Scott Alpride Airbag Backpacks Looking Good for 2015-16


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 17, 2015      

Shop for Alpride avalanche airbag backpack.

UPDATE SPRING 2015: We just found out to our dismay that Bentgate can not ship replacement gas cartridges to certain cities. Very very disappointing. Contact Bentgate to find out more, and don’t depend on quickly shipping cartridges to a ski destination.

Two ends of the Alpride spectrum. Air Mtn 40 to left is Scott's largest airbag backpack.  It's slightly reworked for 2015-2016 but nothing earth shattering. If you need a larger airbag backpack this one saves weight at 2.9 kilos (6.4 pounds). Air Mtn AP 20 to right is a trim Euro style pack with enough room for minimalist touring gear.

Two ends of the Alpride spectrum. Air Mtn 40 to left is Scott's largest airbag backpack. It’s slightly reworked for 2015-2016 but nothing earth shattering. If you need a larger airbag backpack this one helps keep things on the lighter side by weighing 2.9 kilos, 6.4 pounds (all our weight specs include cartridges). Air Mtn AP 20 to right is a trim Euro style pack with enough room for minimalist touring gear, verified with calibrated scale at 2.3 kilos (without bottle holder or helmet net). It’s also slightly improved for 2015-2016 with a better trigger stowage compartment and a few other minor changes. While 20 liters of baggage capacity isn’t going to work for some styles of ski touring, it’s plenty of room for a shovel, snacks and a layer or two. Swapping Scott’s Alpride airbag system between packs is fairly trivial, so you could own one of these for your quick and fast days, then swap the guts into perhaps Scott’s 30 or 22 liter models if you need to carry more gear.

Overall, the Alpride airbag system from Scott continues its impressive design evolution. I enjoyed spending time with system developer Marc-Antoine Schaer during the recent Scott media gathering in Davos, Switzerland. Marc is an interesting guy, a super-fit ski tourer, pilot, wind surfer and all around alpinist. He’s also one of the nicer people you’ll meet in the mountains. It’s the pilot part that comes into play with Marc’s Alpride airbag work. Attention to detail is superb, all parts are engineered and tested to “commercial aviation standards,” meaning even the smallest changes are assumed to have major consequences and need a huge amount of thought and testing before they go to retail.

Scott AP20 interior is not huge, but large enough for minimalist loads.

Scott AP20 teardrop interior is not huge, but large enough for minimalist loads.

Scott AP22 interior.

Scott AP22 interior. For .4 kilo (14 ounces) more than AP20 you get two more liters of capacity. That doesn’t seem like a good trade, but does show the AP20 is built with lighter fabric and less extra doo-daddery. We suspect the AP20 when stripped down will yield a very nice volume-weight ratio. Razor at the ready. But seriously, Scott should make a bigger version of the AP20 with perhaps even fewer interior fabric layers.

The aluminum chest strap buckle on 2014-2015 Alpride airbag backpacks took some getting used to.  For 2015-2016 they've switched to a strong but more easily operated plastic buckle.

The aluminum chest strap buckle on 2014-2015 Alpride airbag backpacks took some getting used to. For 2015-2016 they’ve switched to a strong but more easily operated plastic buckle, the waist belt buckle remains as aluminum. In testing for standards compliance these packs are tortured to high loads. Knowing that, I’m not worried about the buckles and prefer a chest buckle I can operate without asking for help. The other change in this area of the packs is the chest strap height adjustment is hidden within the shoulder strap compartments, and the trigger handle compartment is a bit larger and easier to use.

At this time the Alpride designs are in three known (to me) iterations. Due to the complexity of these systems and the TUV testing to CE standards, each iteration takes about 3 years to make it to retail. So at any given time the airbag of the future is actually out there in use and being tested — only you won’t see it for quite some time.

Marc carries around his demo plumbing in a foam hardcase like he's transporting jewelry or a top secret weapon system.

Marc carries around his demo plumbing in a foam hardcase like he’s transporting jewelry or a top secret weapon system.

Alpride motor is precision machined; multiple tubes and ports have to be carefully created. It's called a motor because it creates suction that pulls in ambient air from the outside to mix with the cartridge sourced gas.

Alpride motor is precision machined; multiple tubes and ports have to be carefully created. It’s called a motor because it creates suction that pulls in ambient air from the outside to mix with the cartridge sourced gas.

The first 2013-2014 release of the Alpride has an aluminum colored inflator motor (the metallic chunk that the cartridges attach to). If you run across that version it has no functional problems but later versions are much nicer in many ways. The current retail release in stores now, with inflator system known as “Bertol 1” (named after the Bertol Hut in Switzerland) has the orange anodized motor and is 200 grams lighter than the first release.

For 2015-2016, Bertol 1 will get a few minor inline changes.
– Lettering on the aluminum motor will be white in black.
– Brighter color on the internal part that indicates if the inflator is armed or not
– Improved cable housing, more flexible and with better end clips.

The 2015-2016 backpacks get a few changes: Where possible, the panel loading zipper is relocated nearer the outside of the pack, so you don’t feel like you’re loading upside down Tupperware. Trigger handle stowage is easier, sternum buckles are plastic and easier to operate, re-activation key has a nice little pouch next to the cylinders (though weight fanatics will want to leave it at home.)

Bertol 2 plumbing is what you’ll get if you purchase an Alpride in 2017-2018 and will be functionally identical to Bertol 1. Beyond that I’m sworn to secrecy, though knowing Marc I suspect it might be a few grams lighter still.

Scott AP12 Pro avalanche airbag backpack is a bit small for full-on backcountry skiing, but it'll work well for shorter tours, freeride, and that sort of thing. Very light.

NEW for 2015-2016 Scott Air Free AP12 Pro avalanche airbag backpack is a bit small for full-on backcountry skiing, but it’ll work well for quick tours, freeride, and that sort of thing. Fairly lightweight at 2.3 kilos due to the small amount of fabric, and removable back protector can trim weight but should probably remain in the pack as you need to keep the plumbing from damaging you if you land on your back. This backpack is built more along the lines of a “wearable” garment with its wide shoulder strap system and two sternum straps. Obviously intended for highly athletic forms of skiing such as aggressive freeride. Women’s torso length available as well. I always question the need to make packs heavier so they handle better, but in the case of doing backflips perhaps doing so is necessary. Or, at least while riding the tram you should be looking as if you do backflips as casually as a French freerider lighting up a cigarette.

Journalist models show their Scott airbag rucksacks.

Journalist models show their Scott airbag rucksacks off piste near Davos, Switzerland. She is sporting the AP 12, he’s got the AP 22.

Total Alpride line for 2015-2016, in approximate order of size-weight:

  • Air Mtn AP 40 (Big guy for guides and overnights, 2.98 kilos.}
  • Air Mtn AP 30 (Our recommended Alpride, do surgery to remove about 1/2 pound of fabric. Stock 2015-16 weight is 2.8 kilos according to catalog, 2.9 verified for 2014-51. We suspect 2015-16 model might trim a few grams.)
  • Air Free AP 22 (The “Free” connotation seeks to designate this as freeride ski gear as opposed to mountaineering, but it’s a nice size for minimalist ski touring. 2.7 kilos workshop verified.)
  • Air Free AP 12 Pro (Small “wearable” pack for highly athletic skiing, with thick back protector, 2.9 kilos.)
  • Air Free AP 12 (Simplified version of “Pro” model, 2.3 kilos.)
  • Air Mtn AP 20 (Nice teardrop pack designed for minimalist “Euro style” touring, 2.3 kilos, verified.)
  • Summary: While we’re fans of several other airbag brands as well, we like the Euro style influence visible in the Alpride packs, and we especially like the simple refill system — though each fill will set you back around $35.00. For details on how the Alpride packs function using CO2 and argon gas cylinders, please see our introductory post from last winter. We’ve also experimented with modifying these packs, which is instructive though we don’t recommend playing around with the inflation system unless you do a lot of your own testing. Note that the Alpride system is already licensed to Millet and Ferrino, and both companies are installing the plumbing in several backpacks. Be sure to check out Alpride.com, quite a nice focused product website.

    Shop for Alpride avalanche airbag backpack.

    (Department of vague rumors: I heard we might see Alpride plumbing built into a Dynafit rucksack someday.)



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    Comments

    17 Responses to “Scott Alpride Airbag Backpacks Looking Good for 2015-16”

    1. Simon Dünnenberger January 17th, 2015 3:44 pm

      Hi Lou!
      Are you still in Davos?
      Greets Simon

    2. Mark Staples January 17th, 2015 8:29 pm

      Lou, on what side is the trigger? Can it be configured for either? Many sledders will want it on the right side. They are big market in the US. I’ve been trying a Mammut RAS pack but am going to switch to a BCA pack b/c I can put the trigger on the right side (pull with left hand/non-throttle hand). Thanks

    3. Lou Dawson 2 January 17th, 2015 10:46 pm

      Hi Mark, the trigger is on the left side of my review packs, but I’m told certain models will be left or right, and Marc is working with sledders in the U.S. to make snowmobile specific packs. I’ll check with Marc for more details. Lou

    4. Lou Dawson 2 January 17th, 2015 11:05 pm

      Simon, no, I’m in Austria. Lou

    5. Lou Dawson 2 January 18th, 2015 12:46 pm

      I just heard from Marc, he said the 30 can be configured to left or right pull.

      By the way, some (if not most) of the packs have accommodation for hydration system plumbing.

      Lou

    6. Wookie January 19th, 2015 7:03 am

      When are you coming to Munich? You in Tirol at the Weekend?

    7. Lou Dawson 2 January 19th, 2015 7:36 am

      Hey Wookie, I’ve reserved February 8 for a possible tour of a few places in Munich as that’s when the ISPO gets super crowded, so that’s when I could meet for a chat possibly. Send a message using the contact link in menu above if you don’t have my email. Lou

    8. Carl January 19th, 2015 10:02 am

      How is the torso length on these? I tries on the 27 and 30L BCA packs and both were too short for my tall frame. I am seriously looking at buying an airbag pack, but I need something that will carry weight on my hips not my shoulders so torso length is critical.

    9. Lou Dawson 2 January 19th, 2015 11:34 am

      They’re short, for sure, other than the big one. This type of airbag pack is designed for lighter loads where hip transfer of weight is not much of an issue. For taller packs you might have to look at other brands/models. For example, I used the AP20 today and I wasn’t fooling around much with the waist belt, though I did get a bit of weight transfer on the way up to ease strain on my back. Lou

    10. cv January 19th, 2015 4:10 pm

      Servus Lou, I have a question about alpride packs that I cant get solved and is preventing me from using mine. Can you drop me an email and I will briefly expound? Voi spass im Minga, that part of the world turned me into the ski nut I am.

    11. Adrian January 21st, 2015 7:28 am

      Lou, did you get a good look at the AP40? Would you also be able to shed some weight off that pack by cutting away unnecessary fabric? Half a pound off 2.9kg would be quite good for a large pack.

    12. Lou Dawson 2 January 21st, 2015 8:08 am

      I didn’t look at the 40, but I’m virtually certain 8 ounces could be trimmed knowing how they over build these things. Lou

    13. George February 24th, 2015 2:51 am

      Hi Lou, I’m interested in the 40L rucksack. Could you please indicate the new features/modifications for 2016? I see a zip at the bottom. Is it a compartiment for crampons/skins? More, there are two ice axe carriers now?
      Thanks in advance.

    14. Lou Dawson 2 February 24th, 2015 7:18 am

      George, I don’t have a good track on comparo between years, perhaps Marc will chime in. Lou

    15. Lou Dawson 2 March 18th, 2015 10:05 am

      UPDATE SPRING 2015: We just found out to our dismay that Bentgate can not ship replacement gas cartridges to certain cities. Very very disappointing. Contact Bentgate to find out more, and don’t depend on quickly shipping cartridges to a ski destination.

      There you go, all our optimism shattered.

      Jetforce?

    16. Ryan November 24th, 2015 1:02 pm

      Hey Lou, thanks for all the updates. Just curious if the pack size (eg Alpride 30L pack) has an actual 30L of room for gear or if its more like 23L of gear and then other 7l being taken up by the airbag system? I think BCA’s pack size gives a true gear storage volume, Float 32 gives you a useable 32L of room type thing.

      Cheers

    17. Andy Sweet December 13th, 2016 10:53 am

      Lou and friends,
      trying to find replacement cartridges for the Alpride…calling everywhere in the USA and no one is carrying them due to the difficulties in shipping. Any ideas?
      thank you

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