The straps are barely noticeable. Photo: Andy Verbonitz

This Is the Ultimate Ski Touring Backpack for Technical Day Trips

Technology + Gear Ski and Snow
by Tim Wenger Apr 10, 2024

Before heading out on a week-long expedition into the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan last winter, I upgraded my ski touring backpack to the Osprey Soelden 32. This 32-liter backpack is the best change I made to my splitboarding setup that season and it’s now served two years of heavy use. I’ve spent weeks’ worth of time in the field with this backpack and know it so well that I plan to stick with the pack for years to come. In short, it’s the pack I trust for technical day tours into the high alpine.

I upgraded to the Osprey Soelden 32 from a 26-liter touring pack that I’d been using for several years. The primary reason was that I needed more space. As I gained experience as a splitboarder and continuously progressed into longer tours on more challenging terrain, I found myself consistently frustrated at the lack of ability to fit everything needed for a splitboard tour into a 26-liter pack. But I didn’t want a pack so large it weighed me down or was lumpy on my back.

We hope you love the Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to make a purchase. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

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What I love about the Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack

splitboarder with osprey soelden 32 ski touring backpack

All smiles at the summit. Photo: Tim Wenger

What separates the Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack from other touring packs I’ve owned is its three primary compartments. The big one zips open about ⅔ and has a dedicated space for a probe and shovel that allows easy access to both. I’ve tested the process of unzipping, grabbing, and assembling my probe and shovel out of the pack and it takes about 30 seconds from start to finish. This means that were I to be in a rescue situation, I could be probing the ground and hopefully have a body strike within 90 seconds of honing in with the beacon. This time is faster than both the other packs because of these dedicated storage areas.

I’ve never had issues with storage space and generally feel that if I needed to bring something else along with me, there would be room to carry it.

Another thing I love about this pack are the shoulder and waist straps. In the past I’ve struggled with packs that are difficult to clip and unclip when on the move, or that don’t quite fit right when clipped. That has never been an issue with this backpack. Putting it on and taking it off are quick even atop peaks when I have gloves and a shell jacket on. It’s curved back fits my body well and I always feel comfortable wearing it – so much so that when I’m resort riding nowadays I tend to feel naked without the pack on.

How to pack the Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack

The main compartment fits avy gear, skins, goggles, and much more. Photo: Tim Wenger
So much room for activities in this rear compartment. Photo: Tim Wenger
Don't leave home without a ski strap. The top compartment of the Soelden. Photo: Tim Wenger

In the main zipped compartment, I stage my goggles, heavy gloves, and other things needed for the descent while skinning up. Because I’m a hard boot splitboarder I keep my splitboard bindings in here on the way up, too. On the way down, I put my skins, touring hat, and poles in here. I also store my beacon in this compartment when I’m not touring, so it’s close to the shovel and probe. A snow saw fits in here nicely even with all the other stuff, and I keep that with me, as well.

The full-zip back compartment is where I store my shell jacket while ascending. I also keep an array of trail snacks in here (I’m partial to Clif Blocks, Honey Stinger chews and energy bars, and almonds). My lunch goes in here, as does my water bottle. There’s even a zipped internal pouch for miscellanea.

In the smaller top compartment, I keep a couple of ski straps, a basic first-aid ensemble, sunglasses (on the descent), spare binding parts, an inclinometer/compass duo, and any other snow measuring or safety tools I need. On the outside of the pack is a helmet strap.

Using the Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack in the field

splitboarder with osprey soelden 32 ski touring backpack

The straps are barely noticeable. Photo: Andy Verbonitz

Gaining trust in a ski touring backpack requires putting it to the test in a variety of scenarios. In Kyrgyzstan, the multiple peaks we summited required bootpacking across iced-over rock fields. For this, I strapped my splitboard to the sides of the pack into an a-frame. On my prior pack this process took at least three to four minutes, but with this Osprey pack, I got the process down to under two minutes, start to finish. On other tours I’ve strapped the full snowboard to the pack to carry it vertically, and it’s been equally as easy.

I’ve also developed a unique hack for carrying my poles downhill when they won’t fit into the main compartment (this happens occasionally on longer tours when I have an extra layer of clothing in there). By putting one of the side straps through the wrist straps of the poles, I can secure them tightly to the side of the pack with no chance of them coming free. The poles then fit through the bottom security strap and stay tight to the side of the pack.

What I would change about the Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack

The only thing I don’t like about the pack is that the zipper on the main compartment tends to pull the zipped part apart behind it if I zip it in an extreme hurry. This only started recently – after nearly two seasons of heavy use – and is easily fixable by backtracking the zipper to the start point and beginning again. But it has caused me a few moments of doubt when it happens in the field. To counteract this I’ve come into the habit of always moving the zipper back to the starting position before closing the pack. That said, when the pack is zipped, it’s a tight seal and I’ve never felt more comfortable or confident in a ski touring backpack, no matter the conditions.

Osprey Soelden 32 specs

The Osprey Soelden 32 ski touring backpack is designed for technical backcountry day trips.

  • Volume: 32 liters
  • Weight: Around 2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 22″ x 13″ x 9″ (56 x 33 x 23 cm)
  • Material: 210D x 630D Nylon Ripstop
  • Suspension: AirScape backpanel with breathable mesh
  • Shoulder straps: Contoured, padded shoulder straps with sternum strap
  • Hipbelt: Padded hipbelt with webbing hipbelt pockets
  • Pockets: Large front panel J-zip for easy access to avalanche safety kit, dedicated avalanche safety kit pocket with shovel handle and probe sleeves, backpanel access to main compartment, GPS/radio internal carry with mic harness webbing attachment points, easy-access scratch-free sunglasses/goggle pocket
  • Carry options: A-frame or diagonal ski carry, vertical snowboard carry, sled carry attachment loops, dual-position helmet carry (front or top of pack)

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