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The 6 Best Ski & Snowboard Backpacks of 2020-2021

It’s a rare skier or snowboarder who can make it through a full day on the slopes without swapping out gear or grabbing water or snacks. But it can be hard to pull yourself away to go grab food or gear on a powder day, so unless you ski in cargo pants packed to the brim with accessories and snacks, your best bet to stay prepared is a ski or snowboard specific backpack. Don’t worry, these aren’t the JanSports you dragged to school every day.

A good snowsports specific backpack has features and pockets specially designed to make your ski day easier. Things like a padded pocket for your goggles, straps to carry your skis or snowboard, and dedicated pockets for avalanche rescue tools set these packs apart from, well, the rest of the pack. So stop trying to cram your jacket pockets full of Cheez-Its and grab one of the best ski and snowboard backpacks. They’ll make your day better, and allow you to focus on what really matters, making the most of your time carving turns in the mountains.


Dakine Heli Pro 20L

Best 2020-2021 ski & snowboard backpacks
 
 

Dakine’s Heli Pro has gotten plenty of tweaks and updates over the years, but through it all, it’s remained the standard by which all other snow-specific backpacks are judged. Part of that is because the Heli Pro does a lot of things really well. Looking for a pack that keeps all of your gear organized on the way to the mountain? The Heli Pro has you covered. Want to carry some accessories and snacks while riding the chairlift? Slip your goggles in the Heli Pro’s padded pocket and ski on. Want to go on big backcountry tours? The Heli Pro has multiple ways to carry your ski or snowboard, along with a dedicated avalanche tool pocket. It’s even got a laptop sleeve if you want it to pull double duty.

Head to any ski area and you’re sure to see a few Heli Pros out in the wild, in use. They’re just that good. And it’s available in a huge range of colors and patterns so you can get something that matches the rest of your ski aesthetic. So if you want a pack that’s comfortable with anything you could throw at it, grab a Heli Pro.

CapacityNumber of PocketsOriginal Price 
20 L5$120

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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32

Best 2020-2021 ski & snowboard backpacks
 
 

If you like to earn your turns in the backcountry, the Dawn Patrol was specifically designed to make those early mornings on the skin track easier. It’s optimized for human-powered skiing and snowboarding. The Dawn Patrol’s 32-liter capacity is perfect for most day tours, it cinches down for short expeditions outside the gates of the resort but has loops for ice axes and carries ropes well for more involved objectives. And it handles any amount of weight comfortably thanks to Black Diamond’s Active Suspension System.

The Dawn Patrol can carry a snowboard or skis, either in an A-frame, or diagonally, and it’s got especially reinforced panels to keep your edges from wearing out the fabric. It’s also compatible with Black Diamond’s Avalung for an added layer of insurance. The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32 is a great option for skiers looking for an efficient backcountry ski pack.

CapacityNumber of PocketsOriginal Price 
32 L5$169.95

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Dakine Heli 12L

Best 2020-2021 ski & snowboard backpacks
 
 

The one big problem most people run into skiing inbounds with a pack is that it can be frustrating to have to swing it off every time you load a chairlift. Luckily, with the Dakine Heli 12L, you don’t have to. It’s a minimalist pack with plenty of space for the essentials, and it sits flat against your back so you won’t even notice you have it on as you head up the lift. At 12L, it’s got plenty of space for your avy gear, a snack, and an extra layer, but not much else. However, you can stuff extra gear into the back shovel flap to keep it handy.

The Dakine Heli 12L also has attachment points for skis or a snowboard so you don’t have to carry them on bootpacks. This is the perfect pack for inbounds skiers looking for something minimalist that carries the essentials, and it works well for backcountry skiers who just like to duck out of the resort gates for quick laps, and don’t need a full day’s worth of gear.

CapacityNumber of PocketsOriginal Price 
12 L2$80

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Ortovox Free Rider 24L

Best 2020-2021 ski & snowboard backpacks
 
 

Ortovox designed their Free Rider 24L pack for skiers who aren't just looking for a basic bag to carry their gear, and want an integrated back protector as well. The Free Rider has a full SPS back protector integrated, and the waist belt is wide and padded to help stabilize your core. So if you’re entering competitions that require a back protector, or you just want a little added peace of mind, the Free Rider has your back, literally. And the back protector is integrated so smoothly you won’t even notice it’s there.

Ortovox’s backpacks are all exactly designed, and the Free Rider is no exception. There’s an appropriately sized pocket for each item of gear, and it’s all easily accessible with the pass-through back panel. The Free Rider 24L might not be the most affordable pack around, but you’re getting an incredible bang for your buck. So if safety is your priority, the Free Rider is an easy choice.

CapacityNumber of PocketsOriginal Price 
24 L6$199.95

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BCA Stash 30

Best 2020-2021 ski & snowboard backpacks
 
 

BCA’s Stash 30 pack is designed as a quiver-killing backcountry pack. It’s feature-packed with multiple ways to carry your skis or snowboard, a dedicated avy gear pocket, and drain holes to allow moisture to get out of your pack. And it’s designed to carry big loads very smoothly as well. It’s got a full-featured internal frame and adjustable hip belt so you can customize it to fit your body perfectly.

If your perfect ski day involves pre-dawn starts, long approaches, and big human-powered ascents, the BCA Stash 30 will allow you to carry all your gear in comfort, leaving you fresh to ski your big line. It’s a great all-around ski touring backpack with all the features you’d expect, built into a sleek package.

CapacityNumber of PocketsOriginal Price 
30 L4$179.95

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Jones DSCNT 19

Best 2020-2021 ski & snowboard backpacks
 
 

Given Jones Snowboards’ extensive backcountry pedigree, it’s no surprise that the DSCNT 19 is a strong contender. The DSCNT 19 splits the difference between smaller packs like the Dakine Heli 12 and bigger options designed for full-day tours. It’s slim enough that you can wear it comfortably on the lift or in a snowcat or helicopter, but it’s got more room than most inbounds packs, so you can make sure you’ve got all the gear you need for self-supported backcountry days.

And while it may be made by a snowboard brand, the DSCNT 19 works just fine for skiers as well, as it functions as a ski carry backpack with its effective A-frame system. Inside it’s got plenty of pockets to keep you organized, including a special small zippered pocket for keys or other valuables. So if you like the idea of a minimalist pack, but know you need a little more space, the DSCNT fills that need perfectly.

CapacityNumber of PocketsOriginal Price 
19 L4$109.95

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