Mammut Ride RAS 30L Airbag Pack — First Look Review

Post by blogger | December 12, 2011      
Backcountry skiing avalanche airbag backpacks.

Airbag backpacks.

I’m excited that Mammut, a large and highly respected outdoor company, is creating an avalanche airbag pack of their own. They recently unveiled their Ride RAS 22 and 30 liter packs using the RAS airbag system licensed from Snowpulse (Mammut has since bought the Snowpulse brand). What you get is a solid pack along the lines of Mammut’s popular Nirvana rucksack combined with the excellent RAS airbag system. It works exactly like the previously reviewed Snowpulse RAS 35, but with different pack features. Mammut recently sent me the 30 liter model to try for a week. I only got out once with it, but I was able to get a pretty good idea of how much I like it: A lot.

Early season turns with the new Ride RAS 30. You can see the trigger handle hanging in front of my armpit.

At 6.83 lbs, the Ride RAS 30 is one of the lightest airbag packs available for its 30 liter size, and with a very friendly price point of about $874 (including cylinder), it is far less costly than some of the competition. The RAS airbag system is a favorite of mine. As I’ve already spent time explaining RAS in other posts, I’ll focus on the pack features in this quick review. For more info on the RAS, see the Snowpulse RAS 35 review. This is a self refillable system and very user friendly. See the Snowpulse/Mammut 2.0 refill guide for more info. The airbag can be swapped into other RAS compatible packs and the trigger handle and leg loop are similar.

Mammut airbag RAS backpack

Clamshell design opens completely, revealing the airbag pouch (red on far left), air cylinder (partly zipped up in its pouch), hydration bladder pouch, and a small odds and ends pocket with a key clip.

The Ride 30 is a clamshell zip panel load style of pack, which is popular with many for ease of access. It’s easy to get to your stuff, as the main zip runs nearly all the way around, allowing for complete access. Points to Mammut for including a shovel and probe pocket that opens large enough to not have to struggle to get the shovel in and out. Also included is a goggle pocket, which is a little on the small side but still a nice place to put your goggles. Lined goggle pockets are showing up in more and more packs these days and I’m a fan. No hip belt pockets unfortunately.

Mammut airbag RAS backpack

The avy tool pocket opens completely to easily and quickly access. Sleeves for shovel handle and probe.

You can fit a huge blade, but not quite enough length for the longer handles, even when broken down.

Mammut airbag RAS backpack

Goggle pocket opened. The horizontal straps hold a snowboard vertically or a rope or whatever. Useful for adding a stuff sack for hut trips.

The pack is supported by an aluminum v frame rod, which is separate from the airbag system and could probably be removed. The Ride 30 carries comfortably, keeping the airbag components close to your bag while also allowing you to pack other things close to your back. Many other brands also keep their components close to the back, but their design also leaves lots of empty space against the back. Skis can be carried with a dedicated diagonal system which tucks out of the way. Snowboards are carried vertically with the two horizontal compression straps. No ice axe holder, but I suppose you could carry your skis vertically using the snowboard carry system and use the ski carry loop for an axe if you really needed to.

Diagonal ski carry is accomplished with a dedicated bottom strap and then using the upper horizontal compression strap. This may look like the skis would flop around, but it didn't seem like it would be problem.

The diagonal ski loop can be adjusted to fit any width of ski. It feeds through to the avy tool pocket where it can be adjusted. The loop can be tucked out of the way when not in use.

While I only had this pack for a week, I’m confident that I would have been happy with it as a daily backcountry go-to pack. Hopefully Mammut will have another spare (if they don’t sell all these things as fast as I think they will) for us to perform a full review on over the rest of the season. For weight comparison and pricing on this and other airbag backpacks for backcountry skiing, see the Wildsnow airbag overview. Support Wildsnow and purchase the Ride 30 pack from one of our sponsors.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


84 Responses to “Mammut Ride RAS 30L Airbag Pack — First Look Review”

  1. Mark W December 12th, 2011 11:43 am

    I can see myself with one of these eventually. Yeah, I’m a weight weenie, and my wallet hurts just thinking about one, but this seems to be the next big thing. People are asking about avy airbags at my shop.

  2. naginalf December 12th, 2011 1:56 pm

    Love that top picture, looks like you were having some serious fun. But upon closer inspection, it’s ironic that you’re wearing a $900 backpack, but a pair of $5 welding gloves lol, but then again, that just exemplifies the fact that safety is money well spent. And did Luke Skywalker hand build your poles or what? Not that I’m poking fun, they look awesome. (I’m prolly looking stupid now and they’re high dollar poles I haven’t seen before.)

  3. skis_the_trees December 12th, 2011 2:44 pm

    The paradoxical thing I see is airbag backpack yet no helmet! The helmet will keep you safer in any of the more typical ski traumas, also in an avalanche, and costs only a fraction of what the fancy bag does!

    Anyone who doesn’t wear a helmet routinely should consider how much they have spent on the rest of their ski kit, and decide if risking a traumatic brain injury is worth it. The cost/risk/benefit ratios simply do not add up, ever — helmets are a no-brainer. This is not to pick on Nick specifically, he has given a nice review and great photos to boot 😀 Helmets people, helmets!

  4. Lou December 12th, 2011 3:03 pm

    In avalanches, a lot more people die of suffocation than head injuries. And yes, victims sometimes die of head injuries. Bottom line, first step is to eliminate hazard of suffocation. After that, everything else is gravy and sure, a helmet can help. Sadly, people wearing helmets are dying anyway…

  5. Nick Thompson December 12th, 2011 3:19 pm

    Good point Ski the Trees. I wear a helmet in the area, but have never been able to get myself to wear one in the BC. Which is kind of paradoxically ridiculous if I’m so concerned about safety to wear an airbag pack. As Lou said, the airbag would at least keep me on top, perhaps with a smashed skull though. I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately; perhaps I’ll start experimenting with bringing one. 🙂

    Naginalf- I’m not sure if any gloves exist with better value :). The poles are wrapped with tape for choking up on the uphill side when side hill skinning; it keeps my back straight and happier. All the extra duct and gorilla tape is left over from a week long backcountry trip where I wanted lots of extra just in case.

    All that aside, how about that sweet pack? Maybe it could be improved by adding a helmet carrying mesh…

  6. Aaron Trowbridge December 12th, 2011 4:13 pm

    I am shopping for an airbag pack and recently spent an hour at home with this pack. Lots going for it, but what turned me away was:

    1) not big enough. I know I carry more than your average bloke, but with a ‘guides’ type kit (minimal emergency toboggan rigging, 1st aid, radio etc) there is no way it is fitting in 30L, let alone with a light glacier kit.
    2). G3 probes don’t fit! The euro probes have shorter sections and G3 probes are too long to close the outer pocket. Also, I had a hard time getting my G3 shovel blade in.

    I’m waiting to check out a rumored 40-45 L mammut pack, and am looking at the Snowpulse 45.

  7. Lou December 12th, 2011 4:19 pm

    Well, your stuff either fits or it doesn’t! I’ve been having a bit of trouble fitting some of various packs these days, as I’m trying to go smaller. Length of shovel shaft and probes is definitely an issue. Working on the shovel first, just making a short two-piece extendo shaft if I have the parts kicking around. Lou

  8. Murray December 12th, 2011 9:28 pm

    Thanks for the review, Nick. I’m beginning to think I should have waited before buying an airbag pack. I have a Snowpulse 45 which may just be the most uncomfortable pack I’ve ever owned. It certainly is the heaviest and carries like a sack of potatoes.

    Aside from the weight and the shoulder straps from hell, the waist belt is a nuisance to use and isn’t easily cinched up. It’s good that a company like Mammut that really knows what it is doing has taken over Snowpulse. Things can only get better.

    If I was in the hunt for a 45 litre airbag pack, I’d be inclined to wait for Mammut’s release.

  9. Helmet-free December 12th, 2011 9:53 pm

    What kind of review was that? The only way to really test an airbag like this is to go out and ski the “gnarl” in at least considerable avalanche conditions (if not high or extreme!) With a pack like this, avy forecast will be a thing of the past. IF THERE IS SNOW, I WILL GO!!!
    Leave one of these packs on top of Highlands Bowl after the next significant storm cycle and I will schralp the OB – searching out the conditions that this pack is made for.

  10. David B December 12th, 2011 10:51 pm

    Lou, on the suffocation / helmet debate, I would like you to consider the following.

    I pulled a guy out of a soft snow avi alive (just) who had been under for close to 90 minutes. Big dent in the front of the helmet and a broken nose. He had come to rest face down and the snow had flowed in over the helmet and created a larger air pocket than would have been if he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

    Yes, I know he was a very lucky man but here is a graphic case of the helmet actually providing assistance with air supply. He would most certainly have been dead if not for that helmet either by the impact trauma to the head or the reduced air pocket as a result of the head circumference as opposed to the helmet circumference.

    There is no argument for not wearing a helmet from my perspective inbound or outerbounds.

    Mammut has created a solid product with RAS 30L. I like it, I like it a lot!!

  11. Jernej December 13th, 2011 12:52 am

    Since I bought the original Nirvana Ride pack at the end of last season, upon which this version is based on, I can’t help but wonder if there’s any way it could be converted to include an air bag? You say the RAS module can be swapped between RAS compatible packs but what exactly are the modifications from the original that make it compatible? I can’t tell from the photos but I would presume there’s some sort of burst seam and a way to route the trigger handle.

    Anyway… just wondering since it’s a nice pack with or without the airbag.

    PS the original Ride does have a helmet mesh 🙂

  12. Lou December 13th, 2011 7:24 am

    David, I’m not against helmets. Use one myself on occasion. But I’m against helmet irrationality and evangelism. Helmets are just one small piece of the overall safety equation, and a last resort just as an airbag or beacon is.

    The weirdness with this has reached absurd levels. For example, Aspen Skiing Company now requires all their on mountain employees to wear helmets (the moving ones, anyway, as I don’t see the lift ops wearing helmets, yet). This in spite of no clear study of numbers that indicate Aspen Skiing Company employees were consistently receiving head injuries, nor any sort of study that indicates that current “ski helmets” would prevent all or even a significant percentage of the type of injuries they’re concerned about. (For example, a Colorado skier recently died when he hit a tree, yeah, he was wearing a helmet.)

    Meanwhile, Ski Co employees continue to suffer from knee injuries, but no call has been made for safer ski bindings that would actually make a difference in human welfare. More, I’m sure more Ski Co employees have heart problems than receive head injuries, so why are they not regulating what food their employees eat on the mountain along with making them wear helmets?

    Again, I’m not against helmets. Some skiers should wear the best helmet they can get, whenever they’re skiing downhill. For example, my son Louie is an aggressive skier who should be doing that, and he does so unless he’s doing something like skiing the Muir snowfield with his parents (grin). I wear a helmet when I’m consistently resort skiing, and frequently while doing alpinism and ski mountaineering.

    But it is totally unnecessary for all backcountry skiers to wear helmets all the time, ditto for resort skiers. In fact, I would call the tedious helmet evangelism nothing less than a red herring that obfuscates the real need for things like air bags, smarter skiing, better control of manic skiers on resort slopes, etc. — and the use of the brain and subsequent good judgement.

    This also especially in view of current “ski” helmets, some of which are glorified foam lined hats which offer minimal protection in comparison to true helms such as motorsport models.

    Here is a sad one for you.

    The child was wearing a helmet. Big deal. The resort should have been preventing homicidal maniacs from riding out of control.

    As proof of the “red herring” nature of this whole deal, the media is obsessed with informing us if dead skiers were wearing helmets or not — as if that tells us ANYTHING about how such tragedies could have been prevented.


  13. Brad December 13th, 2011 7:58 am

    First off solid review of what I have found to be a great pack. Things are defiantly moving in the right direction with the entire airbag movement and its great to have mammut in the game. I have also heard through the grapevine rumors of both larger and smaller volume packs in the R.A.S line for both Snowpulse and Mammut next year.

    Murray, I am curious as to whether or not you have a new Guide 45 Snowpulse pack or the older model? Myself and another friend both have the Guide 45, his being the older version and mine this years. Weight difference is quite substantial with the new version being and feeling at least a pound lighter. Also, interesting to find that you don’t like the shoulder straps as the more people I talk to the more I find that people like the beefer shoulder straps as they mold to your shoulders and you carry some of the bag weight over the shoulders rather then pulling against them as in a traditional pack. The packs also come in medium and large and if you don’t size correctly the fit is going to be uncomfortable. Just curious…. maybe you are hauling 30 racks of PBR around in your pack but in that case I don’t think anything would be comfortable.

  14. Lou December 13th, 2011 8:14 am

    Helmet-free, I think you were being funny, but if not, it’s a first-look review. Simple as that.

  15. Nick December 13th, 2011 8:52 am

    This pack doesn’t quite have all the same features as the Nirvana (no back panel access, not quite the same diagonal ski carry, no axe holder, no hydration sleeve), but perhaps that’s ok as it saves some weight. As for converting your Nirvana to use the RAS system, it would require some extensive mods that don’t seem worthwhile. you’d need a breakaway zipper at the top, hook loops to hold the RAS, metal hip belt buckle and leg loop, and I’m sure some general beefing up of the whole harness system. This was also discussed in the Snowpulse RAS review (

    I have used an older model Snowpulse Lifebag that was too small for me and found that it carried comfortably enough. The shoulder straps bothered me at first, but once I stopped thinking about it, I was fine. I think it’s just because it was different than I was used to. Just got a new one and it is lighter. Looking forward to trying it out.

  16. Olaf Metal December 13th, 2011 9:15 am

    Does anyone know if you can buy the pack and get the airbag stuff at a later time?

  17. Nick December 13th, 2011 9:45 am

    From Mammut:
    “This season the only way to buy the pack is as a unit with the airbag. Next fall it will be possible to purchase either an 18, 22 or 30l pack with the airbag, or “airbag-ready” packs as follows: an 18l, an 18l with impact-absorbing foam back and tailbone protector, 22l Ride, 30l Ride, 30l ultralight, 35l or 45l packs, all without the airbag but with the fittings to accept one. The idea is that since many people regularly use 2 or more packs depending on what they are doing and where they are, this allows them to use the packs with or without the airbag and do it with only one airbag–this makes the cost of being equipped with an airbag more of time a lot more realistic for people.”

  18. Murray December 13th, 2011 10:45 am


    Thanks for your comments. My Snowpulse is an older model which I’ve used quite a bit. The shoulder straps did soften up with use, but are still quite stiff and of course are still as wide as ever. They tend to chafe. Last week’s tour left me bleeding from chafing around shoulder.

    It could be that the fit is siimply too long for me, but the medium was too small. The main aggravation, aside from the weight, is the waist belt and buckle.

    It’s not that I carry excessive gear. The 45 L is more than I need, but the smaller volume pack isn’t voluminous enough.

    I might be able to sell it to a sledder who won’t care so about the weight or ease of use. I think I’ll take a look at the newer airbag packs manufactured by companies with more expertise bulding packs.

    Thanks for the reply.

  19. stevenjo December 13th, 2011 11:28 am

    Sorry if this is answered above – but is it advisable to stow gear in the same chamber/pocket that hosts the air canister/bag? If not, it doesn’t seem like you could take much beyond your avy gear?

    Overall this seems like a nice pack for daily ski tours mid season when avy conditions are active. But would probably leave at home later season in exchange for a more technical pack for mountaineering when conditions are more stable, anyway.

  20. Nick December 13th, 2011 11:41 am

    The airbag and cylinder are in the main compartment, but it is OK to put anything else in there too. The cylinder is separated by its own zippered sleeve, and the airbag has a mesh separator. The important thing for any airbag is that nothing is in the way of the venturi valve, as it needs to suck in surrounding air. In this and other RAS packs, the venturi valve is not in any danger of getting blocked by whatever you put in the main compartment of the pack.

  21. Crested Butte Mountain Guides December 13th, 2011 3:55 pm

    We just got a fleet of these packs for our backcountry ski touring clients this season, as well as many of the guides. After having used many of the previous airbag backpacks out there (Snowpulse, ABS, BCA) I have to say this is the best one yet released that I’ve seen. Light, compact, carries well, good airbag system, and not over or under built.

    Aaron- I have no probleem getting my daily ski guide kit in this for work, though it would be a bit tight for a technical ski mounatineeirng kit.

    Any Crested Buttians (or anyone else for that matter) reading this thread…come by our offices and check em out !

  22. Lou December 13th, 2011 3:59 pm

    Sounds like the airbag backpack is becoming a standard of care?

  23. Scott P December 13th, 2011 6:21 pm

    I just ordered a pack from MEC and didn’t realize that the pack comes without a canister. MEC doesn’t even have them on their website yet. Anybody know were one can get on in BC or AB.

  24. Crested Butte Mountain Guides December 13th, 2011 7:41 pm

    Lou….It does seem to be, as I know Aspen Expeditions is carrying this pack in your neck of the woods also.

    Seems to be a reasonable margin of safety given the typical dangers of ski touring guides in a continental snowpack, and statistics definitely are showing it has a better survival rate once caught then beacon rescue.

    Glad to see backpack manufacturers getting into the build action, as the North Face/ABS model next year should be a good addition as well.

  25. George December 13th, 2011 9:07 pm

    Airbag is a tough sell at 6.8+lbs and $874, unless you are very strong with a trust fund, risk taking skier with a trust fund, get a pro deal or a combination of these. Airbags will be more popular when they come down to an extra 2 lbs and an extra $200 for a quality pack. I see the value, but I don’t see the market at this time.
    I like the repurposed K2 Anti Piste Telemark skis (grins) with volcano dynafits, work gloves and ghetto poles. You know the value of a dollar when it comes to your personal purchases.

  26. Fernando Pereira December 13th, 2011 9:53 pm

    Re helmets in the backcountry: I own one of the lightest, best ventilated helmets around (CAMP Pulse), but I can’t imagine skinning 1000 ft vertical at typical Tahoe temperatures wearing it. But skinning makes up the great bulk of my backcountry time. Even if you guess that careful route finding reduces uphill risk by 2x relative to downhill, the overall weighted risk for uphill is way more than for downhill as far as avalanche-induced head trauma is concerned. I carry a helmet that I wear downhill in spring skiing because of the risk of uncontrolled fall in icy conditions, but in winter conditions, the helmet is just not practical for the above reasons.

  27. Frank K December 14th, 2011 7:40 am

    George, full retail on a pair of skis these days is often $800-900, and they probably won’t last as long as a backpack will. So in comparison, an airbag isn’t such a bad deal. That’s how I looked at it.

    As for a market for them, none of the 20 or so people I ski with most often had an airbag last season. This year, there are 4 of us, with at least a couple more seriously considering it. And we’re pretty much poor ski bums. Serious bc travellers will consider them as standard as a beacon in 5 years.

    Fernando- that’s why a lot of packs (but unfortunately not the mammut) have a helmet carrying system of some sort- nobody hikes up in them. As far as avalanche danger on the up- most of the skintracks I’m on are pretty safe in the trees or on a ridge. It’s the down that’s dangerous, and that’s when I have my helmet on.

  28. Lou December 14th, 2011 8:52 am

    Within a couple of years, and when the weight and price goes down, airbag packs will have nearly the same level of market penetration as beacons for folks that use backpacks in avalanche terrain and expose themselves to avy danger. That’s my crystal ball, anyway.

  29. Jack December 14th, 2011 9:06 am

    Lou, I don’t fully agree. If people would value their life, the price of an airbag is irrelevant. I have been skiing with a Snowpulse since they came on the market and I – even when I stay inbounds – simply cannot ski without my Snowpulse. Without, i feel naked, unprotected. It is really strange people spend an average (equipment, lift passes, travel, food, lodging, etc) of $ 4000 (?) per year to ski offpiste (whatever it means) and save $ 200 per year (an airbag lasts 5 seasons) risking their lives. Home Sapiens can be the dumbest animal on this planet.

  30. Mark December 14th, 2011 9:09 am

    If the price per unit goes down and demand remains constant more units will be sold.

    Microeconomics 1

  31. Nick Thompson December 14th, 2011 9:22 am

    Except that demand seems to be rising…

  32. Jack December 14th, 2011 9:26 am

    if the price per unit goes up and more people die in avalanches, more units will be sold.

    Microeconomics 2

  33. Lou December 14th, 2011 9:34 am

    if they make them lighter, more units will be sold.

    Dawson weight-o-nomics 3

  34. John December 14th, 2011 9:45 am

    Neither myself or any one in my group has ever been buried in an avalanche while skiing or skinning. This includes avy’s that we have intentionally set off with a ski cut, or when a slab has broken, immediate radio communication allowed the skier to turn out of the main path and ski clear of the avy.

    I have had friends killed by avys on the uptrack.

    My sons and I all have SnowPulse or ABS packs, but have never had to deploy.

    I don’t mind the weight or cost.

  35. Mark December 14th, 2011 9:50 am

    Whoa! Let’s keep our model straight:

    If the preference for the product increases because the weight goes down or avy terror goes up, that’s a demand shift. More units will be sold at the same price (assuming the supply curve remains constant).

    If the production cost goes down that’s a supply shift. More units will be sold at a lower price (assuming the demand curve remains constant).

    So an increase in the number of units that is sold is not necessarily due to greater demand.

    This is extremely important and I hope nobody is temped to make jokes about it.

  36. Lou December 14th, 2011 9:56 am

    As always, I’m here to moderate this discussion if it gets out of hand. Mainly, no economics ad hominem attacks.

  37. Jack December 14th, 2011 9:59 am

    I visited the factory of Snowpulse in Martigny this past Monday and if the weight and price goes down, it will be a longer wait for your Snowpulse to be delivered because it seems they are already very busy.

    Btw, imo they give excellent service. I had a problem with the release handle and they – I didn’t call ahead – exchanged the handle on the spot. Me messing up their production schedule probably means somebody out there must wait an extra day for his pack to arrive. Sorry !

  38. Nick Thompson December 14th, 2011 10:10 am

    I too have received outstanding service from Snowpulse (Mountain Safety Distribution specifically). They replaced an older airbag on the spot when I test fired it and it deflated more rapidly than normal (that’s partly why yearly test fires are important). Another time I was putzing around with a valve and broke it. New one sent in the mail no questions asked. I hope Mammut will continue Snowpulse’s legacy of customer service.

  39. Kevin Fetherston December 14th, 2011 11:47 am

    Thanks for the great reviews, they have been really helpful!
    I am going to purchase either the Snowpulse RAS 35l or the Mammut 30l. I don’t have access to trying them on before purchase and I hate the idea of dropping big $ without suiting up with one on my back. Two questions: I am 6’1″ which pack do you think would be more comfortable carrying a full load and skis given my height based on your experience? Second, the 35l volume pack seems clearly to allow for more technical gear for ski mountaineering. Is there a clear volume difference between the two.
    I’m looking forward to the airbag day adventures.
    Thanks again.

  40. Nick Thompson December 14th, 2011 12:10 pm

    I didn’t get to spend as much time with the Mammut as with the Snowpulse. Both are very similar packs and are two of my favorites (I actually purchased the Snowpulse RAS Pro35 for my wife and sister at the beginning of this season, before I got to try the Mammut). The Mammut has more suspension than the Snowpulse (rod frame as opposed to no frame), so that might factor in for carrying comfort. Both have a pretty similar volume if I recall, the Snowpulse only being slightly larger. I think you will be happy with either. I’m 6′ and was comfortable carrying both packs. Mammut is a bit cheaper and has zippered panel opening, Snowpulse is a bit lighter and is top loader drawstring with side zip. If you buy either one and a better RAS pack comes out next year, you can buy the new one empty and put your RAS system into it for a relatively cheap upgrade.

  41. John December 14th, 2011 1:36 pm

    The Snowpulse Guide 30 has coated cable ski and ice axe loops, will carry skis either A-frame or cross. Plus it has extra attachment points and a helmet carrier.
    I measure for a 21″ torso, so the large SnowPulse or the large ABS fit well. The functionality and construction of the attachments of the SnowPulse are better then the ABS.

  42. Kevin Fetherston December 14th, 2011 11:36 pm


    Thanks again for your help! Have a great season out there in The Rockies. My back country is the Central and North Cascades.


  43. Fernando Pereira December 15th, 2011 12:23 am

    Frank K said “most of the skintracks I’m on are pretty safe in the trees or on a ridge. It’s the down that’s dangerous”. Frank, in many of the places I ski there’s not that much difference between up and down. Just to give a couple of examples, the available up routes for Tallac or Jakes on the West Shore of Tahoe involve long steep climbs on (mostly treed) slopes and ridges that are quite capable of avalanching. Trying to recall all the (fortunately small) slides that my party or a nearby party triggered since I’ve been skiing in the backcountry, it’s roughly half/half for up/down.

    — F

  44. Mark December 15th, 2011 6:28 am

    The data in Colorado – it appears to me – shows that here most skier triggered avalanches are on the down. Lou, others, am I off base here?

  45. Lou December 15th, 2011 7:27 am

    Most are on the down for obvious reasons, but they happen on the up as well. I vaguely recall a few, and have had some near misses myself over the years. Here is one documented by CAIC:

    Have to say, during my travels I’ve seen (and continue to see) skin tracks following poor route choices, exposed to hazard from above, when with a tiny bit of thought and perhaps 25 more calories such trails could be 100% safe. Have to admit seeing that annoys the heck out of me, as it makes us all look like idiots and directs folks into hazard who don’t want to break new trail, or just don’t think to do so due to the sheep syndrome.

  46. Michael FInger December 19th, 2011 12:49 pm

    Fairly recent full burial while on the up from the Wasatch:

  47. Nick Thompson December 19th, 2011 1:06 pm

    That’s a good example of a slide where an airbag probably wouldn’t help and why you still need to bring probe/shovel/beacon. The report says he only slid 10-15 ft before hitting a tree and then snow continued to pile up on top. Probably wouldn’t have gotten an airbag inflated even before hitting the tree, and if he had, once he came to a stop against the tree and the snow kept piling up, the airbag wouldn’t have brought him up to the surface. The only potential benefit might be some help with an air pocket, especially with Snowpulse’s lifebag style which surrounds the chest and head and slowly deflates to create an air pocket. Would likely have been best off with an avalung in this instance.

  48. Mark December 19th, 2011 2:41 pm

    I guess my assumption is that airbags are very useful if you are carried by an avalanche but nothing is very useful if you’re hit by an avalanche.

  49. Nick Thompson December 19th, 2011 3:09 pm

    Essentially, yes. Airbags only work if you are moving with the debris. If you are stopped by a terrain trap and the avalanche continues to flow on top of you, the airbag won’t work.

  50. Michael FInger December 19th, 2011 6:23 pm

    How do you think the pack would carry on someone more in the 5’9″ range? I’m thinking of picking one up, especially since I can swap packs. Speaking of which, any word on when the packs without the guts will be available?

  51. Brad December 19th, 2011 6:48 pm

    I am not sure about the Mammut packs but you can buy the Snowpulse packs without the airbag guts. Most dealers don’t carry them in stock (without airbag guts) but they can be ordered. Extrem 22 $199 and Pro 35 $229 MSRP.

    As for the fit, the R.A.S line should have a broad range in its fit and you should have no problem being 5’9″ and having a good fit on the pack. Lifebag packs are more specific with Med and Large sizing and you are on the overlap of the two.

  52. Nick December 19th, 2011 8:11 pm

    And if you want the Mammut pack, I think the sizing is similar to Snowpulse’s RAS. Mammut w/o guts available next season.

  53. derek December 27th, 2011 8:54 am

    Any insight on the Mammut 22L version?

    Mostly sled accessed 1/2 -full day tours here in the Wasatch and Uinta’s. Aside from Shovel/probe, usually have skins, camelback reservoir or nalgene bottle, a lightweight shell, spare hat/gloves and goggles in the pack.

    I the 22L too small for this? I’m only 5’10 165lbs if it matters


  54. Nick Thompson December 27th, 2011 9:06 am

    Haven’t seen the 22L but I believe it is identical but smaller. Sounds like it would fit what you’ve got. It’s less than a 1/4 lb difference though, so if you ever needed more space…

  55. Dom January 4th, 2012 9:51 am

    How do hydration bladders work with this pack? The Mammut website just says “hydration compatible”, but I can’t tell if that just means there’s an internal pouch and a hole in the top of the bag, or whether the drinking hose is fully enclosed in the main strap. In my experience, any hose that is not fully enclosed will freeze up on all but the warmest days.

  56. Nick January 4th, 2012 6:12 pm

    Dom, I don’t have the pack to reference anymore, but I don’t recall there being a hose sleeve in the shoulder strap. I seem to remember it just being a port.

  57. Paul Brown January 5th, 2012 7:46 am

    That is correct – there is no insulated sleeve in the shoulder strap, just an internal pouch and hole to route the hose through. Also, it is a little difficult to get the hose through the hole because it is behind the airbag.

  58. Brad January 5th, 2012 7:57 am

    I cannot speak as to the Mammut bag but the Snowpulse R.A.S bags have a insulated sleeve down the shoulder strap that is for the hydration tube. This only applies to the R.A.S series of bags. The Lifebag series use a hole and attachment straps to the exterior of the straps.

  59. Nick Thompson January 5th, 2012 8:02 am

    That sleeve is for the trigger handle and cable. I suppose you could certainly put a hydration hose in there too, but I’d be careful with making sure it was tucked out of the way when in avalanche terrain so you didn’t accidentally grab the hose instead of the trigger handle. Mammut has a similar sleeve. If any water leaked and froze in the trigger cable, that could maybe be an issue too.

  60. Dom January 5th, 2012 8:18 am

    Nick, are you sure? This video on YouTube shows various features of the Snowpulse Pro 35. Around 1:20 in, the demonstrator shows zipper to access the hydration sleeve. Looks to be entirely separate to red zipper which accesses the airbag trigger. So I presume that there’s a partition dividing the two compartments. Hard to imagine that there are two zippers that access the same space.

  61. Nick Thompson January 5th, 2012 8:31 am

    I should probably wait until I go home to actually look at my pack, but as I recall, the zippers in the video access the same sleeve, with no divider. The long zipper is there to help remove the RAS system, including the cable, from the pack.

  62. Scruppo January 6th, 2012 1:34 pm

    I have the RAS 30. It kinda looks like Mammut means to route the hydration tube in the same shoulder strap (left) as the pull handle for the airbag. I say that because it is insulated and lined with reflective material. Nowhere in the documentation does it say anything about it though.

    On the other hand, behind the airbag are two reinforced slots through the back. A red one for the airbag cable to pass through and a black one for the hydration tube. The red one lines up with the left shoulder (where the pull handle goes) and the black one lines up with the right shoulder. To get it to the left shoulder strap, it would have to cross over (in the open) behind your neck (possible heater?).

    Since I just go the nalgene route, it’s a non issue for me.

    Other observations:
    – It carries great – I’ve had Lowe, BCA, Osprey (Kode 30) and Mammut (Nirvana Pro) packs and it feels as good as my previous fav – the Nirvana Pro.
    – The airbag interferes (a little) with accessing stuff in the main compartment. No biggie – just got to get used to a permanent restriction at the top of the pack. I’ve started accessing the main compartment by zipping all the way down one off the sides to get around this.
    – There is a picture on the literature of a top strap higher that the main two cross straps for diagonal carry. It drove me nuts looking for it. I thought it was probably hidden and retractible like the bottom one. After calling Mammut, it seems that this was a marketing department “copy and paste” error. While the bottom strap (as shown in the picture) is there, the top one would have interfered with the airbag. The picture was accidentally “borrowed” from the Nirvana Ride pack, which does have the top strap.
    – The waist buckle is a lot easier to use than other airbag buckles I have used

  63. KR January 6th, 2012 2:23 pm

    Awesome looking pack with nice features and fits my big shovel blade, wish it didn’t sit on my back like 10 pounds of poop crammed in a 5 pound sack. Why do they not make packs in torso lengths for the larger gentleman?

  64. Nick Thompson January 10th, 2012 9:56 am

    ABS cartridges are no longer compatible with this pack, see this post:

  65. Sam Wyman April 3rd, 2012 12:06 pm

    seems really good!! two questions:

    1. Can these CO2 canisters be re-filled or do we need to buy new ones? and long or how many avalanches can the CO2 canisters last through?

    2. Would I need an avalung if I bought this? or would it be unecessary?

  66. Nick Thompson April 3rd, 2012 12:27 pm


    These do not use CO2 (wouldn’t want to be breathing that if one ruptured while you were buried), they use compressed air. Yes you can refill, see my instructions:
    One use per avalanche.
    You could use an avalung in addition, but that’s extra weight. Avalungs and airbags are very different devices. Avalungs help you breathe when you are buried, airbags help keep you from getting buried (but can’t guarantee that you won’t be buried).

  67. Sam Wyman April 4th, 2012 6:03 am

    Nick Thompson,

    Thank you so much!! and I might not get an avalung, because these bags are already proven enough like in the 90% survival ratings!! i cant wait to get one of these……

    So can this mammut RAS hold a snowboard, while i use my snowshoes?

  68. Nick Thompson April 4th, 2012 6:38 am

    You bet- vertical snowboard carry.

  69. brian h April 4th, 2012 10:11 am

    Sams comment brings out the question of the role of the avalung. It seems that when air bag packs first came out, those that we’re using them were also using avalungs as well. Does the increased air-bag devo and marketing mean less of a role for the avalung?

  70. Chris August 27th, 2012 5:33 pm

    Nick, thanks for all the good beta and reviews! I was just looking at the mammut website and didn’t see the nirvana pro model. Is that now just marketed as the “pro” model. From its description it sounds like the kind of pack I’m looking for. But, they don’t clearly show the features on this pack nor tell its carrying capacity. Do you have any info on this?

  71. Nick August 28th, 2012 6:57 am

    Not sure. Looks like they have a full line of Nirvana packs, but I’m really not familiar with the new non airbag packs for next season. I’ll be putting some info on this season’s airbag packs on here in the next few weeks.

  72. Chris September 5th, 2012 1:53 am

    Hey there again, any new news? I guess I worded my last post incorrectly. I meant to ask about the RAS packs. Do you know the size of the “Pro R.A.S.-ready packs”?
    Thanks again, and let the snow-dances begin!

  73. Nick September 5th, 2012 6:40 am

    35 and 45 liters for the new Pro RAS packs. I’ll be updating the airbag overview tonight and tomorrow.

  74. jonny September 6th, 2012 6:40 am

    Any info on the Scott air 30 RAS?

  75. Nick September 6th, 2012 8:43 am

    Nothing more other than the brochure at the moment:

  76. Rachel December 22nd, 2012 9:48 pm

    Hi there, all. Quick question for you: I am 5’3 and fairly petite. We roll around with Snowpulses at work, however the shoulder straps fall off constantly and the waist belt rests somewhere near my knees….not exactly confidence inspiring on touchy days….I just saw that Mammut has a 30L Ride Short this year, but was unable to find specs on torso length. Anyone out there have any idea? Thanks so much!

  77. Jay March 19th, 2013 7:37 am


    I am headed to Chamonix on the 29th of March. I am just now realizing I might have some trouble getting my air cannister to France. Any recommendations? Do you know a shop where I could buy one there? I have the Mammut Pro RAS 45L. The air cannister is the refillable 207 bar

  78. Nick March 19th, 2013 7:57 am

    Deploy the airbag to release the air from the cylinder, then unscrew the cylinder head from the cylinder (see the bottom of this post: Don’t screw the head back on until you’re off the plane.

    BCA has a great list of refill centers here:

    Here’s one in Chamonix:

    Or call Mammut 800-451-5127 ext.1 and ask if they have any, but you can definitely use one of BCA’s- it’s all the same.

  79. Lou Dawson March 19th, 2013 8:41 am

    People are adamantly telling us (leaving comments) that you can fly with full cartridges (in checked baggage of course). Sounds like the key is to print out the regulations that specifically allow it, and give yourself extra time at check in so the minions can sort it all out. Lou

  80. Nick March 19th, 2013 8:50 am

    Are you sure that’s not only for the non-refillable ABS and Snowpulse cylinders? Those are cleared by IATA to fly.

  81. Lou Dawson March 19th, 2013 8:55 am

    Nick and all, the comment on this post describing things sounds very well informed.

  82. Jay March 19th, 2013 9:20 am

    Perfect, thank you. In reading the TSA document and consistent with Nick’s comments, it looks like I will be okay as long as I empty the canister (207 bar canister exceeds the volume limit to fly with it full).

    Nick, thanks for the lead on the refill station in Chamonix. Fingers crossed they will be open late on the 30th or on Easter (probably unlikely).

  83. Nick March 19th, 2013 9:30 am

    Sounds like you’re on the right path Jay, have fun!

    My understanding, which it sounds like Chris echos, is:

    The non-refillable nitrogen filled cartridges sold in Europe (ABS and Mammut/Snowpulse 300bar) are compliant with IATA to travel filled. This does not apply to TSA for travel within, to, or from the US. You must obtain a cylinder at your destination if travelling within,to,or from the US.

    The refillable air filled cylinders sold in North America (Mammut/Snowpulse 207bar, BCA, Mystery Ranch, WARY) must be emptied and have the cylinder head removed for visual inspection inside the cylinder. You must then refill your cylinder at your destination.

    That said, I’ve heard of all sorts of exceptions where people ‘snuck one through’….

  84. Robert Redman April 23rd, 2015 10:52 am

    I just in Chamonix from the U.S. We emptied our canisters before the flight, but didn’t take the regulator valve off, and didn’t have any issues with the cylinder being in our checked bags but maybe we got lucky. We flew British Airways. In Chamonix the Mammut store will do a cylinder exchange for 25 Euros. Then we found the Chamonix paintball guy would refill our cylinders for us for only 3€, he did a great job, email

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