Electronic or compressed gas? There’s a heap of new airbag tech out there this winter.
Let the chin scratching, pros and cons list-making begin!
BCA Float 17 Speed £579
Weighing in at 2540g, this 150-litre airbag is durable, lightweight, and great value. Engineered with BCA’s new 2.0 Float system, the 17 Speed is ideal for deep days in the sidecountry or epic heli or cat-skiing adventures. The well-proven compressed air cylinder tech provides peace of mind for electronic-sceptics and can be inflated at home with a Track Pump.
The new and improved high tech Jetforce Pro is the ‘Tesla’ of airbags. A 200-litre modular airbag that uses electronic technology rather than compressed gas, it’s easy to recharge and easy to take on an aircraft. It also means you can deploy it as many times as you want, which helps build muscle memory and instinctive reactions in an emergency situation. New features for 2020 include lighter weight, Bluetooth connectivity and a simpler ‘birthing zipper’ (aka the zipper that opens for the bag to inflate). Weighs 3100g.
This 2590g R.A.S. airbag uses compressed gas, which is ideal if you’re concerned about battery life in extreme environments and/or looking for the most affordable option. The pack itself is comfortable, robust and technical and comes with zippered rear access, hydration system compatibility, diagonal ski carry, dedicated avy tools pocket, ice axe/poles attachment points, and SOS label with emergency instructions.
If you’re into fast and light freeride adventures, there’s no doubt that the additional weight and cost of an airbag significantly reduces its appeal. The award-winning Mammut Ultralight tackles both issues head on. The most affordable bag in our line-up, the Ultralight weighs just 1510g, which makes it a genuinely attractive option for hike and ride adventures and the smaller pack capacity means it’s ideal for short backcountry forays. Used by Jérémie Heitz during his ‘La Liste’ project, this pack comes with all the freeride cred you need.
Designed for multi-day ski tours, the 1980g Ascent 40 offers a really impressive storage-to-weight ratio for an airbag. Remove the compressed gas canister and you can practice activating the bag over and over again so you’re good to go in an emergency. Other notable features include the innovative handle that can be swapped for left and right-handed skiers and multiple attachment points for ropes, sleeping bags and mats.
The 2100g Free Rider 20 S is ideal for female freeriders looking for a lightweight avy pack with a shorter back and women’s specific hip and shoulder straps. As with all of Ortovox’s Avabag packs, it comes with a great handle design and the ability to practice deployment when the canister is removed. And if that’s not enough, it’s got heaps of other primo freeride features including an SPS Flex back protector, diagonal ski carry, hydration system compatibility, chest strap whistle and ice axe attachment points.
New for winter 2020, the 2450g Patrol E1 22L is ideal for rapid sidecountry powder missions or day heli-ski adventures. Scott’s lightweight electronic Alpride E1 system incorporates electronic supercapacitor technology (which we’re sure was used in Back to the Future), rechargeable batteries and a turbo radial fan. With no cartridges to worry about travel is hassle-free and you can practice activating the pack over and over again. Also available in 30L and 40L versions.