Mammut Light 30 Airbag Backpack and Carbon Cylinders

Post by blogger | February 27, 2017      
Mammut Lite 30 with RAS 3.0 is a true 30 liter rucksack when using smaller carbon cylinder.

Mammut Lite 30 with RAS 3.0 is a true 30 liter rucksack when using smaller carbon cylinder. I rig mine with a carabiner on the leg strap and a small add-on camera pouch on the shoulder strap, no other mods, no razor blade action (which is amazing).

Carbon airbag gas cylinders (i.e., tanks, cartridges) are beautiful. About 327 grams (larger aluminum version is 666 grams). Smaller, so you don’t need as big a rucksack. These can’t be retailed in North America, but transport hacking them over here from the enlightened EU seems to work. What you end up with is a 30 liter capacity avalanche airbag backpack, Mammut Light 30, that weighs 2.1 kilos (4.6 pounds). That’s amazing, considering just a few years ago the “normal” weight for a similar sized airbag backpack was more along the lines of 3 kilos — a third more!

NOTE: This blog post contains guesswork and conjecture about transporting items that may not be allowed by TSA or other United States transportation system rules. We are by no means recommending any of this, only sharing what we’ve heard people have done. If you choose to use any methods of transporting goods, you do so at your own risk. We do not recommend the methods we communicate in this blog post. It’s also worth noting that these small cylinders filled with compressed air or inert gas are extremely safe when safety capped and packed inside checked baggage. There is virtually nothing of concern, which is why ITA allows them on commercial flights originating in Europe.

Indeed, if you carefully shop for the latest, the mass of an avalanche airbag system has become a non issue. My how things change.

Three little piggies, one came on a direct flight to the U.S., once was checked through from Munich to Aspen, and one was shipped from Spain.

Three little piggies, one came on a direct flight to the U.S., one was checked through on commercial flight from Munich to Aspen, and one was shipped from Spain (Snowinn etailer to be specific).

Downsized carbon cylinder if filled with nitrogen, about 327 grams -- NOT USER REFILLABLE. Larger cylinder, air filled, 666 grams.

Downsized carbon cylinder if filled with nitrogen, about 327 grams. Larger cylinder, air filled, 666 grams — REFILLABLE BY AUTHORIZED PROVIDER, Snowpulse or Mammut..

Checked through to Aspen, I was eager to see if TSA had let my cylinder through.

Checked through to Aspen, I was eager to see if TSA had let my cylinder through. My ski bag always gets inspected, with the note left from TSA. This time was no different, but they didn’t seem to have a problem with the cylinder. I packed it in the retail box, inside the airbag pack, with safety cap installed. Perhaps they took sympathy, or perhaps under some kind of interpretation of their rules it’s ok to bring over from Europe, perhaps because it’s ok by the ITA rules starting from the origin airport. One thing I’ve learned, is don’t try to get an explanation from the TSA workers at the security lines, you’ll get different stories depending on who you talk to.

With all the fees you get stuck with, isn't there something on here for expedited airbag cylinder checkin?

With all the fees you get stuck with flying commercial, isn’t there something on here for expedited airbag cylinder checkin?

From the back, in my opinion the  Light 30 is over designed.

From the back, in my opinion the Light 30 is over designed. The waist belt is overly complex, and I’d rather have a simple foam backpad that’s removable for use in first-aid or summit seating. The pack body is long from top to bottom, with vertical structure provided by a pair of aluminum frame rods-stays. Frame stays can be useful, they make random packing of odd objects much less consequential and help keep the pack from folding up when carrying skis, but they’re not essential. These are removable if you’d like to experiment.

Zippered goggle compartment could be slightly larger, but it works.

Zippered goggle compartment could be slightly larger, but it works. Note how the compression straps are located so as not to hold the airbag balloon compartment closed, these are used for diagonal ski carry.

Rigged with skis.

Rigged with skis. You can make it work, but I’m not impressed with most of the various brand’s airbag pack diagonal ski carry systems. They all tend to pull apart the ejection zipper. Thing is, what’s going to happen if you’re in an avalanche, deploy your airbag, and you’ve got a pair of skis lashed on there? Grim. What’s probably needed is a ski ejection combined with the airbag trigger. That’s so 2021.

Lower ski loop integration with compression, slick.

Lower ski loop integration with compression, slick.

The balloon ejection zipper does tend to come apart, but it takes mere minutes to redo.

The balloon ejection zipper does tend to come apart, but it takes mere minutes to redo. This is the RAS (Removable Airbag System) 3.0, and it is high-end design. With practice, in ten minutes or less you can get it out of one pack and installed in another.

I like the simple trigger handle. In this photo, unlocked and ready to rip.

I like the simple trigger handle. In this photo, unlocked and ready to rip.

Folded up, safed, and can be stowed in the zipper compartment for total peace of mind.

Folded up, safed, and can be stowed in the zipper compartment for total peace of mind.

Tool compartment worked for me, could be too small for larger shovel blades.

Tool compartment worked for me, could be too small for larger shovel blades.

Smaller carbon cylinder leaves what feels like a true 30 liters of cargo space.

Smaller carbon cylinder leaves what feels like a true 30 liters of cargo space.

Conclusions I easily have dozens of days touring with the Light 30, as I made it my go-to airbag pack this season. It’s a bit large in volume for my normal day trip, and the long torso feels slightly odd. I found some of the dangling straps needed to be taped down, and the birthing zipper comes apart too easily. I use a carabiner on the leg strap to avoid the fiddly threading required by the stock configuration, but I’m not sure doing so is entirely safe; it probably needs to be a locking biner. Durability appears fine. For the most part, configured with the carbon cylinder, this is the airbag rucksack I’ve waited twenty years for.

Shopping? As always, the furious pace of airbag rucksack development makes it hard to know the sweet spot timing dictating the use of plastic payment instruments. In the case of Mammut Light 30, I don’t think you can go wrong if you find it on sale. Backcountry dot com is looking good.

To reiterate: Our experiments involved acquiring one cylinder from Snowinn. We also brought one back from Europe in checked baggage with a domestic connection — we’re uncertain if that was ok or simply overlooked by TSA. But bringing one back direct is entirely fine and legal as far as we know, since the European flight origination is covered by ITA (the European version of TSA), which allows airbag cylinders.

See our previous Mammut reviews.

I did stop by and visit Mammut at ISPO. Highlights:

The Light 30 backpack will be available in black for next season. That’s good news, as I’ve been heavily using my light colored version and it’s looking contaminated. In the beacon department, I went through their new Barryvox S beacon with an insider expert at the ISPO booth. We’d reviewed the Barryvox S from contact at the OR show but it was nice to get a run with the European perspective. Quite a nice unit, recommended. Favorite feature is the intelligent fine search, appears that will shave valuable seconds off your rescue.

European ski tourers like small packs. This 7 section probe follows.

European ski tourers like small packs. This 7 section Mammut ‘shorty’ probe follows.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


110 Responses to “Mammut Light 30 Airbag Backpack and Carbon Cylinders”

  1. Kristian February 27th, 2017 8:35 am

    “I packed it in the retail box, inside the airbag pack.”

    Brilliant! (Glad I still have the box.)

  2. Lou Dawson 2 February 27th, 2017 8:45 am

    BTW, I’m NOT recommending any of this, just sharing what I did under what I assumed were European ITA regulations and the shipping from Snowinn.

    The question was whether to declare it as acquired stuff on the U.S. customs form. I went ahead and did so, at a value of $98.00, I figured customs is pretty much a separate operation from TSA, that’s under the limit for the amount of purchased stuff you’re allowed, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. Everything was fine.

    One thing I learned is that even if you have your Global Entry (which I do), you’ll still have to present the customs form a few times so keep it handy. Another thing I learned is that if you have Global Entry you need to remember to get the TSA Prepass put on your boarding pass, in case it gets overlooked. Global Entry was a hassle to get for us, but wow it works. You pretty much just walk right through, around the 45 minute passport check line. Sadly, it only helps when entering the U.S., I got stuck in a 45+ minute passport check line when leaving Munich, that was a real pain.

  3. Harza February 27th, 2017 11:23 am

    There is also short model, with back entry for ladys and shorter guys. At least here in Europe

  4. Charlie Hagedorn February 27th, 2017 11:27 am

    I think this is the strongest endorsement of an airbag pack I’ve yet seen from you, Lou. Weight has always been the biggest barrier, and this is starting to drop under that threshold.

    Thoughts on the durability of the carbon cylinder?

    Does Mammut provide guidance on the levels of impact and stress that the cylinders can handle without rupture? Do they have a recommended service life? My internal organs work best without added carbon-fiber bits :).

  5. Matus February 27th, 2017 12:57 pm

    I have been using this backpack from January 2017. Couple of tricks:

    I zip the probe with the carbon cylinder and put the shovel upside down to the avy equip compartment – seems to work better with this backpack.

    The length of the back is rather extreme. I am 181cm long and it still feels too long.

    The ejection zipper si unzipping every tour. Annoyng. I am considering adding more velcros.

    The volume is great. I do not have to play tetris with all the gear every time I am packing before or during the tour.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 February 27th, 2017 3:09 pm

    Charlie, yeah, there is a physiological barrier for me when I can really feel the additional weight, but if the total pack/balloon weight is around 2 kilos it ceases to matter, though it’s always nice to trim grams.

    By the way, the BCA Float 27 2017 version we checked out at OR show was impressive as well. We have one here, it just got shipped up to Washington for Louie to review, has a downsized cylinder, definitely looks good.


  7. Harry February 27th, 2017 6:11 pm

    I think I may be confused about this issue. You said you flew with the safety cap on, in retail box. I am assuming it is not filled. To my knowledge the TSA is only concerned with security and safety, so an uncharged canister of any type is a-ok.

    Customs would only be interested if it was specific contraband or obviously for resale. You can fly back with all kinds of non north american stuff for personal use.

    My understanding wasn’t that there was a problem flying with the cylinder, but getting the cylinder filled. The mammut website says that the north american cylinder, is exempt fro hydro because of the “2×2” rule.

    I know the scuba shop I worked at wouldn’t touch such a thing regardless. No hydro, no fill. I have to think that a certain number of other shops would not want to work on a carbon cylinder, as it doesn’t even look “proper”

    I could certainly be wrong, but I would hate to travel domestically with an empty cylinder and be turned down for a fill when I got there.

  8. Louie III February 27th, 2017 6:15 pm

    The carbon fiber cylinder is filled with nitrogen, and is not refillable (unlike the standard aluminium snowpulse/mammut cylinders)

  9. Greg February 27th, 2017 6:57 pm

    I anxiously await your review of the new BCA pack. I have the original BCA Float. It is a brick. Or maybe a cinder block. I am about to pull the trigger on a new airbag pack (pun intended). The Mammut pack looks great w carbon cylinder, but the non-refillability is an obstacle. If BCA has a pack coming that is close in weight and volume, I would probably wait for that.

  10. See February 27th, 2017 7:42 pm

    I know “what if” questions are maybe impossible to answer Lou, but if you weren’t reviewing balloon packs for Wildsnow, would you use one?

  11. Sam February 27th, 2017 9:56 pm

    Hi Lou, which bindings do you have mounted on the VTAs in the picture? I know those skis have a limited area to mount bindings and I’m looking to order a light racing style binding for mine. The skis are “in the mail” so I have yet to actually see them. Thanks for the help and the wonderful site!

  12. Louie III February 27th, 2017 10:22 pm

    They are mounted with old dynafit TLT bindings (with the old 5 screw toe mount pattern). You can see how they fit in the mounting area in this post:

  13. Eric B February 28th, 2017 3:24 am

    I’ve been touring with this pack this season too, and while there is a lot to like about it – notably the lightweight, functionality, ability to move airbag between different size packs – there are two big flaws that may cause me to send it back. First, I had the chest strap come apart after just 6 days use (threads on the loop into the shoulder strap attachment came out) – I did a field fix with a knot and duct tape, but it made me question the durability and build quality of the pack and I’ve noticed other signs of rapid wear. Second, the zippers holding the balloon in come apart easily and often, especially if the bag is fully packed. Then the only thing holding the balloon in is a small piece of velcro (which is also wearing fast due to the strain on it). As Lou noted it is a relatively quick fix, but there is an annoyance factor of doing it each transition, plus I can easily foresee a scenario where I’m on a windy summit with tricky footing and I’ve suddenly got an un-inflated balloon flapping around me that I’ve then got to re-pack. Matus suggests adding more velcro which could help, but I’d wonder about any issues from that in an actual deployment. So its a potentially great pack, but Mammut need to iterate it and address these issues. In the meantime I’ve ordered one of the new Arva packs (also quite light) to compare and may return the Mammut.

  14. Lou Dawson 2 February 28th, 2017 8:46 am

    See, regarding my own use of balloon pack, yes, I’d use one during many of my tours, but not always. For example, I don’t usually bring it on my springtime firn tours, nor when uphilling resorts, nor when skiing mellow terrain on super safe days. Lou

  15. Lou Dawson 2 February 28th, 2017 8:53 am

    Eric, I haven’t had any durability problems, I would have mentioned. The birthing zipper does come undone fairly easily but seems to stay closed unless I’m doing a lot of things like stacking in the rear of an automobile, or in my airline luggage. A bit more velcro would be good but would need to be tested. It’s highly critical that the balloon begins to inflate immediately as that’s when the cylinder is releasing the most power for sucking air through the venturi. Adding resistance to the initial “pop” can interfere with this. I learned that from an engineer who figures these things out… The Arcteryx fastener is the most elegant I’ve seen, mechnical clip that’s pulled open when you yank the trigger. But it adds manufacturing cost and weight.

    Charlies, that’s a good point about durability of the cylinder. It does zip inside a compartment in the pack, but something like a shovel blade could damage it. Probably good to be careful, though as with any product like this the engineering “over build” factor is probably quite substantial. And it is highly compressed gas that could be dangerous when close to your body.


  16. JFC February 28th, 2017 4:57 pm

    Sam, I’ve been using Dynafit Superlites with a B and D adjustment plate under the heel piece on the VTA. This puts all screws in the mounting area.

  17. philipp March 1st, 2017 12:52 am

    I got this pack for free – lucky me – so I can talk unbiased about the pack, not having to justify spending 700 chf on a pack.
    First thing I experienced how well the pack adjusts to my 5’11 / 165 frame. It’s quiet long, but weight is stored further down my back, which results in less swing weight, when doing turning on skis.
    It is a light pack, and even when stuffed, it still carries well.
    In can confirm, that the zipper of the balloon compartment opens regularly, when the pack is bended, or when there is pulling weight on the compartment. maybe another velcro will do the job.
    even more annoying I find the belt buckle system, which has a high fiddle factor, pushing a metal round shape through a ring. I can imagine, this is probably an avy pack standard, but I consider to replace it with a standard but strong plastic belt buckle. Lou, do you think, this will have an significant impact on the secure carrying and attachment of the pack?
    Best wishes from Switzerland!

  18. Mammut Dave March 1st, 2017 11:04 am

    Lou, thanks! I’ll keep track and if anything comes up try to chime in with info if appropriate. A few points brought up thus far:

    With regard to using a biner for the leg-strap, I’m using a small non-locking wiregate biner. I have a question in to colleagues to make certain they havent changed to a more strict “official” recommendation, but on the new packs we are actually building a little loop into the hip-belt webbing specifically to hold a biner just for this purpose, so it’s totally legit practice as far as I’m concerned.

    carbon cartridges–Any of these that are being flown or shipped into the US are FULL, and technically that is illegal here since they dont carry a DOT or TC stamp–so consider it an oversight or mistake that it got into the country rather than an endorsement by anyone. In Europe and countries adhering to IATA guidelines it is permissible to carry a FULL cartridge onto a passenger airplane, so on flights originating outside the US where they may not be as familiar with US TSA guidelines, apparently they aren’t always screening-out the full cartridges. Caveat emptor here, that isn’t what’s SUPPOSED to happen. As Lou mentioned we aren’t allowed to sell or ship these carbon ones in North America yet. That also means there IS no way to refill or exchange them in North America. In EU they are shipped back and refilled at the factory to replenish the exchange program, but in order to refill if you discharged one in the US or Canada, you would need to send it back to Europe and then get it back into the US again, which of course I can’t recommend. Hopefully refill is a non-issue for these folks…I’d like to think no one ever discharges it “in anger” in the first place, since you can practice deployment without a cartridge using the test tool–we already know we can’t fly with the carbon cartridges here, so anticipating the need for frequent refill seems like it could be indicative of more of a risk-appetite than I’m personally comfortable with.

    With regard to refilling the North American refillable cartridges, the “Hydro test” mentioned above is a once-per 5 year test that is required for scuba tanks and some other pressurized containers. It’s not something that needs to be done with any frequency, other times you just go and fill and walk out a few minutes later. The small aluminum containers we use in North America are legally exempt from periodic hydro testing due to their size being below a specific threshold–this is industry standard in both the US and Canada, and it’s because the smaller cartridges are simply less-prone to failure than larger cartridges of the same pressure. Of course just because it’s not a legal requirement doesn’t preclude a shop requesting a hydro test to fill your cartridge, but I haven’t yet heard from a refill provider who balked at this, and only one who asked for paperwork from the manufacturer stating this (which we’re happy to provide). Either way, when you consider the 3-year(?) lifespan of a $400 battery before the manufacturer says it needs to be replaced, a $30-40 hydro test, even if it was requested by your local scuba shop, would be a small price to pay to keep a cartridge in service.

    Cartridge durability–nicks, dings and visible damage to a cartridge is grounds for refusing to fill it. You need to protect the cartridge from damage that could cause this–the zip-closed cover inside the pack helps with this, but also store the cartridge in the box it came in, with the protective cover on, and definitely dont let it rattle and roll around with your shovel, ice screws, etc in a bin in your basement or the bed of your truck. Honestly, I haven’t found this to be an issue–it’s a piece of personal protective equipment, and in my experience most people tend to treat it as such. In a fluke of course something could happen, and 3000 or 4500psi is absolutely dangerous if it bursts–but barring something truly stupid i think anything that catastrophically damages a cartridge is likely to catastrophically damage your body long before any bits of carbon or aluminum are even involved. Dont go abusing it, but normal use in a ski pack and off-season storage should be totally a non-issue. There’s info on hydro testing and storage, etc here:

    Hope this helps, and I have an email in to some colleagues at the head office that may be pertinent to some of the above feedback as well and will check back in if I hear any new info that’s pertinent.

  19. Matus March 1st, 2017 11:45 pm

    Dave, thank you for your feedback.

    Any suggestion how to deal with self opening zipper? Would more velcro decrease the ability of balloon inflation?

  20. Mammut Dave March 2nd, 2017 8:32 am

    Matus, adding more velcro actually could be a problem–as Lou alluded to, it’s important the balloon pops the burst-zipper open very quickly in order to get full inflation. If adding velcro resulted in a slower initial opening of tghe burst-zipper, that would be a problem. I am communicating with one of the developers at our head office to see if there is something we can do in the short-term.

    For the longer term, I passed on this feedback to them and they have done some quick looking into it. It seems in the interest of light weight they used a very slightly different construction of the airbag pocket in the pack than on other styles that use the same balloon that has resulted in it coming open easier–they have identified several ways they plan improve this for the fall 2017 batch of packs that should result in same weight but better performance in this regard.

    I’ll report back on what, if anything, it’s possible to do about it on an existing pack without reducing reliability of inflation.

  21. AdamK March 4th, 2017 4:40 am

    Lou – When flying back with the cartridge, did you get “approval of the operator” as stated in the IATA guidelines before you checked it in your luggage? I ask because I’m not sure what that means.

  22. Kristian March 4th, 2017 7:47 am

    AdamK – My advice to you and others is to read carefully and see that Lou does not recommend doing this. He only postulates what might be possible. Does not make sense to hyper pin down on specifics.

    Mammut Dave – I honestly have to believe that if Mammut put a serious effort in with the new Presidential Administration, they could get Carbon Cartridges into the US within a few months. There are many other similar legal examples already.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2017 8:02 am

    Adam, I have no idea what that means. I assumed everything was ok as people fly all over Europe with airbag packs, under IATA… but I could have been wrong. As I hope I alluded to, it was a journalistic experiment doing this to the U.S. and not recommended. Perhaps I could have done a better job of writing with that in mind.

    Once at the airport, in the hectic and time consuming process of working through all the checks for an international flight, the last thing a person is going to do is try to find someone to help interpret a sheet of IATA fine print. Lou

  24. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2017 8:08 am

    Mammut Dave and all, I’ve noticed that the zipper on my Light 30 seems to be pulling open easier, perhaps it wears a bit or something. I’m getting to the conclusion that it does need to be improved somehow, perhaps a couple of small velcro tabs that are _just_ big enough. Fortunately it’s quite easy to re-zip, but yeah, it could pull all the way open while on tour. Lou

  25. See March 4th, 2017 8:26 am

    Hi Kristian. I haven’t had much appetite for the news lately, but I’m curious about “similar legal examples” to allowing the Mammut carbon cartridges into the US. What are you referring to?

  26. Kristian March 4th, 2017 9:58 am

    There are already many legal carbon cylinders used for other industries. Would be hugely bigly beautiful to get them for avalanche safety.

  27. Kristian March 4th, 2017 10:05 am

    And there are already charged cylinders that legal for air and postal transport.

    And Nitrogen is the safest of all possible gases.

    I honestly believe all that is needed is serious dedication to getting this done now.

  28. See March 4th, 2017 10:40 am

    Thanks Kristian. I was wondering about regulatory relaxation under the new administration and the only example I could think of was no longer requiring financial advisors to act in their clients best interest. Of course, carbon tanks have been around for a long time for everything from paint ball guns to rockets. Personally, I’m waiting for a Dyneema pack with a Vectran balloon (or similar) as well as a carbon tank.

  29. Kristian March 4th, 2017 11:27 am

    Personally, I would vote for some Aspen area heavyweights to put together a gofundme to harness Lou’s expertise and make him a manufacturer.

  30. Victoria March 4th, 2017 11:49 am

    AdamK, I’ve traveled to a few countries with my Mammut carbon air cartridge (full of nitrogen) and have obtained approval of the airline by emailing their dangerous goods department. How it is handled depends on the airline — sometimes I get responses and sometimes it is a bit of a mystery until you check in. For example, I was leaving Japan last year to travel to Kyrgyzstan with my Mammut pack and canister. I called Etihad to get the email address for their dangerous goods dept and then emailed and got no response. But the agent was aware of the request when I checked in, and a manager came over to inspect the cartridge to ensure it was disengaged from the trigger mechanism (per IATA rule) and then walked me through security to explain that the cartridge was approved. Going thru security again in Abu Dhabi was a bit dicey, but they let it through after I showed them printouts of the IATA rule and the Mammut data sheet for the air cartridge. Personally, I prefer putting the cartridge in checked baggage but Japanese officials insisted I carry it on. In comparison, Qantas pre-approves by email and issues a year-long approval after the first inspection at the airport. Whatever you do, you should declare the full air cartridge at check in and carry printouts of the IATA rule and cartridge data sheet. Hope that helps.

  31. Daniel March 4th, 2017 1:12 pm

    I would advise to keep catridge in carry on if possible. A few years ago, friends missed their flights in Frankfurt when their checked luggage failed to pass security check because of the cartridges and they were announced right beforw boarding. If shit hits the fan with securities and carry-on, you can always decide to proceed w/o cartridge if need be. We have never had problems with carry-on, but plenty of discussing and explaining and showing printouts.

  32. Lou Dawson 2 March 4th, 2017 5:37 pm

    Daniel, for what it’s worth, my understanding from IATA is that the airbag cylinders are supposed to be in checked bag, as opposed for example to lithium batteries, which are supposed to be in carry-on. But I could be wrong, I didn’t study this like I was a bible scholar, just gave it a quick read and gave it a try. Lou

  33. KristianB March 4th, 2017 9:56 pm
  34. Victoria March 5th, 2017 12:31 am

    Per IATA regs, the avalanche airbag cartridge may be permitted in either checked or carry on luggage. I’ve found it varies by airline and by airport (e.g., Tokyo Narita airport officials regardless of airline insist you carry on the airbag backpack with cartridge disconnected inside, while other Asian as well as Australia and New Zealand airports usually want the cartridge checked in). When I’ve been directed to pack the cartridge in checked luggage, I’ve wrapped the highlighted IATA reg and data sheet around it in hopes that this helps any curious inspectors at connecting airports. So far, my cartridge has always made it to my destination.

    It’s a pain, but you really should call or email your airline before traveling to get approval and find out how they want it packed.

  35. UMICH March 5th, 2017 1:01 am

    Lou – Thanks for your post. I’m confused also on your use of the carbon canisters in the US. It doesn’t seem to be a problem to get the carbon canisters into the states, but the real issue being refilling them. What solution (if any) have you come up with in that regard? Are you using carbon canisters in the US for your touring (not sure if you’re based in EU and have access to swapping the carbon canisters out regularly)? Is it possible to refill these canisters with compressed air vs nitrogen?


  36. Lou Dawson 2 March 5th, 2017 5:52 am

    Umich, i use it mostly in the US and if deployed plan to mail to the EU into their program for refilling, and I am not sure I can get it back here in the US. If not I’ll sell over there or give to friends until I return. No you can’t fill it with air. I also have the regular refillable cylinder. I don’t deploy my airbag packs much, actually never have done so in a real situation, so it’s not like I’m going through these carbon cylinders like munching manner schnitten at the top of a ski tour in Austria.

    In terms of the where and what of, up to 20% of our readers are in countries other than the US, we are a global website, so we don’t concern ourselves so much with what’s available, or not, in a specific country or region. We also have faith that the global nature of modern commerce makes much of this stuff fairly universal, in terms of availability. For example, my being able to acquire a cylinder via an etailer. (By the way, it was interesting to see that Snowinn ran out of Mammut cylinders soon affter this blog post, and last time I looked Sport Conrad still had them.)


  37. Daniel March 5th, 2017 8:00 am

    Under IATA rules, cartridge in carry on is fine, as long as it comes IN the backpack.

  38. Eric B March 7th, 2017 4:03 am

    Lou and Mammut Dave thanks for the responses. The issue of the balloon compartment zippers repeatedly coming apart is a real problem for me and I’ve seen other reports on the web of people having issues with this. Dave please look into this with your Mammut colleagues as otherwise it is a great pack and it would be good to address it for next year. Also please look into the problem I had of straps breaking. Unfortunately for this year though I’ve decided to return the Mammut pack, get a refund, and replace it with the Arva Reactor pack which is also quite light. I will post my impressions of the Arva on that thread once I get to field test it a bit.

  39. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2017 7:52 am

    I’ve continued to use my Light 30 and can reiterate what I related in the blog post, that the birthing zipper does come open easily. For me, too easily. I can deal with it, but thought I’d get that out on the table. I’d think Mammut most certainly would make a small change in this pack, ongoing, that would solve this problem. Perhaps a slightly larger velcro tab on top, or a few small velcro tabs or something, and perhaps a zipper with a bit more resistance. What’s weird is I can fiddle with the pack here in my studio and I can not get the zipper to come apart unless I start with the birthing “trigger” area under the velcro flap. Then I get out in the field and there it is, an undone zipper. It’s like it’s haunted! I’m guessing a slightly larger velcro flap at the top might be all it needs.

    Also, what seems to help is if I affix the velcro tab so it places as much closing force and tension as possible on the zipper. In other words, pull on the tab while sticking down the hook-and-loop.

    I believe the best solution is a mechanical catch such as that used by Arcteryx, with a cable actuator tied into the trigger. But that’s probably expensive and adds weight.

  40. Matus March 7th, 2017 8:05 am

    I think the problem is not in the velcro size or strength. The problem is in the zipper. It should be sensitive mainly to forces that occur during the inflation. However, it seems to be sensitive to all forces except to those in laboratory conditions.

    I will definitely add more velcro. The inflation is really powerful and can handle a few more velcro tabs. I do not care if my backpack remains certified or not.

  41. Max March 15th, 2017 3:25 pm

    Actually from 2kg to 3kg would be 50% more, not 1/3. From 3kg down to 2kg would be 1/3 less.

  42. Paul Atkinson March 20th, 2017 4:00 am

    Lou, I’ve been looking for an avalanche pack with a good long back for day- week touring for years! I’m 6’5″ and my first generation ABS has hip and shoulder straps way too close together for me which is a real stability hassle for skiing. Is this pack the answer? Any other models particularly good for the tall? It’s very hard to get to look at a range of them here in the UK
    Thanks, Paul

  43. Brent MacGregor March 28th, 2017 10:44 am

    I have 2 European bottles. One steel, one carbon. I am happy to sell them at cost rather than take them back. Currently in Whistler. Could deliver to Squamish or near Vancouver airport.

  44. Daniel March 28th, 2017 11:34 am

    I have the legacy Mammut RAS Pro 45 pack, very nice long back. I am 6’2 but have the upper body length if someone much taller.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 May 7th, 2017 3:32 pm

    I just heard this, quite interesting:

    “Lou, just wanted to let you know a friend was able to bring the carbon canister back from France in his checked luggage. They even give you a form to fill out and leave in the box in case agents check your bag.”

  46. bruce May 10th, 2017 5:17 pm

    RE: Buying Carbon Canister abroad and shipping to the US
    Thought I would share my experience of trying to buy from Europe and ship to CA- not as easy as I had hoped!
    Purchased on-line from Austria on 4/26
    5/4 AGPost tracking arrived in NY
    5/4 USPS tracking processed through USPS ISC facility NY,NY
    5/9 AGPost: undeliverable / returned
    5/10 AGPost: delivered to Cosignee (in New Zeland)
    5/10 – I called USPS and they confirmed the package was processed thru their facility on 5/4 and then goes to Customs. They speculated the package did not clear Customs and therefore was returned.
    I’ve reached out to both AGPost and the on-line reseller to find out why it was not delivered … I will update once I hear back from them..

    Meanwhile I plan to place an order with a different on-line reseller (BTW there are lots to choose from) and will try again – this time I may try using DHL vs. USPS – not sure if this had anything to do with non-delivery or if I’m just unlucky the package was caught by Customs since I understand they don’t scan all packages….

  47. Bruce May 11th, 2017 7:23 am

    Update on carbon canister shipment to the US- both the seller (ski willy) and the Austrian postal service informed me by email the item was returned due to prohibited / dangerous content.

  48. Lou Dawson 2 May 11th, 2017 8:33 am

    If we could harness all the energy we’re all exerting on getting carbon cartridges to North America, we could probably solve world hunger (smile). Lou

  49. splittin August 11th, 2017 12:22 pm

    Anyone manage to find a place to get the carbon cartridges to NA.

  50. Lou Dawson 2 August 13th, 2017 10:51 am

    Splittin, I’ve not heard anything new for a while. Best is still to get a friend to bring back. Mammut North America is working on the issue. I’ll fire them a query. Thanks for asking. Lou

  51. Carl November 14th, 2017 10:42 am

    Am I hallucinating or wasn’t there a recent (as in last month or so-Nov. 2017) post about a Mammut Airbag with a link to a European site selling the cartridges on this site ? Was it taken down due to massive demand for carbon cartridges or what 🙂
    -or I’m hallucinating….

  52. Carl November 14th, 2017 10:46 am

    Never mind. I found it. I wasn’t hallucinating. Just not looking in right place. Thanks.

  53. Kjetil January 2nd, 2018 4:02 am

    I got this pack and I want to be happy with it, but that zipper coming apart is really annoying. Do any of you know if Mammut did any changes to the birthing zipper on the black one that’s out this year? I have one in the same colours as the one in this article, and I think it’s last year’s version. I’m considering a return and exchange for the black one, if it indeed has a better bithing zipper.

  54. Lou 2 January 2nd, 2018 10:22 am

    I was told the zipper is improved. Let us know if that be the case. I’ll check when I have a moment. Thanks, Lou

  55. Jwags January 4th, 2018 11:33 pm

    I just looked at a black model and blue model Light 30 at Bent Gate In Golden. The velcro securing the birthing area on the black model seemed to be about twice as much area as the blue model. I took photos. If only wildsnow had a forum so I could post them.

  56. Lou Dawson 2 January 5th, 2018 8:43 am

    Jwags, you can email us the photos if you like and I’ll put them in your comment. I gave serious consideration to hosting a forum. Having done it before in several venues including being a Sysop on Compuserve before there was really a public internet, I do have some experience with the matter. It’s a huge amount of work and if you slack one moment the forum gets taken over by bullies, flamers, spammers and junk content. Thus, I’ve shied away from doing it, especially since there are other backcountry skiing forums already… The blog comment system we use seems to be a much tamer way of hosting user generated content, resulting in WildSnow being known as the place to go for focused discussion from people who really know what they’re writing about. Lou

  57. Kjetil January 5th, 2018 11:38 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Lou, about not having a forum. I really appreciate that I can search “Mammut light ras 30” and find excatly the articles about that AND also get all the relevant comments about that exact product in the same place. And mostly people keep to the original topic.

  58. Lou Dawson 2 January 6th, 2018 8:31 am

    Kejetil, yes, that’s our style, for better or worse. Just remember we are not specifically a gear website, by intent. The idea is to paint with a fairly broad brush as to ski touring subject matter, that’s why once in a while we review snow tires or publish food recipes (smile). Lou

  59. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 11:34 am

    Hi Jwags, finally got your photos processed, here is the comparo. Older style hook-loop to left, new version (right) is noticeably more robust, nice to see. Thanks for sending the images. Click to enlarge.

    Mammut birthing zipper hook-loop comparo earlier on left.

  60. atfred February 9th, 2018 7:31 am

    Hi Lou,
    I noticed the picture of the carbon cylinder on the snowinn website shows no printing, seems to have some kind of cover – what’s with that?

    Thanks much

  61. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 8:10 am

    Not sure, carbon cylinders are often sold with a mesh safety cover, perhaps it’s that… the carbon cylinders we have show a specified weight when filled so they can be weighted and checked. The one we got from Snowin does have that text on it. Lou

  62. Kristian February 9th, 2018 8:14 am

    Protective cap that screws off.

  63. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 8:38 am

    That’s indeed a protective cap. Same as used on other cylinders of same type. Lou

  64. Kjetil February 9th, 2018 9:05 am

    So my red/gray pack got insanely annoying with the zipper opening. Got it changed with a black one, and indeed they changed the closure system. The Velcro is about the same size, but shaped a little different and the flap is tighter. After a couple of tours with the black one it hasn’t opened, and hasn’t opened by being tossed around in the back of my car like the old red/gray one did. So far happy!

  65. Mammut Dave February 9th, 2018 1:20 pm


  66. Bob April 10th, 2018 5:25 pm

    So what is verdict on the zipper opening. Is it fixed?

  67. Kjetil April 11th, 2018 5:20 am

    In my opinion it’s fixed. Have at least 30 days in the new one, and I think I’ve only done up the zipper once (the same as with my girlfriends Ortovox Avabag). Simple and functional bag – my only concern is long term durability of the outer fabric, but what do one expect of such a lightweight product?

    Also; my buddy ended up buying this year’s red/gray and it looks to have the same zipper as my black – and haven’t experienced any trouble like I originally did.

  68. Mammut Dave April 11th, 2018 8:06 am

    They did alter the orientation of the burst zipper and the flap that covers it on the fall 17/18 production, which includes both red/grey and graphite colors. This seems to have at least gone a long way toward addressing the burst zip opening in use–I haven’t personally heard a complaint from a user of these newer ones.
    Also, the Fall 18/19 production (graphite and ultramarine colors) has a different zipper inside for the shovel-pocket that will easily fit very large shovel blades. The original version was a 10″ straight zip that was a couple inches below the top of the front panel, and was pretty tight on a large shovel blade. The new version is a zip that contours around the inside top edge of the front panel and is 12″ wide in addition to offering much more space for entry/exit by virtue of following the edge of the panel.
    Hope this helps!

  69. Kjetil April 11th, 2018 8:56 am

    Sounds like a nice improvement with the inside zipper. Once you’ve figured out how the zipper “works”, I haven’t really had reason to complain about getting the shovel blade in and out. I find it simple to take out (important in an emergency), and a just a little fiddly to get in. I also find that keeping the shovel blade upside down helps and is a nicer fit for my shovel.

  70. Kjetil April 11th, 2018 9:02 am

    An extremely minor detail I would’ve liked to see is a reversal of the orientation of the goggle pocket zipper. I like to put my backpack down on the side without the sidezipper and entering through the side facing up. Now there’s a slight chance of small stuff falling out from the goggle pocket if you open it while the pack lies in this position. If the zipper had been oriented the other way, this little worry would be minuscule ? (#firstworldproblems)

  71. Mammut Dave April 11th, 2018 9:11 am

    Life is good and we’ve done our jobs pretty well if we’re at this level of feedback! 🙂
    But I feel you… I will pass on to the developers, thanks!

  72. Lou Dawson 2 April 11th, 2018 12:09 pm

    Every little bit counts!

  73. Kjetil April 11th, 2018 1:27 pm

    Oh yes!! ?

  74. atfred April 11th, 2018 6:20 pm

    Hi Mammut Dave, my only problem with this pack, which I like very much, is that it is a bit long. Any shorter versions coming out?


  75. Mammut Dave April 12th, 2018 7:14 am

    Not for next season unfortunately.
    If you can find it, you might look into the Light Protection model-this is still pretty light, but it will fit a shorter back length, and the 3.0 version of the protection system also fits narrower shoulders better than the old version. It may be hard to find this model in a shop though.

  76. atfred April 12th, 2018 9:02 am

    ok, dave. Any other thoughts on how to deal with a pack that’s a bit long? So far I’ve tried loading lighter stuff in the bottom, and cinching down the waist belt really tight to minimize sliding below hips. Any other suggestions much appreciated.


  77. Mammut Dave April 12th, 2018 9:08 am

    Is the issue that it slides down, or is the issue that it protrudes too high above your shoulders? The folks I know who’ve had an issue with length dont have a problem with the hip belt sliding down, their issue is that the pack sticks up high-enough on them that it interferes with the back of their helmet. Based on your description above I’m not certain I understand. Also, it could be easier to get in touch directly to troubleshoot for you, and you can report back. My email is davef “at” of that’s helpful.

  78. atfred April 12th, 2018 9:34 am

    ok, dave, I’ll email you; thanks

  79. Michael April 12th, 2018 10:25 am

    I like my light 30 airbag quite a bit. Th weight savings compared to a BCA float 32 is great. I also like that it’s slimmer and not so boxy.

    I wish it had a built in helmet carry like the beefier RAS bags. I’d carry an extra ounce or two to have this.

    I still had a few issues with the airbag zipper coming open (I purchased it in the fall of 2017). I’ve found that ‘overtightening’ the velcro (pulling it quite tight so part of the velcro is actually not lined up with the other part) helps to keep this from happening. Also, I’ve found that not overstuffing the pack near the top zipper helps. This keeps tension on that zipper down. I keep my goggles in the main pack now to prevent too much tension at the top of the pack. Seems to work well.

    My friend also purchased one in fall 2017 and had a number of times where the airbag zipper came open (many more than I did), but he carries a much bigger shovel blade than I do which tends to overstuff the top of the pack and puts a lot of tension on that zipper.

    IMO this issue could still use some work. I’m contemplating adding a few thin strips of velcro to prevent it from happening. I’d certainly test the airbag pull a couple of times before committing to this mod in the field.

  80. Michael April 15th, 2018 12:54 pm

    Do you have a good site in Europe to by the mamut airbag system
    I am going to ski in norway in June and would like to buy with the carbon cartridge

  81. Lou Dawson 2 April 15th, 2018 3:30 pm

    Hi Michael, Sport Conrad is the usual suspect… Lou

  82. michael germain April 15th, 2018 4:59 pm

    Great looks like under 100 euros
    I think the will ship to Svalbard for me
    by the way AWESOME PRICE FOR THE 30L at backcounty

  83. Michael April 15th, 2018 5:58 pm
    This site will ship to USA for $100 for the cartridge
    Do you think it will have a problem getting here?

  84. atfred April 15th, 2018 7:21 pm

    I had mine shipped by snowinn ( last month to Denver, and it arrived with no problem.

  85. See April 15th, 2018 8:02 pm

    Re. the 30 pack, I’m tempted, but I can’t deal with such small volume for anything but resort skiing. I know that I carry more stuff than most people, but I just can’t bring myself to ditch the repair kit, extra insulation, shell/bivy, extra food, water, fire, batteries, etc..

  86. michael April 16th, 2018 4:05 am

    Have you traveled on the airlines with it

  87. Lou 2 April 16th, 2018 8:49 am

    Atfred and all, as I think I mentioned somewhere in comments, we did get a cylinder successfully shipped from Snowinn, then we tried it again and the shipment got blocked. In the latter case we did not get charged. It seems that some luck is involved, and it’s worth trying. Lou

  88. atfred April 16th, 2018 12:05 pm

    See, I’ve found the 30L mammut well designed and pretty spacious, especially with the carbon cylinder.
    Of course, it depends on how big your stuff is, but I used it this cold Sat in Colo and was able to get everything in, including skins, ski crampons, boot crampons, and extra layers. The length of the pack even allows me to get my small ice axe inside, if need be.

    Michael, no, I have not travelled with the airbag & cylinder on airlines, and am hesitant to do so.

  89. See April 16th, 2018 8:17 pm

    I guess bottom line for me is that another 10/15 liters adds very little weight to the pack but makes everything easier. Personally, I can’t see going with less than 40 liters for bc use. It would probably be a different story if I didn’t like to stow my helmet in the pack. Helmet carriers are a pita in my experience, and there is no downside to having a bit more volume except the temptation to carry more stuff.

  90. Mammut Dave April 17th, 2018 6:56 am

    The adage “if you bring it you’ll need it” is true! it’s a very slippery slope…

    I can definitively say that every Mammut pack is actually measured volume–they use 1cc opaque white marbles to fill the pack, and then dump those into a vessel to be weighed–since each marble has a known weight, it’s easy to calculate the volume of the pack to the nearest 1cc. I am not aware that this is ever fudged even as much as 1l. I can also confirm that when you hear the sound of marbles being spilled in the Mammut hardware business unit followed by a loud “SHEIZ!”, you know someone is measuring packs… 🙂

    Anyway, I have found that certain pack layouts just seem easier to stuff for me and simply seem bigger as a result. For this reason my favorite pack is a 30l traditional top-loading pack, and I easily fit goggles, several food bars, spare basket, repair kit, first aid kit, a thermos, sunscreen, my wallet, a 2-way radio with a hand-mic, my 115mm skins, shovel, probe and saw, compass and map, snow study kit and field book, a mid-weight down hooded jacket, spare gloves and light hat, my shell for when I’m skinning and not wearing it and my helmet inside the pack, along with a few other doodads that I probably forgot. That is a comfortably full load that, once I figured out where everything goes, packs easily even in the field. We ski a lot of 27-degree trees around here so I often dont even bring the avy gear as there usually isnt any terrain nearby, and in that case it’s downright roomy. I want a bigger pack when I add crampons or climbing gear, my expedition-weight down jacket, etc. I can’t quite fit all of this into the light removable airbag though, which is only about 28l usable space and has a layout that I don’t think is quite as easy to stuff full as a true top-loader–with this pack I have to use an add-on helmet-holder to attach helmet to the outside of the pack. If you carry just a hair less than me or you have the latest and greatest lightweight equipment then you may find the Light 30l airbag is perfect size, but if you like the extra room like See, or you want to carry your full-size puffy jacket, etc, then it’s probably on the small side…but at that point you have to question whether you’re really being “light” anymore.

  91. Kjetil April 17th, 2018 7:30 am

    With careful packing I have little trouble loading the following items; avy gear, extra base layer, insulating layer, simple repair kit and simple first aid kit, ski crampons, gloves, goggles, one liter Nalgene bottle and some snacks. This is always in my pack. I still have room for crampons, glacier gear (rope on the outside) and another half liter bottle. Helmet goes on the outside always with add on holder from Mammut. I think I could also fit a simple shelter (like the Rab superlite shelter 2).

    Of course if you’re the guy that always brings your expedition down jacket and a large wind sack and huge repair kits and first aid kits, the 30L won’t cut it. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what this pack is designed for. Dakine has a 45L RAS ready pack that could be for the ones that need that amount of space.

    Throughout the years the volume I need have shrunk as I’ve gradually replaced my kit with items that pack smaller and weighs less. I don’t feel like I’ve cut corners or compromised safety.

  92. Aaron April 17th, 2018 8:36 am

    I’m with see, for cold mid /north latitude short winter days I find 45l optimal. The only reason I’ve hung off getting an airbag so far is size and zipper packs drive me nuts and the light options are too small. Hoping g3 partners with alp ride on a slightly larger bag with the capacitor system

  93. See April 17th, 2018 8:59 am

    Dave, I very much appreciate the excellent information and help you so generously share here, but I am living proof that you won’t necessarily need it if you bring it. I carry a lot of stuff I never, or almost never use. But it’s worth it to me to have that extra layer when the weather proves colder than anticipated or another member of the group is going hypothermic, not to mention an unanticipated bivouac. I readily admit I carry more gear than necessary, but I think the minimalist approach may be getting a bit overdone to the point where people are depending on guides or helicopters instead of hauling an extra pound or two.

  94. Aaron April 17th, 2018 9:12 am

    To build off see, I was part on a heli evacuation this winter to grab a snowmobiler with a suspected spinal injury. Poor guy spent 4 hours in minus 20 Celsius and we got him him back with 2 min to aviation twighlight. Made me reflect again that especially with am injury Spending a night out in that without my insulated pants and down plus a good silky saw and micro pot to heat hot water bottles would be nasty. As temps and daylight increase I start shedding gear and by spring have a pack typical to most people. Early season weight training?

  95. Lou Dawson 2 April 17th, 2018 9:52 am

    Aaron, indeed, a night out is very possible. Our local SAR teams have fast response ground pounders who, if conditions are reasonably safe, will make every effort to reach someone in such a situation, and bring overnight gear. But they can’t always get there. As much of our ski touring is below timberline, my main line of defense is to carry a reliable fire starting kit. I’ve used it two or three times for overnight forced bivouacs, fortunately with no injuries. Lou

  96. See April 17th, 2018 7:49 pm

    SAR teams, PLBs, helicopters, etc. are great and very much appreciated. However, I can’t help thinking there is some sort of parallel with self driving cars. In 10 years will people still be able to parallel park?

  97. See April 17th, 2018 8:04 pm

    And, although I like to believe I could build a fire and/or a rudimentary snow cave under challenging conditions, I still like having a warm puffy and hard shells

  98. atfred May 26th, 2018 5:41 pm

    Regarding airbag gas cylinders, do you think it’s a good idea to disconnect the cylinder before storing the bag for the summer?



  99. Mammut Dave May 29th, 2018 7:29 am

    That would be on page 15 of the user manual:

    9.4 Storage
    Store your Mammut airbag in a cool, dry place.
    Remove the cartridge if you intend to store the airbag
    for a long time. Store your cartridges in a cool, dry
    place. Use the cartridge cover and original packaging
    to store cartridges.

  100. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2018 8:19 am

    Thanks Dave

  101. atfred May 29th, 2018 4:56 pm

    yes, Dave, much appreciated

  102. Taco October 16th, 2018 11:47 am

    Have you or anyone had any luck with other retailers shipping the carbon cylinders to the US? I was going to make an attempt via Snowinn however they are sold out (again).

  103. Mike October 16th, 2018 12:37 pm

    Yes I did get a carbon cartridge shipped to USA address this year
    Cotswold in england $92

  104. Mike October 16th, 2018 12:40 pm

    Also barrabes
    The issue is traveling on a plane
    I plan on keeping mine in Canada where I mostly go and not bring on the plane

  105. Taco October 16th, 2018 1:12 pm

    Mike – thank you. I just pulled the trigger. Guess we will see if it works.

  106. Taco October 18th, 2018 7:41 am

    Cotswold would not ship to the USA and refunded my money. Bummer.

  107. mike October 18th, 2018 7:56 am

    i will double check who shipped it
    i do know if was held in customs for 2 weeks

  108. Mike October 19th, 2018 6:11 am

    It was that shipped to me

  109. Taco October 19th, 2018 11:18 am

    Snowinn now has it in stock and I made the order. Fingers crossed.
    thank you for info Mike.

  110. Josh M December 8th, 2018 10:42 am

    I don’t have perfect data here, but it seems like this this system with the carbon cylinder is the most efficient weight-wise, and might be the only one that could compete with the very new Scott super capacitor systems in that regard. Does anyone care to speculate with way these things will go? I’m wondering if the Scott e1 system gets even lighter over time if it will dominate all of the gas based systems, or if the ultra light gas systems will survive. Basically, I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth the hassle to track down a carbon cylinder in the US. There are more pack options for the Mammut system.

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