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Airbag types

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I should probably have one of these, but last time I did any research on the matter, the debate was more "massively expensive new airbag technology" vs Avalung etc. I am aware that the technology has improved since then, the price has reduced, and some products have matured, but feel totally bamboozled by all the info out there so was hoping for a bit of help Confused

Things I need to consider:
Airbag type: I think canisters rather than Jetforce is the way for me to go – I like the idea of the Jetforce, but I think it's too big, heavy and expensive for me to consider at the moment, but maybe would when the product has matured. That's about where my knowledge ends though. Are there still different canister types? I want something that can be refilled or replaced easily in Europe without great expense, as I don't want refill cost or faff to be a consideration before pulling the trigger. I can see the advantage of the removable system, but I do have an alternative (non-airbag) backpack, so this isn't a priority.

Size and shape: I am 5'4" and female, so my back is short and my shoulders are narrow. However, one consideration with female-specific packs is that some have been shrunk down without any thought to the fact that we don't have female-specific length shovels and probes, and so they can be difficult to pack. A lot of the bags I've seen people carrying on the hill are huge, cumbersome items that stick out a long way. My current bag is a slim, tapered design that is not too big to wear on a chairlift and so something similar would be nice. Being small, I also don't want to be carrying something heavy.

Capacity: I currently use a 14L bag that fits all my gear in, so something similar size would be fine, but taking into account the space the airbag system takes up.

Price: Unless the product in question is a lot more expensive, price is low down the priority list. I don't have a huge amount of money to spend, but I'm not in a rush so happy to wait until I find what I want at a good sale price or second hand.

Travel: I am envisioning future transport to be mainly by road, so as long as it's not completely banned by airlines, I'll cross any air travel bridges when I need to.

I'll happily take any specific bag recommendations, but also any general info about the different systems and their pros and cons so that I can narrow down the options. Please assume no further knowledge beyond what I've written here! Toofy Grin
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Search function JONG! Given air travel is not really a variable then a lot of my considerations fall out of the equation so I think my advice would be one that fits. Judging by the number of people trading second hand packs I'd suggest that a fair number of people don't get it right first time but equally that there probably a fair number of bargain packs that blokes have bought for female partners hoping to encourage them into OP and then found their inducement didn't really work.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Dave of the Marmottes, I did! Information overload or out of date or air travel specific or large bloke specific!

Yes, I am aware that there are plenty popping up on buy/sell, and had wondered how many were due to buying the wrong product. I'm more of a buy-the-right-thing-first-time and keep it for five years type rather then chucking money at different random things wink
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It's all pretty irrelevant you'll just end up buying whatever @spyderjon legs you over for so you might as well cut out the agonising and trust he's done all the geek product optimisation thinking for you wink
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Dave of the Marmottes, Come on! You can be more helpful that that! Anyway, @Spyderjon only has the aforementioned massive bags listed on his site at the moment. I'm sure he can get hold of more than that, but me asking him to do so without any idea of what I want is the same as me just emptying my wallet into his shop Toofy Grin
ski holidays     
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Try the pack on. My Jetforce is heavy compared to others but the back system is so nice you don't really notice it.

You will probably need 24L in any pack.
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Scarlet, for your criteria I'd suggest the Mammut Ride Short or Pro Short 3.0. I think they only come in the removable (RAS) system, rather than the protection (PAS) system. The 3.0 with a carbon cylinder would be as light as anything on the market. A couple of online places e.g., facewest.co.uk exchange an empty cartridge for a full one for £15, and I'm sure dealers in resorts would too.
ski holidays     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Themasterpiece wrote:
@Scarlet, for your criteria I'd suggest the Mammut Ride Short or Pro Short 3.0. I think they only come in the removable (RAS) system, rather than the protection (PAS) system. The 3.0 with a carbon cylinder would be as light as anything on the market. A couple of online places e.g., facewest.co.uk exchange an empty cartridge for a full one for £15, and I'm sure dealers in resorts would too.


Thanks for the recommendation, but I need to do a bit of jargon translation here wink

RAS vs PAS? One is removable and the other isn't? Is that the only difference or am I missing something?

Carbon cylinder: I assume you're referring to the cylinder itself rather than what's in it? As with other carbon stuff, I'm going to assume more expensive but lighter... that's ok as you only need one? Two?

Can they be refilled or only exchanged?
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Snow Sheppard has a good website specifically aimed at off piste and may well cover options Jon doesnt. Tim does a discount for super snowheads too.

Would echo the point for any pack its worth trying on especially if not an average size.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Scarlet, Dave's right, it's all about fit, especially for someone of your build. The different systems all work fine so I'd only be considering the system type if you are lucky enough to find more than one pack that fits well.

It's hard enough getting to try various makes/models of helmets as sales levels don't justify a shop carrying a wide range but it's far far harder to try different avi packs as their sales are so low & the margins are so tight that no one stock a 'range'.

I'd recommend going for something bigger than you might think as a higher volume well packed bag with good compression straps will end up being more compact on lifts etc plus you've got extra space when you need it - so I'd agree with @GlasgowCyclops & suggest looking at the 24/25L range as a min providing it has good compression straps.

I'm a big fan of the Scott packs (which is why I sell them wink) which they do in 20, 24 & 30L sizes. However, all three
packs are 56cm high x 28cm wide & it's their depth that varies to give the different volumes. I therefore only stock the 30L pack as it's by far the biggest seller but a customer can still try the 30L for fit & I can then order them a smaller volume if required. But if a 56 x 28 pack is too big on you then Scott wouldn't be the brand for you. Therefore you need to looking at height/width dimensions first before volume. If you're happy with the fit of your existing non-avi pack then start your search by looking for makes/models of packs that are similar to the dimensions of your existing pack & work from there.

And no, there isn't an avi bag on the market that'll protect your nose Toofy Grin
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
As a good guide (in a reverse way)... Look at all the packs on sale. All are big or the 20l and below. Why, because these are the ones that people find not ideal. The packs that people find perfect are the ones rarely on sale. That is why you rarely see 24 and 28l on sale.

Mine is 28L.

I'm a fan of the Jetforce for one big reason. You can practise with it. You can ski and set it off for a practise. You can also pack it back in any way. Then yo simply recharge overnight.

As Jon said..... it s a bit like goggles and helmet. You NEED to try them.
ski holidays     
 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I still love my ABS Vario after many seasons and although I bought a 24lt zip on bag cheap at the same time I have never actually used it, the 18lt bag holds probe, shovel, drink, food, skins and a duvet jacket fine (also spare blood test kit, glucose gels, ski straps and a multitool). Smaller people, especially slight women, would probably be better served by the smaller and lighter Powder unit. I'd only take the 24lt if I was doing a really extended tour or an overnight trip.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Scarlet wrote:
Themasterpiece wrote:
@Scarlet, for your criteria I'd suggest the Mammut Ride Short or Pro Short 3.0. I think they only come in the removable (RAS) system, rather than the protection (PAS) system. The 3.0 with a carbon cylinder would be as light as anything on the market. A couple of online places e.g., facewest.co.uk exchange an empty cartridge for a full one for £15, and I'm sure dealers in resorts would too.


Thanks for the recommendation, but I need to do a bit of jargon translation here wink

RAS vs PAS? One is removable and the other isn't? Is that the only difference or am I missing something?

Carbon cylinder: I assume you're referring to the cylinder itself rather than what's in it? As with other carbon stuff, I'm going to assume more expensive but lighter... that's ok as you only need one? Two?

Can they be refilled or only exchanged?


RAS = Removalable airbag system. You can swap from a smaller to larger RAS-ready backpack if you so desire. Forms a big cushion behind your heads.

PAS = Protection airbag system. The airbag is also in the shoulder straps so it forms protection around your head. I've read it distributes the weight better, but it makes the shoulder straps more bulky and stiffer.

Cartridge/cylinder comes in steel or carbon. Carbon is noticeably lighter. The European one is 300 bar nitrogen filled and non-refillable (you have to exchange it for a new one at a shop).

The US cylinder is different and is 207 bar Alu, which is filled with compressed air. Apparently it can be filled at paintball places or dive shops (with a paintball gun adaptor), or even yourself with a hill hand pump and a lot of elbow grease.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I have the Mammut PAS system with a 15L and 30L bag (as the airbag system is removable). Did have the ABS system in a 26L Salewa bag but sold that as a) it was too heavy (more than 3.5 kg before actually putting anything in it) and b) I didn't like the fact you had to fiddle about attaching and removing the trigger system and the handle didn't hold the trigger system securely when not connected.

Advantages of either of the Mammut system are that it can be fairly light (<2.5kg for either of my bags with a carbon cylinder), they have a range of bags which fit the RAS system in particular and not just from Mammut so you can hopefully find a shape/size you like and the system does not take up a lot of room in the bag. I find the 15L one OK for avalanche kit, spare layer and some sunglasses and water but for skins etc or other kit, I take the 30L one which you can compress a bit with compression straps. Downsides are the bulky straps (although does reduce the weight), variability of airline travel and that fact that it isn't rechargable/single use on the hill.

I would have liked to try the Jetforce system but was put off first by the cost as they are normally about £600+ even in the sales (unless you are GlasgowCyclops!) compared to <£375 for my two bags, airbag system and carbon cylinder and the fact they are a similar weight as my old bag which I found tiring after a while. I also like the look of the Ortovox Avabag system but couldn't get one at the same price point and there is a limited choice of bag sizes.

Now it probably a good time to look, if you can't try on many and don't mind paying some return carriage, you could look at a few that way?
snow report     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Kamikaze Pete, as @spyderjon says, finding a stock in a local shop would be a challenge in itself, never mind in a small-than-average-bloke size. I will have a measure of my other one though, to get an idea.

@Themasterpiece, useful info, thanks. I was aware of air-filled canisters, but didn't know they were regional so that answers my query there.

@mmgg1988, which version of the Mammut RAS do you have? Do you know what the "improvements" have been in the newer ones? Was the fiddly trigger a problem with the bag or a design issue with the airbag system?
snow conditions     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm going the throw in ortovox freerider packs. I've had them for a few years now and with/without the abs they have been spot on. Very robust, backprotector integrated and available in different back lengths.

Sadly I sold my freerider 24 at the end of last season thinking the next few will be family hols.

Alas wifey and the wee one are now more interesTed in ice hockey so I have more holiday time and need to buy a new pack. Heads up Tim, save me a new Ortovox pack (In blue as of course I need to colour co-oRd Happy )
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Scarlet, I have the PAS system, the previous version (?2.0) rather than the current 3.0. Haven't tried the 3.0 one but I know it uses the same cartridges but the bags are not compatible between 2.0 and 3.0. I think it is a bit smaller/lighter and orange rather than red.

I think all the ABS triggers are like that, it wasn't just with that particular bag. They may have re-designed it. It works perfectly well, you just have to decide whether to keep it connected all the time, with the risk of accidental actvation or use some sort of loop to ensure that the handle remians in the velcro holder.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I have BCA float. The new gen product seems to have a pretty small pack size in 22L. The big advantages are A)compressed air cylinder which I've had refilled at dive shops, airgun shop and even a US fire station and B) Mechanical cable pull trigger.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, are they available in Europe? Can they be refilled in Europe easily? What is the advantage of the mechanical trigger? (I know nothing about triggers, including what the alternative is.) Is the other seemingly obvious advantage, that you can presumably transport them empty and thus avoid twitchy airline problems, actually a thing or is there something else I'm overlooking?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yep available over here. Only really need to be empty for flights to/from N America ( dunno what Japan regs are). Mechanical trigger means a cable locked in pulls a valve and that allows the air outflow. Pretty easy to refill although less so in resorts where curiously paintball and scuba diving aren't always as popular. I've considered buying an adaptor so in an emergency I can just beg a fire station ( in exchange for a donation).
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Important Note: Well the first thing you have to know about airbags is be careful around the handle when it's "live". This will prevent embarrassing incidents where you inflate your airbag in the middle of the knife and fork, with lots of people around.

@Scarlet I saw you asking about refilling, just to put it on the table I have the Scott/Alpride system which uses single-use cartridges, the benefit of which of course is that you don't need to find a place that refills (just a place which sells the cartridges... which my research this season revealed was actually quite a lot of places). A second bonus of this system is that under the IATA Dangerous Goods regs, you can actually carry spare cartridges for the Alpride system which you're not entitled to do with a refillable canister.

Under the new system they do 12, 24 and 32L packs, like Spyderjon says, it might be wise to go up one from what you think you need. Myself and @PaulC1984 had a bit of a size comparison (ooh matron!) between the Scott and Ortovox, we came to the conclusion that probably Scott give you a litres measurement of the bag before the airbag goes in and Ortovox tell you how much space is leftover... so a smaller Ortovox could be the same amount of useable space as a bigger Scott. The airbag does take up a fair bit of space and for obvious reasons you only really want to store soft goods in the same compartment as the airbag, so it is a consideration worth making to ensure there's at least enough room leftover for your shovel and probe not to mention other crap.

I really like the bag, it's comfortable and a good design and the cartridges are well priced... apparently Alpride are supporting the system for at least the next 8 years so it's not going to be obsolete when the next product comes out.

The only problem really is that due to Scott dealer rights and that kind of stuff, you have to give money to that annoying scouser.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Dave of the Marmottes, sounds a bit more awkward to refill than I'd like. Do you think there's a market for slopeside paintball? It's a solution to multiple problems wink

@dp, thanks for the info. You were the second accidental deployment I just-missed-seeing this season Toofy Grin

Good work on the size comparison, and good point about obsolescence – something to consider if buying older models second hand.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
You didn't actually miss much. Basically I had the bag open anyway and upon realising what I'd done, I jammed my fingers in the pressure release valve as fast as I could and most of the air came out of that. The bag only inflated a bit. But it makes a right furking racket when it pumps 2 cylinders of compressed air out of a relatively small hole, so everyone around still twigged what had happened...

The Ortovox ones (I think it's called a Free Rider or something) definitely seem way more spacious inside for the same capacity rating than a Scott.

I do like the fit of the Ortovox bag. I don't like the velcro waist belt. Trying the different models on would seem to be the best thing but I don't know where that's possible.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the ABS system - as used in a lot of the bags (inc the Ortovox) - is a more widely adopted system at the moment than Alpride. So if you want to get into the game of buying a few compatible backpacks, and swapping the airbag around (for instance buying a large backpack for hut-to-hut touring) then you might find more options compatible with the ABS system.

For me the winner with the scott is really the dispensable cartridges. It was easy to find spares in resort this season so even if you do deploy it, or have them confiscated in the airport or whatever, it's quite straightforward and relatively inexpensive to replace them.
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Scarlet wrote:
@Dave of the Marmottes, sounds a bit more awkward to refill than I'd like.


As you say in you first post air travel won't be a concern for you and I suggest that refills/swaps for any brand won't really be an issue once you know the hookups in Innsbruck. Let's face it it is an expensive piece of kit you never want to use in anger so if you do being more conservative until you get a refill doesn't seem to be a bad idea to me.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Dave of the Marmottes, I have always been of the mindset that, with the obvious exception of setting it off in the bar... if I'm in an avalanche during my trip that causes me to pull the trigger, and I survive... I may choose to spend the rest of the holiday doing pistes, and buy a lottery ticket.

For holiday skiers, in-resort refill is probably less of an actual issue than we perceive it to be. That said, I am not the only person I know who has set theirs off by accident and I would not want to miss out on an epic powder day because I couldn't get a refill.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Scarlet, leaving the tech aside, if you don't have one already, why do you think you should have one?

I'm not aiming toopen any worm cans. Just curious about your motivation.

there are certain folks for whom it's a sensible work related health and safety question: if risk can be thought of as a combination of probability and exposure, and no matter how good you are you'll never get probability and therefore risk to zero, risk mitigation rapidly becomes very sensible - high mountain guides, pisteurs, etc.

There are clearly recreational skiers who spend sufficient time skiing sufficiently risky terrain that it also becomes sensible. Leaving aside the debate on whether airbags are really as effective as claimed. (At an individual level, saving one's own life once is clearly all it takes, that's 100% effective). But I know at least one resort resident who has stopped wearing his as it was screwing with his decision making on marginal calls - "ah go for it I've got my airbag it's probably fine" rather than "play another day it's just on the wrong side of sketchy".

Just be sure you are clear as to why you're buying what you buy Cool
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Scarlet, leaving the tech aside, if you don't have one already, why do you think you should have one?

I'm not aiming toopen any worm cans. Just curious about your motivation.

there are certain folks for whom it's a sensible work related health and safety question: if risk can be thought of as a cobination of probability and exposure, and no matter how good you are you'll never get probability and therefore risk to zero, risk mitigation rapidly becomes very sensible - high mountain guides, pisteurs, etc.

There are clearly recreational skiers who spend sufficient time skiing sufficiently risky terrain that it also becomes sensible. Leaving aside the debate on whether airbags are really as effective as claimed. (At an individual level, saving one's own life once is clearly all it takes, that's 100% effective). But I know at least one resort resident who has stopped wearing his as it was screwing with his decision making on marginal calls - "ah go for it I've got my airbag it's probably fine" rather than "play another day it's just on the wrong side of sketchy".

Just be sure you are clear as to why you're buying what you buy Cool
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Scarlet, leaving the tech aside, if you don't have one already, why do you think you should have one?

You're "should" of course is your own, and I'm not aiming to open any worm cans. Just curious (nosy) about your motivation and whether you've thought the arguments thru.

there are certain folks for whom it's a sensible work related health and safety question: if risk can be thought of as a cobination of probability and exposure, and no matter how good you are you'll never get probability and therefore risk to zero, risk mitigation rapidly becomes very sensible - high mountain guides, pisteurs, etc.

There are clearly recreational skiers who spend sufficient time skiing sufficiently risky terrain that it also becomes sensible. I have a chum who pretty much only ever skis off piste, with a guide and every day involves high mountain and probably touring to access what they want. A good number of days a year. It's a no brainer for him.

I have many friends who tour extensively, and would not consider wearing one - a. They trust their own route finding/knowledge/ and b. The things are too darn heavy.

Leaving aside the debate on whether airbags are really as effective as claimed. (At an individual level, saving one's own life once is clearly all it takes, that's 100% effective). But I know at least one resort resident who has stopped wearing his as it was screwing with his decision making on marginal calls - "ah go for it I've got my airbag it's probably fine" rather than "play another day it's just on the wrong side of sketchy".

Just be sure you are clear as to why you're buying what you buy Cool
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@dp, I love the Velcro waist strap - 3 reasons

1) the lack doesn't move
2) really handy pocket on it
3) the single most important thing is it holds my gut in so it saves me having to hold my breath for any photos or puffing out my chest when walking into the bar Toofy Grin
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Dave of the Marmottes, kinda what @dp says – I'm thinking about the places I ski regularly that are a bit more remote and less well stocked – Gressoney, Dolomites (dunno whether that's right, as I've never had to get hold of one before). Also, the other person that I know who set his off while standing around – it was early in the day but they were out with a guide. The guide gave him (I think) a spare canister he was carrying which is only something you've got a chance of if you've got a common model.

@under a new name, a good question (so good, you've asked me three times Toofy Grin ). The bag should not affect your decision making, but you may not always be aware if it is. I've noticed that I am often the only person in my group without one, which makes me feel like I'm missing some vital piece of equipment. It's when your guide says things like "one at a time here, very fast" and looks up nervously that you maybe think you ought to have been shopping.

They used to be way out of my budget, but the price has been coming down and I've regularly seen second hand ones for <£300 which makes having one less of a massive expense.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@PaulC1984, New from Ortovox, the avalanche airbag with built-in Spankx Toofy Grin Laughing
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The problem with owners reviews of airbags is they all think their's is the best, possibly because it's the best for their specific needs but more likely due to the endowment effect (which is probably amplified in a piece of life saving kit).

For my 2 pence worth I have a ?15 year old ABS and it's way heavy even after I've stripped the pack down and used carbon cylinder it's 4.5kg.
Here's some pro's and con's

ABS Pro most "proven"
Con's Most common variant uses explosive trigger and gas, when they replaced their previous mechanical system they made a big deal about how this was much safer as not going to ice up and not fire like mechanical system.
Also my big worry would be that they stop supporting the trigger handle as they are pushing their ?electromechanical PRide system.

For many of the other newer gas bags my problem with them is the manufactures all use their own cylinders and aren't suppose to be interchangeable.
The Alpride system used in the Scott has two small cylinders and they suggest that you term it a life vest for check-in and use this Set of regs rather than avalanche airbag as that only allows one cylinder. No experience personally but internet reports suggest some problems doing this.
Postage of airbag cylinders is getting more problematic (certainly in U.K.) so I'd consider one that you can replace / refill locally.

The fan bags seem like the way to go eventually but at minute heavy, useable pack volume isn't great, can't be interchanged for different sized bags and most crucially don't have too much in field results as yet (from what I've read).

I'd suggest getting a smallish secondhand gas bag, thinking you'll likely change to a fan in 4-5 seasons, at the price they're going for there about the price of a new non air bag pack.

I'm not convinced by Glasgowcyclops arguments that all the second hand ones for sale are because people bought too small, I'd guess there's multiple reasons including the " I upgrade to the latest expensive gear ever year / it doesn't match the colour of my jacket brigade"

I like the idea of the refillable canisters With the BCA (? Snowpulse) that you can buy a air rifle pump and adaptor to refill yourself (albeit with a considerable amount of effort). Of course the refillable cylinders are heavier than the carbon ones.
snow conditions     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Scarlet, being the only one without all the gear is not a sufficient reason for anything.

Feeling happier and ready to pull the cord if the guide really has got his estimations wrong absolutely is.

Fair enough.
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@under a new name, absolutely. Some people really do take the kitchen sink with them as well.

The other thing I forgot – some of the heli cos won't let you on without an airbag. This is not something I've ever done or plan to do regularly, but I can foresee opportunities and wouldn't want to be left behind Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Scarlet, forgot to mention it in my earlier post but dp mentioned it.

There's no consistent measure of pack volume from maker to maker - some give the volume of a total empty pack (ie avi system not installed), some give the pack volume including the air bag/valve mechanism but no cylinder & some give you the volume left for use with the system/cylinder installed. Plus, to make it even more confusing, it's very hard to ascertain which method of measurement each maker uses. Some, like ABS, don't even quote the dimensions of their packs!

This is why you get the above contradictory posts re what volume to go for. For example Scarpa's 18L ABS is really equivalent to Scotts 24L.
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@Scarlet, re heli? Really? When I last helied, CMH 2012, they wouldn't let air bags in the cabin. Had to go in the skinrack if there was space.

A chum in turkey inflated his in the heli once. Not popular....
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Scarlet wrote:
@Dave of the Marmottes,

@dp, You were the second accidental deployment I just-missed-seeing this season Toofy Grin



You can see me pull my plunger at the beginning of Robin's video on here
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3072957#3072957

And I did get mine at a crazy cheap price..... Thank you Tiso. Happy
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betterinblack wrote:

For many of the other newer gas bags my problem with them is the manufactures all use their own cylinders and aren't suppose to be interchangeable.
The Alpride system used in the Scott has two small cylinders and they suggest that you term it a life vest for check-in and use this Set of regs rather than avalanche airbag as that only allows one cylinder. No experience personally but internet reports suggest some problems doing this.
Postage of airbag cylinders is getting more problematic (certainly in U.K.) so I'd consider one that you can replace / refill locally.


There is some reasonably duff information here so I should probably clarify.

1) you don't check it in as a life vest. why not? because it's clearly not a life vest is it? what you can do is check it in as a "self inflating safety device". I have done this several times this season and at no point did it pose a problem. It seems that the airlines in the ski resorts are getting used to the idea now and know what you're talking about when you get to check-in. There is a thread on this forum about it and most people seem to be happy and it's actually the people with refillable cartridges having the problems.

2) You say " the manufactures all use their own cylinders and aren't suppose to be interchangeable" but realistically, how many manufacturers of gas airbags are there? There's ABS, Snowpulse, Alpridge, Avabag? Any others? So you're only tied down to a handful of manufacturers. And when you say "aren't supposed to be interchangeable", I think what you actually mean is that different airbags are different volumes so of course the cartridges aren't interchangeable because they need a different amount of air to fill them. So I think it's a bit of a bogus argument. It's like putting down petrol cars because they don't take diesel... you wouldn't really expect them to.

3) Who told you that postage of airbag cartridges is problematic? I post gas cylinders at work all the time and we're yet to discover this problem. UPS every time and it's no issue.

under a new name wrote:
leaving the tech aside, if you don't have one already, why do you think you should have one?


I bought one new for this season. My rationale is that I basically do not want to die by suffocation under a big pile of snow (I think it would be quite unpleasant) and if there is any device which is practical to carry yet offers any reduction in the risk then I am up for carrying it. I was in a small but all the same quite frightening slide in January and I didn't get to pull my airbag (for my own, dumb, reasons) but I was waist deep and really decided to start taking the risk more seriously.

An airbag is PPE. I wear PPE every day, and PPE does not make me take risks. PPE means that if I, or somebody else, does cock up... there is less scope of death or serious injury. Likewise when skiing, my helmet is PPE, my gloves are PPE... do these make you take more risks too? Would we all be safer skiers if we went out naked?

Anyone who takes this seriously is more than aware that an avalanche can kill you regardless of any amount of PPE. An airbag might keep you on top of the drift but you could still be bashed down a cliff and die from huge internal bleeding, on top of the snow. You could still lose your skis and your friends and be stuck on the mountain on your own with miles to get home and the sun fading and no phone signal. The scope for bad times is still ever present. But if a 5kg backpack gives me even a 1% reduction in the likelihood of suffocating upside down in a pile of snow, I'm basically game.
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under a new name wrote:
... re heli? Really? When I last helied, CMH 2012, they wouldn't let air bags in the cabin. Had to go in the ski rack if there was space. ...

wink Ancient history. Bags were bigger in 2012, and there was talk of CAA (or whatever it is) regulations. These days it's not an issue - bags are fine in helicopters (Powder Mountain, Wiegele at least), just disarm them. I've never seen one go off, but it would not in my view be a life threatening issue: it's not like you're setting a fire extinguisher off or anything. You could reasonably expect considerable hassle if you were to trigger one in a machine. Lots of Europeans (probably mostly bankers) use bags, fewer North Americans. You have been able to buy them at Wiegele's for a few years.

I'd sort of expected them to be included in the price by now. I flew a bit with Eagle Pass years ago and they were. However (unlike helmets) WorkSafeBC have not dictated what should be done, based on the available research which they've published for that purpose. I have read it and I see their point. Oh, when I did the Eagle Pass trip those were early bags and huge, so they had to go in the basket as there was simply no space in the A-Star for them.

It's not the OP's question, and I'm sure there are separate threads for people to have religious wars on this stuff, but to me there are two rational approaches to this type of thing. In case someone gets confused I'm not saying which mine is. They are:
  • If money's not an issue, and if the thing can't reasonably make you less safe, then there's only up-side in having it. This is why bankers always have Avalungs. Pointless, but there's no down-side for a banker, to whom the cost is not a factor.
  • If the guides don't use it, then they can't reasonably sue their employer for failing to provide it, which tends to suggest that the evidence of efficacy is not sufficient for a civil court in BC.


--
Oh, I suppose PPE is "personal protective equipment. That begs the question of if they're actually protective, for which you want those religious war threads I'd say.
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dp wrote:
betterinblack wrote:

For many of the other newer gas bags my problem with them is the manufactures all use their own cylinders and aren't suppose to be interchangeable.
The Alpride system used in the Scott has two small cylinders and they suggest that you term it a life vest for check-in and use this Set of regs rather than avalanche airbag as that only allows one cylinder. No experience personally but internet reports suggest some problems doing this.
Postage of airbag cylinders is getting more problematic (certainly in U.K.) so I'd consider one that you can replace / refill locally.


There is some reasonably duff information here so I should probably clarify.

1) you don't check it in as a life vest. why not? because it's clearly not a life vest is it? what you can do is check it in as a "self inflating safety device". I have done this several times this season and at no point did it pose a problem. It seems that the airlines in the ski resorts are getting used to the idea now and know what you're talking about when you get to check-in. There is a thread on this forum about it and most people seem to be happy and it's actually the people with refillable cartridges having the problems.


I'll let the op decide what is duff information here

Here's the IATA guidelines
http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/passenger-provisions-table-23A-en.pdf

Here's what it says about avalanche backpacks:

Avalanche rescue backpack, one (1) per person, containing a cartridge of compressed gas in
Div. 2.2. May also be equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing no more than
200 mg net of Div. 1.4S. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be
accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpacks must be fitted with pressure relief valves

i.e. One cyclinder

It does also talk about:

Gas cartridges, small, non-flammable containing carbon dioxide or other suitable gas in YES YES YES NO
Division 2.2. Up to two (2) small cartridges fitted into a self-inflating safety device such as a life
jacket or vest. Not more than one (1) device per passenger and up to two (2) spare small cartridges
per person, not more than four (4) cartridges up to 50 mL water capacity for other devices

I'm glad dp had no problems but others have reported having protracted negotiations with airport staff over if this is an avalanche rescue backpack or a "self-inflating safety device". my opinion is it's of course both but i don't work in airport security.




dp wrote:

2) You say " the manufactures all use their own cylinders and aren't suppose to be interchangeable" but realistically, how many manufacturers of gas airbags are there? There's ABS, Snowpulse, Alpridge, Avabag? Any others? So you're only tied down to a handful of manufacturers. And when you say "aren't supposed to be interchangeable", I think what you actually mean is that different airbags are different volumes so of course the cartridges aren't interchangeable because they need a different amount of air to fill them. So I think it's a bit of a bogus argument. It's like putting down petrol cars because they don't take diesel... you wouldn't really expect them to.


Maybe it's just me then but it seems for all their benefit to have had a standard size, for consumer ease to avoid the issue mentioned earlier of an accidental firing and then being at the mercy of what you can get hold of.
In addition to your list there is of course ARVA's new reactor bag, thats without including any legacy bags floating around WARY system in mystery ranch bags, etc.
The last gen ABS bags and the ARVA bag plus latest Ortovox Avabag cylinders all look remarkably similar so you dont want to get a spare mixed up with your mates none identical cylinder.

dp wrote:

3) Who told you that postage of airbag cartridges is problematic? I post gas cylinders at work all the time and we're yet to discover this problem. UPS every time and it's no issue.


Based on this very boards information

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2780141&highlight=posting+airbag#2780141
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