Winter 2013 Season Update: Our product overview table (see below) is now updated with this season’s offerings. Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights: BCA has three new packs, with a slight price drop and a huge weight drop. Snowpulse brings two new packs that have also dropped substantially in weight, as well as dropping prices across the board by $100-$200. They are focusing on the Lifebag style, while letting their new owner, Mammut, run with the RAS system. Mammut has jumped fully into the airbag market with six new packs at very impressive weights. WARY (AKA Avivest) has also lightened their original Avipack 33L and added a new smaller one. ABS is keeping the same packs as last year, only prices have come up a tiny bit. Nothing new to report from Mystery Ranch. As always, please chime in with any corrections that catch your eye; this list is getting long–a good thing!
You may have heard of a recent recall on old Snowpulse 1.0 cylinders. Just want to reiterate that this only concerns very old cylinders. Details on the recall are here and in comments below. Press release here.
Editor’s note from Lou: Our plan is to continuously update this post covering available airbag backpacks, and bring it up to the front several times a year. So today it again becomes your daily WildSnow fix–this time due to our updates regarding Mammut, as well as my adding exposition to this note.
Thanks to Nick our overview is astoundingly complete and being used by consumers and journalists worldwide as THE source for airbag backpack info. Nonetheless, it is a work in progress just as the avy airbag industry is these days. Yep, the “airbag wars” are in full swing!
On the surface, some of you might wonder why we’re directing so much energy to this product category. Simple. We feel strongly that using airbag backpacks will save lives, thus preventing a significant portion of the awful avalanche tragedies we’ve been reporting on and grieving over for years.
Basically, the whole avalanche safety issue has boiled down to human nature. Skiers will ski avalanche slopes, and some of us will ignore, forget, or perhaps never even learn how to play that game with reasonable safety. Thus, we need a backup plan. Beacons, having achieved an almost supernatural status in the pantheon of avalanche safety gear, have proved disappointing in real life. Fact is, if you’re buried in a slide you stand a pretty good chance of being dug up dead, no matter how many extra features your beacon has. Thus, two approaches to this problem. 1.Provide air to the otherwise suffocating buried victim. 2.Prevent burial in the first place.
The former approach is addressed by the Black Diamond Avalung. We like the idea of the ‘Lung, but even more, we like the idea of not being buried in the first place. Thus, again, we’re advocating airbag backpacks.
Speaking of the Avalung, what about using both ‘Lung and airbag? It’s easy to ziptie an Avalung on to the strap of your airbag backpack. However, we feel that doing so is a overly complex and excessive application of safety gear. At the least, how much fumbling around are you going to do in the split second when the snow fractures under your feet? Believe — in most cases of a skier triggered slab avalanche, you’re not going to have time to fiddle around with both getting an Avalung in your mouth as well as finding and pulling the ripcord on your airbag.
Thus, our advice. If (due to cost, weight, or personal preference) you’re not using an airbag backpack for backcountry skiing in avalanche terrain, by all means rock that Avalung. Otherwise, skip a year of costly mountain bike upgrades and acquire a late model airbag backpack from any of the brands below, practice using it, and don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
Below is our WildSnow.com overview of the various avalanche airbag systems and associated backpacks. We try our best to break out the details in the chart, but this is a complex backcountry skiing gear category so we can only go so far. Editing and improvement of this post is ongoing, so please refer to it as often as needed. If you’re shopping for or researching airbag backpacks, also see our category listing. If you’re wondering what these are and how they work, see this older post covering whether or not to use an airbag. By studying all our info you’ll be an informed shopper, though please note that this is a complex subject so getting clear on all the options and product availability can be tricky.
|Models and shopping links||Manufacturer Weight*||Verified Weight||Volume||Self Refillable*||MSRP||Reviews/Links/Notes|
|shop for ABS products|
|Vario Base Unit (2012)||6.14 lbs (size L)||$980||Vario 2012 First Look|
|Vario 40 (2012)||7.39 lbs||7.65 lbs (size L)||40 L||$1300||Vario 2012 First Look|
|Vario 25 (2012)||6.95 lbs||7.29 lbs (size L)||25 L||$1280||Vario 2012 First Look|
|Vario Ultralight 18 (2012)||6.47 lbs||6.95 lbs (size L)||18 L||$1250||Vario 2012 First Look|
|Vario 15 (2012)||6.73 lbs||7.17 lbs (size L)||15 L||$1280||Vario 2012 First Look|
|Powder Base Unit (2012)||5.73 lbs||$895||Powder 2012 First Look|
|Powder 15L (2012)||6.29 lbs||6.47 lbs||15 L||$1244||Powder 2012 First Look|
|Carbon Cartridge||0.62lbs||$25 plus shipping||Not yet available in US|
|Steel Cartridge||1.14 lbs(Euro) 1.29 lbs(US)||1.30 lbs(US)||$25 plus shipping||$180 w/ handle|
|Activation Handle||0.14 lbs||0.15 lbs|
|Vario Base Unit (2007-2011)||6.0 lbs||6.37 lbs||ABS Review|
|Vario 50 (2007-2011)||8.37 lbs||8.56 lbs||50 L||$1,189.99||ABS Review|
|Vario 30 (2007-2011)||7.6 lbs||8.1 lbs||30 L||$1,159.99||ABS Review|
|Vario Ultralight 18 (2007-2011)||6.6 lbs||7.01 lbs||18 L||$1,124.99||ABS Review|
|Vario 15 (2007-2011)||6.9 lbs||7.39 lbs||18 L||$1,124.99||ABS Review|
|Powder Base Unit (2011)||5.64 lbs||5.63 lbs||First Look|
|Powder 15L (2011)||6.34 lbs||6.27 lbs||15 L||£585 ~$919||First Look|
|Escape 50 (2005-2007)||8.83 lbs||50 L||discontinued|
|Escape 30 (2005-2007)||8.53 lbs||30 L||$1,035||limited availability|
|Escape 15 (2005-2007)||?||?||?||?||discontinued||3rd party zip ons for ABS Vario:|
|Dakine Altitude 40L||8 lbs||40 L||$230||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|Dakine Altitude 25L||7.4 lbs||25 L||$190||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|Arva Crossover 27||?||28 L||€99 ~$130||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|Arva Crossover 18||?||18 L||€99 ~$130||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|Millet ABS Rider 18||?||18 L||$179.90||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|Dynastar Pro Rider ABS Compatible||?||28 L||€119||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|Rossignol ABS Bag Compatible||?||28 L||?||This is a 3rd party zip on that uses the ABS Vario Base Unit|
|*Weights include ABS Vario or Powder Base Unit as applicable, plus US Steel Cartridge and Activation Handle. Note: ABS refill prices do not include hazmat shipping (~$35) for filled cartridges. Vario and Powder unit prices include base unit.|
|The North Face|
|Patrol 24 ABS||6.56 lbs||24 L||$1179||Uses the ABS system|
|*Weights include ABS US Steel Cartridge and Activation Handle.|
|shop for BCA airbag backpacks|
|Float 32 (new 2013)||6.4 lbs||6.75 lbs||32 L||yes||$725|
|Float 22 (new 2013)||5.5 lbs||22 L||yes||$675|
|Float Throttle (new 2013)||5.5 lbs||22 L||yes||$675|
|Float 36 (2012)||7.7 lbs||7.93 lbs||36 L||yes||$785||Float 36 First Look|
|Float 30 (2012)||8lbs||30 L||yes||$750||Float 30 First Look|
|Float 18 (2012)||6.5 lbs||6.63 lbs||18 L||yes||$685||Float 18 First Look|
|Refill Kit||5 refills||$10||Refill Guide|
|*weights include cylinder|
|shop for Mammut products|
|Ride RAS 30L||6.7 lbs||6.83 lbs||30 L||yes||$874**||Ride 30 Review
Ride 30 First Look
Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system
|Ride RAS 22L||6.5 lbs||22 L||yes||$854**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|Ride Short RAS 28L (new 2013)||6.6 lbs||28 L||yes||$874**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|Ride Light RAS 30L (new 2013)||5.4 lbs||30 L||yes||$874**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|Ride Pro RAS 35L (new 2013)||7.1 lbs||35 L||yes||$904**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|Ride Pro RAS 45L (new 2013)||7.3 lbs||45 L||yes||$924**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|Ride Rocker RAS 18L (new 2013)||5.8 lbs||18 L||yes||$804**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|Ride Protection RAS 18L (new 2013)||6.5 lbs||18 L||yes||$904**||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|RAS airbag system (no pack, just
the RAS airbag, valve, trigger)
|1.87 lbs||yes||$450||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|2.0 cylinder||1.39 lbs||1.43 lbs||yes||$175||Snowpulse RAS 2.0 system|
|2.0 nonrefillable cylinder||1.1 lbs||no||$175||Only available in Europe|
|2.0 refill kit||3 refills||$10.00||2.0 refill guide||3rd party packs using Mammut RAS:|
|Scott Air 30 RAS||6 lbs||30 L||?||This is a 3rd party pack that will accept the Mammut RAS system|
|**Cylinders are sold separately, but listed weights and prices include cylinder.|
|Refill Kit||10 refills||$10|
|*weights include cylinder|
|shop for Snowpulse products|
|RAS Pro 35||6.28 lbs||6.75 lbs||35 L||yes||$899||2.0 system
|RAS Extrem 22 (discontinued for 2013)||6.50 lbs||22 L||yes||$899||2.0 system|
|RAS FB ProTech Vest||?||15 L||yes||$949||2.0 system|
|Lifebag Tour 45||7.60 lbs||8.3 lbs||45 L||yes||$999||2.0 system|
|Lifebag Lite 35 (new 2013)||
5.22 lbs (M)
|6.62 lbs (L)||35 L||yes||$1,074||2.0 system
Lite 35 review
|Lifebag Heli 22 (new 2013)||6.72 lbs||7.17 lbs||22 L||yes||$1,074||2.0 system
Heli 22 review
|Lifebag Guide 30||7.16 lbs||7.78 lbs (size L)||30 L||yes||$1,120||2.0 system
Guide 30 review
|Lifebag Highmark 22||7.16 lbs||30 L||yes||$1,099||2.0 system|
|Lifebag Prorider 15||6.50 lbs||15 L||yes||$1,064||2.0 system|
|2.0 cylinder||1.43 lbs||$189||2.0 system|
|2.0 carbon cylinder||N/A||Not yet available|
|2.0 refill kit||10 refills||$30||2.0 refill guide|
|2.0 refill kit||20 refills||$45||2.0 refill guide|
|Life Bag 45L 1.0 (2010-2011)||8.63 lbs(L)
|Life Bag 30L 1.0 (2010-2011)||7.93 lbs(L)
|7.72 lbs(M)||30L||yes||$1,099.99||1.0 system|
|Life Bag 30L 1.0 (2008-2009)||7.93 lbs(L)
|8.22 lbs(M)||30L||yes||$1,099.99||1.0 system|
|1.0 Cylinder (2008-2011)||1.53lbs||$250||1.0 system|
|1.0 Refill Kit||10 refills||$40||1.0 refill guide|
|1.0 Refill Kit||20 refills||$55||1.0 refill guide|
|WARY (AKA Avivest)|
|Avipack 33L||6.90 lbs||33L||yes||$829.00|
|Avipack 23L||5.75 lbs||23L||yes||$799.00|
|*Weights include 2.0 or 1.0 cylinder as applicable.|
**All weights and prices for packs include the cartridge (and activation handle for ABS). The cartridges and triggers are shown separately in the spreadsheet above in case you need a spare, and for weight clarification. All the information above is subject to revision; if anything looks off, please let us know.
**Cartridge weights are as FILLED.
*”Self Refillable” means you can possibly take to a local shop or location that can fill to high pressure. A normal air compressor cannot accomplish this.
ABS started the avalanche airbag game back in 1985, giving them years to perfect their system. In fact, most of the published statistics available for air bags are from accidents and tests using the ABS system and are a result of their pioneering efforts. Early versions of their packs used a mono bag system (similar to the system used by BCA and Mystery Ranch), but they moved to a dual air bag in 1996 to create more surface area to ostensibly enhance the system’s ability to keep you on top of the snow. (As a bonus, having two bags provides some redundancy in case one of the bags or valves is damaged). They argue that their dual bag “wing” design puts an avy victim in a horizontal position and therefore less exposed to the dynamic forces of an avalanche. The 2001 Davos study reports that dummies using this system ended up face up or face down lying in the debris; however, real life reports show that many victims (not all) came to a stop head up and only buried to their hips. The ABS dual air bags have a cumulative 170 liter capacity.
New for 2011/12 season, the lighter system of the Powder line has been put in the Vario line, while further updates have reduced weights across the board. All packs will now have thermoform backs, better adjustability and comfort. Most of the weight of the airbag system has been moved closer to the back, decreasing swing weight and making the packs feel even lighter. ABS is still working on Canadian and US approval of their carbon cartridge, which is currently available in Europe. If you manage to get a hold of one, be aware that the North American refill facility will not be able to fill it. The facility has moved to Langley, British Columbia, closer to the US border for quicker turn around times.
The ABS system differs from the others in that it uses a cartridge filled with nitrogen that is sealed (think of a sealed BB gun CO2 cartridge). There are no valves or gauges or cables to deal with, you just screw it into a socket in the backpack. The activation is accomplished with a removable “activation handle” which has an explosive round that, when pulled, sends a shockwave down the line to pierce the seal of the cartridge, which then inflates the dual bags which come out of either side of the pack like wings. The bags stay out of your way and don’t block your vision or range of motion, giving you more freedom to ski away or swim in the avalanche. Due to the bags being on either side, A-frame ski carry is not possible. The activation handle is stored out of the way in a pocket on the hipbelt, and when preparing for avy terrain, is attached to the shoulder strap via a quick-link coupler similar to an air hose. At times, this can be a difficult thing to do as it sometimes sticks, or you might think it is in only to have it fall into the snow. A little silicone oil helps. Once it is in place, the handle has a velcro strap which can be secured over it to keep it from being accidentally pulled. When ready to ski, adjust the strap so there is room for the handle to be pulled. Pulling the handle is surprisingly easy, even with heavy mitts. Repacking the air bags after detonation is very simple; just fold them up and tuck inside the velcro pouches.
The backpack is shipped to you with two sets of cartridges and activation handles. This is so you can perform a test release at home before venturing into the backcountry. Typically, you pay a deposit for the second cartridge when you buy the pack, which is then refunded when you send it back after your test. When you need your cartridge refilled, you must mail it to an ABS distributor who then sends it to ABS who will refill and send it back to you. The process is actually pretty quick–the filling is done in British Columbia, and I received mine the day after ABS received it. If you need a cartridge faster, you can have them overnight you one and cross ship your empty one.
Print out the data sheet. For travel to or from the U.S., be sure to have a U.S. cartridge which is DOT certified, but sadly a little heavier than the European version (which TSA will not accept). One thing to make sure: Refer to your ABS cartridge as a cartridge not a canister or cylinder, which may confuse the highly educated and heavily qualified TSA officers and make them want to look inside.
ABS recommends regularly weighing your cartridge (with the cap removed) to make sure no air has leaked. It should be within +/- 5 grams (0.18 oz) of the weight printed on the cartridge. ABS recommends sending the pack in for inspection (for a fee) after three years of use. See ABS’ maintenance page for more details.
ABS Vario Line
The Vario line is innovative as a way to have multiple pack size options but with just one ABS air bag unit. You start with a base unit which is essentially the back, shoulder straps, hipbelt, and air bag apparatus. Different rucksack bags can then be zipped on to obtain the needed volume for your outing. This is a great way to have more options and save money. Previously, you had to either pick a pack that would work for most of your days, but perhaps not an overnight, or get a huge pack that would be overkill for most of your days but would work for anything. Small and large sizes available.
New for 2012 the Vario is lighter and comes in a different range of sizes. You can get 15, 25, 40, and “ultralight” 18 liter options. The ultralight simply ditches the outer shovel pocket and uses a lighter weight fabric. All but the 40 are clam shell zipper openings, and A-frame ski carry has been added to the 25 and 40.
ABS Powder Line
ABS’s newest offering, the Powder series, uses a base unit with zipon backpack attachments similar to the Vario, however the base unit is shorter and lighter. So far, there are only 5 and 15 liter pack options, which is not a very usable size for backcountry tours, but is useful for sidecountry days at the ski area.
The older, heavier model. These are still very functional packs. They use the same airbag system as the original Vario, and can sometimes be found cheaper than the newer options. Fixed sizes of 15, 30, and 50 liters. Leg loops are webbing with plastic buckles that are stored in a pouch on the hip belt.
ABS Freeride Line
Coming in fixed 4 and 10 liter sizes, these packs are too small for practical backcountry skiing. They use the same system as the Powder line, but are fixed sizes (no zip-ons). Small and Large sizes available.
Snowpulse was the second company to offer an air bag pack, and was recently acquired by Mammut. New for the 2012 season is the 2.0 system, which is much easier to refill and uses the same threads as ABS cartridges, including the available ABS carbon cartridge which saves significant weight. Also, Snowpulse has created the new RAS backpack line, which stands for Removable Airbag System. The airbag and all of it’s components easily detach from the pack for non-avalanche use.
The Snowpulse single airbag systems have 150 liters of volume and fill with compressed air. Snowpulse began using a zip-on system similar to ABS’s Vario on their packs, but were forced to discontinue them due to infringing on ABS’s patent. Some of the zip-on packs may still be out there, but the US ones had their zippers sewn shut.
2.0 System (2012):
The activation handle tucks neatly and conveniently into a zippered pouch–very easy to stow or deploy with the new plastic handle that flips open. The handle is attached to a cable which mechanically punctures the copper burst disc in the cylinder, releasing air from the cylinder into the airbag.
Note: ABS cartridges will fit in the Snowpulse 2.0 system, however this is not recommended. See the Snowpulse Incompatibility with ABS post.
1.0 System (2008-2011):
Webbing loop handle, harder to grasp with mitts. 2008 handles have too much velcro attaching them to the shoulder strap, making them hard to pull. This is easy to mod. When you pull the handle, it pulls a cable that in turn pulls a pin from the cylinder head, releasing the valve and sending air to the airbag.
Refilling and Repacking:
Do it yourself or keep it simple and exchange filled cylinders with the distributor. Also, when you buy your pack, some distributors offer the option to ship the cylinder empty to save on the HazMat fee.
2.0 system refill guide
1.0 system refill guide
Snowpulse supplies three different types of cylinders, a U.S. refillable cylinder, a European refillable cylinder, and a European non-refillable cylinder. Only the U.S. version has DOT marking certifications, and should work the world over, Europe included. Sadly, the U.S. version operates at a lower pressure and thus must use a larger cylinder than the Euro version. For the refillable cylinders, you must empty the cylinder and unscrew the cylinder head for air travel. See the refill guides for more on this. The Euro non-user refillable cylinder is certified by the IATA to travel filled, similar to ABS. This cylinder is only available in Europe.
The Lifebag system is unique from the others in that the air bag comes out of the shoulder straps and top of the pack, wrapping around your head and chest. This is intended to protect your head and vital organs as well as perhaps help create an air pocket if you are indeed buried. See my commentary about how this doesn’t overly affect field of vision. This “Head On Top” technology is supported by tests of the Avagear which found that dummies more often ended up with their heads up on the surface than the dual or mono air bag systems which found dummies to be lying horizontal and sometimes face down. The 30L version is a panel style, while the 45L is a top loader. Snowpulse found a decent solution to the leg loop problem by having just one strap that goes between your legs and clips into the hipbelt buckle. When not in use, it folds up and gets cinched to the hipbelt by an elastic cord. The packs come in two sizes: medium for people up to 5’9″ and large for people over 5’8″.
Superlight, these packs use a behind-the-head ‘pillow’ single airbag, similar to BCA’s. It doesn’t offer the trauma protection of the lifebag line, but is lighter weight and removable from the backpack for use in summer or non avalanche hazard days. These packs are impressively lightweight.
Just as the name implies, these packs are for slednecks. Basically the same as the Lifebag, but without ski and snowboard attachment, and with the addition of an external shovel flap.
Mammut began licensing Snowpulse’s RAS system last year to create their own line of airbag packs, the Ride RAS series. In July of this year, Mammut bought the Snowpulse company, so for the time being the company is selling packs under both the Mammut and the Snowpulse name. They are working on aligning their brands to deliver a focused group of pack options for 2012. What this means for the future will be interesting–hopefully lower prices.
See Snowpulse RAS 2.0 as it is the same system.
Refilling and Repacking:
There are two kinds of cylinder, a user refillable one and one that must be exchanged with Mammut to refill. The refilable one is the same as Snowpulse’s 2.0 cylinder, so see that section for more on that. You can buy the cylinder either filled or unfilled to save on the hazmat shipping fee. The non-refillable one is only available in Europe.
2.0 system refill guide
Mammut’s refillable cylinder is the same as Snowpulse’s, so see that section for more info. Mammut also sells a non user refillable cylinder that is certified by the IATA to travel filled, similar to ABS. This cylinder is only available in Europe.
Ride RAS Line
Featuring 22L and 30L sizes, these packs use Snowpulse’s RAS system, which is lightweight and removable from the backpack for use in summer or non avalanche hazard days and allows one to own one RAS system and multiple packs to zip it into. Both packs are similar to Mammut’s Nirvana pack, with clamshell zipper access, diagonal ski carry and vertical snowboard carry, and a separate avy tool pocket.
BCA stirred things up a few years ago when they introduced a U.S. made airbag pack at a significantly lower price than the European competitors. They are still seeking TUV certification (and pretty close it sounds like) which is necessary for European retailers. In the mean time, they are focusing on the North American market, with the Float 30 geared to snowmobilers, the new Float 18 for side country and mechanized skiers, and the new Float 36 for ski patrollers and avalanche professionals.
New for 2011/12 season are the Float 36 and 18. The Float 30 and 36 now have a zippered airbag compartment similar to Snowpulse’s instead of velcro, which should help keep it from bulging open and has allowed BCA to get rid of the annoying ‘gap’ in the old Float 30.
The BCA airbag is activated via a handle connected to a cable attached to a release pin. The air bag comes out of the top of the pack, behind the head, sort of like a pillow. The idea here is that it keeps your head up and provides some protection, yet still allows full field of vision and mobility. The single airbag has 150 liters of volume.
The pack is shipped to you with a full cylinder and a refill kit is included–very nice. To get an even easier start, you can order the pack with a second cylinder, then test fire it and ship the spent cylinder back to recoup a deposit.
Do it yourself (see my refill guide below), or take it in to one of the many retailers who are licensed to do the refill for you. BCA has done an exemplary job of going out and training shops to do this and thus their list is continuing to grow.
Print out the data safety sheet off BCA’s website. See the refill guide and other airbag posts for more details.
A 30 liter, panel style pack. Upgrades from last year’s model include a different material, hydration compatibility, waterproof zippers, diagonal ski carry straps, and a helmet net
Purchase at Backcountry.com
Geared to patrollers, this pack is beefy and has lots of compartments and pockets to keep things in. Back panel access is nice, vertical ski carry is not, but you can rig your own ski carry system.
Lightweight and perfect for sidecountry skiing out the gate. Diagonal ski carry.
Made in Montana, this system was in prototype phase last winter and will be available this winter of 2011/12. Now using an airbag system made by WARY, which is similar to Snowpulse and BCA’s, they have switched to a closed venturi system like everyone else. Closed venturis are better because the air is forced into the airbag and can’t go anywhere else as opposed to an open system which might release air into the pack but not the airbag. The release handle is attached to the cable via a girth hitch, which is awkward but can still just be kept in a zipper out of the way. Apparently heli operations requested this, but I fail to see why just zipping it in a pack doesn’t do the job. The new WARY system is slightly lighter, bringing the pack weight down from last year.
Self refill kits are included with the pack! It should be similar to the Snowpulse and BCA refill process.
A beefy pack tailored to ski patrollers, this pack appears to be super durable. It contains a 150 liter airbag volume in a system that rests entirely in the lid of the top loader pack. The lid can be replaced by a non-airbag version for no-danger days. An accessory waistbelt pocket is also sold separately.
- Custom fit harnessing
- Full side zip access
- (ATP) Avalanche Tool Pocket.
- Ski carry: A Frame or Diagonal.
- Snowboard Carry: Vertical.
- Ice Axe loops.
- Shoulder strap with zipper accessory pocket.
- Waistbelt contains harnessing leg loop.
- 43 liter pack volume.
WARY Avi Vest
Prior to 2012, WARY (sometimes known as Avivest), while being the oldest North American avy airbag company, did not make a backpack. Instead, they sold two vest options primarily designed for snowmobilers. We found their vests to be useful, but lacking enough carrying capacity for all but the shortest backcountry skiing trips.
We received a sample of the WARY 33L backpack during winter of 2011/2012. The 6.9 pound 33L sports a complex series of zippered compartments (we counted 5 different zippers, plus a few inside!) that we found less than impressive due to their complexity and the added weight of all the fabric and zippers involved. When we run into this type of design, we’ve began calling it the “file cabinet effect.” We are mystified as to why such a configuration would be necessary in a backpack. Perhaps it’s intended for a SAR or ski patrol person carrying multiple life support technology items or something like that (and with a good memory about what’s buried in there). But for basic backcountry skiing, such compartmentalization is total overkill and too much weight. That being said, we applaud WARY for finally entering the airbag backpack wars. May we suggest they examine some of the lighter weight Euro offerings and do something similar? To that end, for winter 2012/2013 they’re selling a smaller pack with less file cabinet fiddling, the 23L is said to weigh 5.75 pounds. We remain unconvinced that anything smaller than about 30 liters is adequate for backcountry skiing, but experimentation continues and both WARY offerings will be interesting to test.