Whether you're an enthusiastic backcountry skier or are going to try out the sport for the first time this winter, picking the right ski pack can help make your winter adventures more convenient, safe and comfortable. Budget ski packs can be found, but some are undeniably expensive. What sets them apart are handy features like dedicated pockets for goggles and tools, glove-friendly zips and deployable airbags.
Here are three picks for the best ski packs in the budget, mid-range and luxury categories.
Dakine Heli Pro 20L
Courtesy of Dakine
A low profile fit and simple design make the Dakine Heli Pro 20L a great option for anyone who is just starting out in backcountry skiing, looking for an affordable all-around ski pack or wanting to embark on minimalist winter missions.
Its 20-litre capacity is perfect for resort runs or day trips to the backcountry for those who pack light. The pack’s storage compartments are well thought out, with a large front pocket for avy tools and a fleece-lined goggle pocket at the top of the pack. The hydration sleeve comfortably accommodates a 2L vertical bladder, and if you’re using this pack off the mountain, then the sleeve also doubles as laptop storage.
Even when packed to the brim, the pack sports a slim profile, which means it stays close to your body and moves with you. And thanks to its wide and generously padded shoulder straps, the Dakine Heli Pro 20L provides all-day comfort.
Mountain Hardwear Powabunga 32
Courtesy of Mountain Hardwear
Made with durable 500D CORDURA® Nylon, the Powabunga is built to withstand harsh terrain. It is a versatile option for those who want to do some in-bound skiing at the resorts or those who crave an out-of-bounds backcountry adventure.
The pack’s large avy tool pocket allows you to easily access your shovel and probe, and its zippered back panel offers convenient access to your extra layers and water bottle in the main compartment. There’s a soft fleece-lined goggle pouch at the top of the pack and a small top zipper there offers another way to access the primary chamber.
What makes this streamlined backpack stand out is its ergonomic suspension and unique pivoting hip belt. The Hoverbelt technology helps the pack stay close to your body and move with you as you race up and downhill. You can also easily access your gear without having to take the pack off your back.
The backpack features a cavernous interior and you’ll find yourself reaching for this even on longer winter adventures.
Black Diamond JetForce Pro
Courtesy of Black Diamond
Though undeniably expensive, avalanche airbag backpacks are worth the investment if you make frequent trips to the backcountry. When used with proper avalanche training, these packs can boost your chances of survival should there be an avalanche.
Black Diamond’s JetForce Pro carries a robust design and offers plenty of features for avid backcountry skiers. For starters, the 200-litre airbag relies on rechargeable lithium batteries and deploys up to four times in a single charge. This means you can practice deploying the airbag in a safe and calm environment before venturing out. It’s worth noting that the pack’s puncture recovery mode keeps inflating the airbag even if it’s ripped or torn during an avalanche.
This model of the avalanche backpack utilizes a booster system, which you can purchase in 10, 25 and 35L capacities so you can outfit your backpack for any sort of backcountry adventure, making this expensive pack a very versatile option.
Which ski bag would you choose?
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