Why Do People Snowboard with Backpacks?


Getting your gear together for a snowboarding expedition is not as simple as just grabbing your snowboard. You need to take a range of accessories while snowboarding, including a helmet, the proper boots, and warm outerwear. Some people even carry backpacks while snowboarding! 

People snowboard with backpacks because they want to carry supplies with them. Even competitive snowboarders choose to have backpacks when competing. They carry supplies such as food, water, first aid, and other tools which help snowboarders feel more secure. 

This article examines why snowboarders carry backpacks and the advantages of taking a backpack. It also has tips on what you should pack in your backpack and how to stay safe when carrying one while snowboarding. 

Why Do Snowboarders Wear Backpacks?

Snowboarders wear backpacks to carry gear and supplies that will help them keep them safe and comfortable. Some of the main reasons that snowboarders carry backpacks are: 

  • They carry food. If you have food in your backpack, you won’t be reliant on finding a lodge or cafeteria to have lunch. Instead, you can focus your energy on what’s essential: exploring the slopes! 
  • They carry hydration gear. Most backpacks designed for snowboarding allow you to run a hydration line through them. The hydration lines will allow you hands-free sips of water. Try to make sure the hydration line is insulated to prevent the water from freezing. 
  • To hold essential supplies when snowboarding through the backcountry. You can pack ice picks and avalanche probes into your backpack to ensure you stay safe while traversing across the backcountry. 
  • Snowboarding gear and snowboards can be attached to backpacks. If you’re hiking through the backcountry, this is useful as it leaves your hands free as you hike. 

Why Do Snowboarders Wear Backpacks in Competition?

When watching snowboarding competitions, you may have noticed that some competitors carry backpacks with them. For instance, Norwegian snowboarder Fridtjof Tischendorf famously carries a backpack in most competitions. 

You may wonder why they need to carry backpacks; after all, all their food, hydration, and safety needs are catered to. Tischendorf has never revealed what’s in his backpack, although he jokes that he puts in a hundred-dollar bill.

While they may be carrying money, it is more likely that professional snowboarders carry backpacks so they have emergency supplies of food, water, and first aid on hand. 

However, most competitive snowboarders prefer not to carry backpacks as they may interfere with their momentum and their ability to orient their bodies when they’re in the air. 

Is It Safe To Carry a Backpack?

Some snowboarders worry that it is unsafe to carry backpacks. They argue that they may get caught in bushes and branches while a snowboarder rides. They also argue that carrying a backpack affects snowboarding performance because the weight in them weighs snowboarders down. The weight in a backpack may also shift, causing instability. 

Snowboarders are especially concerned about carrying backpacks on lifts, arguing that they can get caught in the lift, putting the snowboarder at risk. Some lifts have a blanket no-packs policy. To prevent your backpack from being a hazard when you travel on a lift, here’s what you need to do: 

  • Carry your backpack in your lap. Make sure your back is pressed against the back of the lift chair. Slip one arm through the backpack strap to secure it. However, if the pack gets caught on something, you may have to slide it off your arm and let it go. 
  • Don’t carry a backpack until you are comfortable getting on and off a lift without one. 
  • Lower the safety bar. If you feel unsafe, lower the safety bar on the chair, giving you an added level of security. 
  • Ensure that the pack straps are securely tucked away, so they don’t get caught in any part of the lift. 
  • Listen to the lift operator. The lift operator will likely check that you are holding your pack correctly before sending you up on the lift. Follow the operator’s instructions. 

Here are some additional safety considerations if you choose to carry a backpack: 

  • Ensure all straps hanging off your backpack are tucked away to ensure they won’t get caught on anything as you snowboard. 
  • Try to avoid bulky and heavy packs. 
  • Consider adding an airbag. Some backpacks have airbags built into them. Like life jackets, these airbags cause the backpack to inflate when a cord is pulled. This allows the person carrying the backpack to rise to the top of the snow, which is especially useful when you’re snowboarding in the backcountry or if there is an avalanche risk. 

What Are Some of the Best Snowboarding Backpacks?

Before choosing a snowboarding backpack, it’s essential to consider the kind of conditions you’ll be snowboarding in and your own unique needs. 

Some backpack manufacturers choose to make gender-specific backpacks. Men’s backpacks have wider shoulder straps and longer lengths to cater to men’s broader shoulders and longer torsos. Meanwhile, women’s backpacks may have different hip straps. When considering what backpack to go for, consider your body structure and what will fit you most comfortably. 

Here are some popular backpacks currently on the market. 

USWE Hajker 30L Winter, Backpack

This backpack has been specially designed for winter conditions and is suitable for both men and women. Some of the stand-out features of this backpack are: 

  • 30 liters (7.93 gallons) of storage capacity 
  • A removable dry sack that can fit up to 30 liters (7.93 gallons)
  • An insulated bladder sleeve that can fit up to 3 liters (105.59 oz) of liquids
  • 11 pockets, including two water-resistant, zippered side pockets
  • A helmet attachment system that allows you to carry your helmet hands-free 
  • An NDM 4-point harness system that ensures that the backpack is bounce-free

This backpack is less than $300 and is available for purchase on Amazon.com. 

Osprey Atmos AG 50 Men’s Backpacking Backpack

This backpack is great to use when snowboarding and skiing but can also be used in warmer climates and conditions. Some of the bag’s features include: 

  • An anti-gravity design, which makes the backpack fit more securely and feel like you’re carrying less weight
  • An adjustable harness which allows you to adjust the backpack to the perfect fit
  • An internal hydration reservoir sleeve that can fit a 3-liter (105.59 oz) reservoir bag
  • A removable top lid that allows you to compartmentalize and organize the bag easily.

The Osprey Atmos AG50 Backpack is priced at around $240 and is available on Amazon.com. 

Dakine Women’s Mission Pro

Dakine is known for its high-quality, thoughtful outdoor accessories. This backpack is specially designed for a women’s frame. Features of this backpack include: 

  • 18-liter (4.76-gallon) carrying capacity 
  • A 25 mm (0.98 cm) web belt with hip wings
  • External straps to attach your snowboard to 
  • A fleece-lined pocket for storing sunglasses and goggles
  • A hydration sleeve 
  • An insulated shoulder strap
  • Separate compartments which will be excellent for organizing ice tools 

This backpack is priced at about $90 and is available on Amazon.com. 

CamelBak ThermoBak Hydration Pack with 100oz

This backpack has been designed specifically for hydration but has a little space to fit in other items you may wish to carry along. Features of this backpack/hydration pack include: 

  • The ability to store up to 3 liters (105.59 oz) of liquid 
  • An external fill pipe which can be easily cleaned
  • Shoulder straps can be unclipped and stowed away
  • Two pockets to store additional items

This backpack is priced at less than $80 and can be purchased on Amazon.com.

What Should You Pack in Your Backpack? 

If you’ve decided to go ahead and carry a backpack on your next snowboarding expedition, the next thing to consider is what to pack. It’s important to pack very selectively, so you don’t weigh your pack down. Some items you may consider packing are: 

  • An identification card. While you may not want to carry your whole wallet, carrying some form of government-recognized ID is a good idea. It will be beneficial if this ID has your blood type. 
  • Emergency contact details.
  • Your cellphone. Even though the slopes you’re tackling may not have network coverage, your phone is essential to carry along – it can be a torch, can make emergency calls, and can even take photos! 
  • A water bottle. If your bag doesn’t have an attached hydration pack, remember to pack in a lightweight water bottle. 
  • Nutrition bars or other light snacks. 
  • Basic first aid kit. While you may not have the space to bring along a complete first aid kit, pack painkillers, band-aids, and a blister kit. 
  • An emergency whistle. This will be helpful to attract attention and help if you get lost or hurt. 
  • Extra clothes/warm accessories. Depending on the amount of space you have left, pack other outerwear, glove liners, and a hat to keep you warmer. 

Before heading out for the day, be sure to check the weather and conditions and use them to guide your packing. 

Conclusion 

Most people snowboard in backpacks because it allows them to carry essential items, such as water, first aid kits, and food. Backpacks can also have airbags that help snowboarders stay above snow levels in avalanches. However, if you choose to carry a backpack, make sure you have kept all the safety guidelines in mind. 

Sources

Reddit: Wearing a Backpack while riding? 

SummitDaily: ‘Fridge Street’ and the case of the mysterious snowboard backpack at the Burton U.S. Open

Telegraph: Avalanche airbags for skiing: Your guide to these life savers

Ryan Conner

Outdoor enthusiast with several years of snowboarding experience in the winters and watersports activities all summer. Living within 3 hours of 4 well-known ski resorts, I get plenty of board time from Nov-March every season.

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