Taking your snowboard into the backcountry is made significantly easier by backpacks specifically designed to carry them. With snowboarding gaining popularity, companies such as Dakine, Burton and Black Diamond have developed designs to carry snowboards in multiple ways while helping to distributing weight to maintain comfort. These are the main types of snowboard backpacks.
Most snowboard packs are built to carry a snowboard vertically on the back of the pack. Two straps are sewn into the design of these packs where outer pockets might otherwise normally go, so that a snowboard may be strapped right on the outside of it. This is an easily accessible feature that takes a few seconds to strap or unstrap a snowboard to. The bindings are an integral part of this system being that the bottom strap is tightened under the lowest binding when vertical so that the board doesn't slip down and get in the way of walking. The straps allow any size snowboard to be affixed to the back of the pack. The main volume of the pack is still accessible when a snowboard is strapped on.
Some snowboard packs are built to carry the snowboard horizontally. This balances the weight of the snowboard more than a vertical carrier, but it can be inconvenient when walking through trees or turning to talk to the buddy hiking next to you. These backpacks hold the snowboard behind the pack, against the back of the person carrying it. The snowboard is inserted through a padded flap that loosens and tightens with straps and buckles. The North Face Off Chute 22 is a pack that features a horizontal carrier.
A few models of snowboard packs can carry either a snowboard or skis. This enables those who do both to be able to own one pack instead of purchasing two separate packs. Some of these packs combine a horizontal snowboard carrier with stowed loops that can be taken out to carry skis at a diagonal if necessary. This doesn't balance the weight of the skis as well as a backcountry ski pack that holds the skis in an A-frame, but it is convenient if you need one pack that does it all. Some packs have the horizontal carrier, stowed ski loops and stowed straps that can be taken out to strap in the snowboard vertically, such as the Dakine Heli Pro pack.
No matter what way a snowboard pack carries a board, there are several other features that signify it's a good pack. Hydration pouches are great for hiking into the backcountry, especially with that extra weight you are carrying. Side loops or a front pocket to accommodate a shovel for avalanche rescue is important. A padded waist belt with camera pocket is always nice too.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.