Winter backpacking packs are extra specialised than common three-season backpacks, with a stronger emphasis on heavier weight hundreds, exterior attachment factors, and sturdiness for carrying cumbersome gear with sharp factors like snowshoes, skis, ice axes, and crampons. In addition they favor extra pockets and the power to entry and put away gear shortly, so you possibly can keep away from standing round between gear transitions and getting chilly. Pack volumes can differ anyplace from a minimal of 50L to 100L, with 65L often being the candy spot for a weekend journey.
Listed below are our picks for the highest 10 greatest winter backpacking packs:
1. Granite Gear Blaze 60 Backpack
2. Osprey Mutant 52L Backpack
3. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Ice Pack (70 L)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
4. Black Diamond Mission 75L Backpack
5. Mountain Hardwear AMG 55L
6. Gregory Denali 75L
7. Thriller Ranch Sceptre 50 Backpack
8. Cilogear 60L Worksack
9. Chilly Chilly World Chaos 66L Backpack
Chilly Chilly World
10. Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 60-75L
HOW TO CHOOSE A WINTER BACKPACK
Backpacks tailor-made for winter use have a unique characteristic set than most 3 season packs. What follows are the options that I’ve discovered most helpful for in a single day and multi-day winter journeys in mountainous terrain. Whereas I feel these translate pretty broadly throughout winter locales, it’s essential be the choose on the options you consider are most related to your wants.
Quantity and Weight
Should you principally plan on doing in a single day or weekend-length winter backpacking journeys, you’ll in all probability need a pack that has 65-85 liters of inner capability. The candy spot is about 70 liters, however you would possibly be capable of shave that down as little as 60 liters should you carry much less gear or want much less insulation. Attempt to get a pack that has satisfactory compression so you possibly can shrink its quantity if not wanted whereas retaining the burden of an empty pack underneath 5 kilos. Pack and equipment weight is much more vital in winter than the remainder of the 12 months since you’ll be carrying and carrying much more of it.
Exterior Attachment Factors
Winter packs must have a large number of exterior attachment factors to hold sharp, pointy, or cumbersome gear that gained’t match inside the primary storage areas of a backpack. Probably the most helpful exterior attachment factors embrace compression straps, daisy chains, hip belt webbing or gear loops, and ice ax loops with shaft holders.
Compression straps serve two functions: to assist compress a puffy load and convey the burden nearer to your core muscular tissues the place it may be carried extra simply; and to connect sleeping pads, snowshoes, avalanche shovels, or skis to the perimeters of your pack as an alternative of the entrance, in order that the load doesn’t pull you backward and off-balance.
When selecting a backpack, attempt to discover ones which have two or three tiers of compression straps that run horizontally throughout the perimeters of the packs. The compression straps must be adjustable and straightforward to undo whereas carrying gloves so you possibly can slide snowshoes underneath them. Keep away from packs which have compression straps that zig zag forwards and backwards on the backpack utilizing one strap to avoid wasting weight. These are very tough to make use of.
Daisy chains are sometimes sewn onto winter packs and can be utilized to lash further gear to the again or sides of the pack utilizing canvas or velcro straps. They often have many loops sewn into them that run the size of your pack from high to backside.
Ice Ax Loops
There are two sorts of ice axes on this world – straight strolling axes and curved climbing axes. If it’s essential carry a strolling ax, search for a pack that has no less than one ice ax loop on the base of the pack and a shaft holder, each off-center alongside the again of the pack. The shaft holder generally is a easy wire lock like these discovered on many Osprey packs, or a extra strong buckle. Should you plan on carrying two climbing axes, search for packs with two ice ax loops and shaft keepers.
Hip Belt Webbing and Gear Loops
Some climbing-oriented packs have canvas or plastic gear loops on the surface of the hip belt to clip climbing carabiners to. Whereas not an alternative to a correct sit-harness, these loops will be fairly handy to rack gear. Alternatively, you possibly can clip insulated water bottle holders to them so you possibly can drink when you find yourself on the transfer and don’t wish to cease. Additional hip belt webbing serves the identical function and is commonly higher than having belt pockets which might be too small for winter use.
Crampon pockets are a really handy and secure place to retailer crampons if you’re not carrying them. Positioned on the aspect of the pack farthest away from you, they hold the crampon factors away out of your legs and arms, your head, and your gear the place they will do actual injury.
It may be very useful in winter to have a backpack that may broaden in quantity to hold extra gear. A method to do that is to purchase a pack with a floating lid, often a high pocket that may detach from the primary physique of the pack however remains to be held down by 4 straps. Additional gear, say a coil of rope, will be sandwiched between the pocket and the highest of your pack on this method.
Backpack pockets generally is a two-way avenue in winter. Whereas they are often helpful for group, they will additionally add a whole lot of pointless weight to a backpack. For instance, having a backpack with a separate sleeping bag pocket is fairly ineffective, as a result of your sleeping bag can simply as simply be saved in a single massive predominant compartment while not having the additional cloth weight and zipper required for the extra pocket.
Many of the hip belt pockets offered by producers are just too small to be of a lot use in winter, and there aren’t sufficient of them to hold every part you would possibly want for a winter hike, comparable to a digital camera, suntan lotion, lip balm, headlamp, compass, map, altimeter, and a pencil or pen. Many hikers add accent pockets to their packs to supply extra exterior storage or they put on a further fanny pack backward to supply one other pocket that may retailer spare gloves, hats, and meals.
Examine Out All of SectionHiker’s Winter Gear Guides!
SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently analysis, check, and price the very best merchandise. We solely generate profits if you buy a product by way of our affiliate hyperlinks. Assist us proceed to check and write unsponsored and unbiased gear opinions, newbie FAQs, and free mountaineering guides.