Choosing the right backpack for cross-country skiing


Cross-country skiing is an activity tailored to your whims. There are several ways of enjoying it, so obviously your gear can vary too. This is especially the case for your backpack, a must-have.
Cross-country skiing backpacks are different to hiker backpacks in that they have a host of special features to fit everything you need in. For safety, you need a shovel, a probe and an avalanche transceiver. When going downhill, you need to be able to store your skins. When going uphill on the other hand, you may need to secure your skis on your bag to get over rocky terrain for example. 
Only a backpack designed for cross-country skiing can help you carry all this gear in the right conditions. 
You need to factor in two different criteria when choosing a cross-country skiing backpack: 
- The duration of your hike: the size of your backpack, expressed in number of litres, will depend on how long your excursion will be. For example, if you are planning a morning hike, you will need less gear than if you intend to camp out at night. 
- The type of hike: according to your itinerary, you may be venturing into high altitudes and need studs or an ice pick. This kind of gear can't just be stowed any old how in your bag, a sheath and bag for spikes will be necessary to prevent damage to the rest of your gear.
The same goes for the famous safety trio (avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe), a must for any hike. To be sure of finding it quickly when you need to, Quechua backpacks feature special pouches to store this gear. With an inappropriate backpack, your shovel could end up right at the bottom of your bag, tangled in your clothes, so you waste time fumbling. 
To help you understand, here's the low-down on the two Quechua backpack specially designed for cross-country skiing:
- The Bionnassay Ski Tour 20L backpack
There are many pouches and sheathes to store studs, bucket, skins, probe, shovel, ice pick and skis. What makes them special is that you can reach them without having to take the backpack off your back. They are also lightweight, making this backpack perfect if you want to get to the top in as little time as possible.
The system to secure the skis without removing your bag and the side pocket with hook-and-eye fastening can both also save time. Everything is to hand without any need to fumble.
Its compact volume makes it ideal for day or half-day excursions. 
- The Bionnassay All Mountain 32L backpack
This one also has several pockets and a system to secure your skis, as well as a quick-release front pocket, with room inside for your shovel and probe and a to-do list in case of avalanche. 
This safety-focussed backpack is ideal for "free hiking", where the aim is to enjoy the vast stretches of soft snow when going downhill. In the event of an avalanche, simply pull the top of the front pocket. The ease with which you reach your safety gear can save precious time, even saving your life, in such situations. 
Containing 32L, it's useful for hiking with overnight stays.
To be sure of remembering everything, Sara Berthelot, technical partner at Quechua and high-altitude mountain guide will point you to the backpack musts for a day out: 
- The trio avalanche transceiver /shovel /probe
- Lightweight, warm clothing to wrap up after your climb
- A Thermos flask: a hot drink, like tea, is important to warm you up after the climb
- Water and cereal bars
- A ski mask
- Sun cream 
And if you still have room, you can always slip a camera in, for everlasting memories of your hike! 
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