Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Ski Backpacks

Deuter Rise Tour 45

86

2017

Deuter Rise Tour 45

The Deuter Rise Tour 45 is a very durable, albeit heavier ski tour pack.

Dakine Poacher RAS 46

88

2017

Dakine Poacher RAS 46

The Dakine Poacher RAS 46 provides good seasonal versatility with the safety functionality of a removable airbag system.

Gregory Targhee 45

89

2017

Gregory Targhee 45

The Gregory Targhee 45 is an easy to use, feature rich touring pack without a ton of extra frills.

Ortovox Peak 45

91

2017

Ortovox Peak 45

The Ortovox Peak 45 leaves very little to be desired with solid durability and ease of use from well thought out features and good access.

Black Diamond Cirque 45

85

2017

Black Diamond Cirque 45

The Black Diamond Cirque 45 is a minimalist and lightweight overnight touring pack and is compatible with the Black Diamond Avalung Element.

Osprey Kode 32L

91

2015

Osprey Kode 32L

Simply put, the Osprey Kode 32 has it all for half to full-day forays into the backcountry. This was the single overall favorite out of all the packs in this test.

Dakine Heli Pro II 28L

89

2015

Dakine Heli Pro II 28L

The Dakine Heli Pro II is an ideal size for half day tours around your local pass, or as the name suggests, those adventurous days dropping out of the chopper. There’s just something about Dakine packs that feels rock solid.

Mountain Hardwear SnoJo 20L

88

2015

Mountain Hardwear SnoJo 20L

With a volume of 20L, the Mountain Hardwear SnoJo 20 is well-suited for carrying food and layers on days at the resort as well as short forays into the sidecountry and backcountry (don’t count on it for longer days out though). 

Ortovox Haute Route 35

86

2015

Ortovox Haute Route 35

Ortovox designed the Haute Route 35L for half to full-day tours with versatility in mind. Of all the packs in this test, this one seems to cater to year-round use more effectively than the rest, although it is marketed first and foremost as a ski/winter pack.

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32L

85

2015

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32L

The Dawn Patrol 32 is a lightweight ski pack designed for short tours around mountain passes or shredding sidecountry stashes. 

Gregory Targhee 32L

81

2015

Gregory Targhee 32L

The Gregory Targhee 32 (designed for half to full-day tours) was the Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde pack of this test. The feel, comfort, and overall experience of using the pack was superb, particularly tours that didn’t require skis or an ice tool to be strapped to the pack.

Backcountry Access Stash 30

76

2015

Backcountry Access Stash 30

The BCA Stash 30 is a shoe-in for fast and light day trips in the backcountry unless you’re a snowboarder or fond of back panel access.

Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35L

85

2014

Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35L

The Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35L lacks the organizational features of some of the other packs I tested, but it is a winner for purists who digs a couple of basic pockets instead of a separate pocket for every item. 

Marmot Backcountry 32L

89

2014

Marmot Backcountry 32L

The Marmot Backcountry 32L improved on a classic design. Everything about the Marmot Backcountry 32L was worthy except the helmet carry sling. 

The North Face Slackpack 20L

80

2014

The North Face Slackpack 20L

The North Face Slackpack 20L is made to fill a role in a quiver, not to satisfy multiple needs. 

Dynafit Denali 42L

81

2014

Dynafit Denali 42L

The Dynafit Denali 42L proved very efficient for skiers who are conscious of every ounce they put into their pack. Unfortunately, the pack is not a good choice for the rest of the tribe.

Dakine Arc 34L

93

2014

Dakine Arc 34L

The Dakine Arc 34L packs serves as an all-around load hauler that suffices for everything you might do in a day on snow. 

Black Diamond Anthem AvaLung 28L

89

2013

Black Diamond Anthem AvaLung 28L

Overall, we felt the Anthem Avalung 28L was the best overall backcountry ski pack of Winter 2013-2014..

Deuter Freerider Pro 30L

87

2013

Deuter Freerider Pro 30L

At $159, you can't beat the performance the Freerider Pro delivers for the price, and it boasts an excellent ski and snowboard carry system. Weight isn't its strongest suit.

Gregory Targhee 26L

87

2013

Gregory Targhee 26L

Gregory jumps into the backcountry-skiing fray with a strong first effort. The Targhee 26L is more than suitable as an everyday touring pack.

Mountain Hardwear Powzilla 30L

85

2013

Mountain Hardwear Powzilla 30L

The Mountain Hardwear Powzilla delivers the essentials. It’s functional, lightweight and comfortable—a capable all-around pack, even if it lacks a couple of standard features.

Ortovox Free Rider 26L

77

2013

Ortovox Free Rider 26L

A terrific, top-of-the-line pack, so long as you value having seven zippered pockets and a spine protector more than low weight.

Osprey Karve 16

85

2012

Osprey Karve 16

A diagonal-carry ski pack that's good enough for a pro patroller.