Mammut Women’s Perform Down 14°F / Men’s Perform Down 19°F

Best all-around winter sleeping bag

Our take Whether you’re sleeping in a snow cave, a tent, or the back of a truck, the Perform Down makes a home of it. Its 700-fill down (saves money) has a PFC-free DWR finish, which lets it retain loft when wet. One tester stayed cozy on a 20°F night bivying inside a quinzhee at 10,000 feet in Colorado’s Indian Peaks: “There was a ton of condensation on the outside of the bag, but none of it got through the shell,” she says. A soft nylon lines the hood and makes it extremely snuggle-able. We also like the magnetic closure that reliably seals the draft collar without Velcro or zippers.

The details With 63 inches of circumference around the shoulders and 55 inches around the hips on both the male and female versions, this bag is spacious. Plus, the Perform Down compresses to the size of a toaster.

$380; 2 lbs. 6 oz. (women’s M); women’s (14°F) and men’s (19°F), medium and large Backpacker

The 4 Best Packs of Winter 2020

Winter activities can take a lot of gear, from avalanche equipment to heavy sleeping bags. But that doesn’t mean you have to weigh yourself down. These four bags keep it light while still leaving you enough room to carry your necessities.

You’re not the kind of hiker who goes into hibernation for the winter. That’s because you know the season’s secret: When the mercury starts falling, trails empty out, and the world gets covered with the kind of sound-absorbing hush that only a blanket of fresh snow can provide. Make sure you have room for everything you need this winter without weighing yourself down by grabbing one of these four perfect packs.

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Gregory Targhee FastTrack 45

Most versatile winter backpack

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Our take Modular features and an impressive capacity range made this pack our top choice for day missions of every sport and size, from winter hiking in New Hampshire to ice climbs in Quebec. Removable components—the hipbelt, toplid, and framesheet—let us strip the pack down to a mere 1 lb. 14 oz. for light-and-fast objectives, and the sleek profile made it sway-free on snow climbs. For more gear-intensive missions, outsized load-bearing capacity kept the Targhee in play: One tester reported that the two aluminum-alloy stays and HDPE frame let him carry up to 50 pounds.

The details An over-the-shoulder strap hooks into a port on the shoulder harness, letting testers lash on skis without taking off the pack. Ding: You have to unbuckle the top lid to reach the avy tool sleeve.

$240; 3 lbs. 2 oz. (s/m); unisex s/m, m/l Backpacker

Ortovox Haute Route 40 / Haute Route 38 S

Best organization in a winter pack

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Our take With an easy-access avalanche tool pocket, three internal pockets, and three zippered external pockets, the redesigned Haute Route 40 (the 38 S is the women’s model) is a compulsive organizer’s dream. “This pack has compartments for everything, including maps, goggles, avy gear, and radios,” one tester says. “The goggle pocket kept mine scratch-free and was easy to open in 60-mph winds during a tour in Yellowstone National Park.” The Haute Route allows both diagonal and A-frame ski carry, and has both a helmet-carry net and rope straps.

The details A backpanel zipper and a yawning top zip offer quick access to the main sack. The spring-steel frame kept our tester’s 20-pound load comfortably on her hips during an ascent of 10,969-foot Electric Peak in Yellowstone.

$190; 3 lbs. 12 oz. (m’s); one size each, m’s and w’s Backpacker

Osprey Soelden 32 / Sopris 30

Most comfortable winter backpack

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Our take This pack has all the characteristics of a good ski partner: safety-oriented, up for anything, and always supportive. Credit that latter trait to a contoured fit, which made the lightweight Soelden (and Sopris, the women’s version) our go-to option for long tours. EVA foam hugs the back without swaying or inhibiting mobility, and a lightbulb-shape wire frame and HDPE framesheet transfer weight to the padded hipbelt. One Montana tester, who knocked off 30,000 vertical feet in the Sopris over the course of the season, reported all-day comfort under 20-pound loads.

The details The Soelden has a diagonal ski-carry strap and a helmet-carry net that stows into its own hidden pocket. Glove-compatible buckles keep transition times blessedly short on cold days.

$160; 2 lbs. 9 oz. (m’s); one size each, m’s and w’s Backpacker

Mammut Trion Nordwand 28

Best backpack for big miles

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Our take In the winter, the secret to staying warm is constant motion. The secret to constant motion? The Trion Nordwand 28. Two mesh pockets in the vest-style shoulder straps let you access snacks, lip balm, and extra gloves without stopping. “The front pockets are slim and trim—perfectly sized for scrambling and climbing without any excess bulk up front,” says one tester. Reinforced compression straps allow A-frame ski carry.

The details The pack’s light weight belies its toughness: A V-shape aluminum frame transfers loads to the wide, padded hipbelt, making the Trion Nordwand stable enough to tote skis as part of loads up to 20 pounds. The pack body’s 100-denier Cordura and 210-denier nylon bottom provide plenty of durability.

$150; 1 lb. 7 oz. (m’s); one size each, m’s and w’s Backpacker