Whether you’re carrying recreational gear like a camera or speakers, or vital equipment like avalanche tools, you’ll want a backpack that can store your stuff comfortably and safely. The market is bursting with sophisticated new packs that call for our attention, but it takes more than just flashy features and innovative materials to create an ergonomic, reliable gear-hauler that’s worthy of our cash. After putting a multitude of packs through meticulous analysis (say that 10 times fast), we’ve determined the three best backpacks for skiing and listed them out below.
|Dakine Heli Pro II||Osprey Packs Men’s Kamber 22||Deuter Freerider Pro 30|
Durability, comfort and stability are three traits that should be prerequisites for any pack you buy. Most modern ski backpacks are made with a tightly woven nylon or similar synthetic fiber to endure constant wear. In areas of high abrasion, top-notch packs are reinforced with additional fabric, like wherever ski edges rub when they’re being carried. Another important factor are the straps, they should be burly so they don’t fail after years of use and be comfortable enough to wear all day.
Without a well-structured back panel, you can’t haul gear comfortably. The best ski packs will be just rigid enough to support your equipment without causing you discomfort. Also, you should look for a pack that has sufficiently padded shoulder straps to disperse pressure points. The back panel and shoulder straps are also responsible for stability. A well-built pack will fit snug to your back once all straps are properly cinched. This will allow you to make turns fluidly without sway in the pack, which could hinder your balance. Additionally, if you spend time skinning or hiking, you’ll want a pack with a back panel that ventilates properly.
You can expect modern packs to be adorned with slick features like a goggle pocket, a helmet attachment system, a bay to hold a hydration bladder, and a system to attach your skis. An insulated hydration sleeve, back panel zipper, hip-strap pockets and other innovative features will be found on some packs but not others.
Best Backpacks for Skiing
The Dakine Heli Pro II 28L may not have the glamour of other modern packs, but its ease of use and dearth of flaws have earned it a spot on our list. The pack’s simple, time-tested design is something that skiers have come to expect from Dakine. Even if you’ve never used one of their packs, you’ll be able to operate the Heli Pro II within minutes of getting your hands on it.
Heli Pro II Highlights
- Vertical snowboard carry w/ 3rd strap and dual-diagonal & A-frame ski carry
- Large volume zippered attic pocket
- Deployable helmet carry
- Fleece lined goggle pocket
- Insulated hydro sleeve and snow tool/shovel pocket
Though not sexy in appearance, it offers all the features you need. For your headgear, a goggle pocket on the top of the pack, and a sling attachment to keep your helmet secure and out of the way. It also provides you the option to carry your skis diagonally or A-frame style. And once your gear is loaded, you won’t have to take it off until you reach summit, thanks to a back panel zipper that allows access to the inside of the pack.
With the Heli Pro II, long hauls are made less painful, since both the back panel and shoulder straps are impressively padded. To boot, the pack is light on the shoulders, weighing in at 2 lb. 10 oz., and light on the wallet, costing only $145.99. For veteran skiers, it will come as no surprise that a Dakine pack has made our list as one of the best backpacks for skiing.
The Flash is a fitting nickname for the Osprey Kamber 22. It’s sleek and lightweight, and it wears like you have nothing on. Tag on all the essential features of a ski pack and you have a candidate that makes our cut as one of the best backpacks for skiing.
- Glove friendly zipper pulls and buckles let you get quick and easy entry in adverse conditions
- Extra-large front panel j-zip access to avalanche safety pocket with sleeves for your shovel handle and probe
- A reinforced hip belt wing provides quick horizontal carry across the backpanel of the backpack for a snowboard
- Dual, articulated zippered hip belt pockets for one hand use provide quick access to essentials (or snacks)
- Dual zippered access to dry storage and hydration compartment via back panel
As expected, the features of the Kamber 22 include a goggle pocket, helmet carry, and diagonal ski carry, but it also possesses nifty new features like rubber-coated zipper pulls for easy gripping with gloves, and an insulated hydration sleeve to prevent hose-freezing.
The majority of the pack is made with ultra-durable 420 HD Nylon Packcloth. And the firm, yet comfortable back panel and shoulder straps keep the pack tight to your body to abolish instability. This 3 pound bag can haul up to 25 lb. and does so in style. If you want to carry your essentials, but barely feel their burden, this pack does the trick.
Whether you’re suiting up for an all-day backcountry mission, or you’re just carrying food and water for your kids, the Deuter Freerider Pro 30 can manage it all. Though it weighs in a tad heavy at 3 lb. 13 oz., its versatility easily propelled it to the last spot on our list of best backpacks for skiing. It’s tricked out with all the crucial features, but also boasts the support of a light frame for comfortable hauling when hiking or skinning.
Freerider Pro Highlights
- Snowboard and ski fixation attachment system lets you carry your ride while you hike
- Helmet holder for easy storage
- Wet/Dry pocket
- Valuables pocket
- 3.0 L Hydration system compatible
You have the option of carrying your skis both A-frame style and diagonally. The back panel zips open to allow access inside the bag while it’s loaded with skis and other gear. Through the same zipper, you can access a pocket where a hydration bladder can be hung. A rare feature that the Freerider Pro 30 offers is a removable foam sitting mat that slides out of the back panel.
When it comes to stability, the back panel sports two vertical mesh padding strips that lay flush and firmly along your back—they also create a chimney like space along the spine for excellent ventilation. For other features, it provides you with the vital goggle pocket as well as helmet storage system. The pack is made with a highly durable, synthetic fiber which is a mix of nylon and polyester. For the affordable price of $150.00, this is the bag for the skier that never knows what the next pursuit will hold.
Other Packs To Consider
For other options, check out the packs that almost made the list. They include the durable and stable Marmot Backcountry 32L, the lightweight and versatile Dakine Arc 34L, and the comfort-rich Patagonia Snowdrifter 30L.
Though the field of packs was dense, only the Dakine Heli Pro II 28L, the Osprey Kamber 22, and the Deuter Freerider Pro 30 had the muster to make our list of the best backpacks for skiing. The Heli Pro II’s ease of use and reliability planted it firmly in the winner’s circle. The Kamber 22 made the podium because of its fine-fitting shape and terrific build-quality. And the undeniable versatility of the Freerider Pro 30 earned it the last spot on the list of best backpacks for skiing.
Anytime you’re looking to purchase a pack, be sure to make a checklist of indispensable qualities so that you settle on the pack that best fits your needs.