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What Is the Best Backpack for Snowboarding? 

 October 22, 2022

By  Diane Wuthrich

A successful snowboarding expedition always means having all your gear and accessories with you. That’s why most snowboarders use backpacks: they securely carry the belongings and supplies you will need while keeping your hands free. But how do you find the right snowboarding backpack?

Always choose a backpack that is designed specifically for snowboarding. It should have a snowboard carry system, ample capacity for your trip, and be made from waterproof material. The backpack should also fit well and have an avalanche airbag system. 

Want to know more about what to look out for in the best snowboard backpacks? Read on below.

Choosing the Best Snowboarding Backpacks

Snowboarding backpacks are specifically designed to handle cold weather and snow activities. They also have several safety features designed to improve your success at snowboarding and keep you alive in case of emergencies.

Additionally, the best snowboarding backpacks are constructed to help you carry your snowboarding equipment without compromising your comfort and movement. The sport involves using a lot of specialized gear including boards, goggles, boots, bindings, outerwear, and more.

There are hundreds of different popular styles and designs, but below you’ll find a guide to help you find the best pack for your snowboarding needs.

Capacity

The best snowboarding backpack has a capacity of 15 to 30 liters, which is enough volume for a full day trip out in the mountains. Anything heavier, when packed to its full capacity, can knock you off balance.

More technical snow sports, such as backcountry skiing and split boarding, will require more space upwards of 40L. You’ll also need a bigger pack if you are going on overnight trips. If you intend to leave your snowboarding backpack at the resort, you will only need a smaller day pack of around 10 to 20L; this volume is just right for water, some food, and a camera.

In addition, it’s important to know the size of your snowboard before you buy a backpack. Snowboards come in varying sizes, and backpacks also come in different sizes. The bag should be large enough to carry your snowboard and other gear you want to pack into it. 

Snowboard Carry

Snowboarding bags are equipped with a board carry, which are straps designed to carry your snowboard as you hike to or from your destination. It helps you keep your hands free, making it a vital safety feature.

Backpack snowboard carries usually come in diagonal, horizontal, or vertical options. What you choose is entirely up to you, though it helps to consider the nature of your destination: if you are walking on a path that has several trees around the vicinity, a vertical snowboard carry will prevent your gear from snagging on the branches.

For most people, the best snowboard backpack is flexible and offers at least two types of snowboard carries. At the end of the day, choose a snowboard carry where you are most comfortable.

Material

When it comes to snowboarding or any other snow sport, the backpack material must be waterproof. If it isn’t waterproof, it should be made of a quick-drying material at the very least. This way, you can have peace of mind that all your things inside will always stay dry.

You may also want to consider a backpack with a rain cover. This can provide added protection especially for snowboarding in locations where it rains, as this can happen at the end of the season.

The fabric used in backpack construction is just as important. Most snowboard backpacks are usually made from one of three materials: polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. Polyester is common for many sports bags, though it’s perfect for winter sports because of its terrific insulating and quick-drying capabilities.

Nylon is also a great choice for snowboarding packs. Nylon backpacks are renowned for their durability, and they can withstand serious wear and tear even in harsh climates and rough adventures. However, it tends to cost slightly more than polyester. 

Last but not least, polypropylene offers excellent water resistance. It’s more affordable, though it isn’t resistant to ultraviolet rays. Because of this, polypropylene bags don’t last as long as polyester and nylon.

When analyzing the material of backpacks, it helps to think about how soft or hard their construction is. Soft bags will be lightweight and more flexible, without adding any bulk when in use. On the other hand, a harder, structured backpack does a better job of protecting your board. 

Fit

The best backpack for snowboarding won’t mean much if it doesn’t fit you well. Ideally, the pack should have a slim and compact profile since it will feel more natural as you move. It will also prevent you from going off balance.

The backpack should be snug to your body. Hip straps and a chest clip will come in handy for a better fit, and the shoulder straps should be adjustable for even weight distribution. An adjustable sternum or chest strap will also help keep the backpack securely in place even while you move.

Female snowboarders may also want to look into women-specific snowboarding backpacks in order to get a better fit. These are narrower and more compact than men’s or unisex packs, and usually have different sizes available to accommodate petite and tall women.

Hydration Pack

Snowboarding is an intensive activity, which means that you will need hydration. Be sure to use a backpack with a hydration bladder compartment, and a hydration pack that’s compatible with it. This will enable you to easily take sips of water whenever you need it.

Snowsport-specific hydration bladders are essential because other hydration packs are not designed for the snow. This can result in water freezing, rendering it useless when you’re out in the snow.

Compartments and Organization

Snowboarding and ski backpacks are equipped with numerous pockets for all your gear. These include a helmet carry, fleece-lined goggle pocket, a slot for your shovel, and ice axe poles. This is why a snowboard-specific backpack is always recommended: it has slots and pockets for snow gear, which hiking and travel bags don’t.

On top of that, you’ll also want pockets to keep your other large and small belongings organized. For example, a small zip pocket on the side for your SD card if you are taking photos, as well as compartments for sunblock, lip balm, and other essentials. There are many well-thought-out snowboarding backpacks that even come with laptop compartments and a pocket for snow tools.

Avalanche Airbags

The best snowboarding backpack will have an avalanche airbag. These are designed to inflate when a handle or cord is pulled, lifting you out of the avalanche by keeping you close to the surface. They can also provide extra protection for your head. 

Avalanche airbags can increase your chances of surviving in an avalanche in the event you get caught in one and speed up your rescue time.

Having an avalanche safety system within your backpack is non-negotiable. Keep in mind that when you are spending lots of time in snowy mountains, your survival will depend on the contents of your pack. And that’s why having this is so important. 

There are two main types of avalanche inflation systems: canister and electric.

Canister airbags involve the use of compressed gas or air inside a pressurized cylindrical canister. To use, simply pull the handle: this will release the gas or air into the airbag, inflating it within seconds. Canister airbags are much lighter and smaller, though keep in mind that the TSA doesn’t allow passengers to travel with gas cylinders on US domestic flights.

Canister airbags also need to be refilled after each use. Simply visit an authorized refilling location, though this can also be done yourself with a high-pressure pump.

Between the two, canister airbags are the most popular and widely used in snowboarding as well as other snow sports backpacks. They are also the most affordable and require the least maintenance.

Meanwhile, electric avalanche airbags involve the use of a high-speed fan to inflate the airbag. These are powered by either batteries or a supercapacitor, both of which need charging before you use it. Different electric airbags have varying weights and will need to be recharged after deployment.

Many snowboarders prefer electric avalanche airbags because battery-powered models offer continuous deployment. This can save your life, especially if the airbag gets ripped during a slide. There is also no issue traveling with electric airbags, though they do cost significantly more than their canister counterparts.

Take note that backpacks with an airbag system will easily cost significantly more. You can also choose to purchase an external airbag system that is compatible with your backpack.

Other Considerations

There are other design features to consider when shopping for the best backpacks for snowboarding:

  • Easy access: Having to unbuckle your bag and remove all its contents just to find something you need is time-consuming. During emergencies, being able to locate your gear at the right time can also spell the difference between life and death. 

That’s why it’s so critical for a snowboarding backpack to have easy access closures. It’s recommended to choose backpacks that have a rear opening in the back, a wide roll-top opening, and big pockets in the side and front.  

  • Compression straps: If you are leaning towards a larger backpack, having compression straps will come in handy. These enable you to compress the backpack into a more compact package, which prevents you from going off balance. This is essential in snowboarding because you will be moving your body weight around to control movement.
  • Pull-tab zippers: Ski and snowboarding gloves are notoriously bulky. This can make it challenging to open zippers to get what you need inside the pack. Zippers with pull-tabs is an excellent feature that can help you easily open and close your bag.
  • Vibrant colors: Snowboarders who take their pack with them on the slopes are recommended to use a backpack in bright, vivid colors. Even better if the material is reflective. It helps keep you visible on the mountains.
  • Avalanche gear storage: Avalanche gear, also known as avy gear, should be kept separate from the rest of your belongings. It should also be easily accessible so that you immediately know where it is in your pack when you need it. Many snowboarding backpacks have a separate pocket for avy gear, including a probe and shovel, because a beacon should be strapped onto your chest. 

Our Recommendations For The Best Snowboard Backpack

Given the vast array of snowboard backpacks out there, finding the right one can feel daunting. Check out our recommendations below for packs that have a loyal following – and for good reason:

Dakine Heli Pro 20L Backpack: Dakine is a famous adventure bag brand that has been making backpacks for all kinds of adventures. From snowboarding to skiing, surfing, and even biking, sports enthusiasts from all around the world trust Dakine.

No wonder the Dakine Heli Pro 20L is so popular among winter sports enthusiasts. Designed specifically for snowboard and ski storage, this bag offers superior durability because the last thing you need to worry about is your pack breaking on the mountain. The reinforced bottom panel and tough 600D polyester ripstop material with water repellent finish can withstand even the heaviest outdoor use.

As a rider, apparel and backpack fit is always a concern because they will have an impact on your movement. But the Dakine Heli Pro 20L helps set you up for success: it provides numerous carry options for your board, but most importantly, the ergonomic features ensure it fits like a glove. As a result, the pack stays in place properly even with all that action.

The pack also has other thoughtful features. These include a spacious fleece-lined goggle compartment, a hydration sleeve, and a separate sleeve especially for your snow tools. It can save you a significant amount of time looking for your gear.

The Dakine Heli Pro 20L Backpack is a must-have for snowboarding but works just as well for hiking too! The price tag is rather steep, but it’s well worth the investment.

EVOC Line 28L: EVOC has been manufacturing sporty yet protective bags and luggage since 2008. The EVOC Line 28L is a testament to years of research: this technical backpack has the seasoned snowboarder in mind and has all the features one could need. This is also widely used in snowshoe touring, piste riding, and skiing.

The generous 28L storage is ideal for all your gear and items. Ride with peace of mind, knowing that the avalanche system is easy to reach in case of any emergency. You’ll be comfortable with its specialized body-hugging fit, designed to be such that the center of gravity is as close to your body as possible.

No matter what kind of movement you’re doing, EVOC Line 28L will stay close to you. EVOC’s Neutralite System allows you to move freely and comfortably even if you are carrying a heavy load. The pack’s linked shoulder straps and large hip wings are made to stay in position regardless of movement.

Additionally, the wide, padded, and ergonomic shoulder straps feature a wide neck. This is intended to keep the pack in place and prevent slipping. Your back will also thank you: spaces and aeration gaps provide maximum ventilation all throughout.

EVOC knows exactly what professional snowboarders need. The Line 28L is proof of it!

Ortovox Freerider 22L: Ortovox specializes in ski and snowboarding backpacks – and they have something for every kind of rider. Whether you go on exciting day tours or multi-day trips, they have a backpack for you.

The Ortovox Free Rider 22L is one of the most popular snowboarding backpacks. It’s also one of the lightest and most compact packs for the sport out there, which is impressive given how it packs a punch with features. This was designed to feel like a second skin; its soft, padded back hugs your body without limiting your movement.

There is the option of adding the Clasp Spine Protector inside the bag, which has been certified to the best safety standards, in order to give you a safer and more comfortable experience. In addition, the backpack can be further adjusted by compressing the side straps. It also comes with all the attachment options needed for a helmet, hydration system, rope, ice axe, and more.

Ortovox has committed to becoming more sustainable in its operations, which is why they have used recycled polyamide in this bag. All the components are among the most durable, while the fit is made with outstanding ergonomics. Whether it’s your first time hitting the slopes or you’re a seasoned snowboarder, you’ll appreciate all the excellent features of this bag.

Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack 25: The Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack 25 is a gorgeous and highly functional snowboarding backpack. Brought to you by the experts in ski and wilderness adventure, the classic silhouette and numerous essential features of this backpack make this a must-have for winter sports.

The Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack 25 is big on comfort: the well-padded back panel protects your back, and the wide hip belts give you extra cushioning when you’re carrying a pack to its full capacity. The waist belt and shoulder straps are both adjustable and padded. It’s also equipped with gear loops that come in handy for your snowboard as well as snowshoes and skis.

The 25L capacity is perfect for short day trips as well as resort snowboarding trips. The main compartment is easily accessed through the back panel, while each side comes with a water bottle pocket. These side pockets can also be used to carry other gear or apparel, such as your skins. When it’s time to stash your helmet, simply unfold it from the zip pocket located in the backpack’s bottom.

The Helly Hansen Ullr Backpack 25 has many fantastic features that snowboarders of all levels will appreciate. The fabric is made of a combination of polyester and polypropylene, two of the toughest fabrics used in snow sports backpacks. This brand costs more, but given the high quality of materials used, it will last you many years of snowboarding adventure.

Burton Day Hiker 25L Backpack: Burton is known for their durable, vintage-looking sports backpacks. But don’t let its style and name fool you: the Day Hiker 25L is among the best snowboarding backpacks out there.

This unisex back is perfect for snowboarding, though it’s also versatile enough for travel and hiking trips. Weighing just 1.31 pounds, this bag is lightweight but it can hold a serious amount of gear. Boards are conveniently stored in the webbed board carry, which is designed with molded wings for superior grip and fit.

Inside the Burton Day Hiker 25L Backpack, the spacious main compartment has several other pockets to stay organized. This includes a fleece-lined pocket, which is popularly used for goggles and other gear; it also comes with side water bottle pockets and a padded laptop sleeve which is also hydration-compatible. Talk about versatility!

Furthermore, the ergonomic shoulder harness and adjustable sternum strap ensure your comfort. The compression molded back panel and airflow channel guarantee breathability even during the most challenging situations.

Overall, it’s an excellent snowboarding backpack – at an affordable price too. Sleek profile, lightweight, sophisticated look, and multipurpose: it doesn’t get better than the Burton Day Hiker 25L Backpack.

Thule Upslope Backpack: Swedish brand Thule is famous for superb quality outdoor backpacks that come with smart features. For snowboarders, the lightweight and durable Thule Upslope Backpack is recommended.

Weighing just 1.78 pounds, this is among the lightest snowboarding packs out there. However, its durability knows no bounds; after all, it was made specifically for winter sports. The reattachment points are reinforced and secure, while the adjustable straps for your snowboard are very strong.

The Thule Upslope Backpack comes with waist belt pockets, strategically placed for storing your goggles, gloves, or sunglasses. You have the ability to unzip the main compartment from the back so you can access its contents without having to unstrap your snowboard. The side pockets are also beneficial for easily reaching things such as snacks and sunblock.

The bag is made from 420D Cordura Nylon, one of the toughest fabrics out there. For novice or seasoned snowboarders who want superior durability and functionality, the Thule Upslope Backpack is an excellent purchase.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding the best backpacks for snowboarding, these features will help you identify the right pack for your needs. Remember to consider features for safety and practicality too, as opposed to a trendy design that you will have to replace sooner rather than later.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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