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Winter Packs

Top Picks

How we choose: The best winter packs highlighted here were selected based on 81 reviews of 59 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a winter pack that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

USWE Pow 16

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Pow 16 is a specialized winter alpine pack for skiers/snowboarders. It is designed to hold avalanche gear, skis/board and features a CE-Certified full back protector. The pack uses the magic of Swedish engineering to keep your drinking tube thawed in sub-zero temps. The USWE POW makes bold claims and lives up to them all. Your new best ski partner. I'll save you the reading and say this; buy this pack.

Reasons to Buy

  • Keeps the pack snug during vigorous skiing
  • Hydration bladder keeps water thawed using an innovative Thermo Cell pocket
  • Storage specifically designed for snowsports, including avy gear
  • Multi-impact CE-certified spinal armor
  • No more "dancing monkey" on your back while skiing

Reasons to Avoid

  • The zipper to the goggle pouch might scratch your lenses if you aren't careful
  • You'll probably end up wanting the rest of their bounce-free packs for running/biking/motorbiking

Do you ski or snowboard in front or side country? Need to carry your plank(s) uphill occasionally? Want the peace of mind of dedicated, quick access pockets for avy gear? How about multi-impact rated, CE-certified spine protection? How about a hydration system that actually keeps your water thawed in sub-freezing temps?  Well, here you go! You hardly know it's there. It's that comfortable. The unisex USWE POW 16 (pronounced YOU-SWEE) fixes many of the frustrations faced by winter sports enthusiasts when it comes to their backpacks.

Read more: USWE Pow 16 review (1)

The North Face Cobra 52

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Lightweight, bombproof, and well thought out. A keeper for my uses in winter and summer as well.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent fabric choices in all the right necessary places throughout the pack.
  • The pack follows your body effortlessly, thus making it ideal for ascending and descending slowly or as fast as you desire.

Reasons to Avoid

  • None thus far...

Been through a few nice ski/board packs. All were beautiful for winter sports. The Cobra is all that and then some. Very light comparatively. Has all the bells and whistles I find necessary without the weight. I was amazed at how it hugged my body while descending some steep trails in the thick of winter. That incorporated design impressed me greatly. I wasn't psyched with the bright red color, but then remembered about hiking during hunting season. I'm OK with it....😅 Shoulder and waist belt are perfect, zippers are as well. I'm just impressed with materials, feature placement, and design. TNF's experience shows in this ski pack!!

Read more: The North Face Cobra 52 review (1)

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This pack is designed for backcountry ski touring. It is comfortable and big enough for emergency gear, food, etc.

Reasons to Buy

  • Insulated shoulder strap helps keep a hydration tube from freezing
  • Skis and poles are easily attached and carried
  • Shoulder straps are broad and comfortable
  • Zippers are strong

I've used this pack for almost two winters in the mountains of northern New Mexico. It's as good as new; it's trustworthy. Unlike the packs I previously used, I can wear this on a full-day outing and hardly notice it, even when it is fully loaded. I'm a medium size in most clothes, and the Dawn Patrol 32 is a good fit. In comparison, standard rucksacks, such as the BD Nitro pack, feel clunky and restrict shoulder movement, impeding XC skiing.  When one needs to remove one's skis and proceed on foot, skis and poles are easily attached.

Read more: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32 review (1)

REI Pinnacle 35 Pack

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Great pack for rock climbing or other alpine adventures. It is also comfortable on long outings.

Reasons to Buy

  • Well placed tie-downs and gear loops
  • Roll top closure is easy and fast to use
  • Good Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • New color scheme is somewhat ugly
  • Heavy

I initially didn't think I would like this pack.  I waiting until it went on mega sale to purchase it as I wasn't sold on the roll top closure. It turns out the roll top is actually much more functional that a regular lid for a climbing pack. I am able to get all my gear in and out easily. The packs fits fairly well and the shoulder straps and hip belt are padded sufficiently. I wouldn't throw a 100lb load into it, but they work well for what they do. 35 L is about right for this type of pack. The roll lid and side zipper make it fairly straightforward to get at the gear you want. The material it is made from is pretty durable so long life shouldn't be an issue. Overall, I would recommend this pack if you can stand the color.

Read more: REI Pinnacle 35 Pack reviews (2)

Deuter Guide Tour 35+ SL

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

All the winter bag I will ever need for day hiking in the snow. Rugged, has everything I need and more!

Reasons to Buy

  • Pivoting hip belts
  • Alpine Back System
  • Side access zipper
  • Hydration compatible
  • Removable bivouac foam mat and stays
  • Wide ski slots
  • Ice tool attachments
  • Hip belt gear loops

Reasons to Avoid

  • None

This is my first ever winter pack and I love it! I bought it specifically to strap my snowshoes on. This pack can also carry skis and a snowboard as well. My snowshoes strap to the pack easily with no hassle. The pack is waterproof as well. It holds extra gear and food. It has multiple entry areas and zippers. It has a front zipper area for emergency snow avalanche shovel pocket. This is a great bag. It is heavy duty material. This bag is specifically made for women. Has SOS labels, height adjustable lid, under lid valuables pocket, aluminum X-Frame, spin-drift collars, under lid rope strap, bottom compartment access with internal zip divider.

Read more: Deuter Guide Tour 35+ SL review (1)

Osprey Kamber 22

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Excellent winter pack for day trips, made with very useful and safety conscious features.

Reasons to Buy

  • Fit
  • Functionality
  • Winter-specific design
  • Water resistance
  • Ski/snowboard/snowshoe straps

Reasons to Avoid

  • Haven't found any.

I bought this for winter hiking and snowshoeing, particularly for carrying snowshoes when not being used. I found it very easy to load or unload the snowshoes without having to remove mitts. The strap system on the pack is just perfect for this, and tucks out of the way when not needed. The pack is made to be very water resistant and lives up to this. It's a panel design with one larger compartment with a divider for a water bladder, and tube routing that goes down one of the shoulder straps which is also insulated.

Read more: Osprey Kamber 22 review (1)

Top Avalanche Airbag Pack

Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A great evolution on the airbag concept with terrific selection of features.

Reasons to Buy

  • Multiple Air Bag deployments
  • Simple system
  • Lots of cool features
  • Comfortable to wear

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pretty small interior size (28L is accurate)
  • Huge exterior size

So I got to take this pack out for a spin the other day on a Ski Mountaineering objective. It was a pretty short day and we didn't get into any terrain that we felt was particularly risky, so I never felt the need for its key feature. The pack is accurate to the rest of the BD M/L sizing. It's surprising comfortable, and breathable for a winter pack. I certainly found it rather enjoyable to wear. The bag is burly, and feels super durable. The buckle was easier to operate then other avi bags I've seen.  The pack is much smaller than it looks due to the airbag taking up a lot of volume.

Read more: Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack review (1)

More Reviews of Winter Packs

Trailspace reviewers have shared 81 reviews of 59 different winter packs.

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Other Types of Backpacks

Find more backpacks reviewed in these related categories:

Daypacks (under 35L)

Overnight Packs (35-49L)

Weekend Packs (50-69L)

+9 more types

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