How to choose a backcountry backpack
A backpack carries everything you need to stay alive in the backcountry. Choose yours wisely
Backcountry backpacks differ slightly from traditional hiking or day packs, so it’s important you find a comfortable, well-fitting pack for your adventures. Not only will backcountry packs have a separate compartment for your avalanche safety gear making it easy to access in the event of a slide, they’ll have specific straps to allow you to more easily carry your skis and snowboard when hiking uphill.
In this guide we’ll take you through the follow information to help you choose the right backpack for your backcountry skiing or snowboarding:
- Other Features
Our stores have a wide range of backcountry backpacks, so if in doubt, visit us in store and get expert advice from our knowledgeable staff.
The length of your trip and the amount of gear you need will determine the size of your rucksack. Pack size is measured in litres.
Any volume from 10-20 litres is ideal for lift-served backcountry, heli-riding, or days. 20-35 litres is a good size for longer day tours with more variable weather conditions. 30-55 litres should be considered if you’re touring huts or doing overnight trips. Finally, 60-70 litres is necessary if you’re planning longer trips requiring a tent and any cooking or glacier gear.
Your pack should be comfortable enough that you can wear it all day without worrying so always consider the length of the pack and how it will fit against your torso. Try and test your pack by loading up the compartments with weight and fitting it to your body with all the straps and waistbelt to ensure it is fit for purpose.
Avalanche airbags are designed to keep you close to the snow’s surface in the event of an avalanche. In the event of an avalanche, inflating an airbag increases your volume, helping to keep you as high as possible in the snowpack. Properly worn and deployed, airbag packs have been shown to be effective in increasing your chances of survival if you’re caught in an avalanche but always remember that wearing an avalanche airbag does not guarantee survival.
If you’re riding in the backcountry, finding a pack with Avalung® equipment could save your life. A piece of safety kit, an Avaung® helps you breath in the event of an avalanche by letting you pull oxygen from the surrounding snowpack while exhaling carbon dioxide away from your face to increase the duration before asphyxiation occurs.
If you tend to carry a hydration bladder check for a separate compartment and exit port for protection and easy use.
Have a look at all the ways you can access your kit within your pack; being able to access items at the bottom of your pack of to the sides could save you time rummaging through your pack.
A pack with loops at the front and along the bottom that allow you to easily fasten and strap on ice tools is ideal for backcountry trips.
You can use these loops to attach other climbing hardware or crampons to your pack.