Pack Rats

When we reviewed winterized packs (“Cold Storage,” February 2007), all of our favorites couldn’t fit on a single page. So here are four more ski-and-snowboard friendly backpacks that you can strap on wherever the snow is deep.

Classic Hiker
Patagonia Inner Limits and Outer Limits
Patagonia's first go at a ski-specific pack comes in four sizes and two models. We put them all through the paces in the New Mexico backcountry and they ware comfortable while both skinning and skiing. The Inner Limits (available in 1,050- and 1,250- cubic-inche models) is made with the knowledge that the best terrain on any mountain requires some hiking. Like the larger (1,500- and 1,800-cubic inches) backcountry-specific Outer Limits pack, it features two front-loading compartments—one to carry shovel and probe internally, the other to carry layers and food—a hydration hose pocket on the shoulder strap, and webbing to carry skis (A-frame or cross-carry) or a board. The best features of the packs, though, are clean design ergonomics that fit both your back and a chairlift. The Outer Limits also has Hypalon A-frame holsters and a fold-out foam belay seat pad that can double as a sleeping pad (if you're Steve House).

Gripes: One tester thought that downsizing a full-sized waist buckle to one inch on the Outer Limits pack wasn't worth the weight loss. And on both packs, the cross-carry—of late, the preferred method of carrying skis in any un-roped setting—seems like an afterthought.


Burton Audex PTT AK 40L

Burton Audex PTT AK 40L

Burton Audex PTT AK 40L

Techy Boarder
Burton Audex PTT AK 40L
Burton introduces its Audex series this season, incorporating technological gadgetry into functional outerwear and packs. The Audex PTT AK 40L pack integrates a two-way radio (sold separately), with controls at the shoulder strap. The result? Almost hands-free communication, eliminating fumbling in and out of your pack or jacket for the chute report from the heli pilot. We used the radio to talk to a guide on a blustery day off Telluride, Colorado's backside. His voice was clear, even with the loud gusts. The pack also features vertical board carry for long hikes and horizontal board carry for riding a sled (sorry, no provisions for carrying skis). The extra-cushy back panel and support were comfortable all day long, while the capacity was more then enough for a day out and compressed if necessary.

Gripes: Internal shovel blade pocket isn't made for those big booter builders. The Psycho Stripe fabric pattern gives anybody following you a headache (no altitude needed). Good thing it also comes in black.


Dakine Heli-Pro with Reservoir

Dakine Heli-Pro with Reservoir

Dakine Heli-Pro with Reservoir

Chugach Guide
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.


Filed To: Backpacks
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