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Going ultralight is rarely an option in winter: Between extra layers, extra food, larger sleeping bags, snowshoes, and more, getting out during the snowy season often requires carrying a load. These five packs, which range from 30 to 50 liters, can’t get rid of the extra weight, but with features ranging from comfortable precurved hipbelts to bombproof ski carries, they sure make it easier to haul.
Mystery Ranch Gallatin Peak 40
Winter brings its own unique ways of destroying gear, but the armor-like Gallatin Peak is stronger than the season. Its 840-denier nylon front panel (and 330-denier nylon everywhere else) didn’t falter when faced with sharp skis, grabby trees, and rough granite in Idaho’s Selkirk Mountains Buy Mystery Ranch Gallatin Peak 40 Now / Read the Full Review
BCA Stash 30
Most ski packs of this volume are one-size-fits-all, but the new Stash offers 3 inches of torso length adjustment. “My partner’s torso is several inches longer than mine, but when we loaded up 35 pounds of video and photo gear and traded off shooting and skiing we both felt great,” one 5’9” tester said. Buy BCA Stash 30 Now / Read the Full Review
The North Face Forecaster 35
Get this streamlined pack for missions in steep, tricky terrain. “The narrow packbag never felt unwieldy, something I appreciated on dicey cliff traverses in Colorado’s Elk Mountains,” one tester says. The Forecaster’s plastic framesheet is comfy under 25-pound loads, and keeps the weight centered. Buy The North Face Forecaster 35 Now / Read the Full Review
Eddie Bauer Alpine Sisu 50
This pack provides the quickest access to avalanche gear of any in the test. The Sisu’s long, rectangular front panel peels back via a hook-and-loop closure and easy-to-grip pull handle. Buy Eddie Bauer Alpine Sisu 50 Now / Read the Full Review
Osprey Kamber 42 / Kresta 40
Ski packs, perhaps more so than any other piece of winter gear, boast an incredible number of features. The Kamber is no exception, and for the past 11 years—since it was first introduced as the Kode—it’s proven time and again that its feature set is the most dialed one on the mountain. Buy Osprey Kamber 42 Now / Read the Full Review