When skiing, you need a lot of gear. Skis, ski boots, and poles will get you started. From there, you need warm weather clothing like gloves, hats, clothing layers, goggles, and jackets.
Once you’ve checked off the above equipment, there are many accessories that, while not essential, help advance your skiing experience. One such item is a quality ski backpack. A good model can help you carry extra equipment for warmth and safety while also giving you a space for food and water.
Ski backpacks come in many different styles. Some feature extra attributes that are specific to skiing, and some have special features made for specific situations or styles. This article will look at some of the best ski backpacks available so you can make a good choice as to which one best suits your needs.
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This
- Best Ski Backpacks: What to Consider
- Best Ski Backpacks: Our Picks
- 1. Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25 – Best All-Around Ski Backpack
- 2. Dakine Heli Pack
- 3. Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack – Best Budget Option
- 4. TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack
- 5. Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce – Best Backcountry Ski Backpack
- 6. Black Diamond Cirque 45 – Best Large Ski Backpack
- 7. Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack – Best Lightweight Ski Backpack
- 8. Deuter Freerider Pro 30 – Best Ski Backpack for Mountaineering
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Thoughts
- A great all-around ski backpack that can store plenty of gear and won’t break the bank is the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25. Another great all-around option is the Dakine Heli Pack.
- If you’re looking for a strong budget backpack be sure to check out the Mubasel Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack or the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack.
- There are some ski backpacks specifically designed for the backcountry and have safety features built directly into the design. If you want a backpack for such situations, check out the Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce.
- If you need a large ski pack big enough for multi-day trips that can also act as luggage for your trip to the slopes, take a look at the Black Diamond Cirque 45.
- The Osprey Daylight Plus Daypack is a great choice if you want a lightweight option that can hold enough food and gear for an entire day on the slopes.
- A great ski mountaineering pack option is the Deuter Freerider Pro 30.
Who Should Get This
Almost any skier can benefit from a well-made backpack. While I skied for many years without a pack, I made the switch over a decade ago and never looked back. One of my personal favorite reasons to have a good ski backpack is the ability to take along enough water and food for an entire ski day. If conditions are really nice, I never like going inside the lodge if I don’t have to.
Another reason to carry a ski backpack is for safety. If you do any side or backcountry skiing, a pack is a must. You can carry an avalanche beacon in the pack, and many backcountry models also have features like airbags that can keep you safe in the event of an avalanche or other accident. You can also carry a first aid kit, survival supplies, and other essentials in your pack.
I also see a lot of photographers, both amateur and professional, bring along a pack for their extra photo gear. While this is very specific, if you like to ski or take photos, most of the options listed here will allow you to carry extra lenses, cameras, or any other gear you might need.
If you’re a beginner skier, I would recommend not using a backpack until you’re very comfortable on skis. While it’s not that difficult to ski with a backpack on, it does add extra weight. You need to be cautious when getting on and off ski lifts as well.
Best Ski Backpacks: What to Consider
As with regular backpacks, ski backpacks come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and capacities. Every model in this guide provides you with the ability to carry your gear while skiing. That being said, there are some considerations you want to keep in mind.
Always consider size when picking out your ski pack. There are many sizes out there, and they tend to be listed in liters. I think a good size for a ski backpack is around 25L, with 20L being on the low side and 40L on the high side.
Consider the type of skiing you do to help you determine how much you might need to carry. If you just want to carry water and a few snacks, you can get away with a smaller pack. If you’re going on a backcountry trip or are in charge of carrying extra food and warm gear for kids, you’re going to want a larger capacity ski backpack.
When mentioning security in a ski backpack, I’m not talking about if it locks or not. I’m talking about how well the back can stay on your body. Most ski backpacks come equipped with plenty of straps and buckles to help you tighten it while you ski. If you buy a pack that’s not specific to skiing, you might not have that security.
This is an important thing to consider because a loose or floppy backpack can lead to poor skiing. You want a tight fit that doesn’t restrict movement, but you also want the pack secured around your waist and chest for added stability.
Your Style of Skiing
Many ski backpacks are designed with a specific ski style in mind, and they have added features to match. If you do a lot of backcountry skiing, you want a pack with plenty of room in addition to features like an avalanche airbag or easy access to a beacon. If you stick to the resort and don’t need any additional features, a basic backpack can take care of your needs.
When looking for a ski backpack, it’s important to make sure it’s constructed with high-end materials that can survive a long trip on the mountain. Well-constructed zippers and buckles are vital, especially ones that still work when coated in a layer of ice.
Most of the bags listed here are built with these considerations in mind, but some of the cheaper options may skimp a little in this department. It’s something to think about if you are considering a budget option – it may not last as long as others constructed with more durable materials.
Another important consideration when picking out your ski backpack is to make sure it’s made with waterproof and weatherproof materials. You’re going to see many different conditions while skiing and so will your pack. If your backpack can’t keep out the snow and sleet, all of your food and gear will get wet. That means you need to ensure your backpack can handle changing conditions.
Most ski backpacks are inherently designed to be waterproof. Even so, look for materials like nylon or other synthetic fabrics that will keep your gear nice and dry during your outings.
Many ski backpacks have additional features that make them specific to skiing. One big thing to look for is ski straps that will allow you to carry your skis attached to the pack. These are usually built right into the pack and allows you to strap your skis on easily and effectively.
Also, look to see if your pack has hydration compatibility that allows you to keep enough water with you while you ski. Pockets, as well as backcountry or side country features like an airbag, are important as well.
Best Ski Backpacks: Our Picks
The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25 is a great ski backpack that can handle a lot of different situations, and that’s why it makes the list as the best all-around ski backpack. This backpack has a simple-but-efficient design that makes it a great option for in-bounds ski days when you want to carry extra gear or food.
It features a Dynex and 840D nylon construction that keeps water out and your gear dry. This model has a 25-liter capacity, which I believe is the perfect size for a ski backpack, and it is also hydration compatible. The pack has a minimal waist and chest build that’s effective in keeping it secure and tight to your body.
- Great size
- Hydration compatible
- Small but effective straps
- Minimal design best suited for resort skiing
- Chest strap can run small on larger skiers
The Dakine Heli Pack is another great all-around ski backpack. I have had one of these for over 15 years now, andrip though it looks a little rugged, it still holds up. It’s not the largest pack around, and only has a 12L capacity, but the added straps make it a solid choice for a great day on the slopes.
This pack is made out of polyester fabric and does a good job of keeping the moisture out. The zippers and buckles are all heavy-duty as well. Additional straps and a flap on the back make it easy to attach your skis, snowboard, or additional gear with ease. It also comes in a variety of color options to match your style.
- Straps, buckles, zippers all high-quality
- Excellent ski strap design
- Small but effective
- Hydration compatible
- Small capacity
- Zippers are durable but have failed
- Small top pocket
This backpack is a great model for anyone who wants to save some money. It has a practical but effective design that utilizes many features you’d want out of a ski pack, comes in a variety of colors, and can be adjusted to fit many different sizes.
This backpack comes with a 70-ounce water bladder, which adds to the budget choice. The front of the back is built with a mesh padding to keep moisture from building up, and the strap system allows for a solid and secure fit. It also has plenty of storage with multiple zippered compartments to fit all of your food and gear.
- Water bladder included
- Ample storage
- Several zippered pockets
- Can be used for activities other than skiing
- Doesn’t have straps to carry skis
- Not as weather and waterproof as other options
This is another solid backpack for those who love to ski but are on a budget. This pack isn’t specific to skiing, but it does have everything you’ll need to utilize it in the snow. It has a decent 18-liter capacity for carrying along all of the gear and food you need, and features lightweight, sturdy construction. It comes with a water bladder and has enough straps and buckles to keep all of your gear safe and secure out on the slopes.
- Water bladder included
- Not ski-specific
- No straps specific to carrying skis
- Ripcord on back can loosen in demanding conditions
The Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce pack is built with the needs and demands of backcountry skiers in mind. The key feature of this model (and why it comes with such a hefty price tag) is the built-in, battery-powered Jetforce Airbag System. This feature is intended to keep you on top of the snow in the event that you get stuck in an avalanche. This pack just might save your life.
The bag has a 40-liter capacity. Though larger than most models, it is quite comfortable to wear. It has a simple but effective design that can handle all of your backcountry needs. The airbag will also stay charged through 4 deployments.
- Jetforce Airbag System can save your life
- Battery-powered airbag eliminates need for air canister, which saves weight
- Well designed with sturdy construction
If you’re looking for a larger sized ski backpack, be sure to check out the Black Diamond Cirque 45. As the name implies, this pack has a 45-liter capacity making it more than large enough for any ski day. It could be used for multi-day trips and also functions well as a carry-on bag.
The Cirque 45 has a similar design to the Dawn Patrol 25 in that it doesn’t have too many extra features, but excels with what it has. The waist and chest straps allow for easy adjustment, while the swing arm style shoulder straps make it easy to get on and off with your gloves on.
- Great larger-sized pack
- Simple design
- Can hold a lot of gear
- Straps can be small for larger skiers
- Not a lot of extra features
The Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack makes for a great lightweight ski backpack. It is constructed of a polyester fabric that’s lightweight, but not the best in all weather conditions. This pack can’t hold a ton of extra gear but has plenty of storage for a day on the slopes. It is also hydration compatible. If you’re looking to shed pounds and want a featherweight option while out skiing, this pack is a great way to go.
- Multiple color options
- Hydration compatible
- Simple design
- Small but with good storage
- Not extremely waterproof
- Not as durable as other options
If you want a ski mountaineering backpack, take a look at the Deuter Freerider Pro 30. This pack has all of the features you’d want in a high-end pack, such as solid construction and weatherproof materials, on top of a front shovel/probe pocket, two removable tool loops, and a detachable full-face helmet holder.
- Solid, multi-functional pack
- Secure fit
- Added features for mountaineering
- Can be small for multi-day trips
- Figuring out all of the pockets takes some time
Useful Tips & Resources
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to choose one ski backpack over another. No matter what you want, a good ski backpack can help make the most out of the time you have on the snow.
If you want to know why good backpacks matter, check out these reasons why you should look into a good ski pack.
Proper fit is another consideration that can change the course of your ski day. A nice ski backpack that doesn’t fit will cause more trouble than it’s worth. Take a look at these tips to learn how to properly fit a backpack.
Skiing is an extremely freeing sport. Oftentimes, it’s just you, the snow, and the mountain. It creates a liberating feeling that adds to the appeal of an already amazing experience.
Even though we all might strive to become one with the mountain, you need the proper equipment to make that happen. In addition to other key elements, a good ski backpack can add a lot to your skiing experience and ensure you keep it up for years.
What are the essential items you pack in your ski backpack? Do you have any favorite foods or safety equipment you bring along? Let us know in the comments below.