Every serious touring skier knows the importance of a good backpack. You want to have many accessories with you while off the grid, and you need a place to store them. A good pack provides that and more.
I’ve been on many backcountry ski trips over the years, and I’ve learned through first-hand experience how to find the equipment to take along. I’ve spent time in the snow using backpacks for touring, and I know how to find the best options.
The Deuter Freeride Pro 30 is my pick for the best backcountry ski touring backpack of the season. This pack will give you a lot of storage space, a comfortable fit, and other features that stand out in the backcountry.
There are a handful of other good options to choose from out there, and I’ll show you all of my recommended backcountry backpacks in this post. Whether you are a serious ski tourer or just want to escape the crowds at the resort, these packs will help you along the way.
Let’s get started.
Who Should Get This
All touring skiers, including backcountry and off-piste enthusiasts, need a good backpack. You never know 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 to store or access your gear easily.
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.
What is a ski touring backpack?
From a technical point of view, a ski touring backpack isn’t all that different from a ski backpack. However, some models have features designed especially for the backcountry, such as avalanche bags or other safety features.
What size backpack do I need for backcountry skiing?
I think a 30L bag is a perfect size for backcountry skiing, but this just depends on how much gear you want to carry with you. If you are going on a multi-day trip, you might want 40L or more. If you are just going for the day, you could get by with 20L or less.
Best Backcountry Ski Touring Backpacks: Top Picks
Here are all of my top picks for the best backcountry ski touring backpacks of the year. If you plan on venturing outside of the ski resort, any of these models will help you out.
1. Deuter Freeride Pro 30
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Durable, comfortable, Alpine Back System, reliable straps
- Capacity: 30L
- Weight: 1150 grams
- Cost: $$$$
The Deuter Freeride Pro 30 is my top pick for the best backcountry ski touring backpack of the year. This is a great bag overall, and it comes with plenty of features that stand out in backcountry situations.
The bag has a 30-liter capacity, which is the perfect size for the average backcountry ski trip. You can store extra food, water, and equipment that might come in helpful deep in the wilderness.
You also get the benefit of the Alpine Back System, which provides you with an excellent fit that will stay in place and not bounce around when you are skiing hard.
The pack is pretty expensive, but it’s better to be prepared when far away from the resort.
2. Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25
- Best for: Lightweight
- Key features: Lightweight, durable construction, dedicated tool pocket, good fit, hydration compatible
- Capacity: 25L
- Weight: 1040 grams
- Cost: $$
If you are looking for a lightweight option that will work for a day tour, check out the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25.
This pack has a low-profile design that keeps the weight down and leads to a beneficial form-fit when going on tours.
It also has a durable construction that will hold up well under heavy use, thanks to a Dynex and 840D nylon material built to withstand the elements.
A smaller design means that you don’t get as many straps or adjustment features.
3. Black Diamond Jetforce Pro 25
- Best for: Avalanche Bag
- Key features: Avalanche airbag equipped, dedicated tool pocket, strong construction
- Capacity: 25L
- Weight: 3060
- Cost: $$$$$
Thanks to an inflatable balloon airbag system, the Black Diamond Jetforce Pro 25 will provide you with added safety against getting caught in avalanches.
This is an excellent feature for anyone who skis in questionable conditions, and it has saved the lives of many skiers over the years.
The pack also has a decent 25-liter capacity to allow you to carry along extra gear or equipment for longer tours. It also has durable construction for reliable performance.
You’ll pay a hefty price for added safety, and this is one of the most expensive backpacks you’ll ever see.
4. Dakine Poacher 32L
- Best for: Fit
- Key features: Great fit, good capacity for touring, comfortable, tool loops
- Capacity: 32L
- Weight: 1500 grams
- Cost: $$$
The Dakine Poacher 32L has a great fit that will lead to long-lasting comfort for big ski tours and epic rides through fresh snow.
It has a form-fitting design that will hug the shape of your back, limiting any slipping or sliding to help you stay balanced.
The Poacher also has the perfect capacity for touring adventures, with 32-liters of space to let you back extra food, water, or equipment. It also has side pockets and loops to carry safety tools.
This option is a bit bulky, but you still get a really excellent fit. Just make sure to pack things evenly for best performance.
How to Choose a Backpack for Backcountry Skiing or Ski Touring
This section will highlight some important things to help you choose a good backpack for backcountry skiing or ski touring.
The mountains are an extreme 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. You want to make sure you get a backpack that can keep water away from your gear.
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 can take even a few pounds off your shoulders is more than worth it. Generally, the more straps a pack has, the better you can make it fit your body.
Not all backpacks have the same amount of available space. Always note 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.
Useful Tips & Resources
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 and what types of avalanches are out there. This guide covers those 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 simply want more information on it, this video gives you everything you need to know.
The Deuter Freeride Pro 30 is my pick for the best backcountry ski touring backpack of the season. This is an excellent pack that will give you plenty of storage alongside a comfortable fit that will stay in place.
If you are headed into the backcountry, you need a good backpack to help you stay safe and prepared. All of the bags listed here will provide you with that and are built to handle the demands of the backcountry.