Spending the day on the mountain means toting around a lot of "stuff." There are vests, gloves, goggles, sunglasses, powder cords, Chapstick, wool hats, credit cards, wallets, extra socks, and sunscreen. It's even worse if you're the designated "Dad" who has to carry not only this own gear, but extra socks and sandwiches for the entire family. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to haul your things around without impacting your skiing.
You'll need a lightweight backpack, if you have kids or enjoy packing your lunch for mountaintop picnics. Unlike standard daypacks designed for hiking, look for "winterized" designs that are waterproof and slim enough to wear while riding a chairlift. Key features to look for are reduced weight and easy access to zippers and pockets while keeping your gloves on. Backpacks also should have both waist and sternum belts to keep the pack from inadvertently scooting over your head when skiing steep terrain. Many backpacks also feature laptop computer compartments and pockets for Camelbak bladders.
For those who like to travel light, REI makes the Stoke 9 daypack with all of the features you'll ever need. It features a moisture-absorbing backpanel to keep you dry. Egg-crate foam cradles your body and the adjustable shockcords provide handy places to quickly get at your parka when the weather changes for the worst. It even features a handy mesh side pocket for your MP3 player.
When you have a bit more gear to carry, try the Gregory Z35-R Pack. The Z35 top loads, so it's easy to get to clothing while riding a lift. Unlike other daypacks, it comes with a hollow, aluminum stays for better support. When you have a free weekend, you might want to experience an overnight, winter camping trip. Deuter makes a full line of backpacking products designed for the outdoor athlete. One of their best selling packs is the Deuter Futura Zero 40 Pack. The Zero 40 is made with micro-ripstop nylon and is built around a spring steel frame. It comes with padded hip-pads, so you can comfortably carry larger loads. Like many other models, it also features a reservoir pocket for fluids and a drink tube exit port.
Try one of the hundreds of "fanny" or lumbar packs, if you can't stand the weight of a full-sized pack on your back. Mountainsmith offers a line of products made from re-cycled material. Their Touring Lumbar pack can be used with or without a shoulder strap (handy for going out at night) has a tuck-away waist belt and clips for keys, compasses or small flashlights - and only weighs 1.5. pounds. Playing at high altitude usually means one thing - losing a lot of water.
Experts agree that you should drink at least 1 liter of water per hour when exercising at high altitude. Be prepared by wearing a Camelbak. Camelbaks come in a wide variety of designs, but all feature re-fillable water reservoirs so you never need to stop for water breaks. Camelbaks designed for skiing tend to be lighter weight and conform to your body better than those used for hiking. The lightweight Scorpion carries over 2 liters of water and still has room for storing plenty of gear.
It features a Therminator harness that insulates the drinking tube and has an external fillport so you can refill it during the day without removing the bladder. When you buy a Camelbak, be sure to get a cleaning brush kit, a reservoir-drying hanger and a supply of cleaning tablets to keep your water reservoir free of bacteria and fungus. You also can load up with some of their handy accessories like a Tube Trap to keep your drinking tube exactly where you need it. Other great additions are the Camel Clip, Ergo Angle, Tube Extender, and Thermal Control Kit. Most cost less than $10.
There are also a number of other, low-cost solutions to keeping hydrated out on the mountain. Camelbak makes a spill-proof "Better Bottle" that's available in .5, .75 and 1.0 liter capacities for only $13. Another great way to carry water with you is by filling up a Platypus collapsible water bottle. They're available in .5 to 2.0 liter bottles. When you've emptied the bottle, just fold it up and store it in your pocket.
Just because you have gear to haul and water to carry, doesn't mean it needs to keep you from hucking off those 100 foot cliffs. By carrying what you need with these products, you'll be ready for whatever the mountain throws at you.