Snowboard backpacks fall broadly into two categories: those that are meant for casual use (on and off the hill) and those that are built for serious powder riding (have a look at our Best Backcountry Gear 2019/20 for more of the latter ones). Either way, the best backpacks will be sturdily constructed, with well thought-out features, and they should last you a lifetime – or at least, a good few years.
The first thing to decide is how big you need it to be. Backpack volume is measured in litres; a 10 litre bag will take little more than your packed lunch, whereas a 30-40 litre model will offer plenty of space for spare layers, safety gear, first aid kit or even a helmet (at the obvious price of weight and bulk). As a rule of thumb, 25 litres is a nice sweet spot for anyone that doesn’t own a splitboard or a bunch of camera gear.
If you want a backpack that feels natural to snowboard in then look for one with a slim profile; it will hug your back better and won’t tip you off balance when it’s full of swag.
“Consider what you’re really going to be using this ‘snowboard’ backpack for. Is it 100% riding? Or is it going to double up as carry-on luggage and a work/school bag?”
Backcountry-specific models will have dedicated pockets and clips for keeping your safety kit safe and secure – think shovel blade, shovel handle and probe. They also often come with metal waist buckles (which are obviously tougher) and straps for carrying your board – either vertically or horizontally. Airbag inflation systems – which deploy in case of avalanche – are a whole other level; if you’re interested in one of these then you’ll need to do your research, but you can start by looking for ABS compatibility (which uses gas cylinders) or checking out the battery-powered Pieps Jetforce range.
Metal frames, which keep the bag’s shape and help it sit up comfortably on your back, are a feature of some of the best backpacks – though they do add a little weight. Fleece-lined goggle pockets, rain covers and Camelbak connectivity are just a few more extra selling points that can swing your decision.
As we mentioned at the start, however, consider what you’re really going to be using this ‘snowboard’ backpack for. Is it 100% riding? Or is it going to double up as carry-on luggage and a work/school bag? If it’s the latter, then having a stylish laptop sleeve might be more important than an extra loop for your ice axe.
And one last piece of advice: make sure your new backpack has got a chest clip! Whatever it is you’re carrying, those things are life savers for your shoulders.
Scroll down to view all the best snowboard backpacks, or skip to a particular model using the links below
Burton AK Incline 20L | Burton Skyward 18L | DaKine Jamie Anderson | DaKine Team Poacher 22l Elias Elhardt | DaKine Team Mission K25L Kazu Kakubo | Patagonia Duffelbag | Quiksilver TR Platinum | Rome Honcho