It’s a fact of life:
Spending the entire day skiing in the wilds of the back country means that you must rely on what you bring along with you.
This is the reason why a good backpack becomes a key component to the experience and coming out in one piece.
A great bag can make a big difference between a great adventure and a potentially disastrous one.
However, it can be challenging to sail through the sea of backpacks available today before you can find the one that has all the features you need.
In this guide, I’ll narrow the field and help you find the best backpack for carrying skis.
In a hurry to hit the slopes? Check out my top pick, the Osprey Men’s Kamber 32 Ski Pack over on Amazon now.
4 things to consider when buying a ski backpack
So you want to pick the perfect backpack?
There are tons of features to think about when trying to buy the right bag that meets the needs of a skiier/snowboarder.
In this section, I’ll offer some tips that will eliminate some confusion and aid your choice.
Three main concerns usually determine the size of bag you’ll need:
- Where are you going?
- How long you will stay?
- How much gear do you need to carry?
If you are on short excursions, then you can probably get away with a pack around 20L of volume. However, you can consider packs around 35L range if you need to pack a little extra for longer day trips.
A pack around 55L and 60L is ideal for multi-day trips, when you need to be carrying equipment like a tent and cooking gear.
The fit of a backpack is another essential feature to consider.
If your pack doesn’t fit well, it won’t be comfortable for long hours on the slopes.
Skis packs come in different lengths, and your backpack length should match your torso to ensure a perfect fit. It’s recommended to consult the manufacturer’s fit chart to discover which pack length is ideal for you.
Your pack should provide storage for snow tools like a probe, shovel, and beacon, ideally within the compartment and easily accessible without having to remove the skis or board.
Consider a bag with organization pockets; they’ll help you access safety gear faster and more comfortable.
The ones I’ve chosen below definitely take this into consideration. You can see a great demonstration of a packing method in the video below, as well (and a short review of our top ski backpack from this post):
Consider features such as water-resistant coatings, abrasion-resistant, a back panel designed to shed snow, and water-resistant zippers. Think about the durability of the backpack if you’re going to be hauling heavy loads.
The best backpacks for carrying skis and snowboards – My Top Picks
I’m sure you’ve already experienced this:
Some backpacks are better than others, so it pays to compare the different models and brands before you choose your new ski pack.
That being said, here are my picks of the best ski backpacks, perfect for hitting the snow.
Best Overall: Osprey Men’s Kamber 32 Ski Pack
This one’s got it all.
The pack is hydration compatible – you have an internal sleeve in the main compartment and an insulated zippered sleeve on the shoulder harness.
The Kamber 32 is water resistant, with snow shedding properties, as well.
Designed for the harshest outdoor conditions, it gives a maximum level of durability and safety.
Its main body fabric and bottom is made of heavy duty nylon packcloth, and in person it’s just a beautiful pack. Those bright blue and red color choices that it comes in will make you stand out on the slopes, too (both fashionably and in the event of a rescue).
The best benefit of having any Osprey pack, though, is their lifetime warranty. It’s one of the best in the business, and a real measure of this manufacturer’s quality construction and design.
- Insulated hydration tube sleeve
- Super convenient Stowable helmet carry system
- Tuckaway ice tool attachment
- Scratch-free goggle pocket
- Dual zippered hip belt pockets
- Fit and comfort is top of its class
- Ski and board carry options
- Integrated A-frame and diagonal ski carry systems
- No interior dry pocket
- The goggle pocket is not accessible when you are carrying a helmet
The Osprey Kamber 32 ski/snowboard backpack is an excellent option for anyone who carries a lot of kit on their forays into the back country.
It’s available in cold blue and ripcord red color options. The larger version, at 42L, comes in blue, red, and black color options.
There’s also a Woman-specific ski pack from Osprey, the Kresta. The features are similar, and you can check it out here.
Want more info? Check out the video below for an exploration of the Kamber’s features:
My #2 Choice: Dakine Heli Pro Backpack
If the Osprey above didn’t exist, Dakine’s Heli Pro would be the ultimate skiing backpack.
It’s got everything you need – including a bulk-free resort pack with enough back country features to sustain a day off-piste.
Made by Dakine, a brand well-known for its quality workmanship, this bag has a place to put your skis, as well as a fleece lined goggle pocket, and a place to store your tablet and laptop.
The Heli Pro also offers wearers the ability to strap on snowboards vertically, and allows for diagonal or A-frame style ski attachment. The customizable straps ensure it doesn’t chafe or rub, and the back panel and padded hip belt make it super comfortable to wear.
- Hydration compatible, to keep your hands free while getting that H2O
- Helmet attachment loops
- Made from tough 600D Polyester
- Equipped with a goggle compartment
- Vertical snowboard carry and diagonal ski carry
- Sternum strap rescue whistle can really help out in a jam when your mobility is limited
- Convenient quick-access snow tool pocket and side pocket
- The pack is extremely narrow
- Laptop/tablet sleeve isn’t padded
This bag is excellent for the outdoor adventure, be it skiing, snowboarding, or ice climbing.
It’s decent, sturdy and durable.
Not convinced? Check out this video for a view of the great features of this ski bag:
Best for carrying only ski gear: Deuter ACT Trail PRO 40 Hiking Backpack
Don’t need your skis attached to the backpack?
Deuter’s ACT Trail Pro 40 Backpack features a technical design that delivers a precise fit and carrying comfort for overnight and multi-day backpacking trips.
It doesn’t have a specific ski-carrying function, but it will carry poles, axes, and other hiking and ski-related equipment.
This pack is meant to hug the body and prevent the weight on your back from being distributed improperly. So you can carry this bag for long distances without having a muscle strain.
The pack has a main compartment, side pockets and exclusive two-way access to the main compartment through zippers on the front. It also features a mesh panel on the front stashes a jacket and hat; adjustable shock-cord loops secure trekking poles or ice tools. Soft, breathable fabrics and well-ventilated pads in the lumbar area and perforated shoulder straps help to keep you fresh and comfortable on the trail.
- A 2-way zipper on the front
- Compression straps
- Detachable rain cover
- Hydration system compatible
- Zippered front map pocket
- Ventilated back to minimize sweat and discomfort
- Lots of storage options
- A load-distributing suspension system
- It doesn’t carry skis/snowboard like the other choices
- It’s not the most stylish choice
- The hip belt may be too wide for some
This hiking backpack is extremely durable and comfortable due to its well-padded shoulder straps and hip belt.
It’s the clear winner regarding convenience and water resistance. You can quickly reach the gear as it also opens from the bottom.
If you’re not looking to actually carry the skis on your back, but want a super functional and well-organized pack, check it out for yourself on Amazon.
The final run
The 3 packs I reviewed above are some of the best available on the market for carrying your skis or trekking through the snow.
Hopefully this article helps you narrow down to the best choice.
For more on packing and getting into back country skiing, check out the video below: