Every serious touring skier knows the importance of a good backpack. There are many accessories you want to have with you while off the grid, and you need a place to store them. A good pack provides that and more.
When picking a touring backpack, there are several features to keep in mind. That includes durability, look, feel, and weight. Every item in this article has been tested for such attributes, and they excel in each one. That is what makes them rise above the pack.
- If you’re a skier who needs a lot of storage space, the Salomon Quest 30 is the way to go. This 30-liter pack is perfect for the backcountry, thanks to the ski carry straps and the integrated hydration bladder. It also comes with a range of pockets and has a special strap that allows you to easily carry your skis when you need to hike or trek through tough terrain. Skiers who travel light will also love the slim design.
- The Ortovox Tour Rider is the perfect choice for those who value safety. While all premium backpacks give you the space to store important items, this one goes the extra mile in terms of avalanche protection. It not only has a modular airbag system, but it also comes with a release handle, hip belt locks, leg straps, and an ax loop. Perfect for skiers who don’t want to get caught off guard while out in the backcountry.
- The Arc’teryx Alpha SK 32 is a touring backpack for skiers who want a light model that won’t get in their way. This sleek option is weather-resistant, offers plenty of room, and has a minimalist design. On top of that, the side compression straps make it easy for you to carry your skies. Though you won’t find a ton of features packed into this model, it’s the best choice for any snow enthusiasts who wants an easy-to-operate daypack.
Who Should Get This?
All touring skiers, including both backcountry and off-piste enthusiasts, need a good backpack. You never what you’re going to encounter when you head into uncharted territory, and you have to be prepared for anything that might come your way. That is why it is so important to have a place where you can easily store or access your gear.
Though the items in this guide work well for touring, they can serve as general skiing backpacks as well. Most people who keep to the resorts or groomed runs don’t need such heavy-duty models when on the slopes. However, the following options are perfect for those that do.
Best Ski Touring Backpack: What to Consider?
The mountain is a tough place, filled with icy storms, pounding rain, and harsh snow. As such, you need a sturdy pack that can stand up to such elements and keep your gear dry. Look for brands that utilize features like bar-tracked stress points, ballistic fabric, or reinforced seams. PU coating and watertight external zippers also ensure that no moisture will seep into your pack, no matter how bad the weather gets.
No matter how light your backpack is, your gear will weigh you down. As such, get a pack with excellent suspension to help carry the load. That includes models with compression straps, solid shoulder straps (complete with padding), a sternum strap, and a cell foam back. Your backpack should always work with you, enabling you to move uphill and downhill with ease. Any item that is able to take even a few pounds off your shoulders is more than worth it.
Not all backpacks have the same amount of available space. Always take note of how much gear you have and what you need to store. Many premium bags come with extra slots for items like shovels or pickaxes. If you don’t need that much space, get a smaller model that won’t take up so much room. However, don’t be afraid to get a bigger pack if you’re going on a long excursion that requires a lot of emergency equipment.
Best Ski Touring Backpack: Our Picks
When picking a ski touring backpack, it is hard to do better than the Salomon Quest 30. This model is lightweight, utilizes an integrated hydration bladder, and comes with an excellent ski carry strap. Storage lovers will also appreciate the multiple pockets (internal and external) as well as the roomy 30-liter interior.
What We Like:
- Ski carry strap
- Integrated hydration bladder
- Large storage capacity
- Helmet carrier
- Comfortable shoulder straps
- Adjustable belt
- A range of pockets
- Slim design
What We Don’t Like:
- None. This is an incredible touring backpack
If you’re a skier who wants great avalanche protection, you’ll love the Ortovox Tour Rider. This pack has plenty of space to hold all of your safety items, as well as an axe loop, hip belt locks, and a modular airbag system. On top of that, the 32-liter bag comes with a removable air cylinder and is fully padded for maximum comfort no matter how long your journey lasts.
What We Like:
- Airbag system adds protection
- Hydration system
- Hip belt locks and leg straps
- Axe loop
- Easily accessible release handle
- Plenty of compartments to store small items
What We Don’t Like:
- Steel cylinders add a bit of weight
- Not the best for plane travel
Lightweight and slim in design, the Arc’teryx Alpha SK 32 is a minimalist touring option that still manages to offer plenty of room. This model has adjustable ski straps for easy carry, as well as a special pocket to store your avalanche gear. The foam back panel is comfortable, and the ripstop nylon construction is fully water-proof. That makes this great if you want a light, solid touring backpack that will stand up to years of use.
What We Like:
- Lightweight, easy to carry
- Minimalist design
- Tough, waterproof construction
- Adjustable ski carry straps
- Taped seams
- Foam back panel
- Padding-free waist strap
What We Don’t Like:
- Doesn’t have as many features as similar high-end models
- Only comes in two colors
Useful Tips and Information
It is hard to know what you’ll encounter when touring, but there is no doubt that avalanches are a constant concern. They are unpredictable and can catch you off guard if you aren’t ready. To avoid such issues, it is best to know what to look for, as well as what types of avalanches are out there. This guide covers such aspects.
Beyond avalanches, ski touring itself is an involved process. Though the journey is absolutely worth it, you have to be aware and prepared at all times. If you’re curious about the discipline, or you simply want more information on it, this video gives you everything you need to know.
There is nothing quite like ski touring, as long as you are prepared. The spanning, white-coated country is beautiful, but you cannot experience it without the right equipment. If you plan on venturing into off-piste environments, never begin your journey without a solid backpack.
The above models give you everything you’ll ever need on a touring adventure. Not only do they give you plenty of space to store your essential items, they do it without being too heavy, bulky, or tough.
Do you have any favorite places to tour? If so, what pack do you bring along? Let us know in the comments below!
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.