Dakine Poacher RAS 18L ski backpack review: a no-fuss, low-profile pack ideal for skiers and boarders alike

The Dakine Poacher RAS 18L is a great pack for heli-skiing, cat-skiing, lift-assist backcountry and resort skiing that you’ll barely be aware you’re wearing

Dakine Poacher RAS 18L on white background
(Image: © Dakine)

Advnture Verdict

A super-capable, highly versatile, well-featured but low-profile, air bag–holding backpack for boarders and skiers who like to play across a wide range of terrain types.


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    Designed for snowboarders first, but also holds skis

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    Ultra low-profile


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    No dedicated shovel pocket

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    Minimum organization

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    Sewn-in shoulder straps limit adjustability

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Dakine Poacher RAS 18L: first impressions

For heli-skiing, cat skiing and lift-assist backcountry skiing, when all you need is safety gear, a liter of water, a snickers bar and your down jacket, the Dakine Poacher RAS 18L is the perfect pack. It’s also a great resort and sidecountry pack – and generally one of the best skiing backpacks on the market. 


• List price: $195 (US) / £159 (UK)
• Fabric: 840D nylon / 500D nylon two-tone ripstop with water-repellent finish / High tenacity heather plain weave with water-repellent finish
• Sizes: One size
• Volume: 18L / 1098 cu in
• Weight: 1.2kg / 2,7lb
• Airbag compatible: Yes
• Colors: Black

The Dakine Poacher RAS 18L will carry skis or a board and offers a fleece-lined pocket for goggles or sunglasses. Unique to the Poacher is its compatibility with Mammut’s Removable RAS Airbag System 3.0 (sold separately) – so it’s an everyday pack, but you can easily turn it into an avalanche airbag pack, if that’s what you need it to be for a particular jaunt. That makes the Poacher a great choice for skiers and boarders who want to buy a pack that can grow with them – one that they can upgrade when they’re ready to take a big trip. 

Dakine Poacher RAS 18L: on the slopes

Dakine Poacher RAS 18L on white background

The Dakine Poacher RAS 18L can carry skis or a board (Image credit: Dakine)

I loved skiing with this pack for in-bounds and sidecountry because of its low profile, burly construction and streamlined features. I also appreciated the fact that I could ride the lift without taking it off. 

It held my ski goggles when I didn’t want them on my face or my helmet. And the main gear compartment stored snow safety tools and extra layers. 

Both shoulder straps are insulated, so I could run a hydration hose in one, and have the Airbag System trigger in the other. On piste, I used an inside stretch pocket to hold my hydration reservoir. In big terrain, with the RAS system on board, I used that pocket to stash my shovel blade. 

The front of the pack is highly ruggedized to resist cuts from skis being carried diagonally. It’s a pack that carries well, holds essentials and is so streamlined you’ll forget you have it on. 

Berne Broudy

Vermont-based writer, photographer and adventurer, Berne reports on hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding, travel, climbing and kayaking for category-leading publications in the U.S., Europe and beyond. In the field, she’s been asked to deliver a herd of llamas to a Bolivian mountaintop corral, had first fat-biking descents in Alaska, helped establish East Greenland’s first sport climbing and biked the length of Jordan. She’s worked to help brands clean up their materials and manufacturing, and has had guns pulled on her in at least three continents.