The Best Ski and Snowboard Backpacks in 2021

If you already have a ski or snowboard bag and perhaps a separate boot bag, you may be wondering how many bags does one really need for a weekend on-snow? The answer is: it depends on the type of adventure you have planned and how important convenience is to you.

Anyone who is at home touring in the backcountry knows just how much difference a comfortable, functional backpack can make. Organized gear ensures convenience and safety.

A well-fitting, practical, lightweight backpack can be the perfect companion for resort days too – whether you are headed off-piste or enjoying the groomers. No one wants to head back to the car for a change of clothes, wait in a busy line for a snack when they’d rather be riding, or stuff every pocket of their ski jacket to the max.

Take a look at the pros and cons of some of the best ski and snowboard backpacks available and let us help you find the right one for you – you won’t regret it!

dakine heli pack 12l backpack
  • Ski carry: diagonal
  • Snowboard carry: vertical
  • Size: 21 H x 13 W x 4 D inches
  • Volume: 12L
  • Hydration: water bladder compatible
  • Weight: 2.5 oz

There is a lot of performance packed into this little backpack. At only 12 litres volume, there isn’t a ton of space for interior storage; however, the Dakine Heli Pack utilizes several well-planned exterior straps to help you transport your gear on the outside. The upper and lower straps allow you to carry a snowboard vertically or to secure your skis diagonally. The front of the bag also features an exterior sleeve, which is ideal for a helmet or a shovel. The hole at the base of the sleeve is designed for the shovel handle – it keeps your shovel nice and compact, and tucked away from your skis or board.

Other features include exterior access to a fleece-lined goggle pocket. The main compartment has enough space for your lunch and some extra clothing layers as well as a hydration pack pocket. One really cool feature is the tube of the hydration pack actually runs along the interior of the left should strap through a thin insulated sleeve which prevents your water from freezing up! The mouthpiece is then accessible through a small zippered opening. The buckle on the adjustable sternum strap also has an integrated emergency whistle.

This lightweight backpack is available in a women’s specific cut as well as more than 10 different colors!

  • Insulated water bladder pocket
  • Very compact
  • Adjustable sternum & waist straps
  • Lightweight
  • Limited interior storage

Osprey Kamber 42 Men’s Ski Pack

The Best Multi-Day Ski & Snowboard Backpack

osprey kamber 42 mens ski pack
  • Ski carry: diagonal & A-frame
  • Snowboard carry: vertical
  • Size: S/M or M/L
  • Volume: 42L
  • Hydration: water bladder compatible
  • Weight: 3lb 15oz

This is the largest of a series of three backcountry backpacks from Osprey and it is designed to hold enough gear for multi-day trips, yet still be light enough for a day trip. The lid of the backpack can be removed completely which eliminates about 5 liters of storage and makes the pack considerably more compact for shorter outings. A special compression strap extending from the interior of the bag also helps keep the weight compact and close to your body.

The Osprey Kamber is truly well-designed with multiple constellations of gear storage options depending on what suits your needs best. Check out this video review of the Kamber’s features! The helmet cover can be attached to the front or to the top of the backpack and the skis can also be carried vertically or in an A-frame position depending on how you have arranged your gear. Osprey really went all out with well-designed storage pockets everywhere: mesh zippered pockets are located in the lid, in the main compartments, and along the back panel. The waist belt also features two large, functional pockets.

This isn’t the lightest weight pack available; but if organization, multifunctional design and high quality are your calling, then look no further.

  • Removable lid
  • Many practical pockets
  • Very durable
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Enough storage for overnight trips
  • Extra features make it heavy
  • Avalanche kit isn’t easy to access

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25L Backpack

The Best Ski & Snowboard Daypack

black diamond dawn patrol 25l backpack
  • Material: Dynex (210d + PE200d, 840d nylon oxford)
  • Ski or splitboard carry: diagonal & A-frame
  • Size: S/M or M/L
  • Volume: 25L
  • Hydration: water bladder compatible

With 25 liters volume and durable construction that can handle whatever kind of adventure you have planned, this may be the ideal day pack. The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol manages to provide enough storage for a long day while remaining lightweight. A large goggle pocket and durable side panels allow for convenient storage access without having to open to the main compartment. The side panels and shoulder straps are made of Dynex – a lightweight, durable material that won’t disappoint you.

The sleek form keeps the pack compact and close to your body making it comfortable on the move. While this pack doesn’t have a ton of organizational features, the ones it does have are functional and well-designed: helmet sleeve, storable ski carry straps, an avalanche tool pocket, and an ice tool pocket. The water bladder tube runs through an insulated sleeve in the shoulder strap and the backpack is also AvaLung compatible. The pack isn’t especially customizable – the helmet sleeve is not removable and the ice tool pocket is too small for some axes. Still, this is a streamlined, durable option for day-trippers who like to keep things simple and functional.

  • Very durable
  • Compact and close-fitting
  • Back-panel access
  • Insulated water bladder tube
  • Lightweight
  • Minimal customization possible
  • Ice ax sleeve too small for some
  • Small zipper tabs

Mammut Nirvana 30L Backpack

The Best Ski & Snowboard Backpack with Frame

mammut nirvana 30l backpack
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Ski carry: diagonal & A-frame
  • Snowboard carry: vertical
  • Volume: 30L
  • Hydration: Water Bladder compatible

This pack integrates all of the important backcountry features without having so many technical pockets and straps that it is inconvenient for daily use. Mammut’s lightweight aluminum Contact V frame combined with the padded, removable hip belt keep this pack comfortable to wear even when fully loaded.

Side straps can easily secure poles and or ice tools. Likewise, subtle straps allow for diagonal or A-frame ski carrying. The integrated helmet sleeve not only secures your helmet, but it can be extended to provide some extra storage space if needed. Rear access to the main compartment is always convenient on the go and the front pocket for avalanche gear is easily accessible.

  • Padded, removable hip belt
  • Expandable helmet sleeve
  • Narrow profile
  • Light-weight aluminum frame
  • Frame limits storage when not in use

Patagonia Snow Drifter Pack 30L

Most Comfortable Ski & Snowboard Backpack

patagonia snow drifter pack 30l
  • Material: polyurethane, recycled nylon, recycled polyester
  • Ski carry: diagonal & A-frame
  • Snowboard carry: vertical
  • Volume: 30L
  • Size: S/M or L/XL
  • Water bladder compatible

This streamlined, versatile backpack is ideal for long days on the hill or in the backcountry. With 30L volume, it provides enough space for your basic gear plus a few extra layers and lunch. Compression straps help keep the pack’s contents compact and close to your body. Even loaded, the Patagonia Snow Drifter is comfortable to wear on the lift or on the way back down. It is available in two sizes and the padded waist belt adjusts easily, as does the sternum strap. The shoulder straps are also adjustable and mesh-lined.

Back panel access makes this pack particularly convenient, as do all the standard pockets: a main compartment, upper goggle pocket, and a spacious avalanche tool compartment as well as a packet on the waist belt. Your skis, split-board, or snowboard can be attached in a variety of positions. It has a water bladder pocket in the main compartment too. This super comfortable, compact pack has a lot to offer!

  • Super comfortable
  • Streamlined design
  • Subtle, classy style
  • Back panel access
  • No helmet sleeve
  • Waist belt not removable
  • Only available in black

Mammut Spindrift 14L Backpack

The Best Mountaineering Ski & Snowboard Backpack

mammut spindrift 14l backpack
  • Material: 100% polyamide
  • Ski & pole carry: diagonal
  • Volume: 14L
  • Size: 18 H x 14 W x 9 D inches
  • Hydration: water bladder compatible
  • Weight: 1lb 11oz

This pack was designed with easy access in mind, combining the accessibility and lightweight aspects of competition backpacks with robust enough material and a few more liters of storage to provide the ideal pack for the high-performing, everyday user. The details of the design are pretty impressive: a large pocket in one side of the hip belt has enough space for your skins and a few bars while the other side features an integrated wind shield for short descents and breaks when you don’t want to stop and add layers. An extra mesh insert in the shoulder strap pocket accommodates a smartphone or a small water bottle.

The front pocket has enough space for avalanche safety gear and the back panel accessed compartment has room for a water bladder and an extra layer of clothing. A storable net can be extended as a helmet carrier, or used for other additional storage. This unique pack is quite small, making it ideal for short ski touring trips, and the unique design allows the user to access most of their gear without ever taking the pack off.

  • Ultra-light
  • Excellent accessibility
  • Large waist belt pockets
  • Integrated wind shield
  • Sleek, narrow profile
  • Not designed for snowboard carry

Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26 Avalanche Airbag Pack

The Best Backpack with Rechargeable Avalanche Airbag

black diamond jetforce tour 26 avalanche airbag pack
  • Material: 210, 315 & 840-denier ballistic nylon
  • Ski & pole carry: diagonal
  • Volume: 26L
  • Size: S/M or M/L
  • Water bladder compatible
  • Weight: 5lb 11oz

Things can happen fast in the mountains, even to the best of us, but the Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26 has your back with the integrated electronic Alpride E1 airbag system. The trigger for the avalanche airbag can be worn on either shoulder and a standard leg loop ensures that your pack stays on in case of an avalanche. The airbag system itself is very lightweight and can be recharged in the field by 2 AA batteries in under an hour, or via USB stick at home or in the car. The single on/off switch and indicator light can be easily accessed and seen from outside of the pack.

With 26L of volume there is enough space for your lunch and some warm layers alongside the airbag in the main compartment as well as a spacious avalanche tools compartment. While this pack lacks organizational options and has limited side access due to short zippers, it does fit well and sits close to the body. The comfortable hip-belt has a convenient pocket. Skis need to be carried diagonally to avoid impeding the airbag. Safe, dependable, and lightweight – this pack could be a lifesaver in the backcountry.

  • Avalanche airbag
  • Rechargeable in field
  • Spacious tool compartment
  • Lightweight
  • Storable helmet net
  • Quite wide shoulder straps
  • Short access zippers
  • Few pockets

Ortovox Ascent 30L Avabag Kit Airbag

Best Value Backpack with Avalanche Airbag

ortovox ascent 30l avabag kit airbag
  • Material: 100% polyamid
  • Skis, splitboard & pole carry: diagonal
  • Volume: 30L
  • Hydration: water bladder compatible
  • Weight: 4lb 13oz

Looking for the safety of an integrated avalanche airbag for backcountry days – but not all the time? The Ortovox Ascent features a lightweight, removable airbag system which can also be used in other backpacks from the same line. The system uses cartridges to deploy which means you can bring a few extra with you to allow for multiple deploys in one trip – or to practice with. Setting up and recharging the Airbag requires some getting used to and the process is not the simplest; however, the deploy is fast and reliable – take a peek at how it works here. Though lightweight, the airbag system is slightly bulkier than some comparable alternatives.

Even with the airbag system, this 30L bag provides generous storage making it functional for multiday trips too – as long as you pack light. The standard features such as a helmet sleeve, avalanche tools pocket, and the ski attachment straps do not disappoint, although longer zippers would have made for easier access to the main compartment. All in all, the removable airbag makes this backpack very versatile for all of your on-snow needs whether you are touring or enjoying a casual day on the groomers, and with the price point, you get a lot of bang for your buck!

  • Removable avalanche airbag
  • Lightweight airbag system
  • Airbag compatible with other packs
  • Practical gear pockets
  • Great value
  • Airbag removal is complicated
  • Airbag setup could be simpler
  • Only moderate comfort
  • Limited zipper access

Osprey Packs Kresta 20L Backpack – Women’s

The Best Women’s Specific Ski & Snowboard Backpack

osprey packs kresta 20l backpack womens
  • Material: polyurethane, recycled nylon, recycled polyester
  • Ski carry: diagonal
  • Snowboard carry: vertical or diagonal
  • Volume: 20L
  • Water bladder compatible
  • Weight: 2lb 10oz

This pack is really high quality – it is designed to last and to deliver excellent comfort while doing so. The padded adjustable hip belt and the wide cushioned shoulder straps are comfortable and help the pack conform to the wearer’s body. Suspended mesh material along the back help create a snug fit as well as increase breathability. The overall form of the Osprey Kresta is narrow and deep which helps prevent it from feeling bulky and results in a lower center of gravity.

Designed with an external stowable helmet sleeve, ice tool straps and easy to use diagonal ski straps, this pack still has enough space inside for all your backcountry needs. The water bladder pocket runs the drinking tube through the shoulder strap, insulating all but the last portion of the tube, which is great for the most part but does allow the last section of tubing to freeze in colder conditions. It is easy to stay safe and organized with some extra features such as the fleece-lined goggle pocket, hip belt pockets, integrated safety whistle on the sternum strap and interior key ring. High-quality materials and durable workmanship mean you can count on this pack as a ski companion for many seasons to come.

  • Very comfortable
  • Highly adjustable fit
  • Insulated water bladder pocket
  • Hip belt & goggle pockets
  • Integrated safety whistle on sternum strap
  • Water bladder tube only partially insulated

What to Consider When Buying a Ski or Snowboard Backpack

Regardless of your weekend plans, if you are going to be skiing or boarding, the chances are that you’ll need to bring some gear with you. Having the right backpack can help you have everything you need in a nice compact form that leaves you free to enjoy whatever tour or line you have in mind.

Here are some of the main factors to consider:

What are you packing?

If you are looking for a small pack to stash your lunch, phone, and some extra gloves then you won’t need to worry too much about most of the technical features – you will be more focused on size, fit, and style. If you are planning on touring, however, you will likely be heading out with your skis, poles, and/or snowboard strapped on your back along with avalanche tools like a shovel, ice picks and probe not to mention some extra layers for the way down. Having easily organized access to your gear can be completely unimportant to the casual resort skier or an absolute game-changer for someone on a multi-day tour. So make sure you know what you’ll be packing before you decide which features you need!


This is pretty simple – but still worth thinking about. Since you’ll be wearing your pack for long, action-packed hours it is advisable to choose the smallest option that meets your needs. The smaller and more compact your backpack is, the less it will affect you when you are on the move. The smallest packs are more like vests than backpacks and provide a lightweight way to bring some essentials with you. The largest packs are designed with multi-days trips in mind and often provide over 40L of storage.


The longer and more aerobic your activities are, the more important the fit of your pack will be. A small pack with little support is no big deal if you are riding the lifts up and the groomers down; however, if you are skinning several hours uphill or carrying a heavier load then a padded waist belt, as well as the adjustable sternum and shoulder straps, will be much more comfortable. The shape of the pack also plays a role in the fit: generally, more compact packs fit closer to the body and have less impact on the wearer’s center of gravity or balance. External compression straps also help keep things tight!

Avalanche Gear Compartment

If you are going to be bringing avalanche tools (often called avy tools in gear descriptions) with you, make sure your pack has a designated pocket! From an organizational perspective it is a must; not only are avalanche tool pockets specially designed to accommodate the shape and size of shovels and ice picks etc, but they can usually be easily accessed, often without having to remove your skis or snowboard from the pack. Having quick access to your equipment increases both convenience and safety.

Avalanche Airbag

Wondering how airbags work and why you need an avalanche airbag for off-piste adventures? Various alpine clubs and research institutes estimate that having an avalanche airbag can increase your survival chances 8 to 10 fold. Should you be caught in an avalanche, you pull the trigger mechanism and a large airbag expands out of your pack which helps you stay on top of the snow as opposed to being buried under it. If you spend time in the backcountry, investing in a backpack with an avalanche airbag system may save your life one day. The systems tend to be relatively small and lightweight allowing the backpack to function, for the most part, like any other ski and snowboard backpack.

Other functional features…

The list of special features seems endless, but here are a few common features worth thinking about.

You should never hit the slopes without your ski or snowboard helmet which is what makes a stowable helmet sleeve or net such a great feature. It adds some extra storage space as needed and avoids you ever having your helmet swinging around on the outside of your pack or taking up unnecessary space inside it.

Packs that are hydration system compatible are definitely recommended – you can’t the convenience of never having to stop for a drink! Look out for options with an insulated water bladder and tube pockets to prevent freezing up if you are expecting to be out in particularly cold conditions.

Hip belt pockets are often the only pockets you can access without removing your pack so it makes them worth considering if you don’t like making frequent stops.

Other features such as lined goggle pockets, keyrings, and safety whistles are nice to have, but having them really comes down to your personal preference.

So tighten up those ski or snowboard boots and get your backpack packed!

About The Author

AthletePath Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts and professional athletes thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying everything you may ever need to become a better athlete.

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