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Osprey Switch 18 Ski and Snowboard Pack

ospreyswitch18Osprey Switch 18—The perfect pack for doing laps on the chair lift into the sidecountry

It was a sad day, many years ago when I realized my little brother was a faster skier than I was. We were on ski race team for our local mountain near our home in Boulder, Colorado, and he was all of about 8 years old when he beat me down the race course. “This shouldn’t be happening. Not yet” was all I remember thinking when it happened.

It wasn’t all that different from when he learned to ride a bike without training wheels the same summer I did—I was 5, he was all of 3 years old. “Oooooo, look at this amazing 3 year old riding a bike!” cooed all of the neighbors. Meanwhile, nobody at all was impressed that me, the kindergardener who had also accomplished the feat. It just wasn’t quite as impressive when a 5 year old did the same thing. And my damn, athletically apt and balance-gifted brother has been stealing my thunder ever since.

While I would consider myself a pretty dedicated, good and hardcore skier, I won’t deny that I just will never be quite as badass as my younger brother, who spends most of his time skiing the backcountry and hucking backflips and 360s off cliffs I wouldn’t dare go over. Sorry, sometimes I like to ride the chair lift. And, while I am certainly willing to strap my skis on my back and climb up a ridge to get a chance at cutting fresh tracks through the powder, I don’t always want to spend 90% of my time hiking with my ski boots on. So sue me.

Here enters the Osprey Switch 18, a small, compact backcountry ski and snowboard pack that’s perfect for those who want a pack that’ll serve them well in the backcountry, but is also small enough that you can comfortably wear it when riding up the chair lift. In other words, a pack designed for people just like me.

While the bigger packs may fit a lot more stuff and have a lot more bells and whistles, I don’t want a pack that can fit a bunch of gear I don’t own, nor do I want a pack that’ll weigh me down when bombing down the mountain (and make it even harder for me to keep up with my brother).

This pack is the perfect size for a skier like me—it’s designed for lift-accessed riding, both in-bounds and out and these packs still offer many of the features of the larger Switch packs.

It’s main compartment is big enough for some extra layers of a change of clothes, a small outer pocket can hold your PB & J and camera, and the larger outer pocket is big enough for your extra pair of googles, warmer gloves and whatever else you may need out on the slopes. The outer pocket also has a drain hole, so you don’t get all your stuff wet when you shove damp gear back into the pack.
The pack also has zippered pockets on the waist belt, which make it easy to access your Power bar, sunscreen and lip balm without hvaging to take off the pack at all. It also features a sleeve for you hydration bladder.

The Osprey Switch 18 can carry an avy shovel, skis, poles or snowshoes for those day-trips into the backcountry.

>>Check out more of the best ski and snowboard backpacks

The Quick & Dirty:
Where you can get one:
Osprey Packs Switch 16 Pack – 900-1000cu in

Why it Rocks:

    • Pack carries your snowboard vertically or your skis diagonally and A-frame style, whichever best suits your immediate needs
    • Backside entry provides easy access without the need to unstrap skis or snowboard
    • Same straps that carry your snowboard also double as compression straps to carry your load in balanced, stable fashion
    • Pack is hydration compatible and features an insulated harness to prevent water freezing in the tube
    • Internal wet and dry pockets separate your snow safety gear from your extra clothing and food
    • Large hipbelt pockets provide quick access to energy bars, power gels, lip balm and other small yet important items
    • Top lid features a handy mesh helmet pocket; internal sleeve keeps goggles close at hand and safe
    • Snow-shedding backpanel reduces likelihood of pesky snow buildup
    • External access hydration sleeve with insulated zippered shoulder strap
    • Molded backpanel
    • Ice Ax Loop with upper bungee loop
    • Upper front goggle compartment
    • Front pocket with drain
    • Foam reinforced sidwall crescents
    • Reinforced ski carry straps
    • Safety equipment pocket on hipbelt
    • Stowable diagonal ski-carry loop

Seat-of-the-pants rating: 9 out of 10

If you are like me and spend most of your time riding lifts and then hiking out of bounds to hit fresh powder fields, find great lines and cut fresh tracks, this is the pack for you. It’s big enough to hold all the gear you need for heading off-piste, but small enough that you can wear it on the lift comfortably. A panel load design allows easy access to your gear, even while sitting on the lift. The reinforced snowboard compression wings and foam reinforced side-crescent for carrying your skis A-frame, or a diagonal ski carry strap and a shovel slot help you journey beyond the boundaries in comfort. This overall a great pack, perfectly suited for skiers that like to hit the backcountry from the resort side (and ride a chair lift from time to time).

Looking to Buy? Here’s where you can get one:
Osprey Packs Switch 16 Pack – 900-1000cu in