Top 10 Best Ski Backpacks in 2018

Having checked hundreds of ski backpack reviews, we can say that the Patagonia Snow Drifter 40L is the best choice for most people.

Patagonia Snow Drifter 40L

The best reviewed ski backpack
Rated 5.00 out of 5

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PS: We have checked 823 reviews to make this top 10 list!
1Patagonia Snow Drifter 40L5.00Check Price
2Patagonia Ascensionist 40L5.00Check Price
3Mammut Nirvana Pro 35L5.00Check Price
4Salomon Quest 23Salomon Quest 235.00Check Price
5Burton Rider5.00Check Price
6Burton AK Incline 20LBurton AK Incline 20L5.00Check Price
7Osprey Kresta 20Osprey Kresta 204.86Check Price
8Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 324.76Check Price
9Thule Upslope 35Thule Upslope 354.68Check Price
10Ortovox Tour Rider 28SOrtovox Tour Rider 28S4.67Check Price

How we rate the bags

We have checked 823 ski backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It’s much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Not sure what ski backpacks to choose? Read on as we are going to take a closer look at each bag!

1 – Patagonia Snow Drifter 40L

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 9 reviews

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Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Snow Drifter 40L:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Snow Drifter 40L

  • According to users, the Cordura fabric of the Patagonia Snow Drifter backpack resists puncture and abrasion.
  • Reviewers recommended the pack for those who are into skiing, camping, and hiking, among others.
  • Other users commented that the bag is versatile as its name suggests, making it fit according to the stature of the user.
  • They also mentioned that the backpack comes in different colors which could suit the preference of users.
  • Users thought that the shoulder straps, back panel, and padded waist belt are nicely contoured and padded which provide them additional support and comfort.
  • Other users praised the spacious compartments where they can place their snow safety tools.
  • Its multiple carry options received commendation for being able to carry any kind of weight on the pack.
  • Reviewers said that they were able to access their gear even when in a loaded bag due to its extensive U-shaped lid.
  • Other reviewers noted its secondary compartments which may hold goggles.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the backpack has no place for a helmet.
  • Another user felt that the backpack was not easy to get into even from the back entry.

2 – Patagonia Ascensionist 40L

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 4 reviews

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Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Ascensionist 40L:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Ascensionist 40L

  • A reviewer thought that the Patagonia Descensionist backpack is lightweight, making it fully functional when used for backcountry touring.
  • Users mentioned that it is big enough to hold several items in place.
  • Reviewers pointed out that its padded back panel provides ventilation and comfort to the users.
  • According to some reviewers, its Cordura fabric material makes the backpack durable.
  • Other reviewers thought that its main compartment is large enough to fit most of their necessities.
  • They also noticed that its Polyurethane coating keeps gear inside the bag from getting wet.
  • Some users pointed out that rescue gear can be accessed quickly through its avy tool pocket.
  • Testers noted that skis and snowboards could be secured through its front straps.
  • Several reviewers indicated that bag is practical and functional.
  • A user took noticed of the ability of the bag to stabilize load due to its compression straps.
  • Another user found that the bag has multiple lashing options through its daisy chains.
  • Testers thought that the backpack could be used for ski mountaineering.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that a gear loop on the waist belt is needed for a more functional pack.
  • A few other reviewers noted that the compartment designated for hydration bladders is quite small.

3 – Mammut Nirvana Pro 35L

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 9 reviews

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Here’s what the reviewers think about the Mammut Nirvana Pro 35L:

Reviewers like these things about the Mammut Nirvana Pro 35L

  • Most users said that it’s tough, durable, well thought out and so functional.
  • Users also commented that it is a Great little ski backpack for short excursions.
  • Most reviewers said that the compartments are well laid out.
  • They also said that the zippers worked great.
  • Users liked the A-Frame ski carry which is easy to use.
  • Reviewers mentioned that the pocket situation is great.
  • One great feature liked by many users is that the access from top and back panel for the main pocket.
  • Users also said that it is a really great go-to for smaller trips.
  • Most reviewers said that the rigid frame but does not feel stiff at all.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that the vertical straps connect at the edges of the board making it difficult to clip, balance, and secure the board.
  • Some other users complained that there wasn’t a pocket or anywhere specifically to hold a hydration bladder.

4 – Salomon Quest 23

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 2 reviews

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Salomon Quest 23

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Salomon Quest 23:

Reviewers like these things about the Salomon Quest 23

  • Some users thought it’s a sturdy pack that’s big enough to hold a lot, but doesn’t feel bulky.
  • Other users liked how the zippers make accessing items in the bottom relatively easy to access.
  • Some hikers thought it’s a nice, light bag, great on the slopes.
  • A number of reviewers thought it’s big enough for significant touring with easy access to gear and some essentials.
  • Some skiers thought it’s a convenient carrying solutions for skis or snowboard.
  • One user described it as a great little backpack that works perfectly for commute to work.
  • A lot of users laud the bag for its light weight and perfect snug fit.
  • Many reviewers thought it’s a very comfortable backpack perfect for runners, walkers and skiers.
  • A number of owners said it’s really well-made and just the right size for a daypack, comfortable to wear all day long.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user said she loved the bag, but was disappointed the zips completely detached after a month.
  • Some users find the straps quite comfortable.

5 – Burton Rider

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 2 reviews

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Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Rider:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Rider

  • Many of them said that they use it for work daily and it works just fine for school.
  • Users love it as it has two water bottle holding side pouches.
  • Reviewers said it can hold their laptop easily and they love it.
  • Some of the users said the material is pretty sturdy, durable, super functional and stylish.
  • Several users said that Burton Dayhiker feels like brand new after many months of use.
  • Users said that it fits well in the overhead compartment.
  • It has also been reviewed that the material doesn’t show dirt or wear.
  • Users also said they love taking it to hiking and snowboarding and it is very comfortable to wear while riding.
  • A few said it is a bag that looks clean, modern, and well-designed.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user said that straps felt really cheap and one of the straps came unstitched.
  • Some users said that there is no padding on be front.
  • A few mentioned that the cinch down straps gets in the way of opening the pack and are annoying.

6 – Burton AK Incline 20L

5 review stars Rating 5.00 based on 1 reviews

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Burton AK Incline 20L

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton AK Incline 20L:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton AK Incline 20L

  • Most of the users said that it’s well organized with lots of pockets to store individual items for easy access.
  • They have also mentioned that the construction is of high quality.
  • Some of the users said its one of the most comfortable packs they’ve worn.
  • A few reviewed that the back has excellent ventilation.
  • The base material is praised by most of the users.
  • Users love Burton Incline as it has a thin, rubber coating that may make the pack more water resistant.
  • It has also been reviewed that the waistband is padded and has small zipper pockets on both sides.
  • Many users like the straps that can be hidden like the helmet bag.
  • Users also mentioned that the unpacked weight of the bag is lighter.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some of the buyers expected the waist belt pockets to be bigger.

7 – Osprey Kresta 20

5 review stars Rating 4.86 based on 7 reviews

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Osprey Kresta 20

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Kresta 20:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Kresta 20

  • Comes with very stylish and modern design. Many women found it stylish and trendy in looks.
  • Plenty of useful features to carry your skiing equipment, such as skis, helmets, snowboard, and snowshoes.
  • Zippered hydration pocket is kept separated from dry compartment which is the best thing Osprey did to its backpack.
  • According to many reviewers, it is a back pack comes with women-friendly design. The harness is shaped well to fit a female body very well.
  • It has got very useful dual zippered pockets that are placed on hip belt.
  • It has got very durable and reliable built with great features.
  • Both snowboarders and skiers found it useful.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • According to many women skiers, the backpack is overly priced. Other backpacks with almost same features come in lower price range.
  • It is sized a bit smaller which may cause trouble for tall women.

8 – Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32

5 review stars Rating 4.76 based on 20 reviews

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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32:

Reviewers like these things about the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32

  • According to users, the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Other users pointed out that the back panel and shoulder straps of the pack are high-tenacity and ultralight.
  • Testers found out that it is likewise equipped with easy access pockets for ice tools.
  • Other testers discovered that the backpack is equipped with a holder dedicated to helmets.
  • Reviewers noted that it is versatile and functional.
  • Reviewers recommend the backpack for country snowboarding, trail running, and split board touring.
  • They noticed that its fabric material is durable.
  • Other reviewers also found that the bag has good organization capacities.
  • Users discovered that its main compartment is durable.
  • They also noted of its sufficient pockets which allow neat organization.
  • Testers found that there are spaces designed to separate the wet gear from the dry gear.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the board halves are too wide for the A-frame.
  • A tester said that the bag does not accommodate a split board.

9 – Thule Upslope 35

4.5 review stars Rating 4.68 based on 49 reviews

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Thule Upslope 35

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Upslope 35:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Upslope 35

  • According to users, the Thule Upslope backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Users took notice of its versatile carry options which include vertical snowboard carry and diagonal snowboard carry.
  • Other users thought that its 420D Cordura Nylon provides sufficient durability to the bag.
  • Reviewers mentioned that the tools and dry gear are separated well in the main compartment because of its avalanche compartment feature.
  • They noticed that its bottom loop could carry ski and snowboard easily.
  • They also noted that the backpack includes a stowable ice ax loop for holding a mountain tool efficiently.
  • Users found it easy to access the storage of the bag.
  • Testers said that the bag could store a helmet.
  • Reviewers mentioned that the backpack is water resistant.
  • Other reviewers also found that its zippered pockets allow them to organize their things well.
  • Reviewers indicated that the bag might be efficient for backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.
  • Other reviewers mentioned that the bag has a lot of compartments for storing things.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the backpack is heavy.
  • Another reviewer noted that the bag would not fit all body types.

10 – Ortovox Tour Rider 28S

4.5 review stars Rating 4.67 based on 6 reviews

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Ortovox Tour Rider 28S

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Ortovox Tour Rider 28S:

Reviewers like these things about the Ortovox Tour Rider 28S

  • Users have noted that the Ortovox Tour backpack is optimized for long day tours.
  • Several users said that the bag contains a separate safety compartment.
  • Other reviewers noted it is equipped with fastenings for a ski and a snowboard.
  • Reviewers pointed out that the main compartment could be accessed from the rear or in front.
  • Testers said that it has a body-hugging cut.
  • Other testers said that they could store their essentials well in this bag.
  • They also noted that the pack was well-balanced and fully functional.
  • Many of those who have tried the bag indicated that it also has fastenings for ice axes and hiking pole.
  • Reviewers noted that the presence of a chest strap with a signal whistle which may come in handy when in an emergency.
  • They also mentioned that its shoulder straps are ergonomic, making it an ideal backpack due to the comfort and support the straps provide.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer found that it is quite heavy.
  • Another reviewer noted its Velcro flap becomes worse in time.

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Buyer’s guide to ski backpacks

If you are about to hit the slopes and spend a couple of weeks skiing, you will not be able to make do without a ski backpack. These packs ensure that you are well-equipped at all types of terrain that can prove to be quite dangerous. This is why you have to pay attention to the backpack that you are purchasing.

Ski backpacks are specific to the activity and the environment and can’t be substituted by traditional packs. In this guide, we tackle all of the elements of these backpacks that you should be aware of as well as how to go about choosing your own one. Let your journey begin now.

The Key Features of a Good Ski Backpack (Buyers Guide)

Whether you are new to the world of skiing or have been a professional for a while now, there is one thing that you can’t do without in terms of gear – a ski backpack. You will use this pack on a daily basis, using to cart all of the tools and accessories that you need while skiing. Needless to say, you can’t just blindly pick the first one that you come across. If you aren’t all that sure about which one would be a good fit for you, check out some of these guidelines to make a more informed decision:

What Type of Skiing Are You Doing?

Now, you will first need to narrow down the type of skiing that you will be doing. This will determine the type of ski pack that you will require on your trip. In most instances, if you are either going cross country skiing or downhill skiing, you will be able to use a similar backpack. With backcountry skiing, though you are going to need a backpack that is a little different. So, once you have made up your mind, you can then move onto the rest of this guide.

Look for Weatherproofing Features

Since you will be in snow all day, day in and day out, you can expect to have to contend with a great deal of moisture. Now, the exact fabric that you will need depends on the conditions that you expect to encounter. In extreme conditions when you are quite sure that you are going to be around water or rain, then a waterproof skiing backpack may be required. If you only expect moderate amounts of moisture, a water-resistant pack will prove to be more than sufficient.

Now, most backpacks are made from either nylon or polyester. If you are looking for a backpack that is merely water resistant, then these alone will work just fine. If you want waterproof features, though, it is best to look for nylon or polyester that has been treated with polyurethane or a similar coating. These will keep the water out properly.

Of course, there is little use in have water resistant or waterproof fabric if the rest of the backpack is left vulnerable. This is why you should look for zippers that have been treated with water-resistant coatings so that they will not let the water in. If you feel like you will be caught in really bad weather, you may want to look for backpacks with storm flaps in front of the zippers.

If the backpack that you want isn’t made from the right materials or doesn’t have such features, there is a simple solution. You can purchase an additional rain cover and place your backpack in there to keep it protected.

How Is the Ski Carry Positioned?

One of the main perks of having a skiing backpack as opposed to a regular pack is that it has a carrying system for your skis. These are essentially loops present on the back of the pack. These allow you to keep your hands free while you are hiking across long distances. Now, most packs have one of two ways of storing your skis. Some let you secure the skis in a diagonal position while with others, the skis are at a slight incline, creating a shape reminiscent of the letter A.

Both positions have their benefits as well as their disadvantages. A-frame carry systems make it easier for you to stabilize the load that you are carrying. Their downfall comes when you have to go through a wooded area with trees and branches. Here, they will keep interrupting your journey. With skis that are placed diagonally, you aren’t offered the same kind of stability. However, they are less likely to hit low hanging branches as you pass under them.

The other thing to keep in mind with the carry system is the size of the loops. You will need to measure the width of your skis and ensure that the loops on the backpack can accommodate them.

How Big Does Your Backpack Need to Be?

As you are probably aware, with backpacks – skiing packs included – it isn’t about size but more about how much the bag can hold. So, in terms of capacity and volume, just how much should your backpack be able to carry?

Well, this depends on what type of skiing trip and how long you will be taking:

  • 10 – 20 liters: if you will be gone no longer for a day and will be arriving at your skiing spot by either lift or helicopter, you won’t need much more than this. This should be enough for food, water, and a camera.
  • 20 – 30 liters: this capacity works well for anyone who will be taking a tour of the area and is expected to go for most of the day. You will be able to take all of the supplies you need in addition to a first aid kit.
  • 40 – 55 liters: you will need a larger capacity for overnight trips where you may need to take more supplies, equipment, and another change of clothes.
  • 60+ liters: if you are headed up to the mountains for a few day and will be camping outside, a bag with this capacity will accommodate a tent, sleeping bag, and supplies easily.

What Suspension System Should You Look For?

The suspension system on the bag includes the shoulder straps and the other belts. It will determine just how comfortable it is to carry your load for a particular period of time. The first thing that you will need to think about is where the pack will sit on your back. Typically, the pack shouldn’t be longer than your torso and shouldn’t sit below your hips. This means that when you are adjusting your pack, it should sit just above your waist so it doesn’t impede your natural movement.

Now, when strapping the backpack on to see if it fits, there is a certain factor you will need to take into consideration – your clothing. In the winter, particularly on the mountains, you are likely to be wearing many more layers. The straps on the backpack will need to accommodate this and fit comfortably.

Also, while it may not count as much, considering all of the layers that you are wearing, you should still look for wide and well-padded shoulder straps. If you need a hip belt to make it easier to distribute the weight of your load, make sure that it is padded around the hip bone area too.

Although you may not think it, compression straps can also play a role in the suspension system. They help to compress the size of the bag. This, in turn, brings it closer to your center of gravity, making it easier for you to both walk as well as ski.

Carrying Water in Your Backpack

When you are skiing or just hiking in cold weather, carrying water can be a tricky thing. This is because the water has a tendency to get very cold or worse, freeze. The easiest way to take water with you is in a hydration bladder. These come with their own drinking tubes so that you don’t have to stop every time that you want a drink.

Of course, hydration bladders can also be prone to freezing. This is why a compartment in your backpack should be insulated so that the bladder can be stored there and be unaffected by the surrounding temperatures. Of course, the drinking tube path should also be covered or insulated so that it will not freeze up or get too cold.

Additional Features for Backcountry Skiing

There is no denying that backcountry skiing is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are headed to uneven and treacherous terrain. Due to the specific nature of this type of skiing, you may want to consider a specialized pack.

While it is not absolutely necessary, you should think about getting a backpack that has been fitted with an airbag. This is particularly important if you will be skiing in an area that is prone to avalanches. There are many people who don’t want to buy packs with attached airbags. These backpacks tend to be quite heavier and a great deal heavier than the traditional options. At the same time, properly using this type of bag can help to increase your chances of surviving an avalanche up to 50 percent.

Attachments and Compartments for Your Gear

Unless you are going downhill skiing, there is a chance that you will require some gear and equipment, at least. Since a lot of this gear will either be too big or sharp, they will need to be carried on the outside of the backpack. This is why you should look for loops and daisy chains that will allow you to carry ice axes, crampons, and essentially any other equipment that you might need.

Depending on where you will be skiing, you may need to keep certain avalanche tools on hand, in case you need to dig somebody else out. You should keep an eye out for a backpack that has a separate compartment just for these tools. If an emergency situation does arise, you will need to have quick access to this gear and they shouldn’t be entangled with anything else.

For when you are just walking and not skiing, you will need a place to keep your helmet. There are backpacks that will have pouches or compartments that are specially designed for your helmet.

So there you have it, all of the key features that make up a good ski backpack. If you want to be fully prepared for your skiing trip, these are the components to keep an eye out for.

Selected reviews

Backpack Gear Test reviewed the Gregory Targhee 45

I have really enjoyed testing the Gregory Targhee 45 pack. I like the winter features for carrying avalanche tools, skis, and snowshoes. It also works for summer and compresses for acceptable use as a day pack. The pack is comfortable while loaded and almost empty. The major drawback is the fixed lid, in my opinion.

Posted 15 July 2014 by Andrea Murland – Read full review

Utah Outside reviewed the Salomon Quest 30

At the end of the day though, the Salomon Quest 30 is a badass pack. It looks good, feels great when worn, and has all the features a serious backcountry skier would come to expect in a pack that needs to perform all day in the mountains.

Posted 31 January 2012 by Jared Hargrave – Read full review

Notes about this top 10 list

The list was last updated 19/09/2018.

The list shows the best reviewed ski backpacks from a much bigger list of selected products. The list should not be considered a complete list of all available, excellent ski backpacks

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.

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