Tips for Skiing with a Backpack

Tips for Skiing with a Backpack

When it comes to skiing, whether you're hitting the groomed trails or exploring the backcountry, the question of whether or not to ski with a backpack is often debated. Some skiers swear by it, while others consider it unnecessary. Here, we break down the pros and cons of skiing with a backpack to help you make an informed decision.

PROS of Skiing with a Backpack

  1. Storage and Carrying Capacity
    • Gear: In the unpredictable environment of the mountains, a backpack allows you to carry essential safety equipment like a shovel, probe, and avalanche transceiver.
    • Food and Water: Keep yourself hydrated and energized without having to head back to the lodge.
    • Layering: Mountain weather can be fickle. A backpack allows you to store layers that can be added or removed as conditions change.
  2. Emergency Preparedness
    • Carrying a first aid kit, emergency blanket, and other safety gear can be lifesaving in unexpected situations.
    • For backcountry skiers, having avalanche rescue gear is critical.
  3. Comfort and Ergonomics
    • Modern ski backpacks are designed with the skier in mind, ensuring weight distribution is balanced, which can reduce fatigue.
    • Features like padded straps and waist belts can increase comfort.
  4. Extended Range
    • A backpack allows for longer excursions by carrying everything you need for a full day or multiple days in the mountains.
    • It’s essential for backcountry and touring enthusiasts.
  5. Personalization and Accessibility
    • Carry personal items such as cameras, smartphones, or GoPro's safely.
    • Handy pockets and compartments mean essential items are always within reach.

CONS of Skiing with a Backpack

  1. Impacts Balance and Center of Gravity
    • The added weight can shift your center of gravity, potentially affecting skiing technique and balance.
  2. Safety Concerns on Lifts
    • There’s a risk of the backpack getting caught on a chairlift, especially if not securely fastened.
    • Some ski resorts advise removing your backpack while on lifts for this reason.
  3. Potential for Overpacking
    • It’s tempting to stuff a backpack with "just-in-case" items, leading to unnecessary weight.
  4. Can Restrict Movement
    • A large or improperly secured backpack can hinder your ability to twist and turn, impacting skiing dynamics.
  5. Overheating and Discomfort
    • Wearing a backpack can reduce the effectiveness of breathable ski clothing, leading to sweating.
    • If not properly adjusted, straps can cause chafing or discomfort.

Skiing with a Backpack

Skiing with a backpack has undeniable benefits, especially for those looking to venture further afield or be prepared for all eventualities. However, the potential drawbacks mean it's not for everyone. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons based on the type of skiing you'll be doing, personal preference, and the specific conditions you'll be facing.

If you do opt to ski with a backpack, ensure it's a model designed specifically for skiing. Adjust it properly, familiarize yourself with its features, and practice skiing with it in a controlled environment before taking on more challenging terrains. Safe and enjoyable skiing is all about preparation and making informed choices.