Not every snowboarder needs to wear a backpack when they ride. But if you like to venture into the backcountry or want the convenience of carrying extra equipment, food, or water, a quality backpack can come in very handy.
I’m a certified snowboarding instructor who has spent many seasons in the snow. I’ve used many snowboard backpacks, and I know what to look for in a high-quality option that will stay in place and keep whatever is inside dry.
The Dakine Heli Pro 20L is my pick for the best snowboard backpack of the year. This model will give you a secure fit that won’t slide around, no matter how hard you ride. The 20L size is also ideal, in my opinion.
There are many different backpacks to choose from, but not all of them will work exceptionally well for snowboarding. In this post, I’ll show you all of my favorite options so you can choose one that will work well.
Throw it over your shoulder, and let’s get started.
- Quick Summary
- Do I Need a Backpack for Snowboarding?
- Best Snowboard Backpack: Top Picks
- How to Choose a Backpack for Snowboarding
- Additional Tips
- My Verdict
- Best Overall: Dakine Heli Pro 20L
- Best Touring: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32
- Best Resort: Burton Rider’s 25L
- Best Budget Pick: Teton Sports Oasis 1100
- Best Women’s: Dakine Heli 12L Women’s
- Best Small/Low Profile: USWE Airborne Limited Race Edition Hydration Pack
Do I Need a Backpack for Snowboarding?
That’s a good question!
I always tell my students that beginners shouldn’t wear a backpack when they ride. To find out more about that and some other tips, check out this article I wrote.
Wearing a backpack can make you a little off-balanced, which can be complicated for a beginner (or even an intermediate) rider to deal with. As you ride, the weight can shift, and this can affect your riding.
You can use a backpack if you want to as a beginner. I just wouldn’t recommend it at first when your goals are to get better at the sport and improve your skills. If you want to carry extra gear or are an experienced rider, a backpack can come in very useful.
For example, most of the backpacks in this list are waterproof, protecting the content inside against snow, ice, and water. You don’t want your food or extra clothing getting wet as you ride.
If you want to venture into the backcountry, a good backpack will make your trip so much easier. You need to carry all of the necessary safety equipment, food, and water to handle whatever comes your way out there.
I think every snowboarder should get a backpack, you just don’t need to wear it all the time. That way, you can fill it up and bring it along on those days you want to, but leave it in the car or at home when you don’t.
Best Snowboard Backpack: Top Picks
Here are my picks for the best snowboard backpacks.
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Comfortable, secure fit, waterproof, good size, durable, plenty of pockets
- Size: 20L
- Waterproof: Yes
- Cost: $$
The Dakine Heli Pro 20L is my pick for the best overall snowboard backpack. This is an excellent option all-around and provides a secure fit that will keep all of the gear you want to bring along when you ride firmly in place.
The backpack is made with a 600D recycled polyester material. This gives it a super strong and durable outer layer that won’t rip or tear even under heavy use. It’s then treated with a water repellent finish to give you reliable waterproofing.
At 20L, the Heli Pro has the perfect amount of room to bring everything you want with you. It’s not too big, and not too small. You can easily pack extra food, water, and equipment without getting too weighed down.
A padded hip belt and adjustable shoulder straps make it very easy to adjust the backpack until you get the perfect fit. It will fit various torso sizes and is versatile, so you can change everything as you need to.
It also comes with straps that allow you to carry your board vertically or horizontally, depending on your preferences. This can come in very useful in the backcountry when you want to get the bag perfectly balanced for longer hikes.
Additional features include a quick-dry mesh padded back panel to keep you dry as you ride tough and a rescue whistle on the chest strap in case you get caught in an avalanche.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about the Heli Pro, but a diagonal carry feature would be nice.
- Best for: Touring
- Key features: Larger size, comfortable, durable, waterproof, dedicated snow tools pocket, AvaLung ready, good fit
- Size: 32L
- Waterproof: Yes
- Cost: $$$
The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32 is a great option for any rider who likes to venture into the backcountry. This pack has a larger capacity for extra equipment, a solid fit that won’t slide around, and very durable construction.
It’s made from an 850D nylon oxford material that is very strong and will resist tears exceptionally well. It can take the rigors of the backcountry with ease and will stay in good shape the entire way up and down and back again.
A 32L size gives you plenty of room to store anything and everything you want to bring along for your touring adventures. Within all of this storage room is a dedicated snow tools pocket so you can bring the equipment you need to stay prepared for an avalanche.
The Dawn Patrol also comes with the ability to work with the AvaLung. This is a unique safety tool designed by Black Diamond to give you extra oxygen if you get buried in an avalanche. It’s sold separately but is a nice feature.
You’ll also get a great fit thanks to a form-fitting suspension that hugs your body’s natural shape and won’t slide around when you are working hard. It comes available in several torso sizes so that it can work with all types of riders.
It’s on the expensive side, and 32L is a big size if you aren’t going on a touring trip or into the backcountry.
- Best for: Resort
- Key features: Comfortable, good storage, durable, ergonomic shoulder harness, removable padded waistbelt
- Size: 25L
- Waterproof: yes
- Cost: $$
If you just need a backpack for everyday resort riding, the Burton Rider’s 25L has a lot to offer. This is a comfortable, high-quality option from one of the most well-known brands in the industry.
I like this one because even though it has a somewhat larger size of 25L, it won’t feel floppy or loose when you don’t load it up completely. That means you’ll have flexibility in how much gear to bring, and the bag can be used in different situations.
A large main compartment gives you plenty of room for any snow tools or extra warm weather gear you want to bring along. It also has well-placed side pockets that can carry a water bottle without it bouncing around.
It has a great fit thanks to an ergonomic shoulder harness and an adjustable sternum strap. These are both easy to adjust for a customized fit. A removable padded waist belt also helps with comfort and fit in mind.
The Rider’s doesn’t have a dedicated water bladder pouch, and its size is on the large side.
- Best for: Budget Pick
- Key features: Affordable, comfortable, hydration compatible, lightweight, durable
- Size: 18L
- Waterproof: Yes
- Cost: $
The Teton Sports Oasis 1100 is my recommended budget pick. This is a solid snowboard backpack with a lot to offer, even though it costs half as much as some of the other bags listed here.
It has a lightweight but durable construction that makes it a great option to ride with. It won’t weigh you down or get in your way. Its durability makes it a great value, and the outer fabric is built to last and resist tearing.
The 18L size is perfect for a day out on the slopes, and it has plenty of pockets for you to stash whatever you want to bring along with you. It also has a dedicated hydration pocket, and the bladder comes included.
A notched foam stabilizer on the shoulder straps gives you extra comfort, so you can easily wear a loaded pack all day long. The straps are also covered in mesh to help them dry quickly if you work up a sweat.
This isn’t the most waterproof option, and that’s a price you’ll pay for the lower price.
- Best for: Women’s
- Key features: Women’s specific fit, durable, waterproof, comfortable, hydration sleeve, quick-dry back panel
- Size: 12L
- Waterproof: Yes
- Cost: $$
The Dakine Heli 12L Women’s is a great backpack that any female rider can appreciate. It has a women’s specific fit, giving you solid performance that won’t slide or bounce around.
This one is a smaller version of the number one back on this list, the Heli Pro. It has the same strong 600D recycled polyester outer layer treated with a water repellent finish for excellent performance in the snow.
It also has an ergonomic, women’s specific fit that works to hug the shape of your back and stay in place as you ride. Adjustable shoulder straps and a padded hip belt help to take this to another level.
A quick-dry mesh padded back panel keeps you comfortable if you work up a sweat, vertical and horizontal carry options, and a rescue whistle attached to the chest strap.
12L might be too small if you want to carry a lot of extras, but it’s a fantastic bag all-around.
- Best for: Small/Low Profile
- Key features: Lightweight, very secure, mesh vented shoulder straps, solid fit, bounce-free
- Size: 3L
- Waterproof: Yes
- Cost: $$$
If you want a very small and low-profile snowboard backpack, check out the USWE Airborne Limited Race Edition Hydration Pack.
This option could be pretty easily worn underneath an oversized snow jacket and has a very secure fit. Its minimal design is perfect for anyone who wants to carry water, a few snacks, and not much else.
It has a bounce-free harness system that was originally designed with runners in mind. That means it won’t bounce or slide around at all when you ride.
High-vent mesh shoulder straps help you dial in a comfortable fit in seconds. It also has an ergonomic form-fit that will work with most body shapes. The chest straps also have stretch support for added flexibility.
It also comes equipped with a 2-liter hydration bladder and has an extra pocket that can fit a few additional items.
This one is small and doesn’t have a way to carry your snowboard.
How to Choose a Backpack for Snowboarding
Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing a good backpack for snowboarding.
First of all, the size of your bag is critical. If you think about what you want to bring along to the mountain, it can help you decide what size bag to get. If you only need a few snacks, a small bag will work. If you are headed into the backcountry, a large bag is better.
Make sure you do get a backpack that’s big enough to fit everything you want to bring but not too big. Remember that the more you pack, the heavier your bag will be.
It is essential to get a backpack that fits your torso (make sure it’s your torso, not your height!) well so you can wear it 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. Check out any gender-specific options because they are specially designed to fit male and female features.
In this article by REI, you can find some beneficial information about figuring out the length of your torso.
If your backpack is too loose, it will swing around when you move. A backpack that’s too tight is going to restrict your movement.
Depending on your trip, you may need to bring along different gear to the mountain. These items could include cameras, video recording devices, beacons, shovels, extendable poles, airbags, food, extra equipment, and water.
If you plan 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 your backpack but in a very easily accessible chamber. This helps ensure they won’t be ripped off from accidents or avalanches, and you can use them immediately in case of emergency.
An airbag can help you stay alive in an avalanche by reducing the chance of burial and increasing the speed of the rescue process. So yes, an avalanche airbag is a “must-have feature” for a backcountry or split boarding trip.
Airbags will increase the cost of the bag quite a bit, but it’s more than recommended with safety in mind. The technology used in these bags is designed to work really well, and most backcountry riders now wear them.
An AvaLung is a piece of additional avalanche equipment that can help you breathe if an avalanche happens and you get trapped under the snow.
This device 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 an expensive add-on, but I do believe it is worth getting.
Snowboard and Ski Carry
This is a critical feature for a backcountry snowboarding trip. It will allow you to strap on a snowboard so you can hike easily. Look for options that let you strap the snowboard on in a variety of ways so you can find a good balance.
Similar to the rules of picking the best snowboard jacket, you should choose one with as many pockets as possible. Waterproof zippers are great because they offer loads of space for you to store your gear and make everything easier to access.
Snowboarding is a demanding sport. We go into the woods, smash on the ice and snow, and your backpack will be facing trees, rocks, ice, snow, and water. Very often, you will be carrying lots of snow gear 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 durability.
Waterproofing is another critical aspect of a snowboard backpack. You don’t want your equipment, clothing, or anything else inside the pack to get wet when you are out in the cold and snow. Check for waterproofing when you purchase the bag.
Hydration Pack Compatibility
This is another nice feature to have. Hydration compatible bags will have a dedicated pocket to carry a water bladder. This makes it easy to stay hydrated when you are out riding and is essential to look for.
Lighter is always better for a snowboard backpack. If you get a huge bag and pack it full of stuff, you will be slower and get tired more easily. The weight of your bag is also related to its size, so keep that in mind.
Here are a few quick answers to some common questions relating to snowboard backpacks.
Why do pro snowboarders wear backpacks?
Pro snowboarders usually wear backpacks when they are riding in the backcountry. This allows them to bring the necessary safety equipment, alongside any other equipment they need for long days on the mountain.
What should I carry in my snowboard backpack?
It depends on what type of riding you are doing. My backpack usually has food, water, sunscreen, and an extra item of clothing or two. If I am headed into the backcountry, I bring a shovel, beacon, and anything else I think I will need.
How do you carry a snowboard on a backpack?
This depends on how the backpack is set up. It will either have straps that allow you to carry the board on one side of the bag or the other. Some models allow you to carry it diagonally across your back. Either way, make sure it is strapped in tightly.
Do you need a waterproof backpack for snowboarding?
Having a waterproof backpack when you ride is definitely recommended. You can get away with a bag that isn’t waterproof if it isn’t snowing very hard, but if you take a fall, all of your gear can get wet. Waterproof options help solve this problem.
- Always try your backpack by putting some weights in it, if possible. Try to carry a snowboard 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.
- Try to pack your snowboarding backpack as light and minimum as possible. More weight will affect your balance on the snow.
My pick for the best snowboard backpack is the Dakine Heli Pro 20L. This a great pack with a very comfortable and secure fit. The 20L size is also the perfect amount of room to carry everything you need for a day of riding without being too big or too small.
All of the backpacks listed here can work for any type of snowboarder. They are all high-quality options that can come in useful in a variety of different situations. Make sure you get the right size to match your body and your needs and get out there!About Lorraine