Depending on what sort of winter adventure lies ahead of you, it may be wise to carry a snow-specific backpack. There are a variety of snowboard backpacks in a variety sizes and styles. If you plan on hiking into the side country or backcountry, a backpack is a necessary for carrying your food, water, camping equipment (if applicable), and avalanche safety gear. Determining how long you will be out of bounds will help you decided what size bag is best for you.
The amount of space inside of your bag is measured in liters. Smaller bags usually measure around 10-20L. When accessing the side country, a bag this size may be best. This is assuming that you are not planning on wandering too far away from the security and safety of a chairlift, lodge, helicopter, or cat machine.
If you plan on getting a little deeper into the side country or accessing terrain that could turn into a full day trip, a 20-35L pack is recommended. This will allow you carry more food, water, avalanche, safety gear, and extra layers of clothing in case weather conditions change.
A 35-55L pack is designed to carry enough gear to support you through an overnight session, while a 60-70L bag is designed for multi-day exploration. In addition to food, water, and safety gear, a bag this size will usually be able to carry camping gear such as tents, cooking gear, and equipment for glacier travel.
Bags designed for snow travel have special “wet-room” compartments for storing avalanche safety gear and mountaineering equipment. In case of an emergency, these compartments are easy to access for speedy rescues. These areas usually hold things like shovels and probes. Clips and loops on the outside of the bag are designed to attach ice axes, snowshoes, crampons, or anything else you might need for navigating the backcountry.
One of the most sought-after features is the board or ski-carrying device. This system allows you to attach your snowboard or skis to your bag to keep your hands free while hiking. Each bag has a unique way of attaching the equipment to it. Some are horizontal, some vertical and specifically for skis, they may be diagonal or A-frame. The way you choose to carry your gear is up to your comfort.
There are many different bag designs that are unique to specific tasks. Each bag might have a different function and feature things like the ability to carry an ice axe, photography gear, a helmet carrier, compression straps, hydration compatibility, or loops for connecting climbing gear, crampons, snowshoes, or whatever you may need to add. More modern bags have built in airbags and Avalung breathing apparatuses for even more safety in case of an avalanche. Make sure to pick out a bag that best suits your needs and comfort.