Expect a heavier bag, but more features and room. SKI TOURING PACKS. Made with snowboarders in mind, the Mission Pro offers vertical board carry (skis are strapped in diagonally) and can easily double as a skateboard pack too. Packs built for backcountry skiing and snowboarding are made with durable fabrics and are reinforced where ski edges rub. But the biggest draw is price: at $785 for the bag and a full canister, the BCA Float 32 is the most affordable airbag-equipped pack on our list. The primary pieces of equipment for backcountry skiing is the avalanche beacon and the helmet. For $1,200, you get a light yet reasonably tough build that utilizes Osprey’s unique NanoFly fabric (a material that impressed us with its tear resistance on their Levity backpacking pack). In addition, the Dakine is rather heavy for its capacity at over 4 pounds, although that does include a mix of burly 500- and 840-denier nylon on the pack body, the extra rolltop closure for the airbag, and the intuitive storage layout mentioned above. For example, there are no external straps for ice tools, ski crampons, or a helmet—often necessary tools for skiing big lines. All told, if you don’t plan on deploying your airbag often there’s a fine argument for a canister design. Similar to the SnowDrifter above, the Mission Pro features a dedicated avalanche-gear pocket and padded hipbelt and shoulder straps, and tacks on a fleece-lined goggle pocket (the SnowDrifter has a compartment for smaller items, but the fleece is a nice touch). All of our ski packs are built with the burliest Dyneema Composite Fabric hybrid that we can get our hands on (currently). However, keep in mind that the larger your pack’s capacity (and the more you load inside), the more cumbersome it will feel on the downhill. Category: Ski mountaineeringCapacities: 26, 32, 45LWeight: 3 lbs. That said, not every backcountry skier needs all these features. The most recent innovation in the world of airbags is the use of a battery or supercapacitor to power a fan, which allows for multiple deployments, is easy to travel with, and doesn't require you to refill any canisters (just recharge via an electrical outlet). Fans, on the other hand, can often be used multiple times on a single charge (like Black Diamond's JetForce Pro) and are easily recharged. The pack by itself is pretty spendy at $235, especially when you consider it’s not markedly better than the $66 cheaper Patagonia SnowDrifter above (other than its airbag compatibility). On the other hand, many of the lightweight options above (like the Black Diamond Cirque and Arc’teryx Alpha SK) sacrifice support to shave weight, which can make skinning and bootpacking rather arduous. And clocking in at 5 pounds 14 ounces for the backpack and airbag, the Scott is a reasonably lightweight design and $300 less than the JetForce Pro above. 10.6 oz.What we like: Fully featured and comfortable.What we don’t: Does not ski especially well; straps and pockets add significant weight. Have you ever wondered how you would carry your gear while skiing? The Pro 34+ in particular stands out for its all-around nature, and it received a noteworthy update for fall 2020 that gives it 10 liters of expandable capacity via a roll-top closure. Second, you miss out on the convenient backpanel access that we value with the SnowDrifter above. HYDRATION SYSTEM: Hydration system compatible, SKI-CARRY OPTIONS: Vertical (center or sides) and diagonal ski-carry systems, PROS: Helmet holder, avalanche gear storage and goggle pocket, sitting mat, strong zippers, CONS: Pack sits flat against the back so not great for bulky items, AVALANCHE AIRBAG SYSTEM: Float airbag system deployed via compressed air cylinder, left or right trigger mount, SKI-CARRY OPTIONS: Diagonal ski-carry system, PROS: Lightweight, great value for an airbag pack, integration for BC Link radios, fleece goggle pocket, helmet sling, shovel and probe sleeves, CONS: One size only, small safety gear pocket, HYDRATION SYSTEM: Insulated hydration system compatible, SKI-CARRY OPTIONS: Diagonal and A-frame ski-carry options, PROS: Comfortable for all day skiing, helmet compartment, axe loop, avalanche gear pocket, great value, unisex only but two sizes for different body types (small/medium and medium/large), CONS: Avalanche safety pocket takes up too much room, SKI-CARRY OPTIONS: Diagonal and A-frame ski-carry systems, PROS: Helmet pouch, avalanche gear storage and goggle pocket, axe loops, dry pocket access, removable top pocket, great value, unisex only but two sizes for different body types (small/medium and medium large), PROS: Fleece lined goggle pocket, avalanche whistle, durable, easy to attach helmet and poles, lightweight (1.8 pounds), PROS: Lightweight, great value for an airbag pack, integration for BC Link radios, fleece goggle pocket, helmet sling, shovel and probe sleeves, unisex only but two sizes for different body types (small/medium and medium/large), AVALANCHE AIRBAG SYSTEM: Removable airbag system with refillable cartridge sold separately, PROS: Helmet compartment, axe loop; avalanche gear pocket, ergonomic shoulder straps, fleece-line goggle compartment, TSA friendly so you can fly with empty air canister and refill canister at destination, CONS: No waist belt pockets, airbag system takes up space. Choosing the right ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain. And finally, Osprey has anticipated your needs for a day on the slopes, with features like an insulated hydration sleeve, goggle pocket, and glove-friendly zippers and buckles. Further, it’s not rare to find a pack that is is unable to haul a snowboard (the Black Diamond Cirque, for example). There are important considerations when making a purchase: What is your skill level? Where do the two differ? Some of our favorite designs in this category include the Osprey Kamber 16 and CamelBak Powderhound 12, and it’s also worth checking out smaller-capacity versions of many of the other packs above. This feature provides peace of mind as well as a good opportunity to build up muscle memory in case you need to deploy the Avabag in the field. For more of our top ski gear recommendations, check out the Best Ski Bags. It’s worth noting that some—and particularly those with broad shoulders—have reported fit-related issues with the Dawn Patrol, so we recommend trying it on before you buy.See the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25L. 13 oz.What we like: A roll-top expands to fit 10L of extra space.What we don’t: Not proven and could be too feature-rich for some. Alternatively, the ski mountaineers needing more space for their gear will benefit from the 40-liter Haute Route. By nature, these packs are heavier and have limited capacities, and are thus not the first choice for most ski mountaineers. The Pro 34+ clocks in a bit heavier than other lightweight ski mountaineering packs here, but the extra ounces could be worth it for the expandable design and Deuter’s reliable comfort and fit. See More Reviews. Category: Resort/day touringCapacity: 20LWeight: 1 lb. The Osprey Kamber 16 is our favorite resort-specific pack, and for a few good reasons. And if you want to haul a snowboard or skis in an A-frame configuration, you’ll need to purchase extra straps separately (keep in mind you’re already spending a whopping $345 on the bag itself). There currently are two types of mechanisms used to inflate airbags: compressed air or gas cartridges and electric fans. For example, the most affordable design in our airbag pack round-up is the BCA Float 22L 2.0 at $735, and the fan-equipped Black Diamond JetForce Pro comes in at a whopping $1,400. See the Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L. For resort skiing, sidecountry exploration, and day tours, the Patagonia SnowDrifter 30L is an impressively well-designed pack that quickly and easily transitions between the skin track or sitting on a chairlift to the downhill. 6.4 oz. 8.5 oz.What we like: Removable and interchangeable airbag; you can practice deployment without the canister.What we don’t: Airbag provides less protection than the Mammut above; thin fabric on pack body. Perhaps most notably, the Alpha SK clocks in at an impressively low 2 pounds 3 ounces—the lightest pack on our list at this capacity. Second, the Patrol’s simple webbing hipbelt provides minimal support and does not come with a convenient stash pocket. The Cirque has earned its place as our top pick for ski mountaineering objectives, but it does have room for improvement. Compared to canister airbags, an electric airbag is more convenient and doesn’t require you to refill your canister each time you pull the trigger (great for practice deployment). The best method is to sling it over one shoulder rather than both, and make sure you’ve undone both the waist belt and sternum strap before unloading. The pack now features helmet-carry capability, and the wider, more supportive hipbelt is built with a pocket on each side for easy access to your phone or snacks. When deciding on a pack, think about how often you’ll need to access gear throughout the day and in what sort of environments. 8.6 oz.What we like: Great fit, comfortable suspension, and tons of organization.What we don’t: Doesn’t come in a 40-liter capacity for longer tours. Finally, fan-powered airbags can be taken on airplanes with relative ease, while canister models are trickier and require you to empty the air beforehand (compressed gas canisters cannot be taken on a plane at all). If you’ve ever tried to use your hydration reservoir in the winter, you’ve probably realized that freezing temperatures can quickly render your bladder worthless. However, we’ve come to prefer electric airbags for their sheer convenience: in short, their rechargeable nature means you don’t have to visit a refill location each time you deploy your airbag or travel via air. Again, compared to canister airbags, the battery design means you get unlimited practice deployments (only battery life limits you), don’t have to bother with refilling your compressed air canisters, and there’s no hassle in terms of air travel. And finally, the Lite’s 100-denier pack body is notably thin for use around chairlifts or sharp ski equipment (the SnowDrifter above features a more durable 420D nylon). Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25 Backpack. For those who want to open their pack on the chairlift, a top zip is great for getting at snacks, water, or a goggle wipe. Plus, it’s made with 100-percent recycled fabrics, which is hard to beat. On the other hand, when weighted down with 40+ liters of gear on the skin track, you’ll be thankful to have a robust backpanel, shoulder straps, hipbelt, and features like load lifters that allow you to dial in fit. But for those willing to pack light, the Mission Pro is a great value for what you get.See the Dakine Mission Pro 18L  See the Women's Dakine Mission Pro 18L. Finally, it’s only offered in one size, while many packs (like the Osprey and Deuter options above) come in both men’s and women’s sizing. We hesitate to rank the Freerider Pro higher as we haven’t yet taken it for a test drive, but it’s certainly caught our eye as an intriguing new option from a dependable backpack company.See the Deuter Freerider Pro 34+  See the Women's Deuter Freerider Pro 32+ SL. For more of our top skiing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: Dee is a freelance writer and an outdoors enthusiast. As we’ve come to expect from Gregory, the Targhee carries loads quite comfortably, with an alloy frame, adjustable suspension, and compression-molded backpanel. Further, Mammut’s Protection Airbag System (PAS)—unlike most other airbags—expands around the head and neck and over the shoulders to cradle your upper body. A 2400 (cubic inches/40L) carries just enough gear for single day to ultralight overnight ski … Have you ever wondered what you would do if a friend was swept away in an avalanche in the backcountry? Depending on your body shape, a gender-specific ski backpack may be necessary. See the Patagonia SnowDrifter 30L. 13.5 oz.What we like: Durable, comfortable, and fully featured; long side zip for secondary access to the main compartment.What we don’t: Heavier than the Black Diamond Cirque and no helmet carry. Category: AirbagCapacities: 12, 22, 32, 42LWeight: 6 lbs. We had a few gripes about the first iteration of the SnowDrifter, but Patagonia made some notable improvements with the latest update (last season). But the Light Protection is an attractive option nevertheless that is significantly more affordable and over a pound lighter. Unique design features that set ski backpacks apart include dedicated pockets for goggles and avy gear, multiple access points, and external ski or snowboard carry straps. 15 oz.What we like: All you need for the resort and nothing that you don’t.What we don’t: Capacity is limited for true backcountry travel. All that said, packs with compression straps or other external straps generally aren’t ideal for resort skiers, as they’re more likely to get caught on the chairlift. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest 40L Backpack… at a Glance: Storage Capacity: 25L. Often, this pocket is also fleece-lined to protect your ski goggles, which is a nice touch. *Editor's note: prices and weights include batteries or canisters where applicable. Category: Day touringCapacities: 20, 30LWeight: 2 lbs. While some (the lithium battery system) are travel friendly, others are not. In terms of design, some packs allow you to attach lightweight skis in both diagonal and A-frame configurations, while others limit you to one setup or the other (many airbag-equipped packs, for example, do not support A-frame carry). Category: Ski mountaineering/day touringCapacity: 34 + 10LWeight: 2 lbs. Backpacks designed for backcountry skiing and snowboarding come with specialized features designed to make traveling through backcountry terrain as smooth as possible. Category: AirbagCapacity: 22, 30, 40LWeight: 5 lbs. Backcountry Ski Backpacks Skip to Main Content But what really sets the Poacher RAS apart is its compatibility with Mammut’s Removable Airbag System 3.0. But it’s hard to beat Osprey’s top-notch carrying comfort and fit (women can opt for the female-specific Kresta 14), which ensures that the pack won’t get in the way while you’re bombing downhill. … Osprey consistently nails the comfort equation, and like most of their packs, this one comes in men’s and women’s-specific versions. This allows skiers to practice without the hassle and cost of expending canisters (if you don’t live near a refill location, you’ll have to mail the cartridge in for replacement). Category: AirbagCapacity: 22, 30, 40LWeight: 5 lbs. Before making a purchase, it’s important to consider whether or not you really need these features—if you don’t, they might feel unnecessary and burdensome. Or how you could even prevent such a frightening, yet not uncommon, occurrence to begin with? 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