Snowmobiling is an adventurous sport. There are almost endless paths and places to go on a snow machine when the world outside is covered in snow. It’s an amazingly rewarding pursuit and those with a passion for the snow will surely have many fond memories of their time on the mountain. However, those times can truly be enhanced with the right equipment.
When it comes to snowmobiling equipment, you want to be prepared for anything you might encounter. You will need essential items like your snowmobile, warm clothing, a helmet, goggles, and other safety gear or items to keep your snowmobile in good working condition. There are also other items you might want to bring that are not as essential.
One non-essential piece of snowmobile equipment that many like to use is a backpack. While you definitely do not need to snowmobile with a backpack, carrying one will allow you to bring extra equipment and food on your journey. If you are deep in the backcountry, a backpack can be quite important. The following sections will analyze the best backpacks for snowmobiling to help you decide which is the best for you.
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This
- Best Backpacks for Snowmobiling: What to Consider?
- Best Backpacks for Snowmobiling: Our Picks in 2020
- 1. Best Overall Backpack for Snowmobiling: Ortovox Haute Route 32
- 2. Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack
- 3. Best Backpack for Shovel Storage: KLM Krew Pak
- 4. Polaris Snowmobile Ultimate Shovel Bag
- 5. Best Budget Snowmobile Backpack: Dakine Mission Pro
- 6. Teton Sports Oasis 1100
- 7. Best Women’s Backpack for Snowmobiling: Osprey Kresta
- 8. Dakine Women’s Heli Pack
- 9. Best Backcountry Backpack for Snowmobiling: Mammut Spindrift
- Useful Tips and Resources
- Final Thoughts
- One of the best overall snowmobiling backpacks around is the Ortovox Haute Route 32. This backpack is built for any winter adventure and makes for a solid bag for any situation. Another great overall option is the Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack.
- Oftentimes you will want a shovel when you are snowmobiling. The KLIM Crew Pak is a great snowmobiling backpack with a dedicated shovel storage compartment and the Polaris Snowmobile Ultimate Shovel Bag will attach directly to a Polaris snowmobile.
- If you want a great, affordable snowmobiling backpack that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, both the DaKine Mission Pro and the Teton Sports Oasis 1100 make for good budget options.
- For a women’s specific ski backpack check out the Osprey Kresta and the DaKine Women’s Heli Pack.
- Backcountry riders and those who like to go on long trips will like all of the features and functions of the Mammut Spindrift.
Who Should Get This
A backpack is perfect for people who snowmobile a lot. These bags allow you to carry extra gear anywhere on the mountains or anywhere in the snow. This means you’ll be able to take extra food and water along with you, which can be great if you’re out on an all-day snowmobile trip. It also makes it possible to bring extra gloves, goggles, or jackets in case conditions change.
If you love to explore the backcountry away from towns and civilization, you should use a backpack when snowmobiling. There are both functional and safety reasons to wear a backpack as well. For backcountry purposes, safety is the biggest concern. A backpack allows you to bring avalanche beacons, shovels, and extra equipment. A lot of the options listed here are specially designed for winter sports including snowmobiling.
You might not need or want to ride with a backpack if you only go on short trips or are going snowmobiling for the first time. The added weight can cause some slight issues with balance or tire out your back if you are not used to wearing one. If you don’t plan on going long distances you can keep extra gear in a vehicle or base area.
Best Backpacks for Snowmobiling: What to Consider?
When picking a backpack, you must pay attention to the size. Depending on what you need or plan to bring along with you while snowmobiling, you want to get a backpack that matches the amount of gear you need. A smaller bag is good for day trips when you probably only want to bring water, some food, and maybe an extra layer. For longer trips into the backcountry or for multi-day adventures, you want a larger option.
A backpack’s size refers to its volume rather than the amount of space it takes up. A large volume pack will obviously be larger overall, but when shopping for a backpack you will see its size listed in liters. A good daypack for snowmobilers sits in the 15-25L range. For backcountry riders who need more equipment and safety gear, you might want a pack that is in the 40-60L range.
When getting a backpack for snowmobiling, weight also matters. As you don’t want to be weighed down, lighter is usually better. If you have too much on your back, it can throw off your balance and cause you to fall. This is especially true if you are a beginner and just getting comfortable on skis. Always try to keep your back (and what’s inside of it) as light as possible.
A lot of sport backpack manufacturers design their options with weight in mind, but it’s always good to check how much a backpack weighs before purchasing it. A lightweight bag weighs anywhere in the 2-3 pound range, while a big backcountry bag with a range of features can weigh more than 10 pounds.
You will also need to consider the fit of your backpack as well as its comfort level. You want your backpack to sit securely against your back. If you have a loose-fitting bag, it can easily throw off your balance and cause many issues as you ride. A loose bag can also get caught in a part of the snowmobile or in the trees. Make sure that your pack has straps that can be secured, as well as a tight, economically-fitting design.
Comfort also matters. You will have your pack on for long periods of time in demanding conditions. A good model should fit comfortably over your shoulders and have a chest and waist strap to help distribute the weight and make it fit better over the entire surface area of your back. Look for slightly padded straps as well as a padded back region.
You might not really know the fit and comfort level of a backpack without trying it on. It’s always good to try and fit a backpack to your body before purchasing. If you’re able to try a pack on in person, do it.
Also look at your pack’s overall design. You might have a preference in how many pockets the pack has as well as how the different compartments and features of the bag are designed. I like a backpack that has several different compartments separated from one another that are all accessible from the top, but you might want a different design.
Some snowmobilers like a pack with one big compartment and one smaller zippered pocket. Others don’t have much of a preference and look for fit over features. The choice is up to you.
Your backpack will be exposed to the cold and snow, which is why you need a model that can stand up to the elements. All of the models in this guide have great materials that will hold up under any condition you might encounter on the slopes. They are also water-proof and weather-proof in a way that keeps your items safe and dry.
Synthetic materials like Nylon and Gore-tex offer excellent durability. No bag is indestructible, but you should always make sure you choose an option that is built to withstand the rigors of snowmobiling. A normal backpack can be used in a pinch, but a skiing-specific pack is far better suited to the task.
Many snowmobile bags are equipped with additional features specifically designed for the sport. Many ski packs have extra straps to secure other equipment you might bring along like shovels and avalanche gear. Another good feature to look for is hydration compatibility, which allows you to easily use a water bladder when out riding.
Best Backpacks for Snowmobiling: Our Picks in 2020
1. Best Overall Backpack for Snowmobiling: Ortovox Haute Route 32
The Ortovox Haute Route 32 is one of the best backpacks on the market. This pack has everything you would want out of a pack and is built to handle any conditions that come your way. This 32-liter model is great for day trips or quick backcountry trips. The pack is also very light and weighs in at a rider-friendly 3.2 pounds.
This backback is designed with an easy to use and effective top load design. It comes with a large main compartment and another separate compartment specifically designed for avalanche safety gear. It is constructed with waterproof Cordura and Nylon materials that make it durable and scratch-resistant. The bag also has a dedicated goggle compartment and is hydration compatible.
- Great overall backpack
- Dedicated goggle compartment
- Hydration compatible
- Comfortable, functional fit
- Not for multi-day trips
The Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack is another solid all-around backpack. Helly Hansen makes quality cold-weather gear for a variety of needs and its backpacks are trusted and reliable in the world of snowmobiles as well. This option is a simple-but-effective backpack designed for the needs of new and experienced snowmobilers alike. It is 25 liters, which gives you more than enough room to carry extra items.
The bag has a top-load design and comes with a back zippered section that allows you to easily access items buried at the bottom of the bag. It also has a dedicated avalanche safety pocket to meet the needs of backcountry excursions and is relatively affordable. A dedicated fleece-lined goggle pocket and sturdy straps further enhance its functionality.
- Trusted brand
- Top-load design
- Bottom panel zippered access
- Avalanche safety pocket
- Fleece-lined google pocket
- Sturdy Straps
- On the smaller side
3. Best Backpack for Shovel Storage: KLM Krew Pak
Another excellent backpack for snowmobiling is the KLM Krew Pak. What stands out about this option is its dedicated shovel compartment that will easily keep a shovel safe and secure wherever you roam in the snow. This pack is loaded with other features that snowmobilers will love as well including a goggle pocket, glove-friendly zippers, comfortable hip belt, emergency whistle, and two handy pockets on the hip belt.
This bag has plenty of room to store all of your essential and needed equipment but it is also very comfortable thanks to a contoured internal frame design, padded straps, and easy to secure buckles. It is fully water-resistant and is built to withstand just about any condition you would expect while snowmobiling. The added pockets and capabilities of this bag make it a great choice.
- Excellent shovel storage
- Large capacity for extended trips
- Top-load design
- Side probe storage
- Hydration compatible
- Large for day trips
- Rigid frame not preferred by everyone
If you are looking for an option to easily store a shovel on your snowmobile, the Polaris Snowmobile Ultimate Shovel Bag is a good option. While this isn’t a traditional backpack, it is a good solution that offers you the comfort and security of having a shovel along with you for all of your snowmobiling adventures.
This bag straps directly onto your snowmobile instead of on your pack, which will allow you to always have a shovel attached to your machine without having to always wear it on your back. The slim and solid design makes it easy to use and attach but it is only designed to work with Polaris snowmobiles. A collapsible avalanche shovel will easily fit into the bag and then it will attach directly and securely to your snowmobile.
- Great option for shovel storage
- Slim profile
- Easy to attach to your snowmobile
- Excellent design
- Not a traditional backpack – will only hold a shovel
- Only works with Polaris snowmobiles
5. Best Budget Snowmobile Backpack: Dakine Mission Pro
If you’re looking for a great, affordable backpack for snowmobiling, check out the Dakine Mission Pro. Dakine makes ski and snowboard gear of many varieties but its backpacks have been used for years by snowmobilers as well due to the functionality and fit they provide. This option has a great slim-fitting design that keeps it securely attached to your back even when at full capacity. I have a backpack similar to this one that has lasted over a decade.
This pack comes in either 18 or 25-liter options, and each works quite well. The model is made of 420D ripstop nylon which makes it extremely durable and gives the back excellent water-proofing capabilities. It also has extra straps that allow you to easily carry your skis or snowboard along with a dedicated goggle compartment to keep your lenses safe.
- Great fit
- External ski/snowboard straps
- Can be hard to store larger items
- Shoulder straps not the best for broad shoulders
Another great budget option for a backpack is the Teton Sports Oasis 1100. This backpack is versatile and can be used for a variety of outdoor activities beyond snowmobiling. The backpack is easy to adjust and fits many different sized skiers. Weighing in at right around 2 pounds, this is a very lightweight ski backpack that’s durable, reliable, and affordable.
The pack is hydration compatible and comes with a separate pocket for water bladders. It is also available in several different color options to match your ski outfit. The design is simple-but-functional and the pack features several different sized pockets that each come with a top-loading zippered design that makes it easy to use for any adventure.
- Hydration compatible
- Not the most durable option
- Excess strap material can be a nuisance
7. Best Women’s Backpack for Snowmobiling: Osprey Kresta
The Osprey Kresta is the best women’s backpack on the market. Osprey makes some of the best outdoor backpacks currently available and the brand is known for its high-quality equipment. This pack is on the smaller side and is best suited for day trips. It is big enough to fit all essential items while not getting in the way of messing with your balance.
The Kresta has a thermoformed back panel and contoured shoulder straps that make it very comfortable. It has a slim profile that makes it feel very lightweight. One favorite feature is glove-friendly zippers that allow you to access your items without exposing your bare hands on cold days. It is also hydration compatible and has straps on the outside of the bag for carrying your skis when you want to bring those along on your snowmobiling adventure.
- Great ski pack for women
- Slim profile
- Excellent fit
- Hydration compatible
- Glove-friendly zippers
Another great women’s option is the Dakine Women’s Heli Pack. This pack has a women’s specific fit that includes a slim profile and lightweight design. It has a small 12-liter capacity which makes it best suited for short day trips. It also features a rescue whistle built into the waist strap and comes in many different colors.
- Women’s specific fit
- Slim profile
- Built-in rescue whistle
- Small capacity
- Doesn’t have hydration capabilities built-in
9. Best Backcountry Backpack for Snowmobiling: Mammut Spindrift
If you love the backcountry, you need gear that stands up to the elements. The Mammut Spindrift, built with that toughness in mind, is one of the best backcountry backpacks around. The backpack is built to hold up to steady adventure and is both comfortable and lightweight. It also holds 26-liters, which allows you to pack in a lot of gear.
This pack is constructed with 21D nylon. That makes it durable and fully water-proof. The contoured back system is designed to make the backpack fit well across anyone’s back thanks to the chest strap and waist buckle. The pack also has carry systems intended to strap on skis, a helmet, and poles with a front pocket that’s meant for all of your avalanche safety gear.
- Backcountry design
- Great capacity
- Contoured back system
- Built-in carry systems
- Avalanche safety pocket
- Too large for day trips
Useful Tips and Resources
If you plan on snowmobiling with a backpack, make sure it’s well-secured. This is important because poor weight distribution or loose straps can pose an issue while riding. Once you have your backpack loaded up and ready to put on, spend some time fastening all of the straps and making sure that the fit is tight, secure, and comfortable.
If your pack has extra straps, you can tuck them in so they won’t get caught in any chair lifts or trees. I also recommend packing heavier items towards the bottom of your pack and easy-to-access items at the top. Extra water or clothing can be kept on the bottom of the pack, while snacks or emergency gear can sit at the top. That helps when you dig through your pack in the freezing cold.
As I touched on above, you definitely don’t need to ride with a backpack on in every situation. If you’re a backcountry enthusiast, you should always take safety equipment with you.
You don’t need to wear a backpack while snowmobiling but it does provide you with the ability to take extra equipment along for your adventures in the snow. If you are new to riding, you might want to try it without a backpack but if you are experienced, chances are you are already wearing a pack.
Regardless of why you might want to snowmobile with a backpack, all of the options above are great choices. Remember to never pack more than you think you’ll need and evenly distribute the weight across your back. If you follow those guidelines, a pack is a great accessory when snowmobiling.
Do you snowmobile with a backpack? What do you like to pack with you while out in the snow? Let us know in the comments below!