Airbag packs are sweet and I try to use one on as many ski trips as I can. Weight is the only thing keeping me from using them all the time. Thankfully they have been losing heft. BCA offers the Float 32 this year — one of the lightest ~30 liter airbag packs out there.
BCA Float 32 weighs 6.75 lbs (verified at Wildsnow HQ), pretty good for a 32 liter airbag pack. I’m not usually a fan of clam-shell packs but the Float seems well laid out. It has most of the features I like such as a shovel pocket, waist belt pocket, burly zippers and compression straps. It is fairly minimal; thought obviously went into making it light and functional for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
The 32 is light, but can it be lighter? A little nip and tuck is in order. I haven’t used the pack yet, so I limit myself to stuff that wouldn’t compromise function. I stayed away from structural stuff that would affect the airbag system. I cut out the foam layer on the pack exterior (what’s that for, anyway, magazine photos?). The fuzzy goggle pocket lining (I use a bag) and various straps got the slice. I was only able to take 2 ounces off the pack — a testament to its minimalism. Hopefully I’ll find more unusable stuff to slash, but as we always say, the ounces do add up to pounds so fewer is better.
I’m looking forward to testing the Float 32 during the rest of the winter. I think it’ll be a decent all-around pack for backcountry skiing. The only feature it lacks is a convenient way to carry a rope–necessary for touring in the Cascades. Now that I’ve got two ounces to play with perhaps I’ll get out the sewing machine!