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Don’t want a ski in the head? The Proper Way to Pack Your Skis

Some friends and I headed out to the backcountry to hit up a few turns this past weekend. It was going to be an epic day with lots of snow, blue ski and good friends but my truck just didn’t want any of it. After getting towed back to my place we piled into a friends car and headed to a smaller hill. There was snow on top of the thing but there wasn’t much. The turns were going to be minor, if there were any at all but we headed out anyways.

Three quarters of the trip was boot packing on dirt, no snow in sight. We did get into some snow and managed to get a few turns down a logging road but that was about it. I did learn a few things about how not to pack your skis on your bag.

On the way down I strapped mine to my bag a little differently than on the way up and I obviously did it the wrong way. Straight up and down is not a good way to do it. Every time I lifted my feet up behind me they hit my skis. Every time I leaned forward and lifted my head, my lovely skis were there with their sharp edges. I had always wondered why no one packed their skis straight up and down. Now the bump on my head and I are a little bit more intelligent.

So how do you pack them properly? Well, there are a few good methods. Each differ in how fast you can attach them to your bag, where the center of gravity sits and how easy it is to travel on open terrain or in heavy brush. You will probably need to change your carrying style depending on where you’re going, what pack you’re using and how much you’re carrying.


If your pack has straps down the side you can split your skis up and put one on each side with the tips together above you. It’s best to have a strap to secure the tips together so they don’t clang around while you’re walking. There will be space in between your skis for your head if you need to look up and the tails will be out to the sides so they won’t bother your feet as they swing up. Being on the sides of your pack, the weight of the skis is closer to your body.


This is another good way to pack your skis so you don’t have to wear a helmet when boot-packing. Put your skis together like you would store them, bottom to bottom. Then using the straps on your bag, attach them to the back going from the bottom left to the top right (or bottom right to top left). Depending on the straps on your bag, this way is fast and easy to put on and take off. It succeeds in the head bashing test as well. Being on the angle it keeps the tips away from your head and the tails away from your feet. You might feel a tad lopsided if you’ve got them really high or really low. With this style the weight of the skis is out on the back of your pack. If you’ve got a lot of stuff in your pack, the weight can be a considerable distance away from your body.

Straight Horizontal

You can also attach your skis to your pack straight horizontally. You can lash them to the top of your pack or the back. It will depend on the straps you have on your pack. Careful not to take out your ski partners as you turn when you use this method! If you strap the skis to the top of your bag, the weight can be quite close to your body, albeit fairly high. If you attach them to the back of your pack then the weight is out much further.

Straight Vertical on the back

If you’re pack is full or strapped down very tightly you can attach both skis to the back vertically with the bases facing forward. Like carrying the skis diagonally the weight is further out from your body.

Straight Vertical on the sides

This method is basically the A-frame style without connecting the tips. For this to work well, your pack has to be big enough or just be full enough to support the skis on their own aiming almost straight up.  Like carrying the skis A-frame style the weight is closer to your body than diagonally or vertically on the back.

The Snowplow

The snowplow is really only an option if you’re travelling through thick brush. All the other methods leave ski tips in the air and tails out to the sides. With this method, the tips are strapped together at the tips, then you carry them horizontally in front of you, like a snowplow. Again, it’s not the best for open terrain but can work well if there is a lot of crap to get caught on. The weight carrying skis using this method is actually out in front of you.


There really is no best way to carry your skis. You’ll probably be rotating between a couple of the methods depending on the conditions. A couple of points to keep in mind are speed of attachment. Diagonally is probably the fastest method. It’s not the most comfortable for long carries though as the weight is far back on your pack. Something with the weight closer to your body is better for hours of packing, like A-frame or vertical on the sides.

How do you carry your skis? Good, bad or ugly experience with one of the styles above?

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