In this guide we’ll look at the best ski backpacks for backcountry skiing.
We’ve compared comfort, compartments, weight and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Ski Backpacks for Backcountry Skiing ?
More Detailed Backcountry Skiing Backpack Reviews
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Osprey Daylite Plus Review
Osprey is known for manufacturing the best quality backpacks and the Daylite Plus is no different. An interior sleeve is an ideal spot to put your reservoir, and the zipper in the front is perfect for stashing your map and compass.
Our testers loved how much they could fit into the bag despite it looking relatively small. The multiple compartments made accessing gear a breeze and the shoulder straps were reported to be very comfortable. The ventilation on the back panel worked a treat on the sunnier days too.
One of the handy features we noted about the Daylite Plus is that it can be attached to larger Osprey packs. So, if you’re doing multi-day backcountry trips this would be an ideal purchase.
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The North Face Vault Review
For the testers in our group who like to carry a few extra pieces on their backcountry day trip, the North Face Vault backpack was their perfect partner. Made from durable polyester it really performed well against the elements in the wilderness.
Where this pack fell short, however, was with its lack of space for a hydration bladder. However, we found that the two mesh side pockets easily fit a 1l Nalgene each.
The main compartment of the Vault backpack features an interior pocket which is great for stashing maps and other navigation gear and there is plenty of room for food, extra layers, and your safety gear. We’d recommend stashing that in its own bright bag inside the pack though, just for easy navigation in case of emergency.
The shoulder straps were comfortable and the sternum strap ensured it stayed in place when skiing and helped to distribute the weight well.
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Dakine Heli Pro Backpack Review
The Dakine Heli Pro Backpack is an ideal backcountry skiing pack with ample straps and compartments to ensure your essentials are easy to find. The pack was a strong favorite amongst our testers thanks to its ample features that were specifically designed with a skier in mind.
The 20L storage meant the group easily fitted in everything they needed for a one day trip and they loved the fact they could strap on their skis too.
The emergency whistle on the sternum is a handy extra and the hydration pouch fits a 2L bladder easily. The goggle pouch was a little tight for the members of the group who had larger lenses, like the Oakley Fall Line, but regular-sized goggles fit fine and the ripstop material was both durable and light.
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Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Backpack Review
The Teton Sports Oasis has to be the best budget backcountry skiing backpack we featured on our roundup. The exterior had plenty of compression straps that can quickly act as a place to attach your extra gear (our testers used them for avalanche equipment) and the bungee cord was the perfect place to stash their maps.
The sternum strap comes with a whistle and they found it was very comparable to the Dakine pack, even featuring the same Ripstop material.
The team’s 2l hydration packs fitted into it easily and the interior had several compartments to separate gear. The built-in rain cover also came in handy after they were faced with a downpour of wet snow.
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Vibrelli Hydration Backpack Review
The Vibrelli Hydration Backpack is super small and light, coming in at just 14oz, but I would only recommend it for shorter day trips or sidecountry adventures due to its size. The adjustable bungee strap at the front is ideal for easy-access storage of your safety gear and it has room for a few snacks to sustain you for a good few hours.
The ripstop fabric in the honeycomb design proved to be strong and survived the elements of a short backcountry trip that our testers took it on. Despite initial appearances, they did report that they were actually surprised by how much gear could be fitted into this tiny pack thanks to its deceiving intelligent storage systems.
There’s no denying that skiing the backcountry can be one of the most fun aspects of winter sports. Not only do you get to have all those fresh lines to yourself, but it’s also a great way to explore what mother nature offers beyond the boundaries of the resort.
A key part of your backcountry skiing arsenal has to be a solid ski backpack. One of the greatest investments I ever made for my backcountry adventures, aside from my avalanche gear, was my backpack. It’s incredibly lightweight, durable and fits absolutely everything I need in it for both day trips and multi-day adventures.
Here I’m going to share with you what to look for when shopping for the best backcountry ski backpack.
What to Pack in Your Backcountry Ski Backpack
Before we get going, here’s a brief list of some key essentials you should never leave home without. This list will help to give you an idea of the pack size that’ll suit you best, especially it’s your first trip into the backcountry.
Avalanche gear: One of the major benefits of being in a ski resort is the avalanche mitigation. In the backcountry, however, you’re on your own and need to ensure you’ve always got your avalanche gear with you; that means a beacon, shovel, and probe. If you have an airbag too, that’s great!
Food & Water: A minimum of 2l of water, lots of salty snacks and a tonne of cliff bars will help keep you going all day.
Spare Layers: Mountain conditions can change in an instant and you need to be prepared.
First Aid Kit: A basic first aid kit is a no brainer. Make sure there’s an emergency blanket in there too.
Navigation & Comms: Plan on having no cell service and bring a map and a compass as a minimum. If you can afford it, a satellite phone is well worth shelling out for. I personally love in-reach, they have the ability to make calls, send SMS and have great GPS.
Light: A headtorch works best to keep your hands free. Once again, don’t rely on your phone – the battery could die in the cold.
Sunscreen: It may be 0 degrees outside, but it doesn’t mean you won’t burn, always have sun protection and lip balm; no one looks cute with goggle tan.
Backcountry Ski Backpack Buying Guide
There are many factors to consider when buying yourself a good quality backcountry ski pack. Here are some of the most important things I look for before making a purchase:
The size of your pack is really important because you need something that correctly fits your body shape but also fits your gear. Many brands stock several sizes to cater different sized torsos; they vary by brand but usually range from S to XL, with each manufacturer having their own sizing chart. Be sure to measure yourself before making a purchase and, when you receive the bag, throw some gear in there and try it on. Something that sits closer to your back will be comfier whilst your skiing.
In the mountains, every ounce counts. You’ll need something that’s lightweight and durable that can evenly balance the weight of your gear whilst protecting it effectively. The material and construction of the bag will ultimately determine your pack’s weight and the lightweight options do cost more as lots of R&D goes into it. As an experienced skier and hiker, however, I always find the cost to weight ratio 1000% worth it.
Organization is not only important for safety on the mountain, but it also saves you heaps of time. Choose a pack with lots of separate compartments so that you can easily grab whatever gear you need in a jiffy. Some compartments will have extra padding or lining to protect fragile items such as goggles and a good pack will have compartments of varying sizes for different types of equipment. Some packs even come with a special safety compartment, it’s usually a bright color for easy identification and is used to store your emergency gear.
I’m all for a handsfree lifestyle whenever I’m partaking in any sports, so having a pack with room for a hydration bladder is a must for me and should be for you too, especially with how affordable hydration bladders are. It makes it so much easier to be able to drink on the go I find that by having a bladder, I actually stay more hydrated through the day. Most backpacks are compatible with a range of different hydration bladder brands, something around 2-3l will work best for a day in the backcountry.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a backpack that is comfortable. The sizing, (discussed above), hip straps and shoulder straps all play a part in your levels of comfort and the extra thought that’s put into the more expensive packs really makes all the difference. Look for good padding and breathability in the shoulder straps and lower back. Some larger packs will have hip straps too so, if yours does, ensure that’s well padded too because this is where you’ll be holding all the weight. Sternum straps, despite being small thin things that don’t look like they do much, actually really help to evenly distribute the weight of your pack no matter the size, and there’s usually a little whistle on there too.