For next winter, avalanche airbag systems and their corresponding packs are shedding tons of weight in order to sway more freeriders and ski tourers to bring these personal safety systems with them on their adventures. Both Mammut and Ortovox came up with new systems that are not only small but also weigh between 3-4 pounds all in.
The new Ortovox Avabag weighs 1.4 pounds (640 grams) and measures just 1.8 liters in volume. This lightness was achieved through a unique welding technology used to make the airbags, where the material is processed without sewing or additional waterproofing.
This is a completely closed, robust system that functions without electricity and blocks out dirt, ice, and any chance of corrosion. The mechanical Avabag system is removable and compatible with all Ortovox Avabag backpacks.
The Avabag system allows you to practice inflating the airbag as many times as you want without the cartridge attached, so that you can be well prepared for an emergency situation. During development, Ortovox also focused on the activation handle–it is ergonomically designed so that it can be activated easily with any type of glove and grip, regardless of whether you are right or left handed.
The activation handle can be set at two different lengths and stands clearly away from the shoulder strap so as to make it easier to reach. On the chairlift, the grip can be stored in the zipped compartment on the shoulder strap to keep it out of the way.
To complement the new Avabag system, Ortovox created two lines of backpacks: the ski tour-oriented Ascent series that offers three models and a backpack weight starting at 1.8 pounds (830 grams), and the Free Rider series with back protector for added safety.
Mammut hits next winter with a completely revised line of avalanche backpacks–both the airbag system and all backpack models have been optimized for low weight and high performance.
With the new removable Airbag System 3.0, the Ultralight pack weighs just over 4 pounds with a full cartridge (MSRP $489.95. Cartridge $189). Taking out the Airbag System 3.0, the pack itself weighs just over a pound, while still offering enough storage space and all the necessary attachment options for demanding ski tours.
The diagonal ski holder can be operated while you are still wearing the backpack and lateral compression straps keep the backpack close to your body. Axes or poles can be attached on the outside, while the inside of the 18 liter backpack offers enough space for shovel and probe as well as a hydration system. You can access the main compartment through the rear and the back padding can be taken out to be used as a seat cushion during breaks.