Lightweight Winner 30 liter Avalanche Airbag Backpack from Scott

Post by blogger | January 15, 2014      
Backcountry skiing avalanche airbag backpacks.

Airbag backpacks.

Well, luckily we packed our fur coats for the Arlberg. The complimentary sparkling wine and the ski concierge when we checked into our hotel for the Scott press event were all appreciated by our European travel brutalized physiques. But we just didn’t fit in while wearing our down jackets.

We’re on-snow testing Scott skis and boots, but couldn’t help but notice the nicely engineered lightweight airbag backpack they’ll be retailing soon near you: Alpride.

Alpride inflated fast and tight.

Alpride inflated fast and tight.

Yes Virginia, I might be wrong about shouting the death knell of compressed gas airbags. Turns out that life preserver technology has been there all along, with tiny C02 cartridges that with a bit of help (or perhaps even on their own) are perfectly capable of inflating a 150 liter avalanche balloon in 4 seconds or less. The 2.7 kilo (weight with cartridges) version of the Alpride 30 liter backpack will be available winter of 2014/15.

Once these things are in retail, prepare to be amazed. You pick one up and you don’t know it’s an airbag backpack it’s so light. Check it out!

Let the airbag wars _really_ begin. Tested ok in my book.

Let the airbag wars _really_ begin. Tested ok in my book. Story from the creator is he was immediately appalled at the ridiculous weight of most airbag backpacks. More, he began wondering why a life preserver cost 100 euros and an airbag backpack based on the same technology cost 1000. Time for something different? I have to say I'm highly impressed that someone actually built an airbag backpack with lack of mass being the priority. Whew, took long enough.

The CO2 cartridge is the same as that used with life preservers.

The CO2 cartridge is the same as that used with life preservers. Recharge kit will cost 25.00 euros (boxed set of CO2 and argon cartridges).


Deflated system independent of backpack, showing both cylinders installed. Story is that the CO2 provides the volume while the argon give a speed boost. Again, it was clear that the system would probably work fine with only the CO2 cylinder; this was actually demonstrated.

A bit more detail. As with most other gas airbags, a venturi valve sucks in ambient air using the compressed gas as a power source.

A bit more detail. As with most other gas airbags, a venturi valve sucks in ambient air using the compressed gas as a power source.

Alpride rucksack lineup will comprise a variety of sizes and applications. The 30 liter version appeared to be the usual over-featured panel loader that could easily be trimmed of a few ounces.

Alpride rucksack lineup will comprise a variety of sizes and applications. The 30 liter version appeared to be the usual over-featured panel loader that could easily be trimmed of a few ounces.

Trigger handle probably weighs more than the airbag. It'll get trimmed on the WildSnow modded version.

Trigger handle probably weighs more than the airbag. It'll get trimmed on the WildSnow modded version.

We did a nice ski tour today south of St. Anton.

We did a nice ski tour today south of St. Anton. The Scott boys encountered a random group of skiers near the top of a mountain. Time for some PR!

Refill kit will be sold as a pair of cylinders in a sealed box. They're quite small.

Refill kit will be sold as a pair of cylinders in a sealed box. They're quite small and said to be no problem whatsoever for air travel.

Points to ponder:

– Scott claims that by end of 2014 you will be able to fly any airline with the full cylinders, no problem, due to changes in regulations designed to accommodate various types of personal safety airbag systems. (as of January 2015 there is still doubt about North American domestic flights, but European air regulations definitely allow airbag compressed gas cylinders and cartridges.)

– MSRP Europe is around 600.00 euros, with goal being to be very price competitive with other products.

– Are the C02 and argon gasses a safety issue in terms of being buried in an avalanche? European certification doesn’t think so, and the fact is that due to how this type of airbag works (venturi effect) the gasses are mixed with a large part of ambient air.


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52 Responses to “Lightweight Winner 30 liter Avalanche Airbag Backpack from Scott”

  1. John January 15th, 2014 5:33 pm

    What about having 150L of CO2 and Argon in a perforated bag by your head after you get strained through trees and buried? Given that may be the least of your problems after getting strained through trees and buried. Are there any super pressurized oxygen tanks that small. Pretty cool being able to shrink the pack weight though!

  2. TC January 15th, 2014 8:37 pm

    Yes – as a followup on what John said, I thought the reason that the current airbag companies weren’t using some of those methods was that various laws required them to use gas that was breathable since it could be released (accidentally or intentionally) within a limited air space.

    However, perhaps that isn’t the case. It certainly opens up other possibilities… Or is Scott working around that in some other way?

  3. Jim Milstein January 15th, 2014 10:14 pm

    Nice use of “comprise”, Lou.

  4. Oscar January 16th, 2014 12:48 am

    Lou, it seems you (again) need to clarify that most of the inflation volume comes from ordinary air sucked in through the ventrui valve. 😉 So the combination of argon and co2 isn’t a problem in that respect. If this was an issue, current airbags would have the same issue, as they use compressed nitrogen for the most part. While not strictly poisonous (though neither are argon or co2), breathing 100% nitrogen would definately kill you (as would breathing a 50/50 mix of argon and co2). But the, say, 90% air and 10% other stuff that is actually in the airbag isn’t a problem.

    You wouldn’t want to use oxygen, since it’s HIGHLY flammable, and thus would be a complete pain to fly with (if not totally impossible, don’t know the regulations on the top of my head).

  5. etto January 16th, 2014 2:00 am

    As I understand this design also uses a venturi valve, so the resulting gas mixture in the bag also contains at least some “normal” air. Any idea about the amount of CO2 / O2, would it be breathable?

    Also, what’s the triggering mechanism like?

  6. TC January 16th, 2014 7:58 am

    @oscar Ah – that must be the answer. I’d forgotten about the Venturi contribution. Makes sense…

  7. Gentle Sasquatch January 16th, 2014 8:13 am

    wow. That’s a good size sombrero, El Guapo.

  8. Matt Kinney January 16th, 2014 10:30 am

    Good stuff. That’s about two pounds less than the Mammut 35 ABS, which is quite a bit. If Scott can reduce the retail price for ABS systems by the same proportion, then we may have a winner. Thanks for going the extra Euro kilometer to review this product lou.

  9. Kelly January 16th, 2014 11:20 am

    Lou – is this a removable airbag system and/or interchangeable with the other sizes of backpacks in their line?

  10. Happy Days January 16th, 2014 12:13 pm

    As I understand it the bag will be available as a pack only or a kit with the pack and air bag system. This is the same are bag used on all packs giving you the option to buy one kit and other Scott packs. There is a 40l, 30l, 22l and 20l pack options.

  11. Lou Dawson January 16th, 2014 2:56 pm

    Matt, when you pick one of these packs up and hold it, you will want one. Amazing. And 600 euros is a good price, they say may even go down as they are very interested in cornering the market from what I gathered. They’ll certainly corner the lightweight ski touring market! There is nothing else in the same class, and like I said you could even trim a few more ounces. Lou

  12. Gentle Sasquatch January 17th, 2014 9:33 am

    hope mine wasn’t considered tasteless. My reference was to Lou with the inflated backpack it looked like a giant Sombrero hat which reminded me of the comedy Three Amigos who wore giant Sombreros.

    I feel deflated now. 😉

  13. aviator January 17th, 2014 10:56 am

    Hallelu, someone is really focusing on the weight.
    Can’t wait to see ABS match this.

    So it’s a detachable system with 40l, 30l, 22l and 20l pack options?
    That should make it easy to break down the weights, pack and air bag system separately? To give us a hint how much more weight we could mod off the pack part.

    What kind of fabric is the pack part made of?


  14. louis dawson January 17th, 2014 2:52 pm

    Aviator, more soon when I have some bandwidth. The packs are just plan old 1950s nylon, but the deveoper says they are very keen on using Dyneema to trim a TON of weight. The system appears to swap betweetn packs. Not totally sure but I do have the PR material and access to source folks so will get more details. Main thing is this totally raised the bar with weight. BD will raise the bar with user friendlyness but the weight they came in at is honestly a dissapointment. Alpride seems to combine the weight savings with eniough user friendlyness to be a winner, though refills will cost $35 or so instead of a session on the wall charger. Lou

  15. aviator January 18th, 2014 12:23 pm

    Thanks Lou!

    Found some more weights:

    -the air bag system 1200g
    I hope includng the actual airbag+co2 cartr+argon cartr ?

    -just the actual air bag, 350g

    -just the cartridge(s?) 450g
    I guess this is both co2 and argon cartridges together?
    How much can be saved by opting out on the argon cartridge? 5s instead of 3s activation.

    -pack weights: 20l 2100g, 22l 2500g, 30l 2600g, 40l 2800g
    these weights are incl airbag system but are they including both co2 and argon cartridges?

  16. aviator January 18th, 2014 12:43 pm

    so if the 30l comes in at 2600g that means it is 150g HEAVIER than the
    mammut ride light ras 30l (2013) 2450g

    if the wildsnow airbag overview has that mammut weight correct and that is including filled cartridge?

  17. aviator January 18th, 2014 1:25 pm

    Seems the Alpride 30l 2600g might be a whopping 500g heavier than the
    Mammut light ras 30l (2013)
    It can get down to 2100g w carbon cartr
    Breaks down to:
    950g pack
    850g airbag system
    300g carbon cartr
    or 500g steel cartr
    or 630g alu user refillable cartr

  18. louis dawson January 19th, 2014 12:05 am

    Aviator, that carbon cartridge does save a lot of weight. Probably main things with Alpride are that it combines light weight with good price as well as air travel friendly. When retail version is out we will strictly detail, and I saw no problem with using without the argon. Lou

  19. louis dawson January 19th, 2014 1:26 am

    Catalog weights Alpride, total with airbag system
    20 L 2.1kg
    22L 2.5kg
    30L 2.6kg
    40L 2.8kg

    We field tested the 22 for 2 days it is a good size for smaller backcountry ski loads and would be what I’d try first for my style. The actual backpacks do not appear to make much effort to save weight which is a normal thing for new backpack products as they need shelF appeal and have to avoid getting reputation of not being durable. What makes me optimistic is that lack of weight I seems to be the main design philosophy. Lou

  20. louis dawson January 19th, 2014 1:33 am

    To be clear, the Alpride system does easily swap between packs.

  21. Daniel January 19th, 2014 1:39 am

    The Mammut Pro 45 I am using for everything weighs 2600gr. including the RAS airbag unit.
    No advantage for the Scott System here, I wonder why. The Mammut pack is pretty sturdy and solid, lots of room for shaving weight. And it has a heavy steel cartridge.

  22. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2014 5:28 am

    Daniel, Mammut probably did a better job of optimizing pack design for weight. Or, the catalog weights for Scott could be a bit off, knowing how these things go.

  23. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2014 5:52 am

    As far as I could tell Alpride will work fine for most people in most conditions with only the CO2 cylinder, eliminating the 300 grams of the argon. The pack as demonstrated in this mode by leaving an empty argon cylinder attached. Developer said that they will attempt to sell some sort of option for use without argon. I suspect that may be a while to be available. Meanwhile, it will probably be a simple matter to cap off the argon threaded connection and just run with the CO2. As soon as we get a test pack we will of course do this mod, as well as getting the razor blade going. It’ll be fun to see just how light we can end up with in an airbag pack that is airline compatible. I’m looking forward. Lou

  24. aviator January 19th, 2014 8:53 am

    Lou thanks for taking the time to go over and correcting the details with us.

    Let’s recap:

    -The 30l Alpride seems to weigh 2,6kg with argon and 2,4kg without argon.
    Not 2,1kg and 1,8kg.
    The 2,1kg spec in the orig post most probably was a mistake and came from the 20l model.
    Even at 20l, the 1,8kg without the argon cartridge statement probably must be wrong too. If the two alpride cartridges weigh 450g together you can’t get a 300g gain by omitting the argon one, especially if you need to plug the argon fitting.
    The only way would be making a special lighter strictly co2 model, with no way of adding an argon cartridge later? Then maybe, 300g could be reachable?
    Then again something is not right here, ABS and Snowpulse steel cartridges weigh 500g, carbon 300g, but alpride supposedly make do with a 225g co2 steel cartridge by itself. It’s not adding up right for me.

    -Lou, your “There is nothing else in the same class” statement seems incorrect.
    Checking the weights again the Mammut ride light 30l w the steel cartridge comes in at 2,3kg total (2,1kg w carbon). Today it costs eur 584 incl steel cartridge (509+75). By next winter when alpride is out, the mammut price will probably drop even lower. Hard to see Alpride being very competetive at eur 600 being heavier.

    -I see no reason at all to believe there is/will be any difference travelling with alpride/mammut packs.The Mammut snowpulse cartridges are already certified for air travel.

    -I would really love to see Lou/Nick/anyone at wildsnow review the Mammut ride light 30l .
    It seems yall missed it along the way somewhere somehow?

  25. Toby January 19th, 2014 10:21 am

    My Mammut RAS Pro 45 weights 3280g with steel cylinder
    Breaks down to:
    1870g pack
    906g airbag system
    504g steel cylinder
    And yes, it is very good and light, when not the lightest pack in the 40l category. (it would be very close to 3000g range with the carbon cylinder)

  26. Rodney January 19th, 2014 10:44 am

    I own the RAS pro 35l for longer day tours and the 22l pack for freeride. I looked at thhe light 30l as this seemed to be excellent on weight (in the shop last year). The build quality / strength seemed dramatically down – so much that I chose the 35l pro instead. It was noticeable that other pack types were harder to find in Europe last year whereas there were lots of light. I think that tells you tat other consumers felt the same way.

  27. aviator January 19th, 2014 11:49 am

    There is always a price to pay with light gear, less beef, less strength, less durable.
    If you get the balance right it’s worth it.
    More and more people “see the light”.

  28. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2014 12:01 pm

    Guys, perhaps I did overstate the case in an Arlberg red wine moment, thanks for setting me straight. I’ll gradually review numbers and such, and edit as necessary. I’m not sure what “certified for air travel means,” but do know that I’ve never spoken with anyone who travels with the larger cylinders who has not eventually had some sort of problem. The idea with the smaller cylinders is they are supposed to be hassle free. I expect that to be the case 100% if in luggage, though I’d still wonder about carryon.

    Perhaps I can get the Alpride product developer to give me a comparo list of his own. I’m sure he has it.

  29. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2014 12:05 pm

    Aviator, do you realize the Alpride steel CO2 cylinder is quite small? And the argon one is quite small as well?

    But I’ll check the weights.

  30. aviator January 19th, 2014 3:03 pm

    they are small although not as small as life jacket cartridges.
    normal life jacket 33g co2 cartridges weigh in at around 140g I think.

    no matter how small, the 2 bottles seem to be the same size and they seem to weigh 450g together.

    I just wonder how you can save 300g by taking one out.

    and I wonder if the lowest weight on the 30l alpride w/o argon bottle is 2,4kg rather than 1,8kg.

    you know me, I want the details, I want all of them and I want to get them right.
    especially when you are there at arms length from all the answers.

    appreciate everything you do Lou.

  31. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2014 12:54 am

    I make good notes at these events and use those note for blog post facts, but the speakers often do not have native English and the way they state things causes confusion of facts on my part. I’m checking on the cartridge weights and we’ll get this all straightened out. I want it to be accurate of course!

  32. aviator January 20th, 2014 7:51 am

    “certified for air travel”
    I meant you are allowed to travel with it according to IATA Regulation DGR. Tab. 2.3.A.

    That’s why if you follow instructions and/or do it right, see countless threads on wildsnow and elsewhere, print all the documents from the maker, the IATA, the airline, call it a cartridge never call it a cylinder, keep the spare unopened in its orig package, make them check with their supervisors, etc etc. You should be ok. At least most of the time, and at least outside the US.

    This “it’s a smaller cylinder, it will be different” idea is quite strange.
    Google sailors travelling with their life jackets and you see it’s exactly the same, the exact same IATA regulations, and they have exactly the same kind of problems people have with their airbags.

  33. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2014 8:46 am

    Correct cartridge weights, direct info from product developer:

    200 g for Ar and 240 g for C02

    Aviator, what I heard in Genglish was that there were some new regulations going into effect soon that make it easier to travel with personal safety devices that actuate with compressed gas, e.g., motorcycle airbag jackets, life vests, and so forth. But they have to have these types of cartridges…

    Thanks for keeping me on the case with all this, I’ll research more.


  34. stevenjo January 21st, 2014 10:56 am

    Nothing like volunteering others for more work but it seems like were on the cusp of needing a table chart to compare airbags with and their various characteristics, something like the ski weight chart.

    Thanks for the great coverage on these.


  35. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2014 11:17 am

    Steven, Nick and I talked about this quite a bit some time ago. He did a good job but It’s all become too complicated. Would take a huge amount of time to keep updated and accurate. My intention is to still do some sort of chart, but simplified. Am looking for a volunteer to who can focus on it in a sustainable way. Perhaps that’s me (grin). Lou

  36. aviator January 21st, 2014 12:03 pm

    Nick did a huge job with the chart.
    It’s still a great resource.

  37. Nick January 26th, 2014 4:56 pm

    The IATA website states ‘ IATA provides many standards and recommended practices it does not regulate its members in any way.’. So the airline doesn’t have to comply unless the IATA ‘regulation’ is mandated by the FAA or similar.

    N.B. some low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet aren’t IATA members, so I don’t think you will get far arguing IATA regulations with them.

  38. aviator January 26th, 2014 5:58 pm

    and yet iata call their regulations regulations. 😛

    anyway the important thing is that when people know them, print them, send them in beforehand, bring them, refer to them, tell staff to ask their supervisors about them, they seem to make a huge difference in many cases.

  39. Mike February 3rd, 2014 2:16 pm

    Does anyone know if the CO2 cartridge is a standard size? If you can pick them up at paintball shops or walmart, the hassles of air travel could be avoided.

  40. JFT August 13th, 2014 9:05 pm

    Just found this in researching avalanche airbags… The whole venturi valve system is a fantastic feature. I’m excited to see the Alpride on the market! (soon anyway?)

  41. cv November 7th, 2014 6:16 pm

    Hi wildsnow, I got a 30l alpride bag from a european friend. Any idea where I can purchase. cartridges for it in the US? Nice pack, glad to have it

  42. Lou Dawson 2 November 8th, 2014 4:07 am

    Guys, word is the cartridges are the same thing used for PFDs, the whole idea is they’re supposed to be easy to get, fly with, etc. I’ll check up on it. Lou

  43. cv November 8th, 2014 3:29 pm

    Ok, thanks Lou. Let me know what you find out! Think snow

  44. VT skier November 9th, 2014 5:43 pm

    Alpride airbag packs in stock in the UK now.

    Here they list a weight of 2.5 KG for the 22 litre pack. Not sure if that includes the cartridges or not. Price 474 pounds sterling , but ex-VAT should be less. I am waiting for a price quote for US.

    Bentgate in the US seem to have the Alpride cartridges in stock now for $35.00

  45. cv November 10th, 2014 4:59 pm

    Vt, Danke schone!

  46. Wookie November 14th, 2014 6:58 am

    Saw one of these at Conrad in Garmisch….looked nice, but they were making surprizingly little hype over it – and when I looked online later, I saw that at least two other packs are shown as being lighter than this one….cannot confirm independently….

    Does anyone know the real story? It felt light – but not AMAZINGLY light. To my mind – this is the big problem with these things and why I am still not using one. I’m on the fence though, and if I do buy, I want to get the lightest available.

  47. Lou Dawson 2 November 14th, 2014 7:09 am

    Hmmmm. The airbag weight comparison is difficult. Some they’ll weigh without gas cartridge. Some with cartridge but without gas in the cartridge. Some with everything. And the rucksack designs themselves are always changing. Only real way to compare in my experience is to weigh in person, at the shop or at home. We’ll try to do that as things progress here, Alpride should be here any day, as will Jetforce. My intention is to find the lightest >< 30 liter, and >< 20 liter, and compare to Jetforce. If Scott is not the lightest, it is so close as to probably be a non issue. Plus it can be used with one cartridge instead of two, which is a significant weight savings. Alpride also appears to be a very clean and simple system that's easily transferred between packs, and appears to be easily modified with an aftermarket balloon made from lighter material. We will make effort to work with aftermarket on this. Lou

  48. cv November 15th, 2014 6:32 pm

    Might be that I was using a subpar pack the last few years but this thing feels great when its on. I loaded it up and threw some skis on the outside and ya barley feel the weight its carried so well. Of course this wasnt for a day on snow but Im stoked on it.

  49. cv November 17th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Just dropped mine on the scale at the airport. 5.5 pounds sans cartridges, 6.5 locked and loaded

  50. Christophe December 19th, 2014 11:49 am

    Travelling by plane VS cartridge cost
    My concern is if everytime that I have to take a flight after a ride session I have to through away the cardridge because it is mandatory by the IATA regulation.

    If I have mounted the cartridge into the system and finally not activated the system during a ride session, can I travel without losing the cartridge?
    Does the cartridge must be released from the system or can they stay mounted to take a flight?
    If they have to be released from the system then are they lost?

  51. Lou Dawson 2 December 19th, 2014 11:59 am

    As always, no definite answers about air travel, very disappointing. I’m thinking I’d travel with one set of cartridges installed, and one pair still in the blister pack? But what happens if they don’t like the installed ones, do they take the whole rucksack out of your luggage and throw it away!?

  52. Alan A. December 26th, 2015 3:16 am

    Saved my life this winter; as four of us were ski-touring avalanche started 200m above, activated on time, dragged us down for about 300m and I ended up on top, managed to get up without a help and quickly search for the others who didn’t have one and were buried under the snow, two successful recovery but not the last one. worth mentioning I didn’t even had all aluminium buckles fastened on my Scott Air 30 backpack at that time and fortunately it wasn’t ripped away from me. After removing my backpack I’ve noticed the pressure in the bag wasn’t high at all, wandering if the gas releases somehow after inflating.

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