How Do You Choose a Ski or Snowboard Backpack?

Emma 22.05.2024

Some people love them, some people hate them but if you’re considering taking a backpack for the first time or upgrading your old one, these are the considerations.

What do you need it for?


Do you need to hydrate more in the snow? Do you find yourself thirsty all day and never get enough water? Choose a backpack with a refillable water bladder or fit a soft bottle you can roll up when you’ve drained it (double check the top is tightly done up before putting it in your backpack). You might need extra hydration if you’re dealing with high altitude, taking vitamins or don’t want to spend $50 on drinks at breaktime. This is where you factor in the cost of a backpack and see it as an investment you’ll have for years that will save you money after wearing one for a week in the snow.. There are lightweight and cheap backpack options you can literally put nothing but a refillable water bladder in.  


Do you take snacks with you? Do you get hungry or ski or board with ever-hungry kids? This is also a financial consideration as you can throw in mini chocolate bars, sandwiches and muesli bars. Different backpacks have zips and straps on them so you can pull the straps in tight if the backpack is not full. I use Dakine Heli Pro 12L , which is a good size for females. It takes my water bladder, spare gloves, goggle lenses and extra base layer and snacks as it has lots of compartments.  


Are you throwing your snowshoes or the family jogging shoes that everyone wore from the car park till they put boots on in the snow resort? Choose a lightweight backpack that you can potentially throw in a corner of a cafeteria or easily ski around with. This snow survival expert will have you carrying a lot more in your backpack in and out of resort but a basic backpack is a good place to start.. 


Do you need extra gloves and hand warmers during the day? Do you only ski in-resort? Consider a small and lightweight backpack that will double as a daypack in the off-season for hikes or bike riding. 


Is it for out of resort activity? Then it needs to be big enough to fit your probe and shovel in it. Consider your height and body length, if you’re a shorter female and you choose a mens backpack it may be too long and hit the back of your head so consider a womens or unisex backpack. Dehydrated food pouches in case of emergency heading out of resort and your protein bars and powders.

Health considerations 

If your snow trips require a backpack that is not lightweight because you need to carry more, choose a backpack that you can adjust the size and pull it close to your body. Make sure it has a strap across the chest, hips or both to protect your shoulders and back from being pulled backwards. Many of them have spine protectors, if needed. If you’re using a hiking pack instead of a snow specific pack (because it protects your spine and has hip and chest straps) select one that is at the very least water resistant / repellent so it doesn’t get heavier and drag you down when it gets wet. 


Are you a short person? Do you have a long torso? All the backpacks provide dimensions and measurements online so measure from the base of where you’d like it to sit (at the back of your bum) to the top of your shoulder (unless you need extra height for your backcountry needs) to get your best fit.


Check the resort rules, lots of snow resorts don’t let you keep a backpack on your back on a chairlift, which is a worthy consideration if you have to undo it on every chairlift ride and swing it to your lap. This is not going to work if you’re managing small kids on a chairlift. 
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