Best Budget Ski Backpacks of 2021-22

Whether you are going for resort skiing or heading for the backcountry, a snow backpack is a necessary piece of gear on the slopes. It helps keeps your essentials safe and secure. With a good pack, you can keep extra layers, water, snacks, and even avalanche equipment. A backpack built specifically for snowsports is going to allow you to pack goggles with your helmet, skis, snowboard, and ice tools. Some backpacks have deployable airbags built in that can be helpful in the event of a slide.

Below is the list of top budget-friendly backpacks for skiing and snowboarding that provide plenty of snow-specific features.

1. DAKINE Mission Pro

DAKINE Mission Pro
Material: Nylon
Weight: 1 lb. 9.6 oz.
Gear Capacity: 18, 25L
Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 5.5 in.

DAKINE Mission Pro is a great pack for resort skiers, aspiring backcountry enthusiasts, and those on a tight budget. The Mission Pro provides almost all the features that are needed for skiing or snowboarding. It features a dedicated avalanche-gear pocket, a nice fleece-lined goggle pocket, and a comfortable hip belt and shoulder straps. Since this pack is made with snowboarders in mind, it offers vertical board carry so you can attach your skis diagonally. This can also be doubled as a skateboard pack. This pack is relatively small. It’s only 20 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 5.5 inches deep.

A cheaper backpack is obviously going to lack some features. So what exactly do you lose by going cheaper? Well, the Mission Pro isn’t durable like some other premium brands. You also lose the convenience of a full back panel zipper. Furthermore, there are fewer external straps so you don’t have the option to compress a half-full pack or carry skis in an A-frame configuration. Finally, the gear capacity of 18L can be an issue for some people. However, for those who like to go lightweight, the Mission Pro is a great value for what you get.

What I like: Great option for the resort, streamlined design, super affordable

What I don’t like: No compression straps, no back panel access

See the DAKINE Mission Pro

2. Black Diamond Cirque

Black Diamond Cirque
Material: Dynoma (nylon)
Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz.
Gear Capacity: 30, 35, 45L
Dimensions: 21.3 x 12.2 x 10.2 in.

If you are looking for a pack that you can take on ski mountaineering trips, Black Diamond Cirque is the perfect choice for you. It’s a type of snowsport that requires big-mileage days and an assortment of technical gear. For this reason, you need a pack that can carry all of your gear without weighing you down. The Cirque is a type of backpack that can carry your gear for such adventures. It offers all the necessary features required for ski mountaineering like ice-ax loops, diagonal or A-frame ski-carry straps, a rope strap under the top lid, and a helmet flap. There’s also a secure sleeve separated from the compartment that can be used for rescue gear. The 45L model weighs just around 2.25 pounds and you get a generous amount of space for the weight.

Since this pack is designed with lightweight in mind so it does have room for improvement. This pack lacks a load lifter and has a stiff suspension, which means it isn’t comfortable compared to some other options on the market. The top-load strap doubles as the diagonal ski carry strap, which makes it difficult to achieve the maximum gear capacity while carrying skis diagonally. Additionally, the backpack does not offer an option to carry snowboards. Finally, the side zipper is too short and almost useless making the backpack primarily a top-loading pack.

What I like: A good pack with all the necessary features.

What I don’t like: No snowboard carry, doesn’t handle heavy loads well

See the Black Diamond Cirque

3. Patagonia Descensionist

Patagonia Descensionist
Material: 420D recycled nylon
Weight: 2 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Gear Capacity: 32, 40L
Dimensions: Not specified

Like the Black Diamond Cirque, Patagonia Descensionist is also built for ski mountaineering and day touring. This pack comes in 32L and 40L versions. This pack features a breathable back panel and shoulder harness that keeps you dry and cool all day long. The pack has an innovative strap system to carry skis or a snowboard in a variety of ways. Patagonia also included a helmet attachment point, a full side zip, and a hip belt with pockets to keep your small belongings secure. The Descensionist is fully equipped to carry all your technical tools. There’s a rope strap, a dedicated safety tool pocket, and internal and external ice tool attachments.

Keep in mind that the Descensionist has a very minimalist design and it does not offer (including the Black Diamond Cirque) the convenience of full-back panel access. This limitation makes the pack only top loading. However, the 2021 version has better access to the snow tools pocket, but it’s not a replacement for a large back panel opening. Additionally, the Descensionist weighs a little more than the Black Diamond Cirque but it’s slightly more durable and has better ski and snowboard carry options.

What I like: Very sturdy, solid set of features, there’s a side zip for secondary access to the main compartment.

What I don’t like: A bit heavy.

See the Patagonia Descensionist

4. Osprey Kamber

Osprey Kamber
Material: 420HD nylon packcloth
Weight: Not specified
Gear Capacity: 32L
Dimensions: 22 x 12 x 12 in.

Osprey Kamber 32 is built for backcountry skiers and snowboarders. This pack can hold plenty of gear for a backcountry tour or a lift-accessed adventure off the ski area. A simple but innovative Lightwire suspension system combined with a snow shutting padded hip belt and back panel provides comfort for loads of up to 30 pounds. A zippered panel allows access to a large opening where you can store emergency tools for assessing avalanche conditions. A smart built-in back pocket for hydration allows for fully insulated hydration routing preventing freezing during your tours.

The hydration tube is fully routed through the shoulder strap and is insulated for ensured protection and performance. The outside of the pack has several different features including loops for ski or snowboard carry and an ice ax attachment for technical ascending. A stowable helmet carry system, a scratch-free goggle pocket, glove-friendly buckles, and zipper pulls add to the convenience and ease of use. It’s a great option for those skiers and snowboarders who need an all-day pack to carry all of their tools and extra layers, some food, and their gear.

What I like: A comfortable day pack, plenty of adjustment options, padded shoulder straps

What I don’t like: The hip belt pockets are not very functional.

See the Osprey Kamber

5. Deuter Freerider Pro

Deuter Freerider Pro
Material: Ripstop nylon
Weight: 3 lbs. 13 oz.
Gear Capacity: 30L
Dimensions: 23 x 11 x 8.3 in.

Deuter Freerider Pro 30 is designed for alpine snow pursuits with an athletic and streamlined build. It’s great for backcountry skiers and snowboarders who expect to be out for long days in the mountains. Deuter’s Alpine Back System uses two vertical pads to cushion and has a central chimney for ventilation when you start to heat up. A removable insulating back panel can be taken out for sitting during a quick rest or a lunch break. Anatomic bi-laminate foam hip belt with Deuter’s VARI FLEX design enhances overall comfort and allows for easy movement. Vertical snowboard carry and a variety of ski carry options allow for easy attachment of your gear while ascending technical sections.

A back access zipper allows you to open up the pack without having to take all of your gear off of the front. A variety of pockets allow for storage of your snow shovel and Avalanche probes as well as some extra safety equipment. An internal pocket and built-in exit port and make the pack hydration compatible. The hydration reservoir is sold separately. This pack is built with 420D polyamide material. It is a super tightly woven material, has high abrasion resistance and a light polyurethane coating for enhanced water resistance. It is not a completely waterproof pack so keep that in mind when you take it out for your adventures.

What I like: Snowshoes carry, reinforced compression straps, comfortable to wear

What I don’t like: Has some design flaws but nothing major, heavy

See the Deuter Freerider Pro

6. Deuter Pace

Deuter Pace
Material: Nylon/closed-cell foam
Weight: 2 lbs. 2 oz.
Gear Capacity: 36L
Dimensions: 26 x 11 x 9 in.

Deuter Pace is a lightweight and flexible pack but it’s still supportive. This pack is great for alpine climbers, skiers, snowboarders, or anyone who is looking for a high-altitude high-performance pack. The pack is equipped with Deuter’s speed light back system, which consists of a flexible tensioned Delrin U-frame and padded breathable air mesh. The pack can be accessed through a simple top-loading collar with a single buckle lid. Additional safety items can be stored in that lid for quick access.

A variety of exterior attachment points make this pack great for winter adventures. Dual upper and lower compression straps double as ski or snowboard carry straps and can compress the bag super tight. Gear loops on the hip belt are suitable for extra carabiners, ice screws as well as any emergency items. Dual tool loops and bungee tie-offs are a great place to store ice axes for technical ascents. A stretch front pocket can hold a helmet or extra layers. Accessory loops on the pack are compatible with the helmet holder that would be sold separately for lashing a larger helmet to the pack.

The materials on this pack consist of a 210D micro ripstop. It’s a really durable but still very lightweight ripstop material and it does have a light PU coating for enhanced water resistance. The accents are an even more lightweight 100D ripstop fabric, so again, lightweight but still very abrasion resistant and durable. The pack as a whole is not waterproof but it is water-resistant so keep that in mind if you happen to experience any storms.

The suspension on this pack is very simple but very effective. It’s a Deuter’s speed light suspension system and it does have a lightweight tensioned Delrin U-frame that expands around the pack to give it a little bit of structure while letting it be flexible and still fairly supportive. The back panel is just a simple padded 3D air mesh so it’s a semi lofty mesh. In the shoulder straps, you do have some of that lightweight air mesh as well but it is open up toward the bottoms with just a simple mesh and it allows for maximum breathability and comfort. A hydration compatible port is included on the inside and there is a sleeve that you can hang a hydration reservoir. The hydration reservoir is sold separately.

What I like: Streamlined design, extra length in the compression straps, pockets are a good size with Velcro tabs

What I don’t like: The top lid could be better with some adjustability.

See the Deuter Pace

7. Osprey Women’s Kresta

Osprey Women's Kresta
Material: 420HD nylon packcloth
Weight: 3 lbs. 14 oz.
Gear Capacity: 30L
Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 12 in.

Osprey Kresta is designed specifically for the backcountry enthusiast who’s headed out into the winter for any number of snowsports. The Osprey women’s crest of 30 has enough capacity for a full day of adventure. This pack has an array of winter-specific features like options to carry skis, a snowboard, or snowshoes. There’s a designated goggle pocket and lots of other pockets for quick access to snow safety gear. It’s got a built-in back pocket for a hydration reservoir, which routes through an insulated shoulder harness to prevent freezing. The back panel easily helps you carry the load and the shoulder straps and hip belt are specifically designed for those snowsports.

The back panel is thermoformed contoured back panel. There’s not a lot of mesh or any place where snow could get caught. This is specifically designed to be out in the winter. You do have a light wire aluminum frame that goes around the outside. It gives a lot of rigidity to the pack. Even though this is a pretty small pack it’s got a pretty supportive back panel and suspension system.

Osprey also has gender-specific features on their packs and this pack is no exception. The torso length and the width between the shoulder straps as well as the contour in the shoulder straps are designed to better fit a female body. There are load lifters on the shoulder straps that come off with a buckle. This also allows you to access the main compartment of the pack. The hydration pocket is located between the back panel and the main pocket. The hose to your hydration reservoir routes out through an insulated sleeve in the shoulder harness.

The zipper pulls are a lot bigger and they are glove-friendly. All the clips on the pack are also glove-friendly. The sternum strap has a nice safety whistle on it. The hip belt is also contoured, nice, and padded. There are nice big pockets on the front of the hip belt that can hold your phone. There are horizontal clips where you can attach your skis, snowboards, or even a pair of snowshoes. You also have an A-frame and diagonal ski carry option with this pack. On the front, you have a pocket that has a helmet carry.

What I like: Great for day trips and backcountry skiing

What I don’t like: Heavy

See the Osprey Women’s Kresta

Best Budget Ski Packs: Summary

DAKINE Mission ProNylon1 lb. 9.6 oz.18, 25L20 x 12 x 5.5 in.
Black Diamond CirqueDynoma (nylon)2 lbs. 5 oz.30, 35, 45L21.3 x 12.2 x 10.2 in.
Patagonia Descensionist420D recycled nylon2 lbs. 13.5 oz.32, 40LNot specified
Osprey Kamber420HD nylon packclothNot specified32L22 x 12 x 12 in.
Deuter Freerider ProRipstop nylon3 lbs. 13 oz.30L23 x 11 x 8.3 in.
Deuter PaceNylon/closed-cell foam2 lbs. 2 oz.36L26 x 11 x 9 in.
Osprey Women’s Kresta420HD nylon packcloth3 lbs. 14 oz.30L20 x 12 x 12 in.

Which one is right for you?

Choosing a pack for your snow adventures may seem straightforward, but with a lot of options available on the market, it may get complicated. A good ski pack should provide a comfortable fit, attachments points for your ski gear, and be lightweight. If you are on a tight budget, you definitely lose some features. So, make sure you get all the essentials in your pack even if you are getting a cheaper ski pack. There are options available that provide a good balance between price and features and DAKINE Mission Pro is one of them.