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The Ski Pack Your Backcountry Guide Wants: Raide Research LF 40L Review

The debut product from Raide Research, the Raide LF 40L backcountry ski pack combines the best features of competitive packs — and includes a few that no one else has.

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack(Photo/Will Brendza)
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There wasn’t a ton of snow in Colorado’s backcountry despite the fact that it was squarely mid-December. Many of my favorite backcountry spots weren’t very skiable yet, but a lack of deep snow wasn’t going to stop me. I was setting out on exploratory ski tours at every chance I got — from the Aspen Valley to the Vail Valley and over into Summit County.

My luck had been mixed. But I was psyched regardless because I was getting to know the new Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack. And the more time I spent with it, the more attached I was becoming.

The pack is stuffed to its gills with functional features and practical designs. First, the roll top expands the volume from 40L to 50L and also rolls down and stows away. Inside, the foam back panel is removable for kneeling or sitting in snow or splinting broken limbs. Next, a unique feature, the shoulder strap has a glove stash. Finally, drain ports allow water to escape through the bag.

All that and more in a package that weighs just 1,090 g (or, stripped, just 900 g). That’s to say nothing of the high-end materials the Raide LF 40L backpack is made with — or how good it looks.

This is Raide Research’s first pack. The creator, Kyle Siegel, had never before designed a backpack. However, with engineering experience from Space X and product development experience from The North Face, he’s come out of the gate swinging with the Raide LF 40L. Backcountry ski guides and pro athletes are buzzing over it. Jim Ryan straight-up called it the best bag he’d ever used.

And after just a few weeks of using it in early-season backcountry conditions, I’m tempted to agree with Ryan.

In short: The Raide 40L backcountry ski pack is one of the most fully featured and carefully designed backpacks I’ve ever interacted with. The durability of the materials is unmatched. It looks cool. And it combines the best features from other ski packs into one — even adding a few I’ve never seen before. It was designed by a backcountry fanatic for backcountry fanatics. And while there is room to polish specific details of the pack’s design, there isn’t much to improve. There is good reason why this pack is making such big waves in the world of backcountry skiing.

Shopping for backcountry ski packs? Compare Raide’s to GearJunkie’s Best Ski Packs of 2023-2024.

Editor’s note: I was testing a pre-production sample of the Raide LF 40L. Several of the design elements — including the metal waist buckle and the hip pads — have been updated in the production version.

Raide LF 40L Backcountry Ski Pack


  • Capacity 40L, expandable to 50L
  • Weight 1,090g
  • Weight stripped 900g
  • Main fabric 100% recycled Challenge Ultra 400X, 400d UHMWPE (Dyneema) woven, backed by a waterproof film.
  • Cinch top 210d Nylon with UHMWPE ripstop. 100% recycled.
  • Rolltop 50d ripstop nylon with UHMWPE crossply
  • Helmet carry Lycra, nylon, UHMWPE woven.
  • Frame 7mm aluminum tubing


  • Extremely light with aluminum frame/back panel insert, even lighter without them
  • 10L of expandable volume
  • Made from highly durable, waterproof materials
  • Packed with useful features specific to backcountry skiing


  • Avi tools pocket is not clearly marked
  • Metal buckles not very glove-friendly

Raide Research LF 40L Backcountry Ski Pack Review

Raide Research LF 40L
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Raide is based out of Carbondale, Colo., where Siegel lives — and where he skis in the backcountry constantly. After a 2020 trip to summit Washington’s Mount Rainier, he returned home with a mission. Tired of being frustrated with ski packs that weren’t meeting his expectations, he had decided to make his own.

Three years, nine prototypes, one trip to Vietnam, and countless hours later, he had the pack of his dreams: the Raide LF 40L. He had agonized over every feature, every gram, and every material that went into the pack to balance its weight, comfort, durability, and aesthetics. The result is a pack finely tuned for a specific purpose. It’s a physical manifestation of Siegel’s backcountry skiing obsession.


Raide Research LF 40L
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Siegel did not skimp out on the materials he used to make the Raide LF 40L pack. The main material is ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) — the same stuff that Dyneema is made from.

However, Raide’s main fabric is not Dyneema. It’s called Challenge Ultra 400 X. It has a tarp-like feel, is 100% waterproof, 100% UV-resistant, and 100% recycled. The Raide Research website claims it is twice as tear-resistant and eight times as abrasion-resistant as “similar fabrics” (read: Dyneema). Whereas many standard UHMWPE fabrics are composite, Challenge Ultra 400 X is woven and feels notably tougher.

And, unlike most UHMWPE fabrics, the Challenge Ultra 400 X UHMWPE can be dyed. As such, the Raide LF 40L has two colors: white and black. Other packs made with Dyneema, like The North Face Phantom 38 or the Hyperlite Crux 40, don’t come in any color but white.

Raide Research LF 40L
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The cinch top of the Raide LF 40L is made from 210D Nylon with UHMWPE ripstop. The stretchy helmet carry is a Lycra nylon blend interwoven with UHMWPE. Except for the metal buckle clasps, plastic buckles, and nylon straps, every aspect of this pack includes UHMWPE in some flavor. As such, it’s a bombproof piece of gear. You can feel that as soon as you get your hands on it.

The shoulder straps have 9 mm of foam that tapers toward the bottom of the strap. The hip pads cover just enough of the hip areas to be comfortable. Both shoulder straps and hip pads could use slightly more foam coverage for a more comfortable carry. But the design clearly aligns with the pack’s minimalist nature.


Raide Research LF 40L
(Photo/Will Brendza)

There are just three main compartments in the Raide LF 40L. The largest, where the bulk of the gear is meant to be stored, is accessible through the cinch top, or the back panel. The panel unzips easily with one zipper with a large pull tab. A pass-through hole at the top makes it compatible with hydration bladders or radio cables.

Avi Tools Compartment

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The avalanche tools compartment is accessible through a waterproof zipper on the outside or via a pass-through feature from the main compartment. There are sleeves for a shovel handle and probe. The waterproof divider separating the avi tools from the main compartment has a hole in the middle for the shovel socket. That way, Siegel explained, the metal doesn’t rub on the fabric from the inside, wearing it out.

Stash Compartments and Pockets

Raide Research LF 40L
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Two stash compartments are on the outside of the pack. One is a simple zipperless sleeve just below the helmet carry feature. It’s perfect for skins, gloves, or a midlayer or shell. It clasps shut with the helmet carry’s clip at the top of the pack. There is also a waterproof zippered pocket on the outside of the pack for loose odds and ends you don’t want to get wet or fall out.

The only other pockets are a small mesh zippered pocket on the inside of the back panel and a small zippered stretch pocket on the right hip belt. There is no lid on the Raide LF 40L. There is, however, some extra storage afforded by the roll top feature when it’s fully extended into “hut mode” (more on that later).

The Raide LF 40L is designed so skiers and riders can transition without touching a zipper. Because, simply, zippers slow transitions down. And the way Siegel sees it, the faster you can transition, the more skiing you can pack into a day. He said that was a big focus of his as he dialed in the design of this pack.


Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Strippable to 900 g

The aluminum frame of the Raide is easily removable, as is the rigid foam back panel. Without that added weight, the bag drops from 1,090 g to a scant 900 g. For those ultralight skimo racers looking to shave ounces at every opportunity, this is an undoubtedly attractive feature. When stripped, this bag feels pretty much weightless.

However, getting the internal frame back into the pack after removing it is something of a challenge. Be sure to insert it facing the right way, and take care not to bend the aluminum as you do.

Removable Foam Back Panel

As mentioned, the foam back panel is removable with little to no effort and doubles as a multifunction tool. Most backcountry guides are required to carry something similar with them at all times. It can be used as a splint, as a knee pad or seat, or even as a small sled. This is a highly functional feature. It’s a tool unto itself built straight into the backpack.

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Glove Stash

The Raide LF 40L’s left shoulder strap has a nylon loop sewn into it to stash your gloves quickly and within easy reach when you’re transitioning or skinning uphill. You wouldn’t want to ski with your gloves in there. But if you’re touring, or standing around, it’s an ideal little stash spot for them. I used it every single time I wore the pack.

Stretch Helmet Carry

I’ve already mentioned this feature, but it’s worth touching on again because this helmet carry system is not like other packs’. It is far more secure. Once it’s clipped and cinched over the top of a helmet, there is no wobbling or slipping out. I can store things like crampons, gloves, hats, goggles, or sunglasses inside the brain bucket without fear that they’ll fall out on the hike up.

Raide backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Roll Top Expands to 50L

The roll top on the Raide LF 40L is one of the pack’s coolest features. It can be rolled down into the pack and secured with snap buttons, so it’s out of the way when you don’t need the extra space. When you do need it, simply unsnap the buttons, roll out the roll top, and voilà! Your 40L is now a 50L.

That also creates an extra storage area on the outside of the pack. Because the roll top extends from within the main compartment’s cinch closure, it creates a sleeve with several extra inches to store more items. Pull the cinch cord and it secures your gear in place.

Ski and Snowboard Carry Options

Not only does this pack give users the option to carry skis diagonally or in an A-frame, but it also has a vertical carry option for snowboards and splitboards. So no matter what kind of plank(s) you’re hauling on the hike in, the Raide has a carry option for you.

backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

No-Snag Ice Tool Carry

As all good backcountry ski packs should, the Raide LF 40L includes two ice tool carries — one on either side of the pack’s back. The blades of your tools stow nicely into a no-snag sleeve that protects both your blade and any gear it might otherwise get caught on.

It Drains!

Because the whole pack is made of waterproof materials, it could theoretically carry water like a zip-lock bag. But Siegel designed around that potential issue. Every compartment in the pack drains, so if you take a dunk on a pond skim, or get caught in a severely wet winter storm, you won’t start taking on water.

In the Field

backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

As mentioned, the season was off to a slow start when I got my hands on the Raide LF 40L pack for testing. So I wasn’t able to get it up into the steep and deep backcountry terrain it was built to conquer. Most of my testing happened in mellower zones because the snow was simply too thin across much of Colorado’s backcountry at the time. I wasn’t able to use it on overnight camping or hut trips, either, for similar reasons.

Still, on the tours I brought the Raide on, it performed extremely well. I found a way to use every feature; I took it skiing with its internal frame and without it. I practiced pulling my avi gear out quickly and experimented with how much equipment I could pack into the Raide LF 40L. Despite the lack of big mountain terrain available, I still managed to put this pack through its testing paces.

Skiing With the Raide LF 40L

As far as weight goes, the Raide LF 40L pack is light at 1,090 g. But when you take the internal frame and back panel out, it becomes a featherweight piece of equipment. If staying light and moving fast are high priorities for you, this pack should be at the top of your wishlist. Its ratio of features to weight is out of control.

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack; (photo/Will Brendza)
(Photo/Will Brendza)

You can also stuff a lot into the Raide LF 40L. For most one- to two-night backcountry adventures, 40-50L of volume is ideal. You can easily fit all of your avi tools, sleep system, extra clothes/layers, food, toiletries, and most everything else you’ll need. Siegel points out that the extra external storage that unrolling the roll top creates is also a great place for a couple of beers.

For day trips and strike missions, when you don’t need so much space, the 40L volume is more than enough, but not too much. The pack compresses nicely, and because it’s so streamlined it doesn’t feel cumbersome — even if it is mostly empty.

backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The features listed above, all came in handy. The helmet carry was low-hassle and made it a no-brainer to bring mine on tours where I might have otherwise left it behind. I also used the glove holder on every tour. And, while I didn’t have to splint any broken bones, or drag a friend out of the backcountry on a makeshift sled (luckily), the removable foam back panel still came in handy when I wanted to sit or kneel in the snow.

The back panel access to the main compartment also made it fast and easy to access equipment stored within no matter how deep it was. Its single-zipper design was smooth, simple, and streamlined.

Room for Improvement

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

For its first product out of the gate, Raide Research has set a high bar for itself with the LF 40L backcountry ski pack. But, as a brand-new brand, there are also a few aspects of the design that could be refined. (Some of which were already updated in the final production version of the pack.)

Foremost among them is the avi tools pocket. Many brands choose to identify that pocket with a bright orange zipper pull tab, or some other fluorescent indicator. That makes it easy to know which zipper to grab in an emergency when panic might be clouding your judgment.

This pack doesn’t have anything like that. All of the zippers and clips look the same, making the avi tools pocket indistinguishable from the others. Adding a fluorescent zipper pull would come at no weight penalty and could help someone make a faster rescue in an emergency.

backcountry ski pack
The hip pads on the Raide LF 40L pre-production sample had less padding than the final production version that is available to consumers. Siegel updated it to have an extra inch more foam padding; (Photo/Will Brendza)

Second, the padding on the shoulder straps and hip pads could be expanded. If people are using this pack for multiday backcountry camping or hut trips, it’s safe to assume they’ll be using it to carry a decent amount of weight over longer distances. Slightly beefier and larger hip pads and shoulder straps could go a long way in improving carry comfort with heavy loads.

This was one of the elements that Siegel updated between the pre-production sample I tested and the final version. There is an inch more padding on the production version, he informed us.

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack
The pre-production buckle was hard to manipulate with gloves, but has been updated in the final production version of the Raide LF 40L; (Photo/Will Brendza)

Finally, the metal clasp on the hip belt is a challenge to use with gloved fingers. It’s not a huge inconvenience, and some more practice would probably go a long way. But so would a bigger clasp. I’ve used metal clasps that were easier to manipulate with gloves on. Adding one of those would make this pack easier to use and could speed up transitions. But again, it would come with a small weight penalty.

The buckles are the other major update Siegel made between the sample I tested and the final production version. The new buckles are larger and more easily manipulated with gloved hands.

Raide Research LF 40L Backcountry Ski Pack: The Final Word

Raide Research LF 40L backcountry ski pack
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Every year a lot of new backcountry ski backpacks hit the market — from big brands and new up-and-comers alike. Some, like Cody Townsend’s Hyperlite Crux 40L, are created with help from pro backcountry athletes. Many have great designs. But I feel confident calling the Raide Research LF 40L the most fully featured and studiously designed backcountry ski pack currently out there.

And it comes at a relatively affordable price point ($400) compared to many competing packs. That’s something that Siegel said he intends to continue, no matter how big his brand gets. He said he’d even drop the price point if Raide Research reached a large enough scale.

Once you get your hands on a Raide LF 40L ski pack, it’s easy to tell why pro athletes like Jim Ryan and professional IFMGA guides like Evan Stevens, Raide’s first ambassador, are so excited about the pack. It includes many of the best features from other ski packs and adds a few that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

I do my best to avoid certain overused, cliché words and phrases like “groundbreaking” when I’m writing reviews like this. But in the case of the Raide LF 40L, I think that term is justified. This pack sits on the bleeding edge of the future of backcountry ski gear. I cannot wait to see what else Raide Research comes out in the seasons to come.

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Will Brendza

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