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Best Ski Touring Backpacks For 2021-2022 | Buyer’s Guide

Lightweight, durable, comfortable. We bring you the best backpacks for ski touring – all chosen by our experts

Look back ten or so years ago and you’d notice that ski touring backpacks were pretty much non-existent, with many ski tourers opting for the lightweight and minimal approach that climbing and mountaineering packs offered. This was the go-to option for carrying the abundance of kit required for a single day ski touring.

Although climbing packs were designed for mountain travel, they weren’t built with the typical ski tourer in mind and lacked what are now standard features on ski touring backpacks; sufficient ski carry options, avalanche safety equipment pockets, and a durable construction built to stand up to constant contact with ski edges – to name a few.

“We put these packs through their paces all in the name of testing. No fun was had at all, we promise”

We’re now seeing an extremely well designed choice of ski touring specific backpacks that address all of the shortcomings of climbing packs, and that come with features specifically designed to meet the needs of ski tourers.

We’ve gone and taken a selection of the top ski touring backpacks out there right now. From Scotland, to France, onto Switzerland and to be finally tested again in Austria, we put these packs through their paces all in the name of testing. No fun was had at all, we promise.

Best Ski Touring Backpacks For 2021-2022

  • Black Diamond Cirque 22
  • Lowe Alpine Revolt 35
  • Black Diamond Jetforce Pro 35
  • Arc’teryx Alpha SK 32
  • Blue Ice Kume 30
  • Osprey Kamber 22
  • Patagonia Descensionist 32

Black Diamond Cirque 22

Weight: 690g
Price: £140 / 150€ / $180
Available Volumes: 35L

BUY HERE

The Black Diamond Cirque 22 is an extremely well thought out ski touring backpack designed for fast and light assaults in the mountains. Borrowing a thing or two from their trail running packs, the Cirque 22 Ski Vest features running vest style shoulder straps. These straps have been built wide to spread the load and come with hydration flask and energy bar holders for on the go fuelling.

This product was selected for our Ski 100 guide. Read our review of the Black Diamond Cirque 22 here. 

Lowe Alpine Revolt 35

Weight: 1,280g
Price: £130
Available Volumes: 35L

BUY HERE

We previously featured Lowe Alpine’s Descent 35 pack in this best ski touring packs article, but new for this year is the Lowe Alpine Revolt 35. The Revolt 35 takes all the good stuff from the Decent 35 and brings in a few more handy features that make life on the skin track that bit more streamlined.

Offering 35 litres of volume, spread between three different compartments, the Lowe Alpine Revolt 35 is geared towards multi-day backcountry assaults or single-day glacial trips where you can be expecting to carry more kit than a usual sidecountry jaunt.

The main compartment can be easily accessed through a rear back panel zipper. This allows you to be able to easily access the contents of the pack, even when you’ve got skis strapped to the pack. In terms of those ski carry systems, you’ve got the traditional A-Frame carry, and a diagonal ski carry for quick stashing of skis. The ski carry straps can be tucked away, to prevent any unwanted buckle snags.

This product was selected for our Ski 100. Read our review of the Lowe Alpine Revolt 35 here.

Black Diamond Jetforce Pro 35

Weight: 3,060g
Price: €1,140
Available Volumes:

BUY HERE

We here at Mpora have long been fans of Black Diamond’s Jetforce electronic airbag system ever since its release in 2014. This system, contrary to gas powered systems, uses an electric motor to power a fan that’s able to inflate the 170 litre airbag behind you (in a matter of 3.5 seconds) to help prevent a full burial in the event of an avalanche.

This newer ‘Jetforce 2.0’ system sees a new streamlined design, with the option to zip different pack sizes on and off based on the day’s objectives. The new Jetforce also comes with Bluetooth connection for updates on the fly and a lower weight than the original Jetforce system.

While the Jetforce makes for a brilliant companion for backcountry adventures, we’d not recommend bringing it out with you on longer, or multi-day tours. This is due to the weight of the pack. Once you get round to adding in all your ski touring equipment, you’re going to be left with an extremely heavy load. However, for shorter day trips, or resort-specific touring, this is an ideal companion.

This product was selected for our Ski 100. Read our review of the Black Diamond Jetforce Pro 35 here. 

Arc’teryx Alpha SK 32

Pictured: Arc’teryx Alpha SK 32 Carrying skis in Axamer Lizum

Weight: 1,000g
Price: £240
Available Volumes: 32 litre

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Coming in lightest, the Alpha SK 32 was born from the needs of backcountry skiers who were modifying Arc’teryx’s lightweight, yet durable Alpha FL climbing pack to create a ski touring pack that worked for them. After much tinkering, Arc’teryx finally saw the light, creating the Alpha SK 32 – a pack that remains lightweight and durable, but with features specifically tailored to backcountry skiers.

“After much tinkering, Arc’teryx finally saw the light”

The first thing you’ll notice when you take a look at this pack is the unique ski carry system, that allows for both A-Frame and diagonal ski carry. This system uses ski straps to strap your skis to the pack (two are included). It’s an extremely well thought out way of carrying skis – there when you need it, removable when you don’t, creating an extremely sleek pack when removed. We’re also big fans of having two more ski straps at hand – for emergency use.

If you do like to carry your axe on the outside of the pack, then you’re going to have to get used to sliding it into the snow safety compartment – something that’ll become be an issue if you’re looking to carry two ice tools for any steep climbing. If you would like to carry your skis in the A-Frame method, then you’ll have to grab yourself two extra ski straps although I’m sure most of you will have two spare kicking about.

We’re also yet to test the long term durability of the Alpha SK 32 – the laminated sections look like they could fall victim while carrying heavy loads such as large freeride skis. Give us a couple more months of testing, and we’ll let you know if this is the case.

Blue Ice Kume 30

Pictured: High alpine touring on the Tignes / Val d’Isere border

Weight: 1,145g
Price: £140
Available Volumes: 30 & 38 litres

BUY HERE

Whenever you get a relatively young brand developing products, whether that be skis, boots, bindings and even backpacks, they always approach the design with a fresh pair of eyes and some novel ways around common flaws – this is certainly true with the Blue Ice Kume 30.

Firstly, we’re big fans of the double zipped side access, allowing you to reach anything hidden at the bottom of the pack – perfect if you like keeping your crampons or glacial rope at the bottom of your pack.

“This’ll definitely come in use when you find yourself on a steep slope”

Also, you’re able to attach your skis to the pack without having to take the pack off – this’ll definitely come in use when you find yourself on a steep slope and need to attach your skis quickly, or if you’d just like to save a minute or so on the transitions. To do this, all you’ve got to do is slot your skis through a loop sat at the back of your right hip, then attach the tips with the shoulder strap on your left shoulder. Nice work, Blue Ice.

Tying the pack all together is a nifty top loading design that doubles up as a quick point to stash your helmet or rope underneath while also hiding the separate snow safety compartment, similar to that found on the Alpha SK 32.

Osprey Kamber 22

Pictured: The diagonal ski carry on the Osprey Kamber 22 is simple and quick to use

Weight: 1,270g
Price: £120
Available Volumes: 16, 22 & 32 litres

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Sometimes you don’t always need to be carrying around a 30 litre sized backpack with you when you’re in the mountains – perhaps you usually go for shorter tours or never need to carry a huge amount of ski mountaineering equipment. This is where smaller (20 litres and below) packs come into their own, as the smaller pack size is able to keep the weight close to your body – this is certainly true with the Kamber 22 from Osprey where our test team were applauding the carrying comfort of the Kamber 22

“Our test team were applauding the carrying comfort of the Kamber 22”

Of course, being Osprey, the Kamber 22 comes with Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee – their commitment to protecting the environment by looking to repair products where possible, rather than a straight up replacing them.

If you’re looking for a more resort focused pack that still offers quick access to your avalanche safety gear, then take a look at the Kamber 16 or, at the other end of the spectrum, the Kamber 32 which offers up more volume for technical equipment.

Patagonia Descensionist 32

Pictured: Out in Les Deux Alpes with the Patagonia Descensionist 32

Weight: 1040g
Price: £140
Available volumes: 32 & 40 litre
Back lengths: S/M & L/XL

BUY HERE

Just like the Alpha SK is a ski touring version of the Alpha LT climbing pack, this, the Descensionist 32 is the touring version of the Ascensionist 30. Patagonia have taken the Ascensionist and beefed it up a little. While the Ascensionist is an extremely versatile mountain pack that’ll be able to join you on a range of activities, the Descensionist is an out-and-out touring pack – and we love that.

Separate avalanche tools compartment, multiple lashing points, both A-Frame and diagonal ski carries along with a vertical snow carry have all been included, meaning this can easily fit your needs – one plank or two planks. We did feel that the inclusion of the snowboard carry didn’t add too much for us, so good on Patagonia for making these straps easy to strip out, along with the internal foam back panel for lightweight assaults.

Given its carrying volume and durability, this is another impressively lightweight ski touring backpack. We’d look to the Descensionist if you like the style of the Alpha SK, but prefer a more feature-packed backpack. The Descensionist is seeing an overhaul for the 20/21 winter season, so keep an eye out for the update – especially if you’re a fan of purple.

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