For a closer look at the market, see our article on the best avalanche airbag packs. We’re suckers for lift-accessed sidecountry—on the right day, almost nothing beats the experience of logging thousands of vertical feet with minimal uphill effort. Backcountry Stories. Finally, if you like the design but don’t plan to get the airbag, Dakine makes a non-RAS Poacher 32 that ditches the airbag pocket and saves you about $50 (with a slight drop in capacity).See the Dakine Poacher RAS 36L. Category: Ski mountaineeringCapacities: 26, 32, 45LWeight: 3 lbs. We love the Cirque’s low weight and streamlined build, but those looking for more features or a plusher suspension will be better served by packs like the Patagonia Descensionist or Gregory Targhee below. 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. Many factors contribute to a pack’s overall comfort, including the shape and size, beefiness of the suspension, and the amount of adjustment the pack offers. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. That said, ski mountaineers will appreciate the convenience of dedicated slots and systems for their ice tools, helmets, and ropes, like those found on the Gregory Targhee 45. 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. Unique design features that set ski backpacks apart include dedicated pockets for goggles and avy gear, multiple access points, and external ski or snowboard carry straps. To account for this, most ski packs are designed with compression straps along the sides that allow you to snug down a partially full load so that it rides close to your back and doesn’t feel unwieldy. These two technologies differ greatly in form and function, but both serve to keep you alive and breathing. The pack by itself is pretty spendy at $235, especially when you consider it’s not markedly better than the $66 cheaper Patagonia SnowDrifter above (other than its airbag compatibility). Or how you could even prevent such a frightening, yet not uncommon, occurrence to begin with? All told, airbags are a great safety tool that allow skiers more peace of mind when traveling in avalanche terrain. These ski backpacks are often used for overnight hut trips because of their abundance of room. She is an avid skier but can also be found on the mountain trails during the summer, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and trail running. 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. A good ski touring specific pack can make or break your next ski tour. After being asked on many occasions what I carry in my backcountry pack, I wanted to do a post to share my approach and recommendations as to what works for my backcountry backpack. Further, Ortovox’s proprietary Avabag airbag is removeable and compatible with their full lineup of packs (which include both men’s and women’s versions and the descent-oriented Cross Rider and Free Rider), meaning you can purchase one airbag and pair it with multiple packs depending on your objective. Choosing a backpack with an avalanche safety mechanism can be a big step toward ensuring your personal safety before even leaving home. For more information, see our ski backpack comparison table and buying advice below the picks. Mammut Nirvana 18L Backpack… For $1,200, you get a light yet reasonably tough build that utilizes Osprey’s unique NanoFly fabric (a material that impressed us with its tear resistance on their Levity backpacking pack). Additionally, airbags provide a barrier around the head and neck to guard against obstacles like rocks and trees. Ski Mountaineering Here, at The Adventure Junkies, we want to help you narrow down your choices when selecting the best ski backpacks. But the true cherry on top here is fit. 15.3 oz.What we like: Nice mix of weight, storage, and features. We also feature a few packs in slightly larger sizes for overnight trips or exceptionally frigid days when you want to carry along your bulky puffy jacket and thermos of tea. 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). Resort-goers leaving the rescue gear behind can likely get away with an even smaller pack like the CamelBak Powderhound 12. And finally, it’s important to note that airbags should never replace your need for an avalanche beacon and—more importantly—thorough training. While some (the lithium battery system) are travel friendly, others are not. Most ski packs feature multiple access points—usually a combination of a top drawstring or zipper paired with a side zip or a back/front panel zip. Finally, we found the simple webbing waist strap to be notably uncomfortable. 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. That said, we like what Ortovox did with the Ascent, and the ability to practice without the canister might be the tipping point for many.See the Ortovox Ascent 30  See the Women's Ortovox Ascent 28 S. Category: ResortCapacity: 12LWeight: 1 lb. 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. … See the Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L. Category: AirbagCapacity: 22, 30, 40LWeight: 5 lbs. And finally, the Lite’s 100-denier pack body is notably thin for use around chairlifts or sharp ski equipment (the SnowDrifter above features a more durable 420D nylon). If you want added carrying comfort or an airbag system, expect a big bump in weight. With the ability to separate your board on the way up and secure the halves together for a true snowboarding experience on the way down... Smith is a leader in optics, so it comes as little surprise that their snow goggles are some of the best on the market. To complete your kit, check out our comprehensive collection of ski gear reviews. Skis may be attached to skiing backpacks if you need to hike up and ski down. We’ve lauded many of the packs above for shaving weight and bulk, but in reality, not all skiers are laser-focused on traveling fast and light. Both weigh well over 6 pounds, which quickly adds up over thousands of vertical feet. Alternatively, when skiing laps in our local backcountry bowl, we prefer a pack with a U-shaped, backpanel zip (like that of the Osprey Soelden 32 or Black Diamond Dawn Patrol) that allows us to see all our gear and use our pack as an ad hoc staging area during transitions. 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). Without a doubt, the Arc’teryx Alpha SK is the most pared-down pack on our list. It is also an ideal bag for traveling as it has a lot of compartmentalized room. For resort skiing, sidecountry exploration, and day tours, the Patagonia SnowDrifter 30L is an impressively well-designed pack that quickly and easily transitions between the skin track or sitting on a chairlift to the downhill. Ski, Snowboard, Wakeboard, Skateboard Gear & Clothing: Enjoy Free Shipping, Low Price Guarantee, Product Reviews, Shopping Tools and a little flavor. 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. Ski backpacks come in a range of sizes, from compact 20-liter packs for sidecountry or heli-accessed skiing to large 40- to 50-liter packs for overnight trips and technical ski mountaineering. If you’re willing to shoulder a bit more weight, the Gregory Targhee is one of the most comfortable and fully featured options on this list. This bag is used for riding in non-glaciated terrain and in my role as a cat ski … If cross-country skiing makes you think of kicking lazy laps across your local golf course, it's time to change your image of the sport. What are the downsides of the Poacher RAS? In short, an airbag is deployed in the event of a slide and helps you stay on the surface of the snow as it moves down the mountain. Features Features. Learn more. Packs built for backcountry skiing and snowboarding are made with durable fabrics and are reinforced where ski edges rub. Additionally, the rectangular shape of the airbag behind the head—as opposed to the Mammut’s full coverage around the head, neck, and shoulders—offers less comprehensive protection during a slide. Category: Ski mountaineering/day touringCapacity: 34 + 10LWeight: 2 lbs. We always recommend taking an avalanche course (like AIARE Level 1) before venturing into the backcountry. Packs in our day touring category are a great fit for close-to-home backcountry tours. What we like: Great price for an airbag pack.What we don’t: Trauma protection isn’t as comprehensive as the Mammut above; difficult to pack and unpack. Look for dedicated ice tool and pole attachments, a helmet-carry system, external straps for ski or snowboard carry, lighter-weight fabrics, and supportive suspension systems. Fans also are activated with a pull cord and take around the same time to inflate. For the testers in our group who like to carry a few extra pieces on … These features can include easy zipper access, helmet attachment (loop, sling, or clip), axe loop, avalanche gear tool pouch, extra avalanche protection, and google pouch (preferably fleece-lined). Depending on your body shape, a gender-specific ski backpack may be necessary. Plus, it’s made with 100-percent recycled fabrics, which is hard to beat. 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). However, we highly recommend that those venturing into the backcountry purchase a ski-specific pack for one main reason: safety. In the end, it’s important to identify your priorities and understand that there will be tradeoffs with any pack you choose. Expect a good ski backpack to have some additional features. Category: Day touringCapacities: 20, 30LWeight: 2 lbs. The good news is... Colorado is one of the most iconic ski destinations in the Unites States. For example, there are no external straps for ice tools, ski crampons, or a helmet—often necessary tools for skiing big lines. Curbside Pickup Available NOW! Created by Black Diamond, the AvaLung is essentially a snorkel that inserts into the shoulder strap of a backpack. Most ski backpacks feature at least one pocket in addition to the main compartment and avalanche gear compartment. $209.95 . The Cirque has earned its place as our top pick for ski mountaineering objectives, but it does have room for improvement. Shop for Ski Packs at REI - FREE SHIPPING With $50 minimum purchase. 9.6 oz.What we like: Streamlined and affordable design is great for the resort.What we don’t: No backpanel access or compression straps. Fans, on the other hand, can often be used multiple times on a single charge (like Black Diamond's JetForce Pro) and are easily recharged. at a Glance: Storage Capacity: 25L. For example, day tourers who don’t intend to embark on technical ski missions will likely find the ice axe and crampon attachments and map holder unnecessary. In the end, we prefer an airbag for its ease of use and proven performance. Although BCA is a very reputable and respected name in backcountry skiing, we think the Mammut and Ortovox models above are better overall performers. The two biggest downsides are cost and weight. 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. Not to mention, the streamlined design means that you can get on and off the lift and down the slopes without feeling weighted down by a heavy and bulky pack. 5 5 out of 5 stars from 1 reviews 5 1. Given the variety and the notable differences in pack designs for each use, we’ve broken our picks into four separate categories: resort, day touring, ski mountaineering, and airbag backpacks. Not everyone will wear a backpack at the resort, but it can be a nice solution if you’re headed into the sidecountry or packing food and gear for a full day on the mountain. 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