Best Ski Backpacks of 2013

Best Ski Backpacks of 2013

The ski backpack is one of the most important choices you make as a backcountry consumer, as it is the piece of gear that carries all your other gear — and can make the difference in a successful trip, or season. Here’s Devon O’Neil’s rundown on six of the best.

Black Diamond Anthem AvaLung 28L 



The Black Diamond Anthem AvaLung 28L is a compressible, lightweight AvaLung-equipped pack that is BD’s first foray into back-panel access. Overall, this was the best backcountry ski pack of our Winter 2013-2014 test. Thanks to the AvaLung and overall functionality of this pack, as well as its relative low weight, I found myself using it more than any other backcountry pack in our test. The price is steep, but the quality can’t be beat, and an Avalung is second only to an airbag in its power to save lives. Weighs only 3 pounds, 7 ounces—even with the AvaLung. Retail Price: $270. Gear Institute Rating: 89

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Deuter Freerider Pro

Deuter-Freerider-Pro-30 Black-Grey

The Deuter Freerider Pro is a 30L backcountry ski and snowboard pack. Assuming you’re Ok with carrying a bit of extra weight to gain the best function in this winter’s backcountry pack collection, you’ll love the Freerider Pro. At $159, you can’t beat the performance it delivers for the price, and it boasts an excellent ski and snowboard carry system. Overall, the feature set, comfort and materials quality are very good compared to similar packs. Retail Price: $159. Gear Institute Rating: 87

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Gregory Targhee 26

Gregory Targhee 26

The Gregory Targhee is a 26-liter backcountry ski pack. Gregory jumps into the backcountry-skiing fray with a strong first effort. Compact, lightweight and innovative, the Targhee 26L is more than suitable as an everyday touring pack. The pack’s overall stability would benefit from thicker straps around the waist. Retail Price: $159. Gear Institute Rating: 87

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Mountain Hardwear Powzilla 30L

 Mtn Hardwear Powzilla 30


The Mountain Hardwear Powzilla 30L is a simple, lightweight, 30-liter backcountry pack for all-day adventures. Evoking the simplistic style of pro skier James Heim, who helped design this pack, the Mountain Hardwear Powzilla delivers the essentials. It’s functional, lightweight and comfortable — a capable all-around pack, even if it lacks a couple of standard features. At 2 pounds, 15 ounces (M/L) it’s one of the lightest new packs on the market. Retail Price: $190. Gear Institute Rating: 85

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Ortovox Free Rider 26L

FreeRider 26 BlackAntracite

The Ortovox Free Rider 26L European-styled freeride pack is ideal for sidecountry and shorter backcountry missions. This is a terrific, top-of-the-line pack, so long as you value having seven zippered pockets and a (removable) spine protector more than low weight. If not, opt for something else. At 4 pounds, 5 ounces, it was the heaviest ski pack I tested last winter, but it is burly and built to last many seasons. Retail Price: $229. Gear Institute Rating: 77

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