Mammut Pro Short Airbag Pack Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 21, 2015      

Jason Davis

I was able to strap a rope to the outside of the pack without covering up the airbag zipper using a ski strap.

I was able to strap a rope to the outside of the pack without covering up the airbag zipper using a ski strap. Click to enlarge.

The popularity of airbag packs is growing exponentially and for good reason. Research and survivor testimony suggest they provide a greater chance of survival in the event you are caught in an avalanche. Losing a good friend in a slide last year was the catalyst for me to start using an airbag.

This winter I’ve been testing out the Mammut Removable Airbag System (RAS) Pro Short 33L and have found it to be a versatile and functional ski pack. My requirements for any pack are that it needs to fit and carry well. I also prefer a shorter pack that doesn’t interfere with my helmet, even while riding a snowmobile.

The Mammut Pro Short worked well as a technical ski pack on our Glacier Bay trip this spring.

The Mammut Pro Short worked well as a technical ski pack on our Glacier Bay trip this spring.

I’m 5’8” tall with a 17” long torso (iliac crest to C7). There aren’t too many airbag packs that fit me, carry well and also have enough volume to hold everything I like to bring for a longer tour. The RAS Pro Short fits me well and carries better than most ski packs that I’ve used. It sports an internal frame, solid hipbelt and comfortable padding. If you’re any taller than me I’d recommend trying out the bigger RAS Pro instead. As with all packs, try to find a local shop to see how they feel and fit when loaded.

The RAS Pro has two compression straps on each side that are sewn into reinforced seams and can be used as an A-Frame ski carry. Carrying skis this way will definitely interfere with the airbag, but it is nice to have that option for approach hikes or conditions when the airbag isn’t warranted.

The Removable Airbag System is easy to remove from the pack and it took me about fifteen minutes to switch it over from a smaller 28L Mammut Ride Short pack. This gives you the option of having a quiver of Mammut RAS packs without buying more than one airbag system if you want to go that route. In my opinion the Pro Short compresses well enough that having a separate, smaller pack for inbounds riding would be excessive. More importantly, it allows you to drop weight and gain about 3 liters of volume (bringing you up to the advertised 33 liters) when the airbag system isn’t needed.

The Removable Airbag System removed from the pack.

The Removable Airbag System removed from the pack.

For the record, I’m a fan of packs that have certain features that might be absent on more lightweight packs. The Pro Short definitely falls into the feature-heavy category. The pack has a main compartment, a small fleece lined goggle pouch and a separate avi-tool pocket. The main compartment can be accessed by both a zip-away back panel and the main zipper, which allows you to completely open the pack clamshell-style. This is nice because you can access either side of the main compartment through the zipper, without completely opening the pack up. The downside of this configuration is the added weight of a long reinforced zipper and the potential for the main zipper to fail.

The Pro Short opens all the way up allowing easy access to everything in the main compartment.

The Pro Short opens all the way up allowing easy access to everything in the main compartment.

I definitely stuffed the pack full every day we skied on Glacier Bay, and needed to strap the rope on the outside when we weren’t using it.

The avalanche tool pocket is big and I was able to stuff my fairly large shovel and 300cm probe in, along with ascent plates and crampons. I found this to be convenient on my recent trip to Haines because I didn’t have to dig through the pack on the side of a face while transitioning from skinning to booting. Yard sales aren’t as much fun on the climb up.

There is a diagonal ski carry and vertical snowboard carry that are both compatible with the airbag deployment. The straps are reinforced directly onto the seam next to the compression straps, so when everything is cinched down, the load sits securely and doesn’t flop around.

The ski carry straps have little sleeves that you can tuck them through so there aren’t extra straps flopping around. Alternatively, if you’re never going to use the snowboard carry, you could just cut them off and replace the top strap with a ski strap through the sleeve. The axe carry uses the same strap with a standard flip-over loop at the bottom. Part way through our Alaska trip, I realized that the axe shaft pick was worryingly close to where the airbag deploys. I made a little pick cover to remedy the situation.

The pick cover and straps routed for axe or ski carry.

The pick cover and straps routed for axe or ski carry.

Nothing is perfect and I do think there is room for improvement with this pack. The removable airbag system works by puncturing a small metal disk seated under a flange which is on top of the compressed air cylinder. It’s a simple system that is fairly lightweight and has worked reliably the handful of times I’ve deployed it to test or travel. To re-arm the system, you need to replace the disk and washer (Mammut sells refill kits). My problem with the system is that in order to fly with the pack in the U.S., it’s recommended that you remove the entire valve from the cylinder so that a security agent can see that the cylinder is empty. You’ll need a strap wrench and a large adjustable wrench to remove the valve and a torque wrench to tighten it to the right spec. The cylinder comes with all of the instructions and torque specs, which can also be found on Mammut’s website here. Don’t try to just hand tighten it or you, too, could be left scrambling to get the cylinder refilled in Haines at the last minute. I spoke to a TSA agent in the Juneau airport who was familiar with airbag packs and while he said that he had allowed the Mammut/Snowpulse cylinder through with just the disk removed, I wouldn’t recommend risking it. So while this system is light, if you’re flying somewhere without a shop equipped with the necessary tools, be prepared with your own. It’s clear that a battery powered fan system will always be superior for air travel, but compressed gas systems are much lighter for now.

On a more minor note, the helmet carry is a little finicky and I think the main clamshell zipper could be removed entirely to shave some weight and remove a potential failure point as the back panel provides plenty of access to the main compartment on its own.

In general, the build quality of the pack is excellent, and it shows a Swiss-level of attention to detail. Almost all of the little things are well thought out and it’s clear Mammut has designed this pack to stand up to heavy use. The zipper tabs are solid and easy to pull even with gloves on. The buckles, zippers, straps and fabric are sturdy and it’s clear that Mammut didn’t cut any corners with the materials. There are lots of well thought out design choices like a hydration bladder sleeve next to your back so your body heat keeps it warm. The pack has endured a season’s worth of my abuse and I expect it to last for a long time. For me, the RAS Pro Short hits a sweet spot in volume, features and fit. This is a well designed ski pack with or without the RAS and it should be on your radar if you’re looking at new airbag packs.

(Guest blogger Jason Davis is a climber, kayaker and skier living in the Pacific North Wet. He works as a sea kayak guide for Discovery Sea Kayaks on San Juan Island, WA during the warmer months and searches for good views, aesthetic lines and soft snow while attempting to work as little as possible during the winter. His other hobbies include spaghetti western card games and enjoying vigorous legal debates with polite Canadian Border guards.)

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Comments

30 Responses to “Mammut Pro Short Airbag Pack Review”

  1. Lou2 July 21st, 2015 12:50 pm

    Hey Jason, I wanted to say in public how much I appreciate your review. Am stuck doing my civic duty at the moment, guest bloggers to the rescue!

    As for the airbag backpacks, this is such an important subject to us it’s hard to express in words. They do save lives. On the other hand, the safety they offer appears to be over rated by the general public. The truth is somewhere in the middle and three factors come to my mind about the decision to sport a balloon pack.

    1. Cost
    2. Weight
    3. How much avalanche danger exposure you in reality experience.

    Not everyone needs to be carrying one, but many of us should….

    Lou

  2. Rudi July 21st, 2015 1:16 pm

    I ended up shortening my axe (BD Raven) after purchasing an airbag pack, the BCA float 32. It looked as if the spike was overlapping quite a bit for me as well. I think its odd that BCA doesn’t have a maximum length listed or just like a general keep out zones shown in the manual? Along the same lines, I have seen multiple people running A frame style with float packs and are clearly unaware of the potential interference. I feel like companies could do a better job of education on how the packs should be “packed”….

  3. Andy July 21st, 2015 2:59 pm

    Oh dear – have you all seen this?

    http://www.jetforcerecall.com/JetforceRecall/Landing

  4. Andy July 21st, 2015 4:28 pm

    Oh yes, so you have. A whole page about it. My bad.

  5. Edge July 21st, 2015 5:22 pm

    Rudi, you’ll see that the new BCA Float 32 has sealed slots to put the spike end of the axe into, to prevent the spike from getting near the inflated airbag. If the axe is too long to fit here, we have a webbing loop inside the shovel/probe pocket where it can be inserted spike-down. There’s a hole in the bottom of the pack where the spike can protrude.

    This year we also have straps for carrying your skis A-frame style–at least on an approach with no avi hazard. Of course there are disclaimers all over the place on where and when to use these features (and descriptions in the manual, but who reads those?).

    The new Float 32’s also have a height-adjustable waist belt, so they’ll fit a wider range of torso lengths, especially on the shorter end.

    I don’t mean to poach this Mammut review, but want to make sure our loyal BCA friends know we’re listening to all feedback 😉

  6. justin July 21st, 2015 6:20 pm

    Is the hydration bladder sleeve on the back access panel? How does that work? If you open the back panel, does it pull the hydration hose out of its normal position? How about some pics of the back access and where the hydration bladder is…

  7. Lou Dawson 2 July 22nd, 2015 5:47 am

    Hey Edge, we don’t mind poaching when the comments are informative like yours. It’s just the 10 word “me too” comments that are annoying… Lou

  8. Dave July 22nd, 2015 6:04 am

    Dave from Mammut here. Thanks very much for the review and feedback! Its true the cartridges are a bit of a hassle to fly with. We use a metal:metal fit because in our testing we found other seals to be less reliable, and one of our hoghest priorities is long-term reliability. One thing that’s worth adding is that there are a couple options for people who need to fly with their airbag to avoid this. The first is that there are a number of retailers across the US, Canada and Europe that rent cartridges–we just launched a new website that’s still getting tweaked, but these locations will be shown on the dealer search. Many outfitters also have cartridges for their clients.
    Second option is for people who dont have a rental option where theyre going. It’s also possible to have a rental cartridge shipped to you at your destination. Tahoe Mountain Sports in the United States and Avalanche Safety Solutions in Canada both offer this service at reasonable prices.
    Hope this helps some people in their travels.

  9. dave July 22nd, 2015 10:06 am

    @Mammut Dave
    Nice new website, but a bit buggy at the moment. I tried to click on airbags and the page switched to Chinese and refuses to switch back.

    Question, did you improve the rental station search function? I tried to use it in the past but more often than not the map was outdated. For example, I called every store in Jackson Hole that was listed as cartridge rental station, to no avail. turned out, nobody in Jackson is renting out the Snow-pulse cartridges, I borrowed one form a guide in the end. You shoudl have somebody go through that map and make sure it’s really up to date, otherwise it’s a waste of time. i really like the idea and would help air travelers.
    Thanks for the tip with Tahoe Mountain Sports and Avalanche Safety Solutions , I will try that.

  10. Dave July 22nd, 2015 11:16 am

    Dave, it’s SUPER buggy at the moment–they are working on it but it’s a slow process for whatever reason. Believe me, I’m doing everything possible to make the appropriate people aware of issues I’ve found, it makes my life a lot easier too when it works smoothly! I can’t get Chinese to turn on, but I’ll make sure and pass this on as well.

    Did we improve the format–well, to be honest I am not sure yet. They’ve added some functionality to the search function in this wewbsite, but I don’t believe it’s all implemented yet and it’s definitely not up to date as of today, so it remains a work in progress. I’m very hopeful that it’ll better than before by the time any snow flies here. Regarding accuracy, we’ve just been rolling out the rental program in the US over the past season, and depending on when you were in Jackson it’s possible you spoke to someone at a shop who wasn’t even aware of the rental program yet–my records indicate that I personally sent both both Teton Mountaineering and Hoback Sports cartridges to use for this and they both requested that we list them as rental locations, but they may not have been up and running yet when you called. Clearly we need to be better about this and I’m working on that–hopefully as this is better established it becomes less of an issue but if you or anyone continue to see inaccuracies PLEASE let us know through the contact form on the Mammut website! And, if for any reason a local retailer isn’t available the shipped ones from Tahoe Mountain Sports or Avalanche Safety Solutions are always good options.

  11. Toby July 22nd, 2015 2:09 pm

    Thanks for the review. Looks like really good access to the bag vs. some older Snowpulse bags. I’m really big lover of the RAS system, now owning three different rucksacks with RAS mounting. System weights ‘nothing’ especially with euro CF cylinder (850g+300g) and air travel should not be a problem outside of NA at least. IATA DGR very clearly allows traveling with avalanche bag (1/person) and cylinder (1/person) and trigger (ABS).

  12. dave July 23rd, 2015 12:46 pm

    @Mammut Dave
    thanks for the info. I checked the site and it works now. What woudl really help on the store locator if you can click a button for rental cartridges and it shows only those who rent out canisters. And that has to be updated so you don’t call 5 shops for nothing.

  13. Dave July 23rd, 2015 1:01 pm

    Dave, I agree! There will be a filter for just that (as well as some other stuff–refill, beacon firmware upgrades, etc), it just isn’t live yet. It should be up within a couple weeks. There’s also direct links to much of this info at our snow blog mammutavalanchesafety.com, although we still need to update all of those links before the fall season. In the interim you can always reach North American customer service at info@mammutusa.com or 800-451-5127 and they’ll get you any info you need.

  14. Hacksaw July 25th, 2015 9:38 am

    Maybe I missed it. But, does this pack have a crotch strap to the harness system? There was an accident several years back in Canada, where the person with an airbag pack didn’t ware the crotch strap, and the pack was pulled up and over the guys head in the avalanche.

    I see a lot of folks in heliskiing ware airbag packs without the crotch strap; and I think to myself “well, someone didn’t read the instructions….

  15. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2015 6:37 am

    Hello Hacksaw, as far as I know all skiing avalanche airbag packs have crotch strap, and it’s part of the CE certification. And yes, people tend to leave them undone and if so the pack won’t work, yet another reason balloon packs are less effective overall than many people think. Apparently, if you back out the percentage of people who fail to deploy, don’t have the crotch strap buckled, or experience significant trauma, the balloon are inspiring quite a bit of false confidence. We’re still fans, but we try to be realistic. Lou

  16. Edge July 26th, 2015 9:01 am

    Correct that crotch straps are required in the CE standards. Many lives have been saved without them, however, so the statement that airbags “won’t work” without them is incorrect.

    The bottom line on airbags, according to the most comprehensive study to date (by Canadian Pascal Haegeli) is you’re twice as likely to survive an avalanche with an airbag than without one, including trauma cases, without crotch straps, and non-deployments. And this data was based only on reported cases in which at least two people were completely buried, and at least one person wearing an airbag. This is an extreme sample set that only captures the worst cases; there are many more success stories that are never reported (because nobody is hurt or killed).

    To argue against the effectiveness of airbags is similar to arguing against the effectiveness of transceivers–futile. OK, there’s a weight and cost tradeoff with airbags that is much smaller with transceivers. So if you’re going to try making an argument against airbags, you better include the tradeoff part. The numbers supporting airbags are indisputed.

  17. Hacksaw July 26th, 2015 2:59 pm

    I wasn’t arguing against airbags. I was just asking if this pack has a crotch strap. Personally, I think having a crotch strap is important. I think the manufactures should promote their use.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2015 7:32 pm

    Hack, that was a PSA with the intention of helping folks remember to use airbag packs correctly and to not get false confidence, no more than that. Always appreciate your posts… Edge, you too, even if in your case the glass is half full (grin). Lou

  19. Dave July 27th, 2015 9:36 am

    Lou, Mammut Dave here again–your comment about airbags inspiring false confidence did come across as a bit of a shot across the bow on airbags in general. I think Edge’s points above are spot-on–to argue that airbags don’t save lives is akin to saying that seatbelts don’t save lives, it doesn’t mean you can’t still wind up hurt or killed in an accident, or that there are even some injuries caused by the airbag/seat belt…but the data is there to strongly support that they do save lives. I think Bruce Tremper’s UAC article is the best I’ve seen on the subject, and is from someone who is +/- impartial:
    https://utahavalanchecenter.org/blog-avalanche-airbag-effectiveness-something-closer-truth
    “At least from my perspective, saving half of avalanche fatalities is pretty darn good. Avalanche airbags are the best technology we have seen come along including the beacon. Although it’s impossible to directly compare beacons with avalanche airbags because it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison, most experts agree that the avalanche airbag will likely save more lives.”

    And yes, on anything but a vest, which doesn’t have too much true backcountry functionality, a crotch strap is required by the CE norm and the instructions on all of the airbags I’ve seen clearly state that it must be worn. Most, if not all, of the mechanized operators I work with have become more formal with their use of airbags over the past couple seasons, and are training their guides in the use of the crotch strap, etc. They still get in a hurry–apparently jet fuel isn’t cheap so they like fast transitions–so many are using a carabiner or other “speed rig” for the crotch strap so the pack can be put on and taken off quickly, and this makes it a lot less fiddly than a simple loop.

  20. swissiphic July 27th, 2015 10:18 am

    Dear Mammut Dave: Serious question that may sound a bit ridiculous to some. How far away are we from a full trauma mitigating inflatable ‘michelin man’ type body suit for avalanche survival purposes? In my opinion, airbags are a good step towards stacking the odds in favor of avalanche survivability when all factors are considered…but…we can put a man on the moon and bring him home again…does one need a NASA budget to design the perfect avy ski suit?

    A lightweight product offering inflated rigid, complete trauma protection, flotation and full burial emergency air would be the goal in terms of what I would consider desirable traits. Is it realistic, all things considered?

  21. Dave July 27th, 2015 11:03 am

    “full trauma protection”, flotation and emergency air…AND “lightweight”? Maybe I’m just being a stick in the mud but I don’t think it’s realistic.

  22. Lou Dawson 2 July 27th, 2015 9:35 pm

    Dave, a shot across the bow might actually be a good thing, tamp down the frenzy a bit perhaps and help us all keep the bigger picture in mind, in terms of human factors… Lou

  23. Bob September 20th, 2015 5:53 pm

    Just read that having Gu energy packages next to a beacon can result in signal interference due to the very thin layer of foil in the pouch. Recently, OR and other pant manufactures have installed beacon pockets in pants. It occurred to me that these pocket locations and even a traditional beacon chest harness are VERY close and closer than the recommend distance to the very large metal buckle on many of these air bag packs. Any thoughts on this? A number of beacon manuals suggest >15 inches away from metal objects for send mode. Should one worry?

  24. Lou Dawson 2 September 20th, 2015 6:13 pm

    Bob, no, don’t worry. If in doubt do a quick test, with buckle and without. In my experience the beacon interference issues are grown way out of proportion. It’s like people want badly to have the mysterious either do funny things, so at the slightest hint of an anomaly the internet goes crazy. Don’t get me wrong, RFI is a very real thing for any wireless radio device, but changing the word “real” to “dangerous” is where we perhaps go astray. Lou

  25. Mammut Dave September 21st, 2015 8:11 am

    Slightly different take on it here than Lou has. It is true that in most cases the interference experienced in the field doesn’t result in a problem, but it certainly has the potential to be dangerous. I assume you read about the Gu packets on our blog here: http://www.mammutavalanchesafety.com/2014/07/my-gu-packets-interfere-with-my-beacon.html ? If so, this is very much a “real world” example of what one might expect in the field, that’s an actual exchange with a user I had, not something I made up. The result of that interference is a degraded signal that effectively reduces the range of a transmitting beacon…in this case the beacon alerts you so you can do something about it, but all beacons are subject to this type of interference and not all let you know—if you read the blog post the informal test using Gu packets resulted in a greatly decreased acquisition range. That means if you happened to be buried with a pocket full of Gu next to your beacon (or your phone, digital video camera, etc, etc), there’s the real potential for your beacons signal to be degraded enough that a searcher could ski right past you because their normal search-strip isn’t wide-enough to pick up your now-degraded signal. While certainly not common, that sounds plenty dangerous to me–and I can’t stress enough this is a situation that actually happened, not some contrived test that doesn’t represent reality. We get calls on a pretty frequent basis about the interference warnings our beacons give a user so I’m very comfortable characterizing it as a relatively common issue facing people who use avalanche beacons, the problem being that most people never even know it’s happening. As Lou alludes to, most times it doesn’t become a problem but I’m not so comfortable saying that it doesn’t have the potential to become dangerous the one time it actually matters. There are other effects as well depending on the interfering object that can alter an unaffected searching beacons ability to differentiate another beacons signal from background noise which can affect acquisition range as well as the processors ability to separate that signal from other signals.

    You can read a paper that one of our product managers presented at last year’s ISSW on this subject here: http://www.mammutavalanchesafety.com/2014/10/electrical-interference.html

    In general for an “inanimate” thing such as couple Gu packets or a plain metal buckle to affect a beacon in this manner they have to be more or less touching the beacon. Other items like digital video cameras, especially those using Bluetooth technology, our recommendation is to keep these objects separated by a minimum of 20cm (8 inches) in “send” and 50cm (20 inches) in “receive”, but with a buckle or something small like this that doesn’t create its own noise it’s not nearly the issue that electronics are. Magnets are also in hand-held radio speakers, and given that they are not right on top of a beacon in its harness or in your pocket my main concern would be on beacons with magnetic on/off switches. Our current Element Barryvox and Pulse Barryvox beacons do not use a magnetic switch but our older Opto 3000 beacon did, and some other manufacturers beacons also use a magnetic switch. It is possible to turn a beacon from send to off or send to receive using a magnet on some of these beacons. I certainly prefer to avoid magnetic pocket-flaps on my own clothing for this reason.

  26. Lou Dawson 2 September 21st, 2015 8:22 am

    Hi Dave, thanks for the excellent comment. I agree with most of what you’re saying, my main point is that this issue seems to be way overblown, compared to very real issues that can affect almost every real-life rescue situation. An example being the problem of hysterical or otherwise compromised individuals moving around the accident site with their beacons transmitting, and the searchers not being well trained. Those issues are so much more vastly important than where you store your Gu packs, it’s almost laughable. In my opinion (grin). I’ve tested beacons over and over again to see how much I could compromise them with magnets, shovel blades and cameras. Unless the foreign object is in the near-field of the beacon antenna (very close, in other words, and in my experience basically sandwiched with the beacon), I’ve never seen any issues. And yes, totally agree, you wouldn’t want to carry a beacon in the same pocket with a dozen Gu packs, nor in your camera bag. Beyond that, it’s back to actually figuring out ways a victim can be dug up alive, which is all to uncommon, and the problem with that is not caused by Gu packs, it’s the human factor.

    I’d add that from what I know about radio technology, if avalanche beacons simply added a bit more transmit power, most RFI problems would become even more of a non-issue. What’s the deal with that? Regulatory, or just battery life issues?

    Lou

  27. Bob September 21st, 2015 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the input. The Gu example was interesting and made me think about interference. My first experience with interference came when I was practicing with my Pulse beacon at a ski areas beacon basin with only 1 “burial” and my beacon was going crazy. I was holding my beacon in my hand in search mode extended from my body, but I forgot that I had my phone on in my jacket pocket. Just want to be safe out there.

  28. Mammut Dave September 21st, 2015 12:46 pm

    Lou, Thanks as always. Even though you and I have different perspectives on this I suspect we’re pretty much on the same page. In the context of a search with “hysterical or otherwise compromised individuals moving around the accident site with their beacons transmitting, and the searchers not being well trained”, yes of course those are much bigger issues that will be a big problem. Obviously those are common issues for unpracticed searchers that we’ve all seen wreak havoc on a search at one time or another, hopefully during a practice session where it can serve as a lesson without consequence. It’s worth noting that those are issues that affect a search no matter what technology is used or how it’s performing, and in all cases a successful search is still reliant on that technology functioning as it’s supposed to–that, to me, is why the RFI issue is still important even we both agree on the first priority being a competent, efficient search. You are absolutely correct to say that those basics I took as implicit in this question would likely negate—laughably so–any issues caused by interference. I may be remiss in making an assumption like that, perhaps I need some boilerplate to that effect since I’d thought given the specificity of the question all other things would be equal (“assuming there are no fundamental user-errors in play which would prevent an efficient search in the first place…”), but nevertheless I don’t think that should be cause to marginalize those issues to the point that even a user that might benefit from it thinks it’s something they can more or less ignore. I realize that isn’t exactly what you said, but it seemed someone could take it that way, hence my $0.02.

    I’ve got a cool little doohickey that blinks a red light every time it receives a beacon signal. It’s such a weak receiver that it only has a very short range, less than 1 meter. If I put it at maximum range, as I introduce various objects at different proximity to the sending beacon, the light goes out…as you move the receiver closer it starts flashing again. This is an easy way to show the signal degradation in a relative sense with various objects and various beacons. It’s an involved thing to test in the field, but it’s an easy little exercise that many people find eye-opening. It may be old news for you, but if you’re inclined swing by sometime we’re in the same zip-code and we can play with it.

    Regarding adding transmit power to get around RFI issues—I’m not aware of any details around this so can’t do more than guess. The battery life minimum is fixed in the EU norm so if true across all beacons that could well be it. I’ll see if I can get a more detailed answer.

  29. Lou Dawson 2 September 21st, 2015 2:04 pm

    Basic physics if I’m not mistaken, all radio signals can be attenuated, which your blinking light demonstrates. You are demonstrating something that’s a basic aspect of physics, not anything particular to beacons. You could do the same thing with your wireless router or your cell phone and you wouldn’t even need the flasher, just a bar display you watch drop from 4 to 3…. It has no meaning other than showing that radio signals can be attenuated. Yes, perhaps eye opening to some folks, but anyone who uses a cell phone knows that signals vary and may even be lost when they’re in the parking garage, and I assume they know that’s because there is something other than air between them and the signal. Same for the person who has to move their wireless router into another room of the house. I really don’t understand why this is news regarding avalanche transceivers, though you are correct in that folks should know not to carry their beacon in the same camera bag pouch as their SLR, so I suppose that’s the point.

    I mentioned all the human factor stuff not as a straw man, but rather simply as public service to cut through the attention being paid to the “Gu in the pocket could kill me!” hysteria.

    Lou

  30. Mammut Dave September 21st, 2015 2:36 pm

    Yes, exactly–most people don’t seem to recognize this, or because our beacons are the only ones that alert the user of the interference people assume it’s a problem with the beacon rather than something external. It’s eye-opening when they see it applies pretty much equally to all beacons, and it also allows you to more or less quantify exactly how close you can get THIS object to THAT beacon rather than a hypothetical recommendation, so I think it makes more sense to people. This is still pretty new stuff for many users and my experience is that once it’s seen and understood people simply adjust and get back to worrying about the human-factor stuff.





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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