Whether you’re touring the Haute Route or cruising around Lech, there’s a pack out there for you. Here’s our pick of the bunch
1. Arc’teryx Quintic 20, £140
Designed for all-mountain and backcountry adventures. The wide and flat profile of the pack manages weight transfer by keeping the load low, close and centered over the hips. Separate compartments keep shovel, safety gear, skins, food and extras easy to reach. Weighs 960g.
2. Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 45-55L, £110
This big fella, large enough for a month’s worth of kit, only weighs in at at 1.62kg.Loops, lashes and the removable lid are easy to handle out in the elements, the back pad repels snow and an AdaptiveFit harness and rotating hip belt mean you can tweak the fit for max comfort. It has an internal divider and Air Mesh back panel for breathability. A good price, too.
3. Dakine Heli Pro II 28l, £115
Apart from its many handy features, what we love about this roomy 1.1kg freeride pack is the range of colours available – from ‘Peat Camo’ (dark camouflage) to ‘Inferno’ (flaming orange). As to those features, there’s both diagonal and A-frame ski carry, extra access to the main compartment through the backpanel, plus a generous sized ‘attic’ pocket as well as a vertical side pocket.
4. Deuter Freerider Pro 30, £125
Seriously light for its 30l size, at 870g, with tons of sensible uphill-friendly features. Skis can be fastened without removing the pack. Layers, skins, gloves or helmet can be stashed inside a large front flap, and smaller garb bunged in the stretch side-pockets or mesh pockets on the hip belt. Plus there are crampon, pole and ice-axe attachments. Skinning up in the dark? Reflectors mean your buddies will spot you easily.
5. Haglöfs Skrå 26, £120
A streamlined pack for full days out in the backcountry. Haglöfs have all the essentials ticked off with this 1.3kg pack: diagonal ski carry system (that fits wide skis); attachment straps for snowshoes, helmet, ski poles; easy-access safety equipment compartments; fleece-lined goggle pocket; full length hip belt with zippered pockets, there’s even a safety whistle. All this within a lightweight-ish touring-friendly framework.
6. Marmot Backcountry 32, £125
We love this robust 32l rucksack, which is ideal for day tours and freeride adventures. They’ve thought of everything: shovel and probe pocket; A-frame as well as diagonal ski carry; roomy lined goggle pocket; tool pocket up front. You can get into the main compartment via the back panel as well as the enormous main top-load zipper. Zip pulls are meaty, which is a bonus if you’re a mitt-wearer. Weighs 1.22kg.
7. Ortovox Crossrider 20, £79
Part of the brand’s freshly revamped All Mountain range, the Crossrider (860g) is a great all-rounder, ideal for piste, park or powder, and with enough features and just enough capacity for a day tour. There’s stowage for safety kit, an A-frame ski-carry system designed to take wide skis, a compartment for phone and camera, and loops for ice axe or ski poles.
8. Osprey Kode 32, £100
The main quick-access compartments comprise one for potentially wet gear – shovel blade, handle, probe and skins; and one for dry gear, such as layers, spares and sustenance. There are handy zipped pockets to both sides of the hip belt, perfect for lippy or suncream, plus a fleece-lined non-scratch goggle-pocket. Weighs in at 1.67kg; also available in 42l size.
9. Salomon Soulquest 35 S-LAB, £150
Pack light and you could just about take this handsome fella on a hut-to-hut tour, especially if you don’t need to take crampons or miles of rope. At 840g, it’s one of the lightest for its size. This is a great all-round option, designed to compress when not fully loaded. It includes an integrated, insulated, removable hydration bottle: we wonder which member of Salomon’s pro team – which was involved in designing the line – thought of that?
10. Scott Air Free AP 10, £500
Women of the world rejoice! Scott has introduced a female-specific airbag-compatible pack, on the back (excuse the pun) of the well regarded Scott Alpride Airbag System. The pack has a shorter body length than the men’s, plus a diagonal ski carry, a compartment for safety kit, an accessible lower cavity for skins or first aid kit, a padded and anatomically shaped hip belt and various loops, pockets and straps. It weighs in at 1.08kg, not including the airbag itself.