You’ve got your beacon, shovel, and probe, and you can’t wait to get out there and ride that pure backcountry powder you’ve heard so much about. To begin, you’ll need a place to store all of your belongings. While you might be tempted to just throw everything in your favourite daypack and call it a day, you’ll be far better off investing in a backcountry backpack made specifically for the purpose. These backpacks are extremely technological pieces of gear in and of themselves, with a variety of unique features meant to keep your kit organised and accessible.
What Is the Difference Between a Hiking Backpack and a Backcountry Backpack?
Isn’t a backpack just a backpack? Well, not quite. Backpacks made for backcountry skiing and snowboarding include particular features that make traversing remote terrain as easy as possible. Dedicated compartments for avalanche safety gear and unique connection methods for carrying skis or snowboards are the two most prevalent (and useful) features.
Avalanche Safety Equipment Should Be Stored Separately:
It’s critical to have your shovel and probe within easy reach. Avalanche rescues are incredibly time-sensitive, so it’s no good wasting valuable seconds rummaging through your backpack looking for your gear. A separate safety gear compartment is included in the vast majority of wilderness backpacks. Separate sleeves will often retain your probe and shovel handle securely, keeping everything organised for easy access in the event of an avalanche.
Look for a backpack with drainage holes and a totally waterproof safety pocket. This is a good place to put wet skins during the descent, and it keeps the gear in the main compartment dry. Avalanche safety equipment should never be strapped on the outside of the backpack, where it can snag and be lost during a fall.
Carry your skis/snowboards:
Backcountry travel may necessitate the removal of your skis in order to bootpack up steep, tricky parts. It’s crucial to be able to tie your skis or snowboard to your pack because carrying them on your shoulders isn’t always ideal or practicable. Hiking with your hands free is possible thanks to a strap carrying system.
The two major carry systems are diagonal (skis together vertically or at an angle on the back of the pack) and A-frame (skis together horizontally or at an angle on the rear of the pack) (skis strapped separately to the sides of the pack and sometimes connected at the tips by a strap).
What Should the Dimensions of a Backcountry Backpack Be?
Backcountry packs range in size from small backpacks with only enough room for your avalanche safety gear to big multi-day adventure packs. Begin by deciding where you’ll use this backpack and what kind of riding you’ll perform with it. Are you planning on riding lift-served sidecountry or venturing into the wild? How long will you be gone, and what additional equipment will you require to achieve your goals?
Your backpack size will be determined by the length of your journey and the amount of supplies you’ll need to bring. The following general criteria apply to pack volume, which is commonly measured in litres (L):
- 10-20L – Sidecountry lift-served, heli- or cat-accessed riding
Longer day excursions (20-35L)
35-55L – Overnight winter camping outings and multi-day hut tours
60-70L – Longer mountaineering treks that necessitate the use of a tent, cooking equipment, and other technical equipment.