"The best backcountry ski pack I've used," declared our Colorado tester after hauling this one on a bevy of spring ascents. That's because the 1,800-cubic-inch Kode 30 offers the perfect feature set for winter day trips. A stretchy net (which packs into its own zippered pocket) expands to hold a helmet snug against the pack and keep it from filling up with snow. The main compartment is accessed through a burly, U-shaped zipper that extends to the bottom of the pack; during heavy snowfall, testers reached in from the sides to grab gear without exposing the top to precipitation.
Interior dividers separate dry and wet gear, and organize a probe and shovel. Huge, looped zipper pulls are easy to operate while wearing bulky gloves, and two small hipbelt pockets keep snacks handy. A fleece-lined pocket on top protects goggles, and an insulated sleeve on the shoulder strap keeps a hydration hose from freezing. The reinforced nylon ski loops stood up to sharp edges. Best of all, the Kode's suspension proved supportive enough to haul 30 pounds in plush comfort–even after seven hours on the move. $139; 3 lbs.
3 oz.; 3 unisex sizes; ospreypacks.com