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 did. 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, and we had a friend haul one back to North America on a direct flight from Europe, in checked baggage. 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 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.


44 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.

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  Your Comments

  • Ryana: I've never had the heel lifters flip up inadvertently. The brakes work for ...
  • Ryan: Those heel lifters seem to be the only real negative. I wonder if they can...
  • Joe John: Gringo, thanks for sharing the video link. That was special....
  • Rudi: Were the weld nuts epoxied in? I am wondering how you torqued the 4-40s? ...
  • gringo: Here is a video of Herve (in the red pants) doing what he did best, enjoyin...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Gringo, yes, he was a real light for us during industry work such as ISP...
  • gringo: Herve was such a good guy. So passionate about life, his family and his wor...
  • jasper: Thanks Lou. Do you know how to disconect the battery? It looks like there a...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jasper, I've not heard of any problems. When we receive Jetforce and Voltai...
  • Lou Dawson 2: 10 grams for 8 Quiver Killer inserts, so after subtracting somewhat negligi...
  • jasper: Has anybody sent their jetforce through the mail or fedex? Any issues with ...
  • dan kasha: I just skied Miller Softs in deep spring snow at Crystal Mountaib, Wa. 205...
  • Jim Milstein: Lou, I was referring to the threaded thingies glued into the skis into whic...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jim, I just count the boot inserts as part of the boot weight, since most b...
  • Jim Milstein: My black Vipecs (from last year) weigh about 500g each, brakeless, screwles...
  • See: Aside from being an ounce lighter per binding(?), being easier to click int...
  • See: Tecton claimed weight is 550g per pair, no brakes? I’m guessing that’s supp...
  • Tom Gos: So, I purchased the new Mirage walk mode kit to replace the older style one...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks Jim, yeah, I noticed on the Vipec we've got here that you can "cheat...
  • Jim Milstein: Actually, you can adjust further if you don't mind going past the "stop" ma...
  • Jim Milstein: My Black Vipecs have 25mm adjustment for bsl....
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'm working hard on the FAQs, but yeah, some of this info is hard to find. ...
  • Jeff: I am sure I am missing it somewhere do to poor search skills....does anyone...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Shannon, thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed Aaron's post. There ar...
  • Atfred: Was in the valley Blanche two days ago, skied up to point heilbrunner, then...
  • Shane: I just read that this was previously covered . Thanks...
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  • Julia Dubinina: Hey Kyle, Just found your comment - it is April, so not sure if you hav...
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  • Eli: Just a last width point, I find the "98mm" of the Atomic Backland to be ple...

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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.

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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. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error 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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