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.
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.
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.
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.
Total Alpride line for 2015-2016, in approximate order of size-weight:
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.
(Department of vague rumors: I heard we might see Alpride plumbing built into a Dynafit rucksack someday.)