If you could turn an old metal lunchbox into a ski pack, it would look like this—a utilitarian, bargain-priced hauler. The 1,647-cubic-inch pack held all the tools we needed for a daylong ski-mountaineering trip, stayed out of the way when we spent a morning making laps at Vail, and carried family gear on a Front Range snowshoe jaunt. It's a compact pack, but the shovel pocket is big enough to accommodate a large blade. 1.8 lbs; backcountryaccess.com
Bonus: Quickly grab snacks or an extra layer via the back-panel access.
Bummer: No hydration sleeve.