Mountain Hardwear Snoskiwoski 40L Pack – Versatile Ski Mountaineering Pack
So you want to be a ski mountaineer, huh? I should let you know that it’s not just ice axes, steep couloirs, and glory. Do you think you can handle Texas-sized blisters? The coldest you’ve ever been and hottest you’ve ever been in the same day? How about rappelling off shoe strings and faith only to find out your dream run is totally wind hammered?
Well, if you’re still up for the adventure, you should be sure to get the right gear. At the core of your ski mountaineering kit is a light, solid pack, and the Snoskiwoski 40L from Mountain Hardwear is the best one out there right now.
This pack has all the qualities of a sleek, light touring pack with the extra attachment points for the tools you’ll need to get rad. It’s so well designed and built that I’ve been using it as my primary touring pack all winter as well.
If it’s Not Light it’s Not Right
When skiing big lines in the mountains it’s imperative to keep weight off your back. Light packs keep you moving fast on the way up and skiing well on the way down. The Snowskiwoski weighs in at only 1092g without compromising on function or comfort.
It’s made of recycled 210D ripstop, which feels similar to the Dyneema that Mountain Hardwear uses in their Alpine Light series. The bottom of the pack and the outside panel, where ski edges sit when carried diagonally, is made of Cordura, so I expect this pack to last many years.
Pockets, Compartments, and Straps
- The avalanche gear compartment is simple and effective. My Ortovox 270cm probe fits perfectly, but I imagine certain brands of probes that have longer sections may not be compatible.
- The crampon and ice axe attachments are low profile and solid.
- One side of the pack has a zippered pocket for skins. I was initially skeptical of its utility, but found it allowed me to keep the main compartment of my pack closed longer during transitions. Additionally, when you forget to take your skins out to dry at night, they don’t soak everything else in your pack.
- The opposite side has zipper access to the main compartment. Once you get used to accessing your pack in this way you’ll find it to be super-efficient. Side access is now a non-negotiable feature for my winter packs.
- The drawstring skirt/storm flap closure to the main compartment is snow/water resistant and super quick to open and close. There’s no pack brain, which is perfect. I’m a firm believer that pack brains should never be put on ski packs. (loose items at the very top of your pack are super annoying while skiing)
- There’s one hip pad with a pocket and one with a gear loop and ice clipper slot. The pocket is pretty small but nice. I likely won’t use the gear loop, as I find that it puts danglys too far forward and in the way, but I’m interested to try out the ice clipper attachment.
- The pack comes with a helmet bikini that can be attached to the bottom or the outside panel of the pack. I think it’s also going to double as a way to be help strap a few extra things to the pack for overnights.
- As an extra bonus, there are a ton of lashing points along the exterior of the pack for personal customization
Suspension System and Size
I love the shoulder straps and hip pads on Mountain Hardwear packs. The foam strikes the perfect balance between moldable and supportive. The range on all the straps is adaptable to any combination of layers and they evenly distribute heavy loads comfortably.
The 40L capacity of the Snoskiwoski can handle all the standard items of a day trip with the ski mountaineering additions of rope, rack, and harness. I think the pack is also going to be perfect for one- or two-night multi-day missions.
When you don’t need the full 40L, it compresses nicely to around 30L. Compressibility is also something that Mountain Hardwear does well with all its packs. They’re the only ones I’ve used that actually compress uniformly and function as a smaller pack. I’m 5’9” 140lbs and the S/M is perfect.
The Snoskiwoski is advertised as a ski mountaineering pack and excels as such. It’s going to be my go-to for glaciated and technical objectives in the Cascades of Washington this spring. I’m also going to reach for it anytime I’m going light on a short multi-day mission.
I also think it has versatility beyond its original purpose. This pack is going to make for an excellent baseline touring pack for anyone. I personally haven’t used another pack for backcountry skiing since I got the pack in January. The avalanche gear compartment doesn’t add any noticeable bulk or weight so it will also serve a user well as a general winter mountaineering pack too.
Splitboarders, just know that there isn’t a purpose-designed carry system for a solid board on this pack. However, with all the different lashing points, it won’t be hard to fashion one together.
Currently, the winter is halfway over and it’s time to start thinking about those pinner couloirs, ski traverses, and Washington volcanos that are going to be skiable in just a few weeks. If your current pack isn’t equipped to handle the tools you’ll need to get rad, you should check out the Snoskiwoski 40L from Mountain Hardwear.
It’s light, versatile, and durable. I’m certainly going to be reaching for it for years to come. (I actually have half a mind to get another before they stop making it.) For those who aren’t ready to take on the fear, risk, and blister care of ski mountaineering quite yet, this pack will also serve you well as solid backcountry touring pack.