Top 20 Best Reviewed Ski Packs - Buyers Guide 2018

Ski packs need to be able to handle some hard conditions, so it's sad that not all ski packs are of the same excellent quality!

Some packs are simply better than others, so it pays to compare the different brands and models before you choose your new ski pack.

To help you choose, we have checked 661 reviews to find the best reviewed ski packs.

Check out the top 20 list below - and the top 3 most popular ski packs, if you just want to check out some of the most popular models (the models that most people end up buying).
How we rate the bags

We have checked hundreds of 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.

Top 3 most popular ski packs 2018

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol bag
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol
Rated 4.7 based on 22 reviews.
Patagonia Snow Drifter bag
Patagonia Snow Drifter
Rated 5.0 based on 24 reviews.
Osprey Kode bag
Osprey Kode
Rated 4.6 based on 11 reviews.

Below is the top 20 list based on the hundreds of reviews we have checked.

Top 20 ski packs 2018

Arcteryx Khamski bag
Arcteryx Khamski
4 models available. 31, 38, 48 and 50
Size 34 L (2075 CI)
Arcteryx logo
7 reviews

Mammut Nirvana bag
Mammut Nirvana
5 models available. 18, 22, 25, 30 and 35
Size 25 L (1526 CI)
Mammut logo
12 reviews

Patagonia Snow Drifter bag
Patagonia Snow Drifter
3 models available. 20, 30 and 40
Size 40 L (2441 CI)
Patagonia logo
24 reviews

Patagonia Descensionist bag
Patagonia Descensionist
Size 40 L (2441 CI)
Patagonia logo
4 reviews

Osprey Kamber bag
Osprey Kamber
3 models available. 22, 32 and 42
Size 22-42 L (1343-2563 CI)
Osprey logo
7 reviews

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol bag
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol
2 models available. 25 and 32
Size 23-30 L (1404-1831 CI)
Black diamond logo
22 reviews

Deuter Freerider bag
Deuter Freerider
Size 26 L (1587 CI)
Deuter logo
69 reviews

Thule Upslope bag
Thule Upslope
2 models available. 20 and 35
Size 20-35 L (1220-2136 CI)
Thule logo
49 reviews

Osprey Kode bag
Osprey Kode
6 models available. 18, 22, 30, 32, 38 and 42
Size 18 L (1098 CI)
Osprey logo
11 reviews

Salomon logo
32 reviews

Dakine Heli bag
Dakine Heli
5 models available. 12, 2, 20, 24 and 58
Size 24 L (1465 CI)
Dakine logo
247 reviews

Backcountry Access Float bag
Backcountry Access Float
6 models available. 22, 27, 30, 32, 42 and 8
Size 32 L (1953 CI)
Backcountry access logo
15 reviews

Backcountry Access Stash bag
Backcountry Access Stash
3 models available. 20, 30 and 40
Size 20-40 L (1220-2441 CI)
Backcountry access logo
6 reviews

Salomon logo
51 reviews

Black Diamond Saga bag
Black Diamond Saga
Size 38 L (2319 CI)
Black diamond logo
7 reviews

Gregory Targhee bag
Gregory Targhee
4 models available. 18, 26, 32 and 45
Size 42 L (2563 CI)
Gregory logo
32 reviews

Black Diamond Halo bag
Black Diamond Halo
Size 26 L (1587 CI)
Black diamond logo
19 reviews

Black Diamond Cirque bag
Black Diamond Cirque
3 models available. 30, 35 and 45
Size 30-45 L (1831-2746 CI)
Black diamond logo
36 reviews

Dakine Poacher bag
Dakine Poacher
5 models available. 14, 26, 36, 45 and 46
Size 46 L (2807 CI)
Dakine logo
4 reviews

Arcteryx Voltair bag
Arcteryx Voltair
2 models available. 20 and 30
Size 20-30 L (1220-1831 CI)
Arcteryx logo
4 reviews

Osprey Kresta bag
Osprey Kresta
3 models available. 20, 30 and 40
Size 18-38 L (1098-2319 CI)
Osprey logo

The North Face Slackpack bag
The North Face Slackpack
2 models available. 16 and 20
The north face logo

Mammut Ride bag
Mammut Ride
2 models available. 22 and 30
Size 22-30 L (1343-1831 CI)
Mammut logo

Mammut Rocker bag
Mammut Rocker
6 models available. 14, 15, 16, 18, 20 and 26
Size 15 L (915 CI)
Mammut logo

Ortovox Peak bag
Ortovox Peak
4 models available. 29, 35, 42 and 45
Size 45 L (2746 CI)
Ortovox logo

Ortovox Tour bag
Ortovox Tour
3 models available. 30, 32 and 32+7
Size 30 L (1831 CI)
Ortovox logo

Ortovox Ascent bag
Ortovox Ascent
4 models available. 22, 28, 30 and 32
Size 22-32 L (1343-1953 CI)
Ortovox logo

Review Summary

661 reviews of bags checked.

Average rating is 4.6 out of 5.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Top 10 ski pack brands

The 10 highest rated ski pack brands based on the 661 reviews we have checked + the highest rated bag from each brand.

BrandAverage ratingTop ski pack
Patagonia5.0Patagonia Snow Drifter
Mammut5.0Mammut Nirvana
Deuter4.7Deuter Freerider
Thule4.7Thule Upslope
Osprey4.7Osprey Kamber
Dakine4.5Dakine Heli
Salomon4.5Salomon QST
Backcountry Access4.5Backcountry Access Float
Arcteryx4.4Arcteryx Khamski
Black Diamond4.3Black Diamond Dawn Patrol

Related Ranking Lists

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.

Last updated on March 22, 2018

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