Mountain Hardwear SnoJo 20 Backpack Review

Snowshoeing adventure with the SnoJo 20

Snowshoeing adventure with the SnoJo 20

Bottom Line:

An awesome everyday backpack. The SnoJo 20 is designed for use Resort Skiing, or for day-trips into the backcountry. It’s stylish enough to be used for days commuting in the city or as a decent pack for ice or rock climbing. It has excellent options for accessing the contents of the SnoJo 20.

Crossing a frozen lake, with the SnoJo 20 packed for a day of Ice Climbing

Crossing a frozen lake, with the SnoJo 20 packed for a day of Ice Climbing

Observations:

In the sea of neon and primary colours out there in the recreational gear space it was refreshing to see the understated grey/black/white design of this 20 litre backpack. The SnoJo 20 is well constructed and easy on the eyes in my opinion.

I took it out on a series of trips and adventures over the following few weeks to fully test it out. The looks were one thing but I needed to know if the SnoJo 20 was actually functional for being out in the mountains with me.

I tested it out first as a pack to go ice climbing with. It’s designed as a pack for skiing but there might be occasions when I’d need to use it for ski mountaineering or ski-in ice climbing objectives.

It performed really well in this regard. There is a section on the front of the SnoJo 20 to protect the picks from catching on anything and straps to hold down the shafts of the axes. I was also able to strap a rope over the top of the pack. The front and back access zips meant I could still access the gear inside without having to remove the rope on top. Awesome!

After that trip I started testing the SnoJo 20 for what it was designed for, Backcountry Skiing day trips and Side Country excursions outside of Ski Resorts.

Skiing sidecountry with the SnoJo 20

Skiing sidecountry with the SnoJo 20

It worked really well in these regards. At 20L in volume there is just enough space for a few pairs of gloves, food, goggles, ski skins, puffy layer and camera… etc. The front compartment easily fits my beacon, shovel, probe for travelling in avalanche terrain.

Here are some of the features I noticed that I really loved.

  • The fleece lined top zippered pocket: For light and fast ski days this could be used for goggles alone without needing to worry about them getting scratched.
  • Covered Hydration Hose Sleeve: (Note: the hydration hose is not included with the pack, I used my own) Hydration is always an issue in Winter as liquid water tends to freeze. Mountain Hardwear has greatly reduced this issue by putting the access for a hydration hose inside the left shoulder strap. This accomplishes two things, the hose is kept out of the wind and the warmth coming off my shoulder keeps the hose from freezing up.
  • Drain Hole on the quick-access compartment for safety gear: This small hole on the bottom is a nice touch. Inevitably, when digging test pits to see avalanche conditions, snow and ice will get on everything. When the snow on these tools melts, instead of pooling in the bottom of the pack it can now escape through the drain hole.
  • Stowable Waist Belt: The waist belt on this pack can be pushed into little pockets near the hips when they aren’t being used. This is especially useful for resort days when riding the lifts when the waist belt will almost never be used. It also stows the belt so that it can’t accidentally get caught on anything on the chairlifts.

Overall a really nice pack. I use the SnoJo 20 almost daily to carry my camera and laptop around town and then just swap my touring gear into it for the weekend. Highly recommended.

Back compartment with ski touring gear

Back compartment with ski touring gear

Pros:

Cost: Reasonably Priced pack considering the features. Prices online vary between $85 and $120 CAD

Aesthetic: This is purely subjective but I think the pack looks awesome. I’m a fan of the simple design and colors

Hydration: Keeping water liquid has been really dialled with this pack. On a -15’c day out in some blustery mountains, when everyone else was banging their water bottles on rocks to unfreeze their lids I was drinking water with my pack still on.

Weight: This pack is light, especially for being able to carry skis. At 1lb/848G’s it won’t weigh you down.

Functional: Well suited for lift accessed side country or backcountry days. Carries skis well, the front grab handle makes getting the pack, with skis attached, back on your back easier.

Cons:

Helmet attachment: I could not find any good way to attach a helmet to this pack other than clipping the chin strap of a helmet directly to the pack. Some kind of simple elasticated net that straps onto the outside around a helmet would be perfect for this.

Water Resistance: This is definitely a winter pack. The top pocket and sides are water permeable but won’t let snow through. Definitely consider a rain cover if the approach to the skiing could be in the rain at the start.

Buy It If:

You are looking for a well designed, simple and functional backpack for day-long ski tours or for accessing the side country at the Ski Resort with the options for using it also for everyday use or other activities.

Links:

Mountain Hardwear: SnoJo 20 Backpack Information

Riding the lifts at the resort with the SnoJo 20

Riding the lifts at the resort with the SnoJo 20

Author: Leigh McClurg

I grew up in County Dublin, Ireland and moved to British Columbia, Canada with my wife in 2010. I fell in love with being in the Backcountry and Mountains that are all around me here and try to spend all of my free time exploring those wild places. My main goals are to chase happiness, see as much of this planet and its cultures as possible and grow every day through knowledge and experiences.

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