Dakine Heli-Pro with Reservoir
It's no surprise that backcountry guides from Jackson to Alaska pick this pack. With 1,200 cubic inches of storage, it snugly fits all of the day's necessary items, with outer loops for your shovel handle or ice ax and a deployable side pocket that perfectly fits a Nalgene bottle. On a day of cat skiing at Colorado's Monarch Mountain, the back support system hugged tight even when jumping small cliffs. Its fleece lined goggle pouch kept our eyewear unscratched, while the spacious waist belt pockets fit a Clif Bar and a small digital camera. Made from durable polyester ripstop, the pack can accommodate a diagonal ski carry or a vertical snowboard carry. And its freeride-inspired graphics will make you look like a ski-porn star, even if you've never been in a helicopter.
Gripes: The 70-ounce hydration reservoir is a novel idea, but on any cold days, the insulated tube freezes up. For warmer days, this is great, but if temperatures drop into the 20s, remember to bring a water bottle.