if you are on the hunt for some of the best ski backpacks, you have come to the right place.
I was looking for a new ski pack for the coming winter season. So, I looked at some of the most popular brands on the market - Ortovox, Deuter, Osprey backpacks etc. I focused on backpacks that are waterproof, comfortable, adjustable and that have attachment points for all my backcountry ski gear.
Isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for?
The problem with some of these kinds of ski packs is that they are often more expensive than normal backpacks. So, I have also included a few cheaper backpacks, for those of you that are on tight budgets.
From small and lightweight backpacks that can hold only the essentials, to those bulky packs that have an airbag unit to protect you in case of an avalanche - these are the top ten ski touring backpacks!
Best Ski Backpacks
I love Osprey backpacks because there is so much thoughtfulness in their design. And the Kamber is no different - it’s a great ski touring backpack, with all the features you could possibly need. Its exterior is made from durable and water resistant nylon, which will keep all your gear dry.
There are actually six backpacks in this collection - three Kresta packs (for women) and three Kamber packs (for men). I will focus on the smallest of the three backpacks - it is the lightest out of the bunch, but it’s still packed with amazing features.
The Kamber backpack features a thermoformed contoured backpanel that is both padded and ventilated. And that is covered with snow-shedding material on the outside, which helps minimize the build up of snow and ice. This really helps keep the backpack dry, even after you’ve spent hours in slushy snow.
With thick padding on the harness, backpanel and hipbelt, you will always stay comfortable while you’re wearing the Kamber backpack. And you won’t have to carry anything in your hands, since this Osprey pack has attachment points for a helmet, skis/snowboard, ice axe and GPS/radio.
The Kamber is spacious, and it features front panel access with glove-friendly zippers. That’s one of those thoughtful features I mentioned earlier; another one would be the insulated hose sleeve, which ensures that the water in your hydration bladder won’t freeze on the slopes.
This Osprey pack also has a scratch-free pocket for goggles, as well as a stowable helmet carry system. There’s also a front compartment with slip pockets for any extra gear you want to pack, as well as hipbelt pockets for all those items you want to have handy at all times.
If you’re looking for something with a smaller capacity, this is a good option for you. With a capacity of 12 liters, the Heli Pack is one of the smallest bags featured in this review. It is an excellent backpack for people who don’t carry a lot of gear, and who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a ski touring backpack. With a price point well under $100, this is one of the most affordable packs I managed to find.
Most of the Hali Pack bags are made from water repellent 600D polyester, but the exact materials depend on the color. However, none of the packs are entirely waterproof, so they’re not the best option for really wet weather.
The Heli Pack features a heavily padded backpanel that is very comfortable against your back. It also has countered shoulder straps, for an ergonomic fit. The sternum strap that doubles as a whistle will keep those straps in place, while the webbing hipbelt ensures that the pack stays put on your body while you’re taking on the slopes.
This backpack has a single storage compartment, with a hydration/laptop sleeve. While this feature does make the pack more versatile, it’s also not as good as I would have wanted. There’s no insulation in this compartment, and there’s nothing to protect the hose of a hydration reservoir. Meaning that the water would easily freeze, if you wore this backpack in sub-zero temperatures.
The pack is also equipped with a fleece lined goggles pocket and a front stowaway pocket that could fit your bulkier gear. There are also attachment points that allow for diagonal ski carrying or vertical snowboard carrying.
The Dawn Patrol backpack is another option worth considering. It is made by Black Diamond, a brand that makes all sorts of outdoor gear, from headlamps to backpacks. It is made from lightweight Dynex material, which is basically a mixture of nylon and PE. That material has decent water resistance, and should be able to keep your gear dry in slushy weather.
This backpack has very thick padding in the backpanel, with a ventilated insert in the very middle. It is very comfortable to wear, and that single insert will help keep your back dry if you decide to wear the backpack during warmer days. Plus, the hipbelt and the sternum strap will ensure that the pack stays securely attached to your torso, and that it feels weightless.
Which you actually can do, since it is pretty versatile. The spacious storage compartment works just as well for ski touring gear and work documents, while the many zippered pockets allow you to organize all the smaller necessities.
This Black Diamond backpack has a unique feature that I haven’t actually seen that often on backpacks. One of the shoulder straps zips open, to reveal a hidden slip pocket inside. This is perfect for the most valuable items, since there’s no way anyone would be able to access this pocket while you’re wearing the backpack.
The pack also features attachment points for a helmet, skis/snowboard and an ice axe. As well as a couple of handy compression staps on the top. The backpanel also unzips to reveal the insulated hydration sleeve, which is accessible from both sides. You can pull the hose through the insulated shoulder strap that opens up, for easy access to the valve.
The Haute Route ski backpack is one of my favorite premium options. It is pricey, but all of the features and quality of build definitely make up for the price. If you want a rugged, high quality backpack, you will have to spend some more money - why not spend it on the Haute Route?
It is made from durable, double-layered nylon that has excellent water and abrasion resistance. The backpanel features very thick padding, with spaced out foam ridges that allow your back to breathe. Which makes this a good option for hikes and outdoor activities in all sorts of weather conditions.
The harness and the hipbelt of this pack are also padded and ventilated, for great carrying comfort. Additionally, the hip belt helps with the distribution of the weight of the pack, so that you don’t have any future issues with pains in your back and shoulders. The padded shoulder straps help, of course, but nothing beats a good hip belt in my opinion!
This ski backpack can hold a lot of gear. With a 32-liter capacity spread over multiple compartments and pockets, there’s more than enough space for all your safety gear like shovel and probe. And with the external attachment points, and compression straps, the Haute Route allows you to mount skis or a snowboard to its exterior, as well as a shovel, a helmet, crampons, an ice axe and hiking poles.
The pack’s storage compartment is very roomy, and it features a hydration compatible sleeve. However, you can only access this compartment from the back, which is somewhat inconvenient. And it’s not insulated, so there’s no guarantee that the water in a hydration reservoir wouldn’t freeze in sub-zero temperatures.
The Freerider Pro is another great ski backpack, from a brand that has been doing this for decades! And at 30L, Deuter has given you enough space inside for all your gear, even your shovel and probe.
It is made from 420D Polyamide, which has excellent water and abrasion resistance. The exterior of this pack is also coated with PU, which further protects its content from different weather conditions.
These ski backpacks a very elaborate backpanel, with thick padding, breathable mesh and foam ridges. It is very comfortable to wear, especially if you utilize the hipbelt, which will transfer all the weight away from your shoulders. And the ventilation of the harness, hipbelt and backpanel is excellent - better than on some backpacks designed for summer hikes!
Which means that this is a backpack you can wear all year round, and still stay comfortable. And since it is so versatile, I feel that the somewhat higher price point is completely justified.
Especially when you look at all the different compartments. The main compartment is accessible only via the backpanel, but you have several other compartments on the front of the pack. The largest one features an internal organizer panel, which is perfect for all your smaller items.
The pack also has zippered hipbelt pockets, as well as a fleece lined top pocket for goggles. And there are multiple attachment points on the exterior of the Freerider Pro, which allow you to store a helmet, a shovel, an ice pick and hiking poles on your ski backpack. Plus, there are other attachment points for skis or snowboards, so you have several ways of carrying them, no matter where you happen to be backcountry skiing!
The Float 32 is a premium ski touring backpack that is one of the airbag packs in this review. It is made from durable ripstop nylon, and it features DWR coating for excellent water resistance. It has a molded backpanel with an adjustable hipbelt, which allow you to really make the pack fit your body perfectly.
This ski backpack is unique because it comes with an avalanche airbag for extra avalanche safety, which could one day save your life. It is supposed to decrease your burial depth in case of an avalanche, as well as reduce trauma on your head and neck.
The Float 32 is hydration compatible; there are attachment points for a hydration reservoir inside the main compartment, but one is not included in the price. The pack also features several compartments, which allow for easy organization of your belongings. It has waist belt pockets, shoulder strap pockets and a scratch-free goggle pocket, in addition to all the other compartments and organizer panels.
On top of all that, this pack also allows for diagonal ski carry and vertical snowboard carry. And there are attachment points for a helmet, which are designed so they don’t interfere with the ski attachment points.
Actually, a lot of the attachment points are stowable, so you can easily get them out of the way when you’re not using them.
A downside of this backpack is its price point. It’s one of the most expensive backpacks out of the bunch, and not a lot of people will be able to afford it. But if you are serious about ski touring and you want to be prepared for worst case scenarios, this will be more than worth your money.
Oh, and you also need to buy the actual cylinder that fills up the airbag. Which is also quite expensive, but 100% worth the splurge if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to use it.
Mammut is the go-to brand for many outdoor adventurers. They make amazing outdoor gear, which always performs really well and lasts a long time. Which is true of the Spindrift backpack; with a rugged nylon exterior, this backpack can handle anything you put it through.
It’s very comfortable to wear, thanks to the thick padding on the back panel, shoulder straps and harness. And you can actually adjust the harness, the shoulders straps, the sternum strap and the hip belt, and really get the Spindrift to fit perfectly on your body.
This backpack has a lot of different attachment points and several external pockets, but only one main compartment. It is very spacious, hydration compatible and it has a few pockets inside. But it’s not great if you want to stay organized, since you basically get just the one compartment for all your items.
But does that make this a horrible backpack? No! Some people actually prefer this to a thousand different slip pockets, as it lets them keep all the gear in the same place. And you can fit a lot of gear in the 32-liter capacity of the Spindrift.
On top of that, you can attach all your bulkier items to the pack’s exterior. It features a helmet carrier, an ice-pick holder, as well as attachment points that allow you to carry skis or a snowboard. And there are two daisy chain webbings, for any other bulky items you might need on your ski tours.
There’s also a small zippered pocket on one side of the hip belt, perfect for any items you want to have handy at all times. The other side of the hip belt is cut-out, for better ventilation during warmer days.
Looking for a ski backpack that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? That’s the Salomon Peak 30! It is actually one of the most affordable backpacks featured here, so it’s the perfect option for those of you that are on a tight budget.
But you are sacrificing a lot of features. The Peak 30 does not have attachment points for a helmet, skis or a snowboard, so it’s definitely not an amazing option for everyone. In fact, this backpack is best for people who are just getting into touring, and need something waterproof to carry their on-the-trail necessities.
You are still getting premium quality - it is a Salomon backpack, after all. It is made from durable ripstop that is entirely waterproof, and that has excellent abrasion resistance. The pack also features an Airvent Agility + system, for great breathability and carrying comfort.
Which also makes it really versatile; the waterproof exterior is great both for snow and heavy rain, but the breathable backpanel allows you to wear the pack even during warmer months of skiing.
It does have attachment points for hiking/ski poles, so at least you wouldn’t have to carry those in your hands. And it has a lot of pockets - about 12 different ones, which is pretty amazing.
The pack has a spacious main compartment that is hydration compatible, but it doesn’t come with a reservoir. Which is fine - none of the backpacks featured here come with a hydration reservoir.
The Evoc Patrol Snow ski backpack is a good affordable option. It’s under $150, which is pretty rare for a backpack of such high quality. It is made from 100% polyamide with PU coating, for great water and abrasion resistance.
There is very thick padding in the backpanel, which ensures your carrying comfort. And the ventilation of the backpanel is pretty good as well; the vertical air channels feature side openings, which allows the air to circulate.
The removable hipbelt also features thick padding, as well a zippered pocket on one side. You can adjust the width and the position of the hipbelt to fir your torso, which is really convenient. Especially since this is a really big backpack - with a height of 24.4”, it is not going to fit everyone perfectly. If you have a shorter torso, you will need to pull that hipbelt a bit higher, so that it sits comfortably around your waist.
The Evoc pack has a spacious, top-loading main compartment. It can hold a lot of gear, and you can even access some of it through the sides. Perfect for those times when you only need to grab one thing, and don’t feel like taking out everything you packed while out skiing.
With external attachment points for all your gear, you will never have to carry anything in your hands again. This includes ski and snowboard carry systems, as well as helmet, snowshoe and ice pick attachment points.
The Ascent 40 is a great ski backpack that has an avalanche airbag system. You can buy the bag on its own, or you can get it with the Avabag system, which is designed to protect you in case of an avalanche. When the airbag is deployed, it helps minimize the impact on your neck and head, as well as decrease the burial depth by allowing you to float, somewhat.
It features a 3D backplate on the backpanel, which feels very comfortable against your back. The cutouts in the foam allow the air to circulate, making this backpack a decent choice even in the warmer moths.
And it can hold a lot of gear. With a 40L capacity, this is the most spacious ski backpack featured in this review. If you’re looking for a big bag that can hold everything you could possibly need while skiing, this is the one.
It has a total of eight compartments and pockets, which will let you organize everything. And it has external attachment points for all your bulkier gear, including skis/snowboard, helmet and crampons.
But it is a very expensive bag. Actually, if you want just the backpack it has a reasonable price point. However, if you want the kit with the avalanche airbag unit for advanced safety, you might as well just hand over your firstborn child to Ortovox. But if you’re ever in a situation that you have to actually use the airbag, I’m sure you’ll be extremely happy you decided to splurge on this pack.
What To Look For In A Backpack
Materials And Durability
Materials are very important with ski packs. You need something rugged and waterproof that will keep all your gear dry if you’re stuck outside while it is snowing heavily. And most of the backpack featured here live up to that expectation.
But not all of them. Some ski backpacks are not entirely waterproof, which is not ideal for ski tours. Which is not a deal-breaker - if you’re looking for something small and lightweight for shorter tours, you will be fine with these packs. As long as you don’t bury it under a pile of snow, their interiors should stay dry.
On the other hand, if you want a rugged backpack that can handle you falling flat on your back without any of your gear getting wet, you need to take a good look at the materials. Look for phrases “snow-shedding, snow repellant, waterproof, DWR coating” anywhere in the mini reviews.
Gear Attachment Points
A good touring ski backpack will let you move around the slopes with your hands free. It needs to have multiple attachment points, which will let you mounts your skis/snowboard, helmet and ice axe to the exterior of the pack.
That’s not something you will find on every single backpack in this review. Most of them have at least attachment points for skis/snowboard, but the other features are sometimes not present. That heavily depends on the size and price point of the backpack - the cheaper options are more bare, while the pricier options have all the features you’re looking for.
Be sure to check the pros/cons boxes, to see if a particular backpack has all the features you deem necessary.
Avalanche Safety & Avalanche Gear
Another major point to consider when you are backcountry skiing is avalanche safety. It goes without saying that you need to know how to handle yourself in these areas, so please take the appropriate training before heading out.
However, once you decide to go backcountry, you will need the right safety gear. And that also means enough space to carry it. Everything from your shovel and probe, to your avalanche transceiver to conduct a rescue should the need arise.
Depending on how the pack is set up, and whether it is an airbag pack, you have to think about where you want your gear for easy access to. Are you going to strap it on the outside, and potentially lose it, or do you want enough space inside the pack?
You also might want to consider an avalanche airbag system, and whether it is removable or not. Avalanche airbag systems certainly add a lot of cost to your backpack too, so for many of you, it might not be very affordable.
Hydration Compatibility & Availability
A lot of packs featured here have a hydration compatible sleeve. If this is something you’re counting on, you will have to look for a backpack that has an insulated sleeve. That’s always stated in the mini review and/or pros boxes, so don’t skip those.
Here’s the thing - any sort of hydration sleeve just won’t work. If you’re outside in sub-zero temperatures, the water in the bladder will just freeze and you won’t have anything to drink. Which is why you need to look for backpacks with insulated sleeves; these will be able to retain the temperature of your water and keep it from freezing even in really nasty colds.
In addition to that, you should also pay attention to the insulation of the hose. Even if the reservoir sleeve is insulated, the water left in the hose could freeze and you won’t be able to use your hydration bladder at all.
If you want to stay hydrated during your ski tours, look for a backpack that provides at least some insulated to the hose. The less exposed the hose is, the better the better the backpack.
Versatility Of The Bag
Do you want to use this backpack only for ski tours, or would you like to be able to use it for more than just that? If you want a versatile pack, pay a lot of attention to the backpanel.
With ski backpacks, the main focus is on waterproofing. Breathability and ventilation are sacrificed in favor of water repellant materials, which ensure that all your gear stays dry. And that’s fine for ski tours, but it also means that you just can’t wear the backpack when it’s really hot outside. Your back wouldn’t be able to breathe, and you’d be soaking wet in a matter of minutes.
I showed you a few backpacks that feature lots of breathable mesh on the backpanel, and they’re the most versatile options out of the bunch. These are the packs that you can use for hiking, climbing or pretty much anything you want.
Pro Tip: If you are going on a longer vacation that includes ski touring take a ski bag with wheels to carry your skis separately.
Best Ski Touring Backpacks: Our Top Choices
Not sure which ski touring backpack is just right for you? That’s okay. Go with one of our top options, according to your budget, and you’ll be buying the best bag you can afford!
The Dakine Heli pack is definitely the best affordable backpack you can get. It is a small backpack with a capacity of 12 liters, so it’s a good option only if you’re used to carrying very little gear on snow tours. You can attach skis or a snowboard to the pack’s exterior, and it has a dedicated pocket for goggles. Additionally, the pack also has a single main compartment with a hydration/laptop sleeve, making it a versatile bag suitable for more than just ski tours.
A great mid-range backpack is the Deuter Freerider Pro. The price varies depending on the color, but it generally costs anywhere between $130 to $160. Which is a really good deal for such a great pack! It has a heavily padded and ventilated backpanel that let you wear this pack throughout the year, and that will keep you comfortable and dry regardless of the weather outside. Everything about the backpack is adjustable, so you can easily make it fit your body perfectly. And with multiple compartments and gear attachment points, you won’t have to carry anything in your hands again.
- Full Back-entry hemispherical zipper. Removable VARIFLEX Pivoting Hip Belt
- Large Front Shovel Compartment w/Probe/Handle Sleeve. 3 Internal Valuables Zip Pockets
The best high end pack is definitely the BCA Float 32. Yes it is really expensive, but it could literally save your life in case of an avalanche. For me, that makes the price a moot point. Especially when you look at all the other amazing features of this pack, like the molded backpanel, ski and snowboard attachment points, helmet carry straps, and many different pockets and compartments.
- Pack Volume: 32 Liters
- Zippers: YKK w/ DWR Coating
Those three backpacks are our top choices. But all of the bags featured here are high quality ski touring backpacks, and you won’t go wrong with any of them. Head over to Amazon to see their prices, and check out our related posts if you’re still looking for the perfect backpack (or other gear)!