A great backpack is an essential component for your snowboarding trips when your skill level increases, simply because you are going to bring more accessories, gears and spending a longer time on the mountain. An appropriate snowboarding backpack is going to save your life on your backcountry snowboarding trip too.
So yeah my friends, please kindly sit down and spend some time to read this article on how to pick the best snowboarding backpack that fits you.
Do I Need a Backpack for Snowboarding?
That’s a good question!
You may have read it in my other article 4 must-know tips for first time snowboarding, that I always tell my students not to wear any backpacks when their skills are not that great.
Still, for beginner to intermediate riders, I would say please try to avoid wearing a backpack because wearing a backpack may interfere your body balance and muscle coordination. And honestly, for beginner riders, you may carry quite a bit of useless items to the mountain because you just simply don’t know what is needed.
But then… for sure, you can always buy a snowboarding backpack (even if you are a beginner) for your trip because they are very good looking, you can always use them on your non-riding days. Most of them are much more durable and suitable for your life in a ski resort and mountain. For example, most of these backpacks are waterproof, and that’s gonna protect the content inside against snow, ice, and water.
Also, you may learn very first and become eligible to go for some advanced riding by the end of your holiday. As a snowboarding instructor, I taught a student and it just took her 9 days then she could head up for a backcountry trip and tree runs with us! When you want to go for a backcountry trip, a good backpack will make your trip so much easier. It’s just always good to be well prepared, right?
So, generally it’s a good idea to get yourself a good snowboarding backpack, just try to avoid wearing it during riding when you are still a beginner. However, I do strongly recommend all backcountry riders to bring along a backpack with essential components.
Next question: what’s the best snowboarding backpack? To save you time exploring, here’s a quick summary of our recommendations:
- DAKINE Poacher Ras 36L Snow Sport Backpack – a great backcountry snowpack for a long, tough trip.
- Burton AK Incline 20L Backpack – a very durable snowpack for a sidecountry day trip.
- DAKINE Mission Photo 25L Camera Backpack – a snowpack for those who want to bring along their camera and lens to the mountain.
- Burton Mens Dayhiker Pro 28L – a great price point backpack you can use from daily life to snowboarding day.
Best Backpack for Snowboarding: What to Look for?
First of all, you need to consider what size is suitable for you. Plan a bit about what you want to bring along to the mountain, snacks, water, some money, a battery set, action camera, battery pack, sunscreen, an extra layer, whistle, avalanche gears…Make sure you do get a backpack that’s big enough to fit all these items in, do not get something too big because you want to bring only the necessaries to the mountain so you can save more energy for snowboarding. A heavy backpack is gonna suck up your energy. Also, do take into account the capacity of the pockets of your jackets and snowboarding pants too.
It is very important that you get a backpack that fits your torso (make sure it’s your torso, not your height!) well so you can wear comfortably because you are likely going to wear it all day long. I recommend you get a backpack with adjustable torso lengths and straps so you can adjust its position. Do check out if there are any gender-specific options because they are specially designed to fit male and female features. From this article by REI, you can find some very useful information about how to find out the length of your torso.
Also, make sure you get a backpack with adjustable straps because it is very likely you will need to adjust it according to different weather conditions. If your backpack is too loose, it’s gonna swing around when you move. Vice verse, a backpack that’s too tight is going to restrict your movement too.
When you are trying the backpack, load it up with some weight. The best is to load it up with all those snow gears you are going to carry, so you can check if you can wear it comfortably while going for your backcountry trip.
Do check if there is a presence of waist belt or hip belt because these features can greatly reduce the weight on your shoulder.
If you happened to buy a backpack without a waist belt? Don’t worry, you can always buy a separate one like this from Amazon. Yes, do always bring along a waist bag because it’s going to make your journey so much easier. Plus it’s kinda locking up your backpack with your body, as it’s very likely that you will store your avalanche airbag (a key feature that could save your life from preventing you to be buried by snow) in your backpack.
Depending on your trip you may need to bring along different gears to the mountain, for example, cameras, video recording devices, beacons, shovels, extendable poles, airbags, etc. for backcountry snowboarders. We highly recommend you choose a backpack with designated storage.
If you are planning for a backcountry snowboarding trip, try to pick a pack with specific and easily accessible storage for your snow tools like shovel, airbags and probe. Your tools should be stored inside of you backpack but at a very easy accessible chamber, so your tools won’t be ripped off from accidents or avalanches and yet you can use them immediately in case of emergency.
As mentioned, easy access to content is a very important criterion when it comes to picking a backpack because the last thing you want it happened during a backcountry is you have to take off your backpack, unbuckle those belts, cover layers and open your backpack wide then search for your content inside. Yeah…I am already tired by just imagining that, plus your content is very likely to get wet!
It’s a great idea for you to pick a backpack with back panel access system, the most ideal situation is back panel plus different access options so you can easily take out your energy bar from the side pocket without opening the main chamber containing your camera.
Depending on your needs you may want to get more than one snowboarding backpack, for example, if your aim is to take some photos on a normal riding day, you can bring a relatively small backpack that provides better protection for your camera and video recording devices. On your splitboarding day, you can just get a backcountry backpack. Or sometimes, you may just get a backpack you can use for your snowboarding and day-to-day life.
Below are some features that you may want to consider when you are purchasing your snowboarding backpack.
It’s the key to survival upon avalanche by reducing the chance of burial and increasing the speed of the rescue process. So yes, an avalanche airbag is a “must have features” for a backcountry or splitboarding trip.
Should I get a built-in airbag snowpack? The answer is: it depends, for sure it’s more convenient so you don’t need to buy one separately. However, with a built-in airbag, your backpack is gotta be heavier and more expensive. Plus you don’t need an avalanche airbag for your normal riding day or sidecountry riding though.
Normally I would pick a snowpack that comes with an area to store my airbags when I am going for a splitboarding trip, I will take my airbag and put it in. On my normal riding days, I will just put something else in there or just leave it empty. Honestly, you want that peace in mind that the airbag can bring to you when you are going to the big white mountain.
An AvaLung is an additional avalanche equipment which can help you breathe in case of an avalanche happened and you got trapped under the snow, it extends your time before asphyxiation by taking fresh air (oxygen) in from your backpack and diverting carbon dioxide away. According to Black Diamond, the developer of AvaLung, It could increase your survival time under the snow from 20 mins to 58 mins. AvaLung is kinda like a valuable add-on setup, but I do believe it is worth to invest your money.
Snowboard and Ski Carry
A very important feature for a backcountry snowboarding trip. For snowboards carry, it’s either in vertical or horizontal. If possible, try to look for a mixed option one so you will be given greater carry flexibility.
So this is more a feature for ski/snowboarding photographers. Normally these are designed with fewer survival features and more protection for your cameras and equipment. I normally prefer those with removable camera pads so it offers more flexibility. You can pick something that’s for active sports such as hiking or mountain series.
Similar to the rules of picking the best snowboarding jacket, you should pick one with as many pockets as possible. Better to be with waterproof zips so it offers loads of space for you to store your gears and make it easier to access.
Snowboarding is a tough sport, we go into the woods, smash on the ices and snows, your backpack will be facing trees, rocks, ices, snow, water. And very often you will be carrying lots of snow gears too. So it makes great sense for you to get a snowboard backpack made with abrasion-resistant fabric, or at least at those high-stress areas. Reinforced seams and double stitching are add-on features for enforcing the durability though.
So both you and your backpack are going to be surrounded by snow, ice, water, it is a good idea for you to get a waterproof backpack, here are some factors that can greatly increase the water-resistance ability of your backpack: water-resistant fabric, coating, waterproof zippers, sealed seams, storm flaps, opening with back panels.
Hydration Pack Compatibility
It’s kinda like an add-on features but I just love having a hydration pack compatibility snowpack. You drink water at any time with the least effort plus it minimizes the risk of wetting my content inside the backpack. So yeah, getting one is always a good idea. For more details about picking a hydration pack, click here.
It is very likely you are going out with your snowboard backpack for a long time so wearing as light as possible is a good idea. Just always remember you have to make sure your back is strong enough to resist all the shocks.
Best Snowboard Backpacks in 2018-2019: Top 4 Picks
A great backpack for backcountry snowboarding fans with loads of rooms for your gears such as the shovel, probe, and airbag. It has loads of separate pockets so you can organize your content well. It’s also super cushioned and specially designed to keep your back and shoulders comfortable for long rides. You can even add a spine protector for extra safety! Also, the back panel zippered access to the main compartment can shed snow away to keep your content dry.
What is also great:
- Lots of sizes for you to choose from, for example, other than this 36L size, there are smaller options such as 26L and 14L sizes.
- The R.A.S. Dakine Poacher can accommodate a removable Mammut airbag system.
- Comes with vertical snowboard carry, diagonal and A-frame ski carry, deployable helmet carry and fleece-lined goggle pocket.
What is not so nice:
- 36L may be too much for a non-backcountry trip or day-to-day life.
- The waist belt design is fairly basic and with no quick access pockets.
- It would be better if the back is made with more waterproof material.
A great backpack for a day trip with different weather conditions. From winter powder seeking day to a hot summer hiking trip. This compact size backpack comes with a lot of pockets to keep your gears organized, tidy and easy to access. The avalanche tool pocket and vertical board carry are essential for backcountry snowboarding day, and it’s very durable too!
What we also like:
- Lifetime warranty.
- A great versatile system to keep your back dry on hot days.
- Hydration pack compatible and includes a routing sleeve.
- Helmet carry and fleece lined goggle pocket is available!
What is not that nice:
- Compact size means it’s more suitable for sidecountry snowboarding or normal riding day, not for a long backcountry snowboarding day.
As the name indicates, this is a great backpack for those who want to bring along their camera to the mountain and take great photos and videos. With a removable padded camera block and the very high waterproof ability, this is the backpack you want to pick for keeping your camera and gears safe. Plus, it has great pocket designs so you can keep your gears tidy and organized. The vertical board carry and safe tool storage allow you to have a great backcountry/ sidecountry day trip.
What we also like:
- With both hip and sternum straps to support your back for a heavy load.
- Deployable rain cover.
- Great for daily life use because of the great size, pocket designs.
- Very lightweight.
What is not that nice:
- No back panel access.
- The bag is not big enough (a 15-inch laptop would be already too big).
A great price-point and nice medium size backpack that you can bring from day-to-day life to a sidecountry trip. It comes with hand features for almost everything – a vertical board carries straps to laptop pockets. There are also plenty of pockets to keep your gears and tools tidy and organized.
What is also nice:
- Fleece lined pockets for goggles or other accessories.
- Hydration pack comp.
- Large zipper pouch so you don’t need to take off your gloves for opening it.
- Comes along with a comparison straps so to hold your content tight inside the bag.
- Great venting system at the back so to keep airflow between your back and the pack.
- Hydration pack compatible.
What is not that nice:
- It would be better if this is more waterproof since this is just slightly water resistant.
- No back panel access.
- Always try your backpack by putting some weights in it, if possible, try to carry a board at your usual board length to see if it’s comfortable enough.
- Always pack your backpack with two plastic or dry bags so to provide extra water resistance.
- Wash your backpack according to the instructions, and always with cool water and mild detergent or tech wash such as Nikwax Tech Wash.
- Try to pack your snowboarding backpack as light and minimum as possible, more weight will affect your balance on the snow.
So that’s all for what I can think about choosing the best snowboard backpack till now, just remember, you can always buy a backpack but try to avoid wearing one if you are a beginner. And remember, having a set of avalanche equipment with you doesn’t guarantee you 100% safe on the mountain. You still have to be well prepared, alerted, and with enough ability to go for a backcountry snowboarding trip!
Alright…. Have a great snowboarding day and be safe and happy!!!