Mammut Ride RAS 30 Airbag Pack Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Anton Sponar

RAS

Mammut Ride RAS 30 Airbag pack. Helmet sticker reads, 'I came to get down,' from a Widespread Panic concert -- apropos for glisse as well.


An airbag pack is an interesting piece of backcountry equipment. It’s two important things at once. First off, it’s a pack. A backpack for me needs to be comfortable (carry well), able to hold all I need and has to stand up to rough use. Secondly, it’s a critical piece of safety equipment that needs to be easy to use and has to work when you need it. To combine all these aspects is not an easy task in my book.

During this past South American winter I used the Mammut Ride RAS 30 pack extensively. I did everything from snowcat guiding to sidecountry days to long days of climbing and skiing volcanoes.

Descent

Testing grounds: Volcan Villarica in Pucon, Southern Chile.

I will start with the airbag aspect of this pack. The Mammut Ride RAS Airbag is the only bag that inflates out of the top of the bag. When deployed, an upside down U forms around the pack. It uses Snowpulse technology. The handle has a cable system that when pulled punctures the canister and allows air to flow into the pack. This means that the airbag does not inflate as fast as some technology out there. About 3 seconds are needed to inflate the bag completely. When I tested the deployment everything went smoothly. The handle was easy to grasp and easy to pull. It had to be given some force, but it was not overly hard to do.

RAS stands for Removable Airbag System. This is a huge plus for me. The whole airbag system can be removed from the pack which leaves you with a normal backpack. I found that both the removing and the adding of the airbag system was very simple and fast. They also have addressed the accidental deployment of the airbag by having a small zippered pocket on the shoulder strap where the handle can be stowed when not needed.

I found the pack itself to be great. I like packs that are low profile. The RAS 30 is not exactly what I would call low profile, but its profile did not bother me too much. At first I thought that it did stick out from my back quite a bit, but after a few runs I found it to be fine. Due to the smaller size this pack is not made for multi day tours and even on super long days seems to be a little small. However for sidecountry and smaller tours I found it to be perfect. There are straps to carry both skis and snowboards. However skis were a little difficult since strapping them a-frame to the side would interfere with the airbag deployment.

Pack

Not super low profile but the RAS 30 carries a day's essentials comfortably.

I brought the pack down to South America with me, but could not get an air canister before I left. Lucky for me Louie was coming down as well and he brought me one. He had some issues with bringing the canisters in his carry on bag. Here is his story of that http://www.wildsnow.com/7912/south-american-ski-travel/. Apparently Louie looks like a terrorist. Must be the facial hair. When I returned to the states I took out all the airbag components and put them in my checked bag. I took off the top of the canister and taped it to the side. I used the bag itself as a carry on and had no problems at all. This is the way to go with all Snowpulse bags. Don’t even try bringing the canister on the plane. Just check it.

Making the best of a drought year.

Low snow year exit, Ski Arpa.

Overall I really like the RAS 30. The airbag components all work great and are easy to use. The pack itself is the real upside for me. I did not feel that there needed to be any modifications added, although I am sure the mod master Lou could find some way to make it better. If you are looking for an airbag pack for those short tours or sidecountry days, this is one to consider.

taxi

Drought or not, end of another good day.

For technical specs, as well as an overview of other Mammut Ride RAS packs, check out WildSnow’s comprehensive airback pack review.

Shop for Mammut RAS Airbag packs here.

(Guest blogger Anton Sponar spends winters enjoying the skiing ambiance of the Aspen area, while summers are taken up with slave labor doing snowcat powder guiding at Ski Arpa in Chile. If Anton didn’t ski every month of the year, skiing would cease to exist as we know it.)

Comments

37 Responses to “Mammut Ride RAS 30 Airbag Pack Review”

  1. climberjesse November 21st, 2012 11:06 am

    I have been looking seriously at this pack because it seems to get solid reviews and it has the R.A.S. What I can’t find is here to buy just the pack. I would like to get just the pack and then buy the airbag system later so as to break up the cost. Has anyone seen where to buy just the pack?

  2. Lisa Dawson November 21st, 2012 12:03 pm

    Climberjesse — the pack and air cannister are sold separately at Backcountry.com. They are out of the 30L but say they’ll get more in next month. http://www.backcountry.com/Store/catalog/search.jsp?q=mammut+ras+pack&s=u#

  3. Joe Puchek November 21st, 2012 12:16 pm

    you can buy R.A.S. ready bags from http://www.mammutusa.com
    you need to use the search menu and type in R.A.S. ready packs. (the site just wants to send you to the main R.A.S. packs).

  4. Andy November 21st, 2012 1:07 pm

    Anyone have experience with the Light version of this pack? I’m planning on getting a smallish pack for slack-country and day tours and the Pro45 for overnights. The 5.5lbs all up weight for the RAS Light 30l seems pretty impressive, though I know they stripped a few features out to get there, including the hip belt padding, back padding, and internal Al frame from the standard RAS 30l. If it still carries ok and won’t fall apart when I look at it, it seems like the right complement to the bigger pack. Thoughts?

  5. Simon November 21st, 2012 2:04 pm

    I have the same bag and used it a lot last season. I can only recommend it!
    Some remarks about travelling with it: I bought the American refillable 207 bar cylinder and I had it filled at a scuba shop in SLC. Then I brought it (empty and top removed) to Europe in my hand luggage. SLC and LAX no problem, CDG some questions on what I use it for. But not a big deal actually.
    However, I have not found a place in Europe where they can fill this type of cylinder – so I ended up buying a European non-refillable cylinder…

  6. Peter November 21st, 2012 2:43 pm

    Andy,
    I just got the Light version last week. I’ve been out with it exactly once for a few hours. It carried just fine. There is still plenty of padding on the back and I didn’t mind the simple hip belt at all. It’s not big enough to pack a heavy load anyway. Obviously I can’t speak to durability but the materials seem reasonable–not that different from other packs I’ve had. I think they saved weight more by cutting features than by using featherweight fabrics. If you are in SLC, you could come by and take a look at it.

  7. Sean November 21st, 2012 3:15 pm

    I saw the lightweight one at MEC and it looks just too light. It reminds of one of those packs by “Go Lite” that lasts for about a month. Disposable is not an option at these prices.

  8. Chris Simmons November 21st, 2012 4:21 pm

    Quick correction – BCA Float packs deploy out of the top of the pack as well.

  9. Andy November 21st, 2012 4:31 pm

    Peter and Sean,

    Thanks for the input. I’m in Seattle, so sadly can’t swing by to take a look (wish I could after that massive dump you guys just got). I also find it somewhat inexplicable that there’s no axe loops on the regular RAS 30l, but they’re present on the Light… seems like a weird omission. According to mammut’s catalog, it’s all 400denier on the RAS 30 while it’s a mix of 100, 200, and 400 denier on the Light. Seem like it’d be nice to save the two lbs when opting for the smaller pack and not carrying the 45, but then I’d like it to last a couple years, at least. Hmm.

  10. Jonathan November 21st, 2012 4:51 pm

    Do any of the ride’s have back panel access?

  11. Nick November 21st, 2012 7:42 pm

    Anton, nice review. I’ll second that this is a sweet pack. As Anton says it’s tough to get an airbag pack to be a good backpack. Many of the other companies have focused on the airbag part at the expense of the pack. Mammut’s ride pack is a pack I would choose even of it didn’t have an airbag. It’s not perfect,but it’s pretty close.

    The mammut ras pro packs have back panel access. We should be getting one to review next month. We had an ras light prototype but are waiting to see the production before giving our thoughts.

    correction: Mystery ranch, bca, snowpulse ras, and wary all have the single airbag at the top.

  12. leon November 21st, 2012 7:47 pm

    hey. I have the same bag and overall like it. Only point: the zips on top which hide the airbag open always especially when the bag is full. not really a problem but still a bit annoying. does anybody else has this problem, or am I just unable to pack the bag in the right way?

  13. Jonny November 22nd, 2012 1:57 am

    Took some pictures of the Scott air 30 R.A.S
    http://www.freeride.se/forum/thread.php?t=89106#r984398

    Measured weight 1388g w/o RAS.

  14. Ru November 22nd, 2012 3:58 am

    Jonathan: The 35l and 45l “Pro” bags have back panel access, but none of Mammut’s smaller models do. They’re better bags than the “Ride” models in a number of ways, but seem a bit harder to get hold of, at least for this season.

  15. Mark November 22nd, 2012 8:26 am

    I’ve had the same problem with the top zipper opening when carried very full or when packed roughly. Seems like something you just learn to avoid.

    I find the pack to be pretty large, myself, for day use. I certainly have no problem fitting food, water, a puffcoat, a little 1st aid kit, avy gear, and other small random items. I used it on a three night hut trip and had to supplement it with some large side pockets.

    Great pack. I’d like to get a 40-45 L at some point for hut tours.

  16. Anton November 22nd, 2012 11:03 am

    Leon,
    I had that problem as well. Especially without the airbag installed. It only happened when I had the bag very full too. It was just something I dealt with. I always tried to keep the Velcro as tight as possible. Seemed to help some.

  17. Jeff November 23rd, 2012 3:48 am

    Could somebody who has the RAS light version tell me a little bit more about the “hydration system compatible” phrase listed on the mammut website? Is it like the BCA version with a nice insulated sleeve through one of the shoulder straps? Or is it like the Snowpulse Light backpack which merely has a small hole at the top to dangle out the hose?

    I’ve become somewhat hooked on having a nice hydration system (through one of the shoulder straps). So I am hoping to find that nice balance between low weight, but still a viable hydration system that will not freeze without a lot of fuss.

  18. Peter November 23rd, 2012 7:59 am

    Jeff, it’s just a hole, no insulation.

  19. Scruppo November 23rd, 2012 10:17 am

    There are two slots in the back of the pack – a red one for the “rip cord” and a black one for the hydration tube. I have the 30L version and think the hydration tube goes out the back slot and down the same sleeve as the airbag “rip cord” I think this because that shoulder sleeve is both insulated and the inside is made of the shiny “aluminum foil” looking nylon that reflects heat. I don’t think there’s any chance of interference with the rip cord as it is a cable in a housing (like bike derailleur cables).

    The downside to this approach is that the hydration tube is exposed for a couple of inches right behind your neck – maybe your neck heat is enough to prevent freezing.

    I have searched Mammut’s site and gone over all documentation and cannot find any confirmation I am right or wrong. If anyone from Mammut is reading this, please speak up…

    Also I find the 30L a bit large for day trips and just bought the 22L. I think I’ll be selling the 30L and getting the 45L for hut trips in the future.

  20. Mike November 23rd, 2012 10:58 am

    I just bought one of these packs, have not had a chance to ski with it yet, but I have some initial thoughts. I chose the Mammut over other models because it uses compressed air, instead of nitrogen and a pyrotechnic charge. The BCA pack was also a consideration, but the ability to remove the airbag / move it to other packs was the deciding factor.

    Safety Gear — fairly big, separate pocket. Sleeves for shovel handle and probe. Easily fits a big shovel blade. I think they did a good job here.

    Ski Carry — diagonal. This is my biggest concern with the pack. The system consists of a lower loop (the diagonal standard) and the snowboard vertical carry straps. So you put the skis through the lower loop, then clip the snowboard carry straps across the skis. Compared to a non-airbag system (higher upper loop), it seems like the skis are a bit wobbly and “pull backwards”, since the anchor point is further from your left shoulder. I’ll update more when I actually spend some time hiking. (And I will note the BCA model seems to have a better setup here)

    Interior Space — good. A friend said he thinks the airbag system (stored at the top of the pack, closest to your body), could get in the way when you are digging through the bag, but I think it’s not a major issue. If you like to max out the carrying capacity of your pack, then you may want to consider going up to the bigger size, or else you will probably need to partially unpack/repack the bag when you are changing clothes, etc. (I will note the BCA solution is stored more in the middle of the bag, which I didn’t like)

    Profile — there are good side compression straps on the bag. I think that if you are only carrying a partial load (water, snack, extra layer, first aid), you can compress the pack quite a bit and keep it low profile.

    Hydration — there is a zippered compartment along the shoulder strap to hold a hose. It is not insulated.

    Goggle pocket – has a fuzzy one in the usual spot.

    Waist belt — the padding is on the firm side. The buckle is metal, and the leg loop threads over it easily.

    Load adjust – it has load adjust straps on the shoulder straps.

    Deployment handle – the deployment handle stows away when not needed, which I like.

    I have subscribed to “Notify me of followup comments via email”…so if anyone has any questions I will do my best to answer them. I know that choosing a pack is a very personal process, and these things aren’t cheap. If you have a question, please say “Mike….” so that I know the question is directed to me.

    I hope some people find this helpful.

    Mike

  21. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 11:03 am

    Mike and all, if you have more comments or feedback, please attempt to keep posting publicly here. The “subscribe” function is more about just being notified that more comments are being made on the thread. Thanks, Lou

  22. boneyard November 23rd, 2012 12:01 pm

    I have owned two of these packs for over a year, one for me and one for my ski partner. In my experience, the ski carry options work fine. We often use the side straps to do an A-frame carry on walking approaches. Generally we are not exposed to avi danger while walking, and the trigger handle is stowed anyway, so no big deal that the skis block deployment of the bag. In the rare case where we are exposed to avi danger and are still on foot and not skinning, then the diagonal carry works fine, though the weight distribution is less ideal.

    Biggest drawback for me is the length of the back panel. I am 6’4″. The pack is just not long enough to carry weight efficiently on my hips when it is heavily loaded. Normal, lighter, day-trip style loads carry fine, though the waist belt is still around the small of my waist, not on my hips.

    It is a little bit fussy to access the main compartment with the airbag blocking it a bit, but certainly not a deal breaker. I find the pack to be a bit small for days when you have more than just the basics. Add a short rope, helmet and some extra layers and things get tight pretty quickly. Otherwise a very nicely made & functional pack.

  23. Ron Rash November 23rd, 2012 2:39 pm

    Anton, Nice Rab soft shell jacket. The one with the Aspen Alpine Guides patch on the shoulder. The finest year around guide service in Aspen, Colorado. Thank you!!

    Should we have airbags for guides and clients??

  24. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 4:06 pm

    Ron, you should probably have airbags, standard of care and all that. Also, we sell advertising (grin). Lou

  25. Ron Rash November 23rd, 2012 4:30 pm

    Sorry. Penn got me excited years ago about utilizing any product placement advertising. I’ll have Steve, our marketing director, get in touch with you. Thank you.

  26. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 4:45 pm

    Who is Penn (grin)?

  27. Steve November 23rd, 2012 5:43 pm

    Mike,

    Every BCA pack has removable airbags/systems for this season, it’s just not widely promoted.

  28. Pete November 24th, 2012 5:36 am

    Hi – thanks for the review. I’m just about to order one of these, and as Mammut do a Short back length version I was wondering if anyone had any comments on the sizing / fit. I’m 5’6″ with a measured back length of 45cm (Lowest cervical vertebra to level of top of hip bones). Currently I use a short length Osprey Kode 30, which fits great, but am keen to upgrade to an airbag pack. I’ve tried on BCA Stash Packs before which have been a fair bit too long, so I’d assume the Floats would be too big, and generally have to hunt around to find a pack short enough to carry comfortably on my hips. I thought in the pictures the hip belt looked fairly high on you, hence my query. Keen to get it right as the Short would be a non-returnable special order. All advice welcome. Cheers, Pete.

  29. Pete November 24th, 2012 5:38 am

    ps – I note boneyard finds it a bit short, but then I’m somewhat the other end of the spectrum!

  30. palic November 25th, 2012 10:55 am

    Simon, there is not a problem almost anywhere in Europe to fill refillable cylinders of Snowpulse/R.A.S. (and BCA). There can be sometimes problems to find place to refill ABS cylinders.

    Point 2, travelling with avalanche bagpacks via airlines in Europe is without ANY problem – we did it many times and it happens only from time to time that people at security check of the airport want to see everything, but it is allowed. For sure, the best option is to print out direct description of the way how to handle avalanche backpacks from used airlines pages. Our good experiences are with Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Czech Airlines, etc. We used 1x Snowpulse Lifebag Guide 30 and 2x Snowpulse Pro 35 R.A.S also during our ski-touring trip to Lebanon in February 2012 – http://mountainski.cz/268/ski-the-mountains-of-lebanon-2012-prehled-vysledku. There was not any problem to get Snowpulse bags to Lebanon, but on the way back from Beirut, there were some troubles with the head of security, as he did not want to allow to take Snowpulse as a cabin bag, even when Lufthansa
    allows that.

    Just about floating from the top of the backpack – as was already announced, not only R.A.S., but also all BCA bags work like this – see defloating of BCA here: http://mountainski.cz/283/prakticke-zkusenosti-s-lavinovym-batohem-bca-float-18

  31. Mike November 28th, 2012 8:03 am

    I’ve flown twice (US domestic) with my Float 18. Both times I put the canister in the checked ski bag and the cap/valve in the checked duffel. I had no problems with security, but both times I found the TSA card in the ski bag. I suspect the canister looked suspicious in the scan. However, it looks just like my SIGG bottle that was also in the ski bag.

  32. John Warner December 1st, 2012 11:58 am

    I am very interested in these air bag packs. I went to a demo yesterday in Breckenridge of the Mammut 35L and it felt and appeared like it had good build quality. The ski carry system reminded me of my Dakine Poacher and Guide Packs (which I like). However, the ice axe carry was not as handy as on my Dakine Packs. A question I failed to ask was, do the 35L and 45L come in various sizes? Any one have an answer? Thanks.

  33. John Warner December 1st, 2012 6:05 pm

    I just got my question answered. The Mammut air bag packs do not come in various sizes for different length torsos. Interestingly, I took my multiday European Hut-to- Hut gear to my local shop and I’m pretty sure that I’m going to order the 45 L Mammut pack. Crampons, soft ware, skins, shovel. probe poles, etc. fill up a 45 L pack pretty quickly. Or maybe I am a poor gear packer…

  34. Christian December 11th, 2013 1:34 pm

    Just got my RAS. Looks like a great pack. I checked on the ski carrying system. In the description which came with the pack, it shows another upper loop, which I can not find at the pack. Based on the description in this forum though, this seems not to exist. Only the snowboard carry straps.

    Also I am wondering if someone has experienced snow coming through the (unzipped) airbag zipper. I assume this needs to stay open and only closed with the Velcro, as otherwise the airbag can not unfold, right? It seems to me that
    snow could make it through here, as the Velcro is not really firmly closing this.

  35. Mike T December 11th, 2013 2:24 pm

    Correct — no upper loop for carrying skis. After using mine for a season, I don’t really like the lack of an upper loop. I’ve also found the pack fits “short” for me (6’2″)

    The RAS compatible Scott backpack looks interesting, as it does have a ski-specific upper carry loop. I just can’t find it anywhere in the US (yet). The model is the Scott AIR 30 RAS. I contacted Scott, and they said the pack will be available without a RAS system, so I should be able to just buy the pack and move my RAS unit.

  36. Christian December 23rd, 2013 4:33 pm

    I figured this out with the upper zipper. No snow coming in. I should have read the manual first :lol

  37. Daniel January 28th, 2014 4:11 am

    would like to add that the advice to put teh canister into check in luggage can cause just as much trouble as carry on. we have made our experiences, including a missed flight because some security staff member in the airport baggage control in frankfurt/germany pulled teh bags out and sent them back to check in, we re asked to return to baggage drop and the pane left w/o us. luckily lufthansa booked us on the next plane so no worries. ever since then we have taken the cartidges inside carry on. some discussions, but always made it. if your canister gets rejected here, at least all your luggage and you get to the destination.

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