bulk-free resort pack that won’t catch on chairlifts while also offering enough backcountry features to sustain a day off-piste. It’s loaded with features including a cozy fleece-lined goggle pocket, shovel compartment, helmet attachment loops, and a sternum strap rescue whistle.
It offers wearers the ability to vertically strap on snowboards and for skis, it allows for diagonal or A-frame style attachment. The padded hipbelt and back panel makes it comfortable to wear and its customizable straps ensure it doesn’t rub or chafe, even while ripping at breakneck speeds. As a bonus, the pack fits with Dakine’s impact spine protector, adding an extra layer of safety and protection for superchargers.
With countless badass, ski-focused features such as a helmet holder, daisy chain lash points, ice axe loop, top tensioner rope holder, and a roomy grab handle, the Descent 35 is fabulous for touring and resort riding. It offers a choice of carrying skis A-frame style for hiking steep terrain or using a diagonal carry when things mellow out.
Lowe Alpine included an anti-scratch goggle pocket at the top to protect lenses, as well as an integrated hydration sleeve with a removable, insulated hose cover to prevent water from freezing. The back of the pack sloughs snow to avoid buildup and its buckles are mitten-friendly, allowing you to access your provisions without de-robing your hands. All said, this is a stellar ski backpack for any occasion.
Roxy’s Tribute is just the tool you want to carry your extra gear while lapping the park or taking runs around the resort. This awesome women’s-specific ski and snowboard pack offers a special compartment for shovels and rescue probes, along with an ultra-slick hydration sleeve to keep you from getting thirsty while working up a sweat.
With a vertical ski and snowboard strapping system, the backpack offers flexibility on hikes and its fleece-lined google pocket won’t scratch your lenses. Lastly, it has a removable waist belt and a soft padded laptop sleeve to upload your video footage from the lodge — both of which are features that also make it capable of doubling as a regular day-to-day city pack.
This 35-liter ski backpack is equipped with everything you need for a well-prepared, hassle-free tour of your favorite backcountry stashes. The pack’s spacious side pockets are designed to perfectly fit climbing skins, as well as a one-liter water bottle. It has a separate compartment to strap in your shovel and probe, keeping the wet snow gear away from your warm fleece and dry goods.
On the ascent, the Upslope offers a slim, smooth, and snag-free climb with an adjustable bottom loop that accommodates skis and snowboards of different widths, ensuring there’s no catching when you walk. Same goes for the ice axe loop that can be tucked away to avoid snagging and a compression top that stops your gear from wobbling around.
Built in the rugged hills of western Montana, this burly, minimalist-style pack is one of the toughest, long-lasting ski packs on the market. Constructed with 330-denier Cordura Lite Plus fabric, the D-Route delivers ultra durability in a lightweight package. Add to that its thick 500-denier nylon, a polyurethane-coated face fabric, and super tough YKK zippers, and you’ve got a pack that truly lasts a lifetime.
This Mystery Ranch bag is meant as a chairlift-riding day pack but also proves useful for hiking or dips into the sidecountry for some quick powder turns. As such, it’s slim and bulk-free with a goggle pocket, hydration sleeve, and compression molded back panel built of a stretch-woven yoke for shredding snow.