In this article, we look at some of the best ski backpacks that will suit every budget. Whether you are planning to carry only a few essentials or plenty of life-saving tools for some a serious ski adventure, you can be sure that you will find something here that suits your needs.
Backpacks and rucksacks are a must-have gear when you are out in the snow or backcountry, tackling the terrain. They often come in handy and it is now almost inconceivable going out on the slopes without one. By choosing one of the best ski backpacks you can pack in many of your essentials for some serious backcountry outing such as a drink, light snacks, safety equipment, extra jackets, walkie talkies and much more.
Best Budget Ski Backpack
Dakine Mission Pro 18L Ski Backpack
Capacity: 18L, 25L
Weight: Just over 1lb
Amazon ASIN: B07SR75Y16
Price: $51 to $92
This is a great choice if you are looking for something lighter and more budget-friendly. If you are going on a light skiing adventure and simply need to pack up some essentials such as water and snacks, then a small backpack like the Dakine Mission Pro 18L should suffice.
For a price of under $100, you are obviously not getting lots of bells and whistles but it is a spacious backpack with lots of clever organization to help you pack smart for your outing on the slopes.
In spite of the fact that this is a low-cost backpack, it still has all the essentials that you would want in a serious ski backpack.
For example, it has an insulated drinking tube, padded shoulder straps and hip belt, fleece-lined goggle pockets and a snow-safety panel. It even has an integrated whistle in its chest trap.
Its winning points include its lightweight construction. It is a low-profile backpack with a more streamlined design aspect that you can put into a lot of versatile uses.
Also, in spite of its lightweight construction, it still has very powerful suspension.
Best BackCountry Ski Backpack
Patagonia Descensionist 40L
Best Use: Day touring and ski mountaineering
Capacity: 32L, 40L
Weight: 2lbs 4.9oz
You would never go wrong with a Patagonia backpack and the Patagonia Descensionist is a robust backpack that combines solid construction with affordable pricing.
If you simply need a high-performance and lightweight backpack but without the Protection Airbag for your ski mountaineering outings, then this would be an excellent choice.
Descending from Patagonia’s Ascensionist alpine climbing pack, the Descensionist will reliably deliver on the backcountry.
The main section of this ski backpack is huge and is accessible via a generous side zip.
It also features external straps, an avy-gear pocket as well as daisy chains that you can use to attach your skis, ice tools, a snowboard, crampons and much more. It is a very light pack that weighs just over 2lbs.
However, such a light design does come with some trade-offs such as a foam backpanel that does not feature any stays.
Also, the design is such that to access critical tools, you will need to unhook a buckle before even unzipping, which can be inconvenient in an emergency and time-sensitive situation.
Finally, this backpack does not feature a dedicated helmet-carry construction as well as a shoulder strap that you can use to secure a hydration tube.
You can go for the Patagonia Descensionist if you are looking for a lightweight and large volume backpack that will not carry specifically heavy loads.
Gregory Targhee 45
Best Use: Ski mountaineering
Capacity: 26L, 32L, 45L
Weight: 3lbs 10.6oz
Amazon ASIN: B0771STHF9
Price: $129 to $210
Gregory Targhee is a huge mid-priced backpack that you can go for if you are looking for great organization.
It has an impressive floor-plan with six zippered pockets that even compulsive organizers will be pleased with. The front part of the pack also features a convenient zippered pocket where you can put items such as snacks or your sunglasses.
It’s also good on the safety front thanks to its zippered snow-safety compartment as well as the spacious pocket at the top of the pack.
You can access its main compartment via the back panel and this is spacious enough to accommodate a stove, a helmet, a bivy and some extra layers.
Even the hip-belt has a zippered pocket on one side that is big enough to fit a smartphone in. The other side of the hip belt features a gear sling.
Other design features include a plastic (HPDE) framesheet with one aluminum stay that reaches the hip belt for smooth load transfer.
The straps are well-padded while the back panel features a molded foam with functional geometric patterns that help shed off snow.
Its front diagonal ski carry options and the A-frame are both bombproof.
The straps are built with camming buckles which lock in place to prevent slipping while the front part of the backpack features a 1,000-denier CORDURA reinforcement for maximum durability.
PIEPS Summit 30
Best Use: Alpine climbing and ski mountaineering
PIEPS Summit is a medium-sized backpack that is well suited for ski mountaineering and alpine climbing.
It comes with a lot of bells and whistles such as a dedicated axe sleeve that allows you to easily deploy and stow your axe; stowable tool attachment loops situated towards the bottom for the traditional carry uses along with a rubberized garage guard.
There is a convenient waterproof zippered pouch beneath its fixed lid that you can use for your valuables such as a wallet, phone or passport.
The front part features a snow-safety compartment that you can access by using two zippers which together form an inverted L shape.
The PIEPS Summit allows you to easily access the compartments of the backpack without much fiddling.
There are three points of access that include a backpanel access, the full-length side zipper along with its traditional top-loading mouth which is designed with a snow skirt.
Scott Patrol E1 30
Best Use: Heavy-duty, trauma protection
Capacity: 22L, 30L, 40L
Weight: 5lbs 14.1 oz
The Scott Patrol E1 is a relatively new entrant to the ski backpack palette. It is a premium quality ski backpack with premium features such as its innovative fan-based airbag design.
It features an Alpride E1 airbag which is powered by a supercapacitor that works like a rechargeable battery. This airbag is fully electronic and is rechargeable via an AA battery or USB.
The Scott Patrol E1 has a design advantage over the Mammut airbag whose CO2-powered airbag cannot be deployed without spending the canister, a design that limits skier’s ability to conveniently practice deployment.
The E1 can be inflated and will need only a quick recharge instead of having to refill a canister like in Mammut Protection. This design allows you to easily practice its deployment for better safety preparedness before you go out skiing with this backpack.
Once you deploy the airbag, the E1 fan will also spin continuously to keep the backpack inflated even in instances where it has been punctured by either a tree or a rock. Its fan-based design allows you to travel with this back to various ski destinations without worrying about where to find CO2.
The North Face Forecaster 35
Best Use: Light skiing
Weight: 2lbs 10oz
This is a relatively lightweight backpack that weighs less than 3 pounds but still delivers reliable performance. The backpack is torpedo-shaped and balances nicely between your shoulders. The bottom part of the backpack is bullet-nosed to snugly fit in your lumbar area.
You will need to practice a bit with the tool attachment loops when securing your axe heads but the design cleverly angles the shaft to the right of the backpack. It has a reinforced boot holder as well as covered ‘garages’ where you can put your ice picks.
The bottom part of the backpack has extra foam to protect the backpack from tear and wear when you are lugging along some sharp or heavy gear on your skis.
The North Face Forecaster 35 also has a snow-safety compartment accessible through its large 24-inch zipper.
In spite of its narrow profile, you will be surprised by the range of heavy gear that you can carry with this pack without straining its zipper.
There is also an A-frame or a diagonal carry. The side compression straps are robust enough that the contents are somehow lightly sucked into its back panel.
The pack’s volume can also be slimmed down to about 20L if you will be going to the backcountry with smaller loads.
If you are carrying heavier loads, you can use the pack’s nylon framesheet to support the load while also protecting your back from injuries by sharp equipment.
The framesheet has cut-out holes to keep the weight down and minimize sweatiness on the back panel. The backpack also features a perimeter wire for transferring weight to the hip-belt.
Osprey Kamber 42
Best Use: Highly suited for ski mountaineering
Capacity: 16L, 22L, 32L, 42L
Osprey is a trusted brand in the backpacking market so we can expect Osprey backpacks to give a reliable performance. That is the case with the Osprey Kamber 42.
This is a robust and versatile do-it-all pack with many of the bells and whistles that you’d want in a technical ski pack.
There is a hydration sleeve, avy-gear compartment, convenient access to the backpanel as well as glove-friendly zipper pulls.
You can easily carry loads with the Kamber so you won’t have a problem using this backpack for your overnight trips or for carrying heavier loads on your day trips.
The build is also customizable, enabling you to remove its top lid for short day trips. You can also use it to strap a rope or ice axe if you are going on multi-day mountaineering outings.
The Osprey Kamber is a heavy-duty ski backpack weighing 4 pounds and with a volume of 42 liters. If you are a weight-conscious backpacker, you might find its weight and volume a bit cumbersome and even unnecessary.
On the other hand, if you want to pack a lot of stuff for your mountaineering missions, you will have a field day utilizing its many straps, pockets and compartments to store and organize everything you need for your skiing missions.
However, if you need to carry large loads for long day trips or overnights, the Kamber 42 will be a great companion. If you are an ounce-counter, you can check out the many streamlined ski backpacks that we have covered.
Patagonia SnowDrifter 30L
Best Use: Versatile; you can use in light ski mountaineering missions
Capacity: 20-liter and 30-liter options
Patagonia makes really good backpacks and you can expect nothing less from the Patagonia SnowDrifter 30L.
It is a versatile backpack that is also very well-designed, comfortable with lots of very clever and functional organization that you will put into lots of uses in your backcountry missions.
The SnowDrifter also has superb compression that makes it a versatile companion in different use-cases. Its main compartment can be accessed via the back panel or through the top using the U-shaped zipper. Both of these can be super-convenient depending on the particular situation.
The top part of backpack features a fleece-lined dedicated goggle pouch that you can use for skins during transitions. Its hip-belt pockets can accommodate items such as light gloves, beanies or even big phones.
For your ski adventures, there is a snow-safety compartment that gives you sufficient organization to put your everything.
This section will come in handy even if you are carrying out some of your bulkier ski gear such as probes and shovels.
It also features a deep zipper mesh pocket that is located inside the panel and can be reliably used to safely secure your beacon, probe and skin sacks. Even a headlamp can fit in here.
Other features that you will like about this Patagonia backpack include its helmet-carry capability as well as the pockets on every side where you can throw in your snacks.
The SnowDrifter nails a lot of the minor details that make a great backpack such as durable zippers, glove-friendly pull tabs, waistbelt, mesh padding on its shoulder straps and backpanel.
It also features the premium finish that we have come to associate with many Patagonia products. The Patagonia SnowDrifter is undoubtedly one of the best ski backpacks that you can purchase.
Best Use: Airbag ski pack; use if you need extra safety on the slopes
Mammut was a pioneer in building ski backpacks equipped with airbags and the feature is also available in their Light Protection Airbag 3.0.
The Protection Airbag is a safety feature that skiers can deploy during an avalanche and will inflate and expand around the skiers neck and head as well as over the cradle of their upper bodies and shoulders to protect some of their most vital organs.
This feature is meant to protect you from potentially life-threatening trauma from the trees, rocks, debris and any other hard obstacles.
The Protection Airbag System is also removable and deployable in other ski backpacks including non-Mammut models.
This means that if you have other backpacks for light ski uses, you can tap into the Mammut ski protection system to also protect you when you are using these other bags.
The Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 also features numerous other technical design features like the ice attachment point, a gear loop on its hip belt as well as the adjustable back length when you can dial in your perfect fit.
This is a heavy-duty ski backpack with an impressive safety system but it is pricey, costing more than $900. It is one of the costliest CO2-inflated systems on the market.
There are CO2-inflated backpacks that will cost you slightly less than this. However, if you like skiing in rough terrain and conditions, the impressive trauma protection that it offers cannot be traded for anything.
The backpack is also relatively lightweight, easy to use and very comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions Best Ski Backpacks
What backpack size do I need for skiing?
If you will be skiing with essentials such as a drink, light snacks and some spare layers, then a 15 to 20-liter backpack should suffice. However, if you are going on a day long overnight ski and will pack heavy equipment such as a shovel, probe, extra jacket and more layers, then you will need a backpack as big as 40 liters.
What types of shovels will fit into my ski backpack?
Most commercial avy shovels will fit most ski backpacks. Besides, many of the heavy-duty backpacks have an extra safety compartment or fastenings for safety equipment stored in their main compartments.
How do I know if the backpack fits my back length?
You can measure your back length and take this measurement into account when shopping for your backpack. You can also find sizing and fitting guides for backpacks online that can help you choose the most suitable size.
Do all backpacks have a hydration reservoir?
Most backpacks, particularly the bigger ones, are designed to accept a hydration reservoir. Be sure to determine if it is available before you make a purchase.
Can I take my backpack with me on my international flights?
There are ski backpacks that are carry-on-compatible and which meet the carry-on luggage size and safety restrictions.
Certain kinds of backpacks will be checked but with some precautions. If the backpack has suspended mesh backpanel for example, it might be checked with some precautions.
If you fly to your ski destinations, it is generally advisable to use ski backpacks that are carry-on-compatible.
Conclusion Best Ski Backpacks
We hope you enjoyed our guide the best ski backpacks. If you have any questions regarding this guide or any of the products featured on it please be sure to reach out in the comments below. If you did enjoy this guy please be sure to check out some of our others such as the best walkie talkie for skiing or the best neck gaiter for skiing.