Scott E1 Supercap Electric Airbag Backpack — Technical Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 8, 2018      

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The so called “incremental” pace of product development? Not in the case of fast moving electric avalanche airbag rucksacks. In just a few short years we’ve got three* players who have quickly pushed the limits, latest being Scott boasting the shiny new Alpride E1 airbag technology — electrically powered by sleek supercapacitors instead of the enormous batteries used by other brands.

We happen to have the Scott Backcountry Patrol AP30 rucksack, equipped with the E1 system, here in the microbe free confines of the WildSnow evaluation laboratory. First look here, then we’ll get this guy out in the mountains on the shoulders of giants. For the sake of our wrist tendons and readability (see note at end of post), we’ll call the pack “AP30” or “Scott AP30,” and we’ll term the capacitor airbag system as “E1” or “E1 supercapacitor.”

(Previous WildSnow.com E1 coverage.)

E1 weighs just under 6 pounds, is said to be a 30 liter sack.

Scott AP30 rucksack equipped with E1 system weighs just under 6 pounds, is said to be a 30 liter sack. As is common with airbag backpacks, I’d call it a “small 30.” Commodious by European standards, adequate for lightweight style North American touring, but a larger pack would probably be desired by a number of readers. Rest assured, the E1 system is easily swapped between packs for which it’s enabled, and we’re certain Scott and others will eventually provide many pack size options that accept the system (AP30 will be only pack with E1 system for 2018-2019).

Backside. I like the AP30 smooth back panel, reasonable strapomania, no ditty bag on the waist belt is a bummer but that can be added.

Backside. I like the smooth snow-agnostic back panel, and reasonable strapomania. No ditty bag on the waist belt is a bummer but can be added aftermarket. We’d like to see minimalist gear loops on the belt as well, but they do add weight and are not essential for perhaps the majority of users. A commenter asked about the belt not having padding. We like that,
idea is to not carry enough weight to need waist padding. But if that’s a deal breaker for you, so be it.

Viewed from the side.

Getting specific to the E1 airbag system. Viewed from the side, system LED indicator lights show through a mesh panel purposed for air ingress during inflation. The LEDs flash too quick to photograph, but are adequately visible. Green for charged and activated.

Closer shot of the panel.

Closer shot of the panel.

AP30 cargo compartment, red case is the E1 inflation mech.

Cargo compartment, red case is the inflation mech.

Top "brain" area has a basic goggle compartment.

AP30 top “brain” area has a basic goggle compartment, shown here with my phone for scale.

Rear panel has several layers of tool and accessory storage.

AP30 rear panel has several layers of tool and accessory storage. If you prefer one simple compartment these can be easily scissored out along with some other redundant fabric layers.

Diagonal ski carry system.

Diagonal ski carry system. Cable loop to left holds ski tails, is internally connected to strap at right which you cinch to tightly hold skis. The concept works nicely,
but needs a tweak (see below).

Scott Backcountry Patrol AP30, loaded.

Loaded.

The only design flaw I could find.

The only design flaw I could find will probably be remedied in the retail version. Ski carry compression strap is anchored on the wrong side of the goggle pocket zipper, needs an internal strap pulling on a stronger area of the pack. What about A-frame carry? You could do it, just as you can carry two vertical skis on the pack sides, but in my opinion either method compromises airbag deployment. Frankly, I’ve never seen any way of strapping skis to an airbag backpack that did not impact an inflating balloon, except perhaps attaching skis in an exaggerated diagonal that keeps them entirely away from the balloon. One important factor in this is how aggressively the airbag inflates, to perhaps compensate for obstructions such as skis or moving snow. In my bench testing, the E1 fan (actually a turbine if you want to get technical) is surprisingly and gratifyingly aggressive.

Main cargo compartment zipper is minimal, thus saving weight, but one grade up in beef might be wise.

Main cargo compartment zipper is minimal, thus saving weight, but one grade up in beef might be wise.

Waist belt buckle inspired confidence.

Waist belt buckle inspired confidence. Leg loop included of course, nothing special, works fine.

Airbag trigger is mechanical, you can swap it to right or left.

Airbag trigger is mechanical, you can swap it to right or left.

Fan and capacitors, amazingly compact.

Fan and capacitors, amazingly compact.

Who would have ever thought that 2 AA batteries could blow up an airbag backpack balloon?

Who would have ever thought that 2 AA batteries could blow up an airbag backpack balloon? They have to first charge the capacitors to do so, takes about 40 minutes, but no lie the entire amount of required electricity can come from those two tiny batteries. In torture testing I actually got two full system charges out of one set AA lithiums, details below.

From Alpride, edited by WildSnow: The E1 Supercap Avalanche Airbag System is the first avalanche airbag that does not use lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries for power. (WildSnow note: This is a big deal, rapid progress.)

The E1 system uses its supercapacitors to store energy in the form of an electrostatic field. Unlike traditional batteries, there is no need to create a chemical reaction to generate energy, allowing the E1 system to release its power faster.

The E1’s supercapacitors offer several advantages over batteries. Most importantly, they are not sensitive to changes in temperature, delivering the same performance at -30 degrees C and +50 degrees C. This saves weight because, unlike batteries, there is no need to boost the supercapacitors to guarantee outstanding performance at low temperatures. (WildSnow note: What are the downsides? At this point we are not sure. Supercapacitors lose charge gradually just as lithium-ion batteries do, only the supercaps deteriorate at a faster rate, hence the use of AA batteries to keep the charge topped off. Perhaps you electronics brains out there have more insights. Comments enabled!)

While batteries tend to wear out after repeated charges, the supercapacitors stay strong. They are guaranteed for 500,000 charging cycles, thus a nearly infinite lifespan in use for an airbag backpack, clearly superior to the several year lifespan of the average battery. What’s more, the SuperCapacitors are considered passive electronic elements, like cameras for example, so there are no restrictions to travel, shipping or storage.

The capacitors can also be charged from standard USB.

The capacitors can also be charged from standard USB. Once the system is charged the batteries can be optionally removed, and the charge will last a minimum of 6 hours (I tested this and the charge showed a green light for about 30 hours, which makes sense as safety device specifications are often quite conservative). I checked the USB port for use as a reverse power supply, sadly no go. When USB power is supplied, it takes priority over AA batteries, thus your expensive lithium AAs won’t get drawn down. See more about this below.

With an electrically charged system, the length of time it remains ready for use when disconnected from charging is called “autonomy.” Both lithium-ion batteries and capacitors gradually lose charge, capacitors at a more rapid rate. With fresh AA batteries, E1 is said to have 2-3 months autonomy. Without batteries, however, they claim a “minimum of 6 hours if green LED is flashing” I experimented and got much more than that, but it’s obvious the AA batteries should be installed during real-world use, thus making the system worry free in terms of how long your charge will last. That said, you can yank the AAs out in an emergency and use them to power a headlamp or whatever, and the system will remain ready for some time (again, Scott claims a minimum of six hours).

The E1 supercapacitor fan and balloon are easily removable, clearly intended for swapping between packs.

The fan and balloon are easily removable, clearly intended for swapping between packs.

Balloon compartment uses the industry standard "birthing zipper" method of stowage and deployment.

Balloon compartment uses the industry standard “birthing zipper” method of stowage and deployment. It’s not uncommon for such zippers to open too easily. I aggressively tested this zipper, it held well. Field testing will be important.

Unpacked E1 balloon. My pet peeves with this, fiddly zippers and balloons that pack like you're stuffing a six pound sack of cherries into a water bottle.

Unpacked balloon. My pet peeves with this, fiddly zippers and balloons that pack like your’e stuffing a six pound sack of cherries into a water bottle. In the case of E1 in AP 30 rucksack, the zipper is easily worked and space adequate, though as always I’d prefer slightly more.

How many inflations per charge? Rated as one. Once you inflate, the LED indicator flashes red, meaning you need to charge. I tortured tested and DID get an extra inflation while LED was flashing red, in other words obtaining two inflations for one charge. Bear in mind that if you have fresh AA batteries in a charged system, and deploy, the batteries will automatically recharge the system in a maximum of 40 minutes. All this is typical in the safety equipment industry, where systems are designed with multiple engineering factors.

Weights:
Alpride E1 airbag system, sans backpack, 1270 grams (2.8 pounds)
(For comparison, the lightest system out there is probably RAS 3.0 unit from Mammut with carbon cartridge, at ~1010 grams.)

Scott Backcountry Patrol AP30 rucksack 2670 grams (5.88 pounds) for pack and airbag engine system combined.

Pack without airbag system, 1,400 grams (3.1 pounds)

Lastly, charge versus inflation tests. I left the AP30 pack powered up for about 48 hours. Without AA batteries installed and the LED eventually flashing orange, I still got an entirely adequate balloon fill. Impressive. Everything I check in terms of this system’s electronics appears to be engineered with an excessive safety margin. Out of curiosity I attempted getting additional full system charges out of one set AA lithium batteries, amazingly, I got _FOUR_ charge and inflation cycles. That’s incredible.

*Note 1, to the best of our knowledge Black Diamond has indeed discontinued Jetforce 1 in that they’ve ceased production and it’s been removed from their order forms. Apparently there are Jetforce packs still in the pipeline, Black Diamond’s website has them listed, as well as Backcountry.com. It would seem to me that with the Alpride E1 system coming on strong for next winter, you might soon find excellent deals on the Jetforce. It’s a heavy pack, but if you don’t mind the weight it works fine and has excellent features. See our extensive Jetforce coverage.

*Note 2, Wildsnow department of marketing spreech official product names:
– Scott backpack product name: Scott Backcountry Patrol AP 30
(Scott likes their name in print as all caps, we’re not going there.)
– Technology: Alpride E1 Airbag Technology

Addendum, words from Alpride E1 system engineer-developer, edited for clarity from Swiss-French translation.

The Alpride E1 design philosophy was to have the lighter, easier and very robust electrical avalanche airbag, pretty close in weight and performance to compressed gas systems, but electrical.

The electronic design is designed to have no wires (can succumb to antenna effect) and no connectors (bad contacts), all the components are directly soldered on the PCB (Print Circuit Board) for example LED, ON/OFF switch, trigger switch, super capacitors are directly welded without any connectors – the trigger is a cable, same as the Alpride 2.0 gas system. The motor cables are screwed on the PCB without connectors.

There no electronics at all outside the PCB. On the PCB, we have a passivation – waterproof layer – to avoid any electrical issues with moisture due to condensation.

Autotest when turning ON, checks 15 points in the electronic: SuperCap, switch, motor, ett.

Inflation: the normal inflation of the balloon is done in 3.2 – 3.4 seconds and the motor turns 6 seconds to have enough reserve. Even if the supercaps are not fully charge (blinking in red) we will allow an inflation and push all the power we have in the supercaps, the philosophy is to inflate all what we can, all the time. (WildSnow note: we have observed this to be true, more, we did five full charge and inflation cycles with one set of AA batteries.)

As the balloon and non-return valve is airtight, we don’t need to pulse air after these 6 seconds. The argument that pulsing air input works to compensate for a small hole or tear works during tests at home. But in real life use, with the pressure of snow in an avalanche a torn or holed balloon will deflate in all cases, even if you are pulsing air in the amounts of our current competitors it is difficult or impossible to overcome a leak in the balloon.

Inflation pressure: to have the maximum of static pressure and force at the beginning of inflation – to ensure that the balloon can go out of the backpack and inflate, even during an avalanche – we are turning at 60’000 RPM during 2.5 seconds and we reduce the speed after 2.5 seconds to 40’000 RPM, in order to reduce the pressure inside the balloon: to much pressure is not useful anymore at the end of inflation and causes extra wear and tear on the system.

There is no measure of the balloon inside pressure with sensors, to have a robust system we don’t use sensor (in aircraft and even automobiles for that matter, sensors are a main source of problems) and we are always applying the same inflation cycle.

After inflation, the balloon remains inflated minimum 3 minutes (following the CE norm) but it stay inflated longer, there is no deflation process, it’s exactly the same as gas systems. Due to gradual leakage through the fan system the E1 Balloon does gradually deflate to a small degree and would do so more readily if actually buried and under pressure, but this is not a design feature we calibrate or specify.

The supercapacitors are electronic passive elements, there is thus no restriction for travelling, shipping and storage. In our opinion this is the first airbag 100% compatible to e-business, you can ship it worldwide with Fedex, UPS — with no warning labels or special considerations. Impossible with gas cartridges or large Li-Ion batteries.

The E1 system is CE/TüV certified and we have passed all the very difficult tests without any problems.

The E1 is certified for 50 inflations. We have to make 100 inflations for certify 50, thus proving a good engineering safety margin. Better, we have a sample of the E1 system in testing for months and have done 10,000 inflations (without backpack) without any problems or undue wear, unbelievable.

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Comments

62 Responses to “Scott E1 Supercap Electric Airbag Backpack — Technical Review”

  1. Paul S. February 8th, 2018 1:51 pm

    Any sense of the price on this yet, Lou?

  2. Rar0 February 8th, 2018 1:55 pm

    Any news on automatic deflation when burried (to create air chamber) ? Thanks !

  3. Paddymc February 8th, 2018 3:18 pm

    I too want to know about auto deflation. To me, it’s one of the biggest upsides to the Jetforce system.

  4. Eric steig February 8th, 2018 9:11 pm

    Is this the same pack G3 will be selling with G3 logos?

  5. uysy February 9th, 2018 1:25 am

    Paul S – about 900 EUR / 1100 USD
    About automatic deflation – i don’t think so. Capacitors will inflate airbag with all stored energy.

    Eric – do you have url ?
    Alpride E1 will be available only for Scott backpack (in 2018 season) but for 2019..Black Diamond maybe ?:D.

  6. Lou 2 February 9th, 2018 6:56 am

    Hi all, am working on this today, thanks for the reminders that I needed a few more factoids in there! BTW, in my bench testing I just got two full system charges out of one set AA lithium batteries! Going for a third. BTW, our test pack model is “Backcountry Patrol AP30,” groaner of a name, we’ll shorten to AP30 in the text. More soon. Lou

  7. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 7:10 am

    Scott press release info says AP30 pack is 900 euros MSRP, as comparison Sport Conrad shows the Pieps Jetforce 24 liter going for 800 euros, though not in stock.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 7:21 am

    I tested for “automatic deflation” to be sure about behavior. E1 does NOT have a fan assisted automatic deflation cycle. It does show a reduction in bag pressure a short time after inflation, and does slowly deflate though probably not fast enough for deflation to be a factor in how the pack would behave in an avalanche burial. “Probably” is the operative word, as even a reduction in bag pressure could allow a buried person to move their head a bit, perhaps helping prevent formation of ice mask and also allowing for better effusion of carbon dioxide while breathing (remember, the problem in burial isn’t lack of air, it’s getting enough flow around your head and face so you’re rid of poisonous carbon dioxide).

    As for “automatic deflation” being a desirable design feature. I don’t mind it, but I don’t regard it as in any way a deal breaker. I have seen no studies that prove it would actually work in an avalanche burial in terms of giving you more time before suffocation. It’s like this stuff about various airbag shapes protecting your head from trauma, all theory. In my opinion, we should focus on what avalanche airbags are supposed to do and have been extensively tested for over three decades: keep you from getting buried.

    Following from Alpride E1 Supercap documentation:
    In compliance with the EN?16716 standard “Certification of Avalanche Airbags”, the airbag must remain inflated for a minimum of three minutes. An avalanche airbag is not a life vest; therefore, it is normal that it does not remain inflated at full pressure for more than three minutes. …The compressor will operate for six seconds and then stop. The airbag will remain inflated for a minimum of three minutes and then slowly begin to deflate.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 7:27 am

    G3 will indeed sell a re-branded Scott pack with the Alpride compressed gas airbag system, Scott has exclusive on E1 Supercap for a “year.” Thus, G3 will not sell packs with Supercap during 2018-2019 season, though they may do so after that. Lou

  10. Phil February 9th, 2018 7:31 am

    How many inflations per charge-up?

  11. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 8:03 am

    Paul, I’ve been testing that before adding info to post. I finished most testing this morning, here is what I added:

    How many inflations per charge? Rated as one. Once you inflate, the LED indicator flashes red, meaning you need to charge. I tortured tested and DID get an extra inflation while LED was flashing red, in other words obtaining two inflations for one charge. Bear in mind that if you have fresh AA batteries in a charged system, and deploy, the batteries will automatically recharge the system in a maximum of 40 minutes. All this is typical in the safety equipment industry, where systems are designed with multiple engineering factors. In other words, I got two inflations instead of one, and I’m seeing the system charge from AA batteries much faster than 40 minutes.

    Also, so far I got two charges from one set of AA lithium batteries!

    Lou

  12. uysy February 9th, 2018 8:28 am

    Lou i love this:
    ” It’s like this stuff about various airbag shapes protecting your head from trauma, all theory.”

    This is so true…but …marketing?! 😉

  13. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 8:37 am

    Marketing has a huge influence, but you never know how much it influences the actual design of products, or just comes after… Some companies really have a problem with this, in that the marketing people get involved in designs, such as changing the colors of plastics in a binding and causing it to be weaker. Sometimes the whole thing is a big bad mess.

    It’s stating the obvious though worth writing, in any consumer product industry the occurrence of “featuritis” is always lurking. At worst, that’s when marketing pretty much makes up “features” based on inherent elements in a product, for example saying a white smartphone has the added feature of “solar heating resistance.” But equally as bad, sometimes actual features are added and touted simply to set a product apart from the competition. The ski industry is not immune from all this. Buyer beware.

    Lou

  14. justin February 9th, 2018 8:44 am

    No hip belt padding at all on the waist strap? I don’t know the right terminology, but hopefully you understand what I mean. That sounds like it wouldn’t carry as well to me. I know that’s kind of a thing on super light packs, but on an airbag pack (even a fairly light one) sounds not. All in the name of weight savings I guess

  15. Patrick O February 9th, 2018 9:02 am

    Lou have you tested this sucker at low temperatures yet?

  16. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 9:11 am

    This is blowing my mind, I just got a THIRD charge and subsequent inflation from the same pair of AA lithium batteries. Lou

  17. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 9:13 am

    Patrick, that’s next. I’m not too worried. Supercapacitors have very little if any sensitivity to cold, and the AA lithium Energizer batteries are good that way as well. Out chest freezer is full of a friend’s elk, so I’ll have to find another freezer (smile). Lou

  18. Matt Kinney February 9th, 2018 11:21 am

    There have been quite a few incidents where airbags were not worn properly since they came to market. This is frustrating I would think for designers and those who do SAR.. Perhaps a system that only “arms” if worn properly would be a good thing?. Buckle sensors or alarms like a car seat belt? While weight is a logical issue to focus on, making sure it’s worn properly needs to be looked at closer either in design or education at point of sale.

    Tks lou for being my ever present OR show. If the outdoor industry was serious about the current threat to public lands and the climate, they would move the OR show overseas, not down the street.

  19. Yellow Snow February 9th, 2018 12:20 pm

    Matt, please explain how moving the OR show overseas would prove a point regarding public lands.

    Public lands are a much more rare idea depending on where you define as “overseas.”

  20. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 1:51 pm

    Mind blown, I GOT A 4TH CHARGE AND INFLATION FROM THE SAME SET OF AA BATTERIES. This is weird, in a good way. Lou

  21. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 1:56 pm

    Yellow, not to speak for Matt, but my interpretation is that moving from Utah to Colorado as a political statement, where public lands are also threatened in various ways, is somewhat ludicrous. I’m not entirely of that take myself, but tend to lean that way rather than thinking Colorado is somehow sainted compared to Utah. After all, by “public lands” we’re usually talking about Federal land, and it’s subject to the same laws anywhere you are in the country, for the most part anyhow, and here in Colorado we have our fair share of gas drilling and questionable privatizing land exchanges, all stuff I’m sure Patagonia doesn’t prefer… Lou

  22. Frame February 9th, 2018 2:14 pm

    In defence of the marketers, if you let the product folks get to carried away, you get something no one wants. You need a team effort

  23. Aaron February 9th, 2018 2:22 pm

    Of someone builds a 45 life pack adaptable to this system I’m on. 30 like just not enough for my gear choices.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 2:27 pm

    Some clarifications I’ll work into the body copy:

    Official Scott nomenclature:

    Pack is “SCOTT Backcountry Patrol AP 30”
    Airbag tech is “Alpride E1 Airbag Technology”

    I simply can’t bring myself to use all caps and those 4 word constructs in exposital prose any more than a few times, so they’re shortened in the blog post.

    Also note that during 2018-2019 sales season the E1 airbag tech will only be available in the AP 30 backpack, and is licensed exclusively to Scott for a 12 month period. We expect to see the E1 technology used by other brands after that, as well as other Scott packs become available that accept E1. But that’s just guessing.

    Lou

  25. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2018 2:29 pm

    Frame, that depends, the most successful ski touring binding in history was created by a product guy who got carried away (smile). But overall I’d agree, the team has to work together, which means the marketers have to listen to the engineers, and they all have to listen to the skiers. Lou

  26. Frame February 9th, 2018 2:46 pm

    Or a shark nose…

    No offence dynafit, I haven’t tried it, so am more aiming for moderate amusement

  27. Matus February 10th, 2018 10:02 am

    What is the weight of the backpack without the inflating technology and the airbag (if it is removable). Or, better, what is the weight of the inflating system. Just curious if the total weight can be shaved by using thinner/lighter materials for the backpack.

  28. tahoemountain February 10th, 2018 10:07 am

    In response to people’s questions about retail price, The Scott pack will be $1100 USD and no, G3 is using the old Scott Alpride system with the gas, not this new system.

  29. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2018 11:02 am

    Thanks Tahoe, I did mention the G3 infos above and just clarified it, but good to get the MSRP up and center.

  30. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2018 11:04 am

    Amazing, I just got my FIFTH inflation charged from the same set of lithium AA batteries. Is this some sort of electrical voodoo? Giving up now, I don’t want to put wear on the motor or something due to too little current. I’ll eventually do these same test in the cold sink, but I’m not expecting to be surprised. Knowing the cold performance of AA lithiums I’d imagine we’ll still get 2 or 3 charges from a set. Lou

  31. Kristian February 10th, 2018 2:23 pm

    5x – Super amazing!

    Flying out of Boston Logan yesterday, noticed someone shouldering a battery powered airbag pack as carryon. Was envious.

    Hope that there will be a capacitor mid volume alpine rucksack available. And without huge garish company name graphics.

  32. Matus February 10th, 2018 9:04 pm

    What is the weight of E1 unit only?

  33. Lou Dawson 2 February 11th, 2018 6:32 pm

    Sorry Matus, your comments got held in moderation box for some reason. The weights are in previous review from OR show, I added them in above, and below in this comment.

    Alpride E1 airbag system, 1270 grams (2.8 pounds)

    Scott Backcountry Patrol AP30 rucksack 2670 grams (5.88 pounds) for pack and airbag engine system combined.

    Pack without airbag system, 1,400 grams (3.1 pounds)

    Pack weight could probably be reduced about 100 grams with slicing and dicing. It’s already nicely minimalist. I’d cut the zippered jingusis off the shoulder straps and rig up a cool little clip to disable the trigger, much easier than zipping it in and out, and I’d cut out all the interior partitions, shorten the waist belt, a few other things. Lou

  34. Matus February 12th, 2018 5:34 am

    Lou, thank you for approving my comment.

    Just to make it easier to compare with the current benchmark when it comes to weight:

    The RAS 3.0 unit from Mammut is 700g + the carbon cartridge appro. 310g, i.e. 1010g total airbag system. In the case of the backpack of the same weight, it should be possible to make the E1 based backpack in the total weight of 2400g. And that sounds good enough to me.

  35. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2018 6:01 am

    Hi Matus, indeed, and I should probably add those numbers in to the review weights section as a comparison. Will do so now.

  36. atfred February 12th, 2018 8:58 am

    Hi Lou,

    How do you disable the trigger with a clip? On my Mammut 30L RAS 3.0, the trigger test “clicks” whether the handle is in line or perpendicular.

    Also, while I really like the 30L, I do find it a bit long, feeling like it rides a little below my hips. Any ideas on how to alleviate this, other than packing heavier stuff higher up in the pack?

    Thanks much,

    fred

  37. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2018 11:03 am

    In terms of disabling trigger, I’m looking at the Scott-Alpride, I think there is a way to install a little piece of string or cable that clips in such a way as to keep the handle from getting pulled. Perhaps so on the Mammut, but I’ve not been fooling around with it recently. I’ll look. The Mammut trigger folds up nicely but can still be pulled if folded. I don’t like fiddling with those zipper compartments every time I go through a willow patch, there has to be a better way. Lou

  38. Matteo February 12th, 2018 2:17 pm

    Any chance to fit this This E1 system in actual alpride scott? The baloon seems exactly the same

  39. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2018 2:30 pm

    Matteo, it’ll probably be in a lot of packs eventually, but according to Scott it’ll only be offered in one backpack for 2018-2019, the AP30 described above. Lou

  40. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2018 10:32 am

    Added a major “interview” style infogram to the end of this post, from the E1 system engineer-designer.

  41. Pablo February 14th, 2018 10:52 am

    Reading the new info, super interesting, Thanks a lot!!
    He said that E1 is certified for 50 inflations.
    That means the capacitors have to be replaced after 50 inflations??
    I know 50 are good bunch of inlfations but I’m thinking about rental stations or clubs…

  42. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2018 11:18 am

    Pablo, no, that just means the technology is “guaranteed” to work that many times. Even gas systems probably need such a rating, though it’s probably high enough to not be something needing exposition. In terms of rentals or clubs, I’d agree it would be nice if the number was higher. But can’t have everything… beefing up the system would probably make it heavier. Personally, I’m pretty confident in that I have a rig with an unknown number of inflations, and I’d send it out for testing in avalanche terrain, though I’ll eventually swap with Scott for a rig of known use numbers. Lou

  43. Paul S. February 14th, 2018 2:38 pm

    I can’t speak specifically to the lifetime calculations they did here, but I am an EE, and I have done these sorts of calculations on my designs. The certification for only 50 cycles scares me. I want to be able to practice with it 10 times before I ever take it out. That’s the whole point of using an electric system! I am glad that they are testing it over 10000 inflations, but that should be their design goal, not a freak occurrence. I hope that customers such as Scott push them to certify it for at least 1000 inflation cycles.

  44. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2018 4:25 pm

    Paul, I’d like to see it more than 50, but 100 would seem reasonable, or whatever level they could go to without an increase in weight. The problem with the other two electronic systems IMHO is they biased the engineering too far in the direction of durability, etc while compromising weight. For example, Arcteryx in all my testing was nice, but seemed way over-built. They could make an Alpride that would certify to 1,000 inflation and charge cycles, but what if the backpack with system weighed 9 pounds? Back to square one. Lou

  45. Bruno Schull February 23rd, 2018 7:55 am

    I just rented an airbag pack during a ski holiday. This is the first time I have skied with one. Thankfully, I had no occasion to test it. I do have some observations:

    1) It was an Alpride something or other, rebranded as a Millet ski backpack. It weighed what it weighed. Not too heavy, but not to light either. Glad I was using it for lift accessed side piste and in bounds off piste. For that use the weight was just fine.

    2) The trigger handle was really inaccessible, small, and awkwardly shaped, and I immediately felt that, in an emergency, it would be hard to pull. I am tall, and most packs sit high on my back. The shoulders straps are also high around my shoulders. Therefore, when I unzipped the little compartment and got the handle into the “ready” position, it rested somewhere near my shoulder or clavicle–it would require a real cross body motion and a high reach to grab. Also the handle was small with sharp edges. It was difficult to grab with gloves, and with mittens would have been nearly impossible. If I owned that pack, I would definitely modify the grip. for example, I would take a piece of appropriate diameter PVC tube, cut a slot in one side to about the middle of the tube, slide that over the handle, making the handle larger diameter and longer and smoother, and then duct tape over the slot to keep it together. I’m sure there are much more elegant methods, but I’m surprised so little though appears to have been given to this rather vital piece of the system.

    3) I had big doubts about whether or not to rent the pack at all. I was not thinking about weight or the price of the rental. Rather, I was wondering if it would encourage me to take more risks. I do think there is truth to this perspective. But, at the same time, I do ski these side piste runs every year, sometimes alone, sometimes with my wife. You can really go in circles with the mental component of this. For example, wearing the pack almost “makes the decision for you” or “nudges” you toward deciding to take a side piste or off piste run, instead of just skiing down the piste. At the same time, I found that simply having the pack on, getting the handle ready, connecting the waist belt and so forth, made me more aware of my surroundings, the slope angle, the terrain above and below, the snow conditions, the consequences, and so on. At the end of the day, whatever decision you make, the pack adds a margin of security. My wife and decided to invest in two packs for next season that we will use whenever we are skiing side/off piste. We live in Switzerland, so we will probably buy some of the light Mammut airbag packs.

  46. Marc February 28th, 2018 3:41 am

    “There have been quite a few incidents where airbags were not worn properly since they came to market. This is frustrating I would think for designers and those who do SAR.. Perhaps a system that only “arms” if worn properly would be a good thing?. Buckle sensors or alarms like a car seat belt? While weight is a logical issue to focus on, making sure it’s worn properly needs to be looked at closer either in design or education at point of sale.”

    This happened for years in paragliding and hang gliding , people forgot to fasten the leg straps and slid off the harness after take off.
    Solved in pretty much any PG/HG harness on the market nowadays, you cannot fasten the waist strap without using the leg strap T buckle.
    Many of this solutions are ultralight for Hike & Fly harnesses.Easy to apply to Avy Backpacks.
    A french guide told me last season that the leg strap is critical for survival in an avy, a friend of his was dug out wth the pack all the way up his torso, the leg strap probably saved him.
    https://goo.gl/images/i6FQDo

  47. Lou Dawson 2 February 28th, 2018 6:51 am

    Hi Marc, the problem with compliance, with leg strap use, is a really good example of how standards can fail. The CE “standards” for airbag packs are strict, with some stuff that sounds truly ridiculous, such as freezing the pack in a sheet of ice, and then on the other hand they could specify an integrated waist belt and leg strap, and do not. I have to say, I would not have any problem with an airbag pack that forced me to use the leg strap. Moreover, if a user had good reason not to need this, such a thing could probably be disabled with an easy mod. Airbag packs are not a panacea, in fact they’re sadly misconceived by the skiing public in terms of the amount of safety they add — misuse is part of the reason they don’t add more safety than they do, statistically.

    Another peeve of mine is I think virtually all the handle-trigger systems are a bit ridiculous in terms of ergonomics. It’s like they were designed in someone’s living room, over a cup of hot wine.

    Lou

  48. Marc February 28th, 2018 8:36 am

    If the CE has set standards then any hope for logical evolution is lost 🙂

    I agree on the awful ergonomics…weird thing is my 10 year old ABS had a perfect handle, wonderfully positioned and with a quick and easy safety to avoid a clown act on lift served terrain or a forest.
    My superlight Mammut RAS has a terrible handle,badly positioned and requires both hands to get from safe to ready.
    Are we evolving backwards?

  49. Lou Dawson 2 February 28th, 2018 8:56 am

    Marc, I wholeheartedly agree.

    BTW, it should be said that one of the huge advantages of the electronic packs is you can have a larger handle that might be prone to accidents, but you get a second chance. From what I hear, accidental deployments are actually not uncommon.

    Lou

  50. Kristian February 28th, 2018 9:56 am

    My experience of many products is that the 1.0 version is the most congruent and thought out. Typically seems like the original designer knew exactly what they were trying to create.

    Later, after cost savings staff layoffs and off shoring, others get involved with modifying the original design who have no clue about all of the design’s original assumptions, reasoning, and actual use of the product.

  51. Chris July 25th, 2018 2:52 pm

    This pack is becoming available in the US soon, and I’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on an airbag pack. I’m thinking now is the time. Any follow up thoughts from your season of use?

  52. James Brocklehurst August 6th, 2018 8:47 am

    This certainly seems to be a great system. With a number of companies bringing out new packs in a year’s time, do you think it will be easy to switch the system between packs. Could you take it out of the Scott pack and fit it into the G3 pack for example?

  53. James Brocklehurst August 20th, 2018 12:12 pm

    Will the E1 base unit be transferable into newer packs as they are released. Is the way they fix the base unit to the pack going to be universal?

  54. Lou Dawson 2 August 20th, 2018 12:22 pm

    James, I was told yes on that and it certainly appears to be so. The word is that Scott has an exclusive for this coming sales season, then the floodgates open. Rumor is that Black Diamond for example will incorporate the technology into at least one airbag pack. Lou

  55. Mike September 1st, 2018 8:35 am

    So – keep my Arcteryx Voltair, or sell it and buy this new bag? Scott bag is lighter, but is the quality up there? Thanks!

  56. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2018 9:35 am

    Mike, as far as I can tell the Scott quality is good to go. But you never know for sure. The Arcteryx sack is quite a bit different, clearly much more waterproof and thicker fabric I’d assume is more durable. The plumbing and mechanicals, however seem similar in terms of beef. As illustrated here in numerous blog posts, the Arcteryx battery is overkill in most situations, but clearly beefy! One thing to keep in mind is the Arcteryx has been consumer vetted, the Scott has not. Lou

  57. Mike September 2nd, 2018 4:35 pm

    Thanks Lou. Good point about the vetting, and I have good faith in Arcteryx’s quality. I’ll probably stick with what I’ve got and try not to complain about the extra 2 pounds of weight 🙂 I really appreciate all of your research and writing.

  58. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2018 4:59 pm

    I can testify that Arcteryx went to a HUGE effort to produce a quality item. Yeah, it’s a bit heavy, but it works and should be very durable. Quite water resistant as well. Enjoy. Visit WildSnow often!

    P.S., to be fair, we did pass the Scott pack around quite a bit last winter. It got some use, but not an enormous amount. People are always tentative about pre-retail safety gear, as they should be (especially electric demo fan packs, since they do have a lifespan). But the Scott is hanging here next to me and it looks fine, and every time we fire it, works like a champ.

    Lou

  59. bruce October 11th, 2018 2:32 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I am debating between the E1 and the Alpride 2 gas cannister system. I am comparing pictures of both systems in Scott 30L packs.

    The E1 looks to me to take up much more room in the pack compared to the gas cannister system. Is this correct?

  60. Lou Dawson 2 October 11th, 2018 10:51 pm

    Hi Bruce, that’s a good thing to pay attention to as these packs do get small when the balloon plumbing is present. I’m not sure of the actual volume comparison between the two systems, as they are shaped quite a bit differently. I’m not in the exalted presence of both at the moment (am still traveling, attending ISSW Innsbruck as well as getting an insider view of Dynafit technical boot development process (secret at this time, nice backstory). My guess is that the volume debit is similar, but the actual shape of the guts is quite a bit different. The E1 guts are a blocky structure that you have to work around during packing, while the gas system is “flatter” and in my recollection blends better with typical packing for backcountry skiing. In my case, either system in a 30 liter sack would be fine, though I’d probably need to strap a bit of stuff on the outside if I was glacier skiing or going overnight to a hut. Main thing with the E1 in my opinion is that while I’m super excited about it and will use it, bear in mind that choosing it is “early adopter” action at its most extreme. If you do go with it, I would test it regularly, though not so much as to wear it out, and pay close attention to the durability of all the parts and peices as it goes through the winter of use. Alpride and Scott do a wonderful job of bringing this all to retail, but man it is a complex highly technical challenge, makes producing ski bindings look like wood carving. Lou

  61. James Brocklehurst October 12th, 2018 3:40 am

    Hi Lou,
    How easy is it to strap kit to the outside. Would you be able to fix a rope and axe to the outside of the pack without affecting the inflation. I assume being able to carry skis aswell is a stretch too far.
    Cheers
    J

  62. David Polivy October 16th, 2018 2:13 pm

    The new Scott packs are hitting retail shelves right NOW! We got our first 2 in at Tahoe Mountain Sports and have been playing around quite a bit with them. Impressive and just as we remember seeing them last winter when we first got a glimpse.
    They are for sale at our Amazon store: https://amzn.to/2ylFj9F

    Or, call the shop if you want to purchase. We will offer all Wildsnow readers a 5% discount, but be sure to mention that when you call in your order. I know its small, but margin is razor thin on these beauties.





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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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