Best Buys

Best Snowboard Backpacks For 2020-2021 | Our Favourite Bags For Resort and Backcountry Adventures

From stripped back lightweight packs to battery powered airbag systems, here's our top picks of this season's best backpacks

Depending on the kind of person you are, buying a new snowboard backpack can either be an exciting process or a complete pain in the backside. Venturing out into the murky world of snowboard backpack buying can, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, even be a little intimidating. In order to help you find the best snowboard backpack for you, we’ve put together some things to think about when purchasing one. If you’d like to skip that and get stuck into the backpacks themselves, scroll on further down.

First of all, you need to consider what kind of circumstances you’ll be facing. Are you looking for a snowboard backpack that’s light and does the ticks all the boxes for the day to day resort riding and occasional sidecountry mission? Or are you looking for something that will have your back when you’re fully going off the beaten path? If it’s the latter, consider features like back protection, airbag systems, or designated helmet, ice axe and touring pole attachment points

“First of all, you need to consider what kind of circumstances you’ll be facing”

Once you’ve figured out what you want from a snowboarding backpack, you ought to think about the volume of it. Obviously, and this probably doesn’t need to be said, the bigger the volume the more the backpack can fit inside it. Anything up to 32-litres will suffice for even the more severe single day trips, but consider going closer to 40-litres for an overnighter. Splitboarding, too, will require more storage space for skins, crampons and such like, compared to a quick bootpack or (for the lucky ones) a heli trip.

“Anything up to 32-litres will suffice for even the more severe single day trips, but consider going closer to 40-litres for an overnighter”

Even if you think you’ve found the backpack of your dreams, there’s no point in getting it if doesn’t fit right. You want to get something with a slim profile, as this will feel more natural to snowboard in and it won’t tip you off balance.

Something that helps to keep the pack close to you is the chest clip and load-bearing hip straps (a feature your shoulders will thank you for in the long run). Ladies bear in mind, that women’s specific backpacks have been designed for a reason.

Finally, the fun part – features and design. Snowboard backpacks tend to be packed with loads of pockets for goggles, helmets, and various other equipment. In terms of design and style, we’d encourage you to think a bit more long-term as something that might seem cool and on-trend can quickly age – making you feel like you have to replace it sooner than you realistically have to. Go for the timeless look.

Whatever snowboard backpack you decide to invest your money in, make sure it’s well made and is of good durable quality. The longer the lifetime of the pack, the better it is from both a financial and environmental point of view.

Best Snowboard Backpacks 2020-2021

Dakine Jamie Anderson Team W Heli Pro 24L

PRICE: £120 / €140

Celebrating 25 laps around the sun, the Dakine Heli series backpack is back with a facelift. Together with Jamie Anderson, Dakine is introducing the new and improved Dakine x Jamie Anderson Team Heli Pro 24L women’s backpack to the market.

Selected for The Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the Dakine Jamie Anderson Team W Heli Pro 24L here


Jones Descent 25L

PRICE: €140

The Jones Dscnt 25L backpack doesn’t literally have “ideal for intermediate backcountry tours” stamped all over it but, quite frankly, it might as well have. The pack has a contoured profile which has been specially designed for ascent / descent performance. They (Jones) have done this by making sure the weight of your gear is evenly distributed in the centre of your torso – helping you to stay balanced no matter the situation.

Selected for The Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the Jones Descent 25L here

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    Black Diamond Jetforce Pro Pack 25L

    PRICE: £1,120

    Kickstarting our best backpack list is a product that quite possibly cost more than your last snowboard holiday to Bansko. For our money, though, the Black Diamond JetForce Pro 25L is worth every penny. It sets the gold standard in backcountry avalanche airbags for the 20/21 season, nailing all the key criteria or user-friendliness, safety specs, weight and versatility.

    Now, look, we don’t have a lot of space, so we’re gonna quickfire every feature we love about this thing. Ready?

    The fan is powered by a travel-friendly rechargeable lithium battery, so it won’t pose any issues going through airport security. Nor do you need to worry about costly canister refills or that split second of hesitation on whether or not to deploy the airbag. Practice away to your heart’s content at home and have the confidence to activate it in the backcountry at the first hint of a slide, as every charge has the capacity for multiple deployments.

    “The statistics on the effectiveness of these backpacks to keep you afloat in the event of an avalanche are seriously impressive”

    After the bag is deployed, secondary inflation pulses allow it to remain inflated, even in the unlikely event of any small punctures or tears. After three minutes, the airbag will automatically deflate and (assuming you were fully or partially buried) create a substantial air pocket that could buy you valuable minutes in a worst-case scenario.

    Bluetooth connectivity enables you to wirelessly connect to the PIEPS app for system diagnostics and firmware updates from your smartphone.

    The modular design is compatible with various zip-on Booster Packs. Depending on the nature of your tour, choose from 10L, 25L, 35L and a splitboard specific 25L Booster Pack with vertical snowboard carry. In any case, the Jetforce Pro is impressively light, with both the S/M and M/L 25L packs weighing less than 3kgs.

    Best of all, none of this comes at the expense of still having a fully functional and practical backcountry pack. There’s a designated helmet carry pouch, avi-tools compartment, ice axe holder and retractable leg sling strap.

    While airbag systems aren’t a necessity in the backcountry – compared with a transceiver, probe and shovel – they’re certainly not just a flashy luxury accessory, either. The statistics on the effectiveness of these backpacks to keep you afloat in the event of an avalanche are seriously impressive. When they’re as light, versatile and convenient to travel and practice with as the Jetforce Pro, they’re an investment well worth any backcountry enthusiast strongly considering.


    Dakine Louif Paradis Team Mission Pro 32L

    PRICE: €180

    Building on their already successful collab, Dakine’s teamed up with Louif Paradis to bring us the Dakine x Louif Paradis Team Mission Pro 32L backpack (with an updated design for winter 2021).

    Retro-inspired meets subtle design and badass construction. This is what Louif and Dakine have got in store for us this year. The Team Mission Pro pack includes a vertical snowboard carry, fleece-lined goggle pocket, a snow tool / shovel pocket and an insulated hydro sleeve. There’s also loads of other quality features. We like it.

    Made to fit the needs of snowboarders who are no strangers to long days out, whether you’re hunting for new street spots or exploring every inch of the resort the Dakine Louif Paradis Team Mission Pro 32L can do it all and then some.



    Dakine Bryan Fox Team Heli Pro 20L

    PRICE: €120

    Celebrating 25 years of Dakine’s iconic Heli Pack, this classic backpack has been updated for winter 2021 with loads of features and cool designs – it’s part of the Bryan Fox Signature Series.

    The Dakine Bryan Fox Team Heli Pro 20L is a fine way to celebrate the 25-year long journey of a fan favourite. With a design inspired by the people’s champ, it’s been given a workwear-like look with a custom BMF (Bryan William Fox) label that pays homage to Mt Hood.

    As for the pack itself, a recalibrated fit, increased durability, and recycled materials used in its construction are just a few of the things Dakine’s done to celebrate the 25-year milestone.

    The backpack has also got a vertical and horizontal snowboard carry option, a pocket to store your snow tools and shovel in, and a rescue whistle on the sternum strap if things go south. On top of that, you can also fit a 15” laptop in it if you want to use it down the bottom of the hill as well.


    Nidecker Summit 16L

    PRICE: $160

    Weighing less than one kg, the Nidecker Summit 16L bag is perfect for a shorter backcountry adventure and the occasional casual cruise through the resort.

    As the name implies, this pack is made to be taken off the beaten path. A moulded back panel with air channels lets your back breathe, making it more pleasant to carry the bag around as your back won’t be soaked in sweat – something which can eventually result in you getting cold.

    The ergonomically cushioned shoulder straps add to the bags comfort. There’s also a padded hydration sleeve here, making it easier for you to stay hydrated.

    A horizontal chest strap, a hip belt with a double compression belt, and external fasteners for shovel shaft are just some of the banging features that make the Nidecker Summit 16L backpack a good companion to explore the big white hills with.


    Ortovox Free Rider 22

    PRICE: £175

    Safety and protection are paramount in the backcountry and the risk of injury is always present. With this in mind, Ortovox have designed their Free Rider backpack series with protection and functionality going hand in hand. Each model comes with an integrated back protector, built into the unit. It’s made from eight pads that remain flexible and conforming to the contours of the rider’s back until hardening on impact, protecting your bones and vital organs from especially serious crashes.

    The backpack itself remains as functional as ever – not that you’d expect less from the backcountry behemoths at Ortovox. With a snowboard/snowshoe carrying option, helmet carry net, hydration system compatibility, touring pole fastening and a designated safety compartment, the Free Rider will suit nearly every kind of single day backcountry mission.

    As with any form of back protector (even when integrated to a backpack), the fit is paramount. Be sure to check the size guide from Ortovox, as the Free Rider is available in small, regular and long back lengths.


    Ortovox AVABAG Free Rider 22

    PRICE: £610

    And what if you want to one-up the safety spec of the Ortovox Freerider backpack? Easy. Add an airbag system to it. By no means does an airbag guarantee your safety in the event of an avalanche, and it’s certainly no substitute for carrying all the other compulsory avalanche safety gear (and being well practised in using it), but an avalanche airbag significantly decreases your chances of being buried in an avalanche. When deployed, the AVABAG Freerider inflates a single airbag around the top of the backpack and ups the overall surface area to push you to the surface of the slide.

    The Ortovox Free Rider 22 pack is among the lightest, sleekest designs out there, even down to the activation grip that stashes away neatly into one of the shoulder straps. The airbag system itself is remarkably compact, so even with its low-profile outline there’s still 22 litres of usable space for the rest of your gear. Plus the AVABAG’s removable nature means that you can free up even more space for the days when you’re staying well within the resort boundaries.

    It remains surprisingly durable, though. The nylon construction is actually incredibly tough and has a water-repellent coating to prevent it from taking on more weight as it comes into contact with snow or rain.


    Patagonia Descensionist 32L/40L

    PRICE: $179 / $199

    At a glance, the Descentionist looks a little different from your run of the mill backcountry pack, but this is Patagonia’s purpose-built tool for splitboarding, freeriding and lightweight backcountry missions. The 40L version weighs in at only 1046g, making it a great choice for longer missions and even some overnighters.

    Easy access and efficient design are paramount on a backcountry pack. The wide front pocket is big enough for your shovel blade, and there are toggles on either side to hold your shaft and probe in place without rattling around as you ride. There’s also a zipper running along the side of the pack for easy access to the main compartment, and stash pockets on the hip strap and top flap are ideal for smaller items.

    The straps that run over the front pocket are perfect for vertically carrying your board, so you can use this for regular hikes as well as splitboarding. It’s definitely more of a splitboarder’s pack, though, and built to handle all the abuse that can entail. Hard-wearing Cordura material is ever-present, and is thicker on the base of the bag for obvious reasons.

    With two sizes to choose from, the 32-litre will suffice for pretty much any single day adventure. For those chasing bigger lines and further peaks, go for the 40-litre.


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