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The mountains are stunning, immense, monoliths of rocks, snow, and nature. They inspire awe and fear, and rightly so.

It is easy to forget the danger of these sleeping giants when tearing down the side of a perfectly pristine slope or dancing the night away in an apres-ski bar. The reality is, they barely hide huge dangers.

Anyone who has ever witnessed the raw power of an avalanche understands the severity of that amount of snow rolling down a mountain.

Thankfully, in resorts, the avalanche safety teams clear the worst of the danger and keep the slopes clear. They can only do so much, as soon as you go for a day of backcountry skiing, you risk being in an ungroomed and unchecked mountain.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it though, usually, it is safe enough with the right precautions. I have worn my fair share of safety gear and can run through some of the best avalanche airbags on the market.

Product

Details

Top Pick

Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour

  • Manufacturer:‎Black Diamond
  • Material:‎Synthetic

All-in-one

Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

  • Manufacturer:Ortovox
  • Material:Polyamide 

Super Functional

BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack

  • Manufacturer:Backcountry Access
  • Material:nylon

Most Versatile

Scott Patrol E1 30 Backpack

  • Manufacturer:Scott
  • Material:420 Denier Nylon 

Comfy & Supportive

Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L

  • Manufacturer:‎Mammut
  • Material:100% Polyamide

Extra Spacious

Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack

  • Manufacturer:Scott
  • Material:NYLON

Attachable Pack

Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0

  • Manufacturer:Mammut
  • Material:POLYAMIDE

7 Best Avalanche Airbag Packs

When first shopping for an avalanche airbag, it can all be a bit overwhelming. There is a lot of jargon to wade through and so much technology included in the latest ones that it can seem impossible to work it all out.

That’s why I’m here, your resident safety equipment expert. I’ve been around the block a few times and can introduce you to some of the better avalanche airbags on the market ranging from the top of the range all the way to the best budget airbag pack.

1. Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour

best avalanche backpack

The Black Diamond JetForce is among the most innovative backpacks on the market and one of the first avalanche backpacks you won’t need to worry about getting onto a plane.

Unlike most canister-powered airbags, this Black Diamond uses a fan system to inflate the pack. Getting compressed air onto an airplane is always a nightmare, but this has found a way around the problem.

The first thing to mention is the electric fan systems employed by this particular bag. Black Diamond has replaced the usual compressed air system with a rechargeable fan to inflate the avalanche airbag.

Using two AA batteries and a rechargeable power pack, this Black Diamond pack can be used over and over without replacing a canister. This makes practice runs much cheaper for multiple deployments. The battery pack can be recharged anywhere there is an outlet.

The pack is deployed via a pull cord which can be switched to either shoulder strap. This is a handy little feature for snowboarders who may end up riding in either direction. You will want to be pulling the cord with your forward-facing hand in an emergency.

avy bag

Summary

As a way of getting around the restrictions on air canisters put in place by the international air transport association. This electric fan system makes the airbag deployment capable of multiple deployments.

This is not a cheap airbag, but if you’re often out on the mountain and practice avalanche safety regularly, then you will save a lot of money and time not having to buy a new compressed air canister every time. Two AA batteries will be all you need to keep yourself going.

Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour

The price of “Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour” varies, so check the latest price at

2. Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

skiing airbag

This is the all-in-one airbag pack with all the features you could want but at a comparably cheap price and a good, light, weight.

A decent amount of extras that will keep you and your team safe are all packed into this backpack (excuse the pun!). It comes with a traditional canister-powered removable system and lots more.

Ortovox has opted for a removable airbag system in this pack, and it is able to be purchased with or without it.

Without the airbag pack, the whole backpack only weighs an impressive 1kg and is raised by another 650g with the airbag system installed. This gives you the option to use the bag when you’re just out and about on the regular slopes too without the necessity of the extra weight.

This pack has all the bells and whistles you could need for a day in the outback. It has a separate pocket designed just for your avalanche tools, straps to hold your board or skis on a long trek, and is compatible with your hydration system.

Another few little extras are the safest ski helmet carry system and padded back foam for comfort. The colorway is not just for the appearance either, it’ll help you be identified in a snap when a rescue is being carried out.

avi pack

Summary

At a considerably cheaper price than most other avalanche airbags, you get a real selection of great features that will keep you safe in backcountry snow.

Not only does it have all you need to be avalanche safe, but it also provides a fantastic daypack for the safer piste days. This is a great little backpack with quite an average capacity and some really user-friendly features.

Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

The price of “Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag” varies, so check the latest price at

3. BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack

avo pack avalanche

When you’re going out for a full day, making your way through the deep snow of the backcountry, you don’t want to be worrying about whether or not you have everything you need. The BCA Float has you covered.

The new-sized airbag and extra functional backpack storage leave all the space and organization you could need right at your fingertips.

The BCA float has designed this pack with low weight and high functionality in mind. They understand you need all the space and none of the weight when you’re trying to find that perfect line.

The new removable airbag system is their improved version, the Float 2.0. It is 30% smaller and 15% lighter than their previous model leaving more space for other essentials.

The BCA Float 32 avalanche pack design is made with hard work in mind. The materials used throughout are made to last with ripstop high dernier nylons guarding against tears and wearing.

The bag itself comes with all the extra features you would want to see in a high-quality avalanche backpack. The shoulder straps and hip belt are both fully adjustable, and combined with the molded back panel, this makes for a very comfortable day out.

The waist has a hipbelt stash pocket to carry extra tools that be accessed at a moment’s notice, and the bag itself is hydration system compatible.

avo pack skiing

Summary

For a good price, you can get your hands on an avalanche backpack that has some decent features, is very durable, and comes with its lightest airbag system to date.

The issue lies with getting the air cylinders through customs when you are using air travel. Of course, you can almost always buy them on location at your regular ski shop.

For a canister-powered airbag pack that won’t break the bank and will still have space for all your daily needs, this is a great choice.

BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack

The price of “BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack” varies, so check the latest price at

4. Scott Patrol E1 30 Backpack

avy pack

The Scott patrol comes with the lightest and most versatile airbag system on the market, the Alpride E1.

Besides the high-end avalanche airbag, this backpack comes with compression straps, a helmet holder, tool straps, and a decent amount of storage for a long day out on the mountain.

The first thing to address is the Alpride E1 airbag pack. This is considered one of the best avalanche airbags on the market, with an inflation time of just three seconds and an almost instantly reusable system.

Similar to the airbag system used by the Black Diamond reviewed before, it uses two AA batteries to rapidly inflate the Alpride E1. The two batteries power an electric fan that is connected to a mechanical trigger system.

The Alpride E1 has chosen not to go with a lithium-ion battery to power the avalanche airbag system due to the difficulty of getting them onto an air flight.

The fact it also has no compressed air canisters means going through customs when using air travel won’t be an issue. As long as you don’t have your ice picks attached at least.

avalanche airbag packs

Summary

The Scott Patrol doesn’t necessarily come with all the loops and pockets of some of the other models but the inclusion of the Alpride E1 makes this a piece of safety gear to be relied upon.

With its rapid inflation time and reusability, you are able to practice time and time again with this avalanche airbag without having to worry about the cost of an air cylinder every time.

This piece of avalanche safety gear will hold everything you need and keep your mind at rest in the dreaded snow rip.

Scott Patrol E1 30 Backpack

The price of “Scott Patrol E1 30 Backpack” varies, so check the latest price at

5. Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L

avalanche airbag pack

This is a bag designed for protection, not just in the case of an avalanche but it also comes with the comfort that backcountry skiers know makes all the difference.

Support throughout the pack design keeps this relatively heavy avalanche airbag backpack secure on your back without having to suffer through aches and pains.

The compressed air airbag system in this model boasts a very impressive three-second time until the airbag inflates fully.

It features a wrap-around shape to completely protect the head and neck from mechanical damage as you are jostled around in the snow. Despite the added weight of having a wrap-around avalanche airbag, the 3.0 system packs very small.

The comfort and support of this bag are what sets it apart. An aluminium v-shaped frame lends a lot of support to the thermoformed back padding.

Backcountry skiers know how taxing on your back it can be after trekking out through deep snow with a heavy avalanche backpack on your back.

The Mammut also comes with a diagonal ski carry for both skis and snowboards, adding extra weight and causing more need for the support this pack provides.

ski airbag backpack

Summary

This is a hard-working backpack with a very reliable airbag system installed. The airbag volume fills within only three seconds and provides increased safety all around your head, leaving plenty of space for breathing if you get submerged.

Because of the small avalanche airbag pack design, the main compartment has plenty of space for an extra backcountry kit.

The design has sacrificed weight savings by adding extra back support, but you will be thankful for this after hours of walking through avalanche terrain.

Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L

The price of ” Mammut Light Protection Airbag 3.0 30L ” varies, so check the latest price at

6. Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack

avo pack snowboard

The Scott Patrol E1 40 is very similar to the previous Scott avalanche backpack reviewed, except this comes with an extra 10 liters of space.

The Scott Patrol can still be considered to have some of the best airbag technology on the market. It implements its rechargeable supercapacitor system over lithium-ion batteries and uses reliable, reusable electric systems.

These are considered some of the best avalanche airbags available, and with good reason. I have previously reviewed them so won’t wax lyrical too much.

The supercapacitor system does away with the need for a lithium-ion battery which can not only be a nightmare to get through customs but also suffer in the cold. Many airbag backpacks that use an electric fan are powered by a lithium-ion battery, and these can cause unreliability when you need it most.

The extra space in this makes it one of the most spacious avalanche backpacks out there. The 40l Patrol still comes with multiple connections outside the pack for all the extras you may want to bring and have to hand.

The mesh helmet holder can be moved around the bag, as can the connections for your skis and snowboard, depending on where you want them.

anti avalanche backpack

Summary

If the space in your avalanche bags is a real deal breaker, then it is worth spending the extra few bucks and investing in this one. 10 liters go a long way when you’re out for a whole day or even going hut to hut over multiple days.

Backcountry access requires a lot of equipment and also food and water. Being able to take all you need for long trips is a great feature. Having one of the best avalanche airbags on the mountain is no bad thing either.

Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack

The price of “Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0

airbag pack

This is something a little different from the rest of what we have looked at so far. Rather than a whole backpack, this is simply the attachable airbag pack on its own.

Most of what we have looked at before are backpacks with airbag packs already installed, but this is a standalone protection airbag system for compatible backpacks. As long as you have a backpack that can hold a Mammut 3.0 system, then you can equip this piece of gear.

Like many of the other systems before the airbag pack inflates using compressed gas from screw-in canister systems. The inflated airbag reaches the standard 150 liters to provide buoyancy and an air pocket in the case of an avalanche.

Avalanche airbags work to give you the best chance of survival if the worst happens during your trips out to avalanche terrain. The best avalanche airbags will keep you above the rolling snow and protect your head.

Having a bag with interchangeable systems means you can choose whether to have airbag packs on you while you’re out or not.

Airbag packs do weigh quite a lot so being able to choose to take it out when you’re not in avalanche terrain is a big bonus. You can use the backpack for all its space and pop one in when you need it.

avalanche backpacks

Summary

This is one of the best avalanche airbags available, but it is only the airbag. It works with a compressed gas canister and uses compressed air to rapidly inflate the bag. The compressed gas comes separately and can usually be purchased in resorts.

If you already have a bag compatible with specifically this avalanche airbag, then this is a great addition to your safety equipment. The ability to take it out or add it back in means you can choose how heavy your bag is.

Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0

The price of “Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0” varies, so check the latest price at

How to Spot The Best Avalanche Airbag

Digging your way through all the jargon and technical specifications when looking for the best avalanche airbag can be a real drag. Knowing the difference between compressed air and electric fan inflation systems can make the difference in what you want from your bag.

Being able to identify exactly what you need can save you not only time whilst shopping about but also money by buying only what you need.

Canister-powered Airbags Vs Fan

Canister-powered is by far the most common inflation system on the market. They are easy to inflate with a ripcord and a gas release system and the actual canisters can be bought commonly in most sports shops.

They are the same canisters used by bikers for tire inflation and are relatively cheap. The real issue with the canister system is its single-use function.

If you plan to go out to practice with your pack a few times, then you will need to bring multiple canisters and reload every time.

Another issue is the shipping and transport of the canisters. Airports don’t like transporting compressed canisters, so you will have to buy them after your journey.

Durability

When shopping for anything, you want to know that what you’re buying is going to stand the test of time. With safety equipment, this is even more important.

You don’t want safety equipment failing on you when you need it most, that could be your health and safety on the line. Avalanche equipment is no exception to this.

The bags we have reviewed so far are often made with very hard-wearing, anti-tear nylons with high dernier. Look for higher dernier counts on the bags you buy, as this indicates material that will take a beating.

Comfort

If you are out trekking for hours or even days, the comfort of your equipment will be incredibly evident. If you have heavy equipment, water and food, and your skiing gear all strapped to your back, then your pack will become very weighty.

If you don’t have good back support, it will make you ache. Looking for reinforced frames in the back pads and molded shapes to accommodate the shape of the back will all ease the load.

Adjustable hip straps and supportive shoulder straps will distribute weight around the body for a much lighter feeling pack.

Weight

Keeping an eye on your pack weight before you have even loaded anything into it is important. Avalanche gear isn’t light with it being made up of sturdy metals and reinforced plastics so keeping the initial weight to a minimum is paramount.

The issue with a lighter pack is usually the sacrifices made to achieve that goal.

If your pack is too heavy, not only will it make your journey out to the fresh snow an extra effort to get to but the actual ride down will be weighted incorrectly also. taking care to make sure your bag does not weigh too much for your own body weight will make for a much more comfortable ride.

Design

All avalanche backpacks are designed differently, some featuring extras like a dedicated snow safety pocket or helmet fastening.

Many come with different styles of ski and snowboard holders and some are stripped back to the bare essentials to save as much weight as possible.

Knowing what you need before you start shopping will guarantee you don’t end up with a piece of equipment that leaves you wanting.

A smaller bag is perfect for the days with only a short trip out to the backcountry in which you won’t need much in the way of food and drink and will just need the essentials for safety.

If you are planning a trip that will take you over many miles and perhaps even over a few days a bigger bag such as the Scott Patrol E1 40 will be vital. Take care to plan your trip before you make it, so you don’t end up wasting money.

Frequently Asked Questions

It Is Often Asked, Are Avalanche Airbags Worth the Money?

The simple answer is yes, absolutely. If you are going to be out in an avalanche risk area there is no limit to how much safeguarding you can take.

Avalanches are not uncommon and if you need to spend a few extra hundreds to make sure you don’t get buried then do it. Backcountry access is fun, but it comes with risks.

After this question, there are usually a few more that get commonly asked, I can run through a couple here to save you from asking them later.

What is an Avalanche Airbag?

An avalanche airbag, simply put, is a balloon that inflates on your back with the use of a ripcord. they improve your chances of survival and location in an avalanche.

Put in a more scientific and detailed way, they work on granular convection. By making you the largest thing that is tumbling and rolling down the hill amongst all the snow and rocks, you are naturally pushed to the surface.

Imagine shaking a jar of mixed nuts, the largest will come to the top. As well as making you rise to the top, the airbag acts as a pocket of air if you are burie,d giving you more oxygen under the snow.

Do They Actually Work?

Yes. Studies by research teams estimate that the deployment of an avalanche bag can improve your chances of survival by up to 50%. This makes them an absolute must-have if you’re planning to go out and about in an avalanche-risk area.

If you have the chance, it is always a good idea to go out and have a little training with a pack. Practice falling, rolling, and deploying your pack. The few hours you spend with it could be the ones that save your life.

A Few Final Thoughts

I remember the first avalanche I ever saw. It was caused by the piste bombers who go out in the morning before the lifts open to purposefully cause avalanches around high-risk areas before anyone skis them.

The sound was terrific, a deep rumbling sound and a movement of snow on a section of the mountain I knew was a few miles across. I could feel it in my chest. Truly awe-inspiring and made me very pleased I wasn’t caught anywhere near it.

The first time I saw someone caught in an avalanche was from the comfort of a bar. We were watching three skiers tracking not too far off the piste above a small cliff drop.

As they dropped onto the newly fallen sn,ow a shelf ripped off and started carrying them down the slope. It was terrifying to watch and even worse knowing
I could do nothing about it.

Thankfully, due to their proximity to the slopes, the rescue team was there in mere minutes,and they had them safe and sound in amazing time. It was enough for me to never take the backcountry lightly. I’ll happily wear a few extra pounds and spend a few more dollars for my own safety, and so should you.

Going out in a group, ensuring you have the right avalanche beacons, and of course, strapping on an avalanche airbag pack can all prevent disaster if the worst happens. A high-quality avalanche airbag backpack will keep you afloat in the rolling snow and provide an extra chance of survival.

I have made it all seem very scary hitting those backcountry lines but in actual fact, some of the best tracks I have ever ridden have been after a journey into the wilderness.

Don’t let the unknown put you off from finding the most beautiful snow, just make sure you’re wearing the right safety gear!


Leo Gillick

I am Leo Gillick; a snowboarder, wakeboarder, and wordsmith. If I’m not already busy trying out the newest gear or riding the freshest powder, I’m sitting in the nearest cafe writing about it. I’m lucky enough to have been able to find a job that lets me indulge in the things that keep my adrenaline right at the top. Taking the time to share my discoveries of hidden gems, awesome experiences, and my all too common disasters with you is why I love picking up the pen. I know how important every review is to the extreme sports enthusiast, I’ve read my fair share of articles before every little purchase. Ensuring I have the best gear means I can ride the best my body will let me. I can help you make those next decisions.

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