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avvy backpacks - ABS v Snowpulse v BCA

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So... snowshepherd are doing a 15% off dealio ending today and I am thinking that maybe now is the time to get one of these things. i am feeling snowpulse is the best option but looking for opinions. as far as I can see:

BCA

pros: supposedly cheap
cons: not available or certified in the EU yet. i could potentially pick one up in canada but would i be able to get anywhere to fill the gas tanks in euroland?
not clear whether it has ski carry straps. the original version did not; apparently there is a new version which does

ABS

pros: well established technology
vario system could be useful

cons: continued lack of clarity about use on airlines. in theory they are allowed but it is down to the individual carrier and whether the relevant member of staff got out of bed on the right side on the day in question
A-frame ski carry doesn't appear to be possible

Snowpulse

pros: ability to empty gas cylinder for the flight then refill at destination removes travel worries
there seems to be a snowpulse dealer near to most of the places I go regularly (Whistler, La Grave, Valais) so refills shouldn't be a problem
seems you can do a-frame ski carry system
seems marginally cheaper than ABS
the way that bags inflate to protect your head and neck looks like a good idea

cons: don't have flexibility of Vario system but the 30l pack looks pretty good for most of my needs

am I missing anything here?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I only know about ABS, you seem to have it right about them. 2 of us who have them no longer ask airlines about the canister, just put in hold luggage with the appropriate page from website about safety on planes wrapped around in case someone opens bag to check. Not had a problem so far, and worst case scenario can buy/hire cannister at resort. I have adapted my bag to my needs, putting an external shovel carry system on. And I've integrated an avalung, mostly because I'd heard about it being done and fancied a go.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Arno, BCA confirmed as having ski carry straps for Fy10/11 model, was a thread on here in the past month or so....

The whole can you/can't you take them on airlines and having to go to a place where you can recharge them are putting me off at the moment, any ideas how it would cost to hire one in resort vs buying??

Cheers,

Greg
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i hired one for a day couple of years ago for 20 euros.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
kitenski, i just know i'd never go to the bother of hiring one
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Arno, I see what you mean, it's a discount of about £100 off the Snowpulse bags.

I'm just wondering about size. 30L seems a bit big for my needs, but the 15L could be a little too minimalistic Confused
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
That's a reasonable summary of the pros/cons of each. I went with the ABS as I wanted the vario thing and on grounds of price (I forget how much I paid but it was somewhere between 6 and 7 hundred.) This is a real horses for courses one. I don't think there is enough difference between the bags to worry too much about it. I'd be making a decision largely on price.

As such, if you have a line on a good deal then go for it and don't worry too much about the differences. It is more important to have a bag than to spend time worrying whether you bought the right one.
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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!
gorilla, i'm wavering towards the snowpulse.

i sort of agree with your last comment but it's a total waste of time having a bag if you never bother to use it because the hassle of getting it on a plane is too great!
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Arno, I've got a Snowpulse and very happy with it. I was also attracted by the head protection and head on top theory. Fortunately never put it to the test. Saying that I reckon the most important thing is that it's comfortable. The Snowpulse fits me well and I can just about get the bar down on a chair lift without taking it off. I reckon the trigger is a bit less fiddly than the ABS but to be honest I don't think you can go wrong with either. The newer bags have a couple more attachments so you might be able to get away with 15l.
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kitenski wrote:


The whole can you/can't you take them on airlines and having to go to a place where you can recharge them are putting me off at the moment, any ideas how it would cost to hire one in resort vs buying??


I've said it before but I think the market would open up massively if the makers proactively struck an agreement with airlines that they were safe to carry and published it unambigously. I'd certainly buy one then.

While I quite like the solution above of just not telling them I've had enough bags rifled through by TSA and hassle with numpty security inspectors (including the farcical confiscation of a safety whistle attached to my jacket because I might blow it on the plane and cause a panic (yes the same whistle attached to the lifejacket under every seat wink ). All this leads me to believe that it might only be a matter of time before the expensive pack was confiscated and I was banged up without representation on suspicion of being a terroist.
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It depends how much you are going to wear it, and what additional loads you are going to carry.

The Snowpulse system offers better head protection and creates an air pocket. But it is inflexible in size, and I found the shoulder straps extremely uncomfortable with the way the cabling runs through them.
There is no way I would want to do any kind of tour (even short) with this pack.

So whilst the Snowpulse offers slightly better protection, it is sufficiently impractical and uncomfortable that I'd never wear it.
I'll be buying an ABS this winter.

I always look towards the mountain guides I work with.
Avalanche packs are becoming more common.
But unless they have been given it for free, I don't know a single one using a Snowpulse.
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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.
Arno, come on; spill.

Did you flash the plastic?
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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
Mosha Marc wrote:
Arno, come on; spill.

Did you flash the plastic?


Let's look at the evidence: Arno, well known gearwhore with fetish for multiple Patagucci/Norrona outfits and the most ridiculous collection of ski exotica outside of Evogear. I know where my bet is going.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
yeah well my missus just dropped a load of cash on a bag that doesn't even have explosive inflatable gadgetry! (and now she's complaining that all the metal bling weighs so much it hurts her arm to carry it! rolling eyes )

went for the snowpulse. Alan McGregor's comments came after i went for it. i have checked out the snowpulse bags in the flesh before so it wasn't an obvious problem to me but i guess i can always return it if it is such a bad thing

to add to his comment on buying ABS v Snowpulse, I have never met anyone who has bought an ABS for anything but a super-cheap deal...

fatbob you missed my ebay clear-out! i have thinned the herd considerably!!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
fatbob, you ARE Loyd Grossman. Knew it!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Arno wrote:


went for the snowpulse. !


Cool - London meet-up where we can se eif a test firing creates sufficent space in a crowed pub?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
fatbob, i was thinking of doing it on the tube at rush hour... but maybe that's a good way of getting shot by the police
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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?
Arno,
Quote:

fatbob, i was thinking of doing it on the tube at rush hour

another snowhead has offered to fire his when at the Hemel avi tester day on the 16th Oct, not me by the way.

I offered to chuck loads of snow at him to make it a bit more realistic Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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Arno, I've done almost 100 days with the Snowpulse, including plenty of tours and climbing with the Kuro/dukes (heavy) strapped on. The Snowpulse is comfortable. The shoulder straps are bulky as they hold the bag, but not uncomfortable, and reduce the bulk at the back meaning easier on chairlifts. The ABS Vario system is good but as the frame is the same the difference in weight/ bulk between 15l and 30l is minimal.

Alan - "sufficiently impractical and uncomfortable that I'd never wear it". Are you Paris Hilton Very Happy
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
cheers,BobinCH
i'm pretty reconciled to the extra weight but it's only an extra kilo or so in the bag
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I bought the snowpulse life bag series 30l last year. A friend has the ABS 30l but I prefer my snowpulse.
Here's a bit of a comparison and also a bit of my experience with the bag.

The ruck sack is zipped onto the base unit and can be interchanged for a 10l or 45l unit, just like the ABS vario. The 30l has suited me just fine to date.
When I bought the bag, I intended to do a dry run at home but was advised not to by the retailers, Lockwoods, as there wasn't an authorized filler of the cylinders in the UK at the time. I'm not sure if this is still the case.
I like the idea of head protection with the snowpulse and also that you are more likely to come to rest head up in an avalanche, but on the other hand ABS has 10 years of field testing which snowpulse is lacking as it's a newer product. The advantages are therefore only theoretical at the moment.
On the snowpulse the airbags are in the straps and not in the main compartment so the bag is much slimmer. After getting used to it I didn't take it off to ride any chair lifts, even the older non detachable kind.
The finish and materials used in the bag seem very good, better than the ABS. The metal buckle on the front is very reassuring.
I found the bag very comfortable when skiing and also walking/bootpacking up the mountain, including when the skis were strapped to the back.
I flew 3 times (return) last year without major problem. I placed the cylinder inside a ski boot (with socks stuffed in on top) and used the rucksack as hand luggage. I let the check in staff know each time and the cylinder was inspected twice, once in Cardiff airport and once in Chamberry airport. Both times they seemed quite happy, although it took them longer to come to that conclusion in Cardiff.
The "trigger" on the snowpulse is a loop that comes out of the left shoulder strap. I sometimes worry (probably irrationally) that it might be hard to pull it wearing thick gloves when caught in an avalanche, but I've never had to test the theory. I keep pantomiming the movement of my hand to the loop just to try and make it second nature. I think it's important to adjust the straps so that the trigger/strap is pulled down as much as possible so its easier to reach.

Hope this is of some use
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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imorris, Hi and welcome to Snowheads Very Happy

Snowpulse bags did have an interchangable system like the ABS Vario, however ABS kick up a fuss, (Patent stuff and the like) and Snowpulse dropped their version, to play safe I think, very early last year and most people stopped selling them.

I am sure there is nothing wrong with the Snowpulse that you have, and also Lockwoods are a very good retailer of avalanche systems and will give you lots of good advice.

It maybe worthwhile checking with Lockwoods and also Anatom the UK importer how you stand with the Snowpulse bag that you have, if you IM me I can give you a direct contact with Anatom
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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!
Hey Guys,
Just wanted to add that the new Snowpulse 15L is perfect for me.

Used the 10L last year, which was great, but a little too small for more than a day tour. 10L went to my mate at a great loss!

The straps on this years models are completely different and the back support is incredible in comparison to other Airbag packs.

The BCA I tested last winter and it seems ok, but doesn't provide the same protection as the Snowpulse, but certainly woudl look at that over ABS if price was an issue.

I skiied with a guide in La Grave last year who just bought a Snowpulse, for whoever mentioned the guides get them for free that really isn't the case as Snowpulse has a pro deal set up for the guides in Germany/Austria and perhaps the French distributor has given a few to some French guides, but he must be mad at the cost of them!

My verdict would certainly be Snowpulse all the way, if price is an issue them maybe BCA float. ABS is over 15 years old in design and the explosive charge puts me off.

Also, Snowpusle canisters (Fully charged) are legal on airlines, but I would defiantely agree with the post above about just sticking it in the hold with certificates rather than get into a debate with the often clueless staff at check in. Not their fault, but it's 100% legal to carry.
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imorris, Great service from my contact at Anatom, the snowpulse guys in the UK, they just replied to my question via email at this time in the evening, there is no issue with your Snowpulse sack, its just that you will not be able to get the other sacks to zip on.

Other than that all is OK.

Also Jimmythefoot, I have to agree the 15L pro rider packs are very different to last years much more comfortable and better back support.
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Livetoski, thanks for the heads up. I'll have to see if I can pick up some additional zip on packs cheaply now they're discontinued!
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I'm really thinking about getting one of these packs (probably Snowpulse) but here's the thing... I'm basically a beginner off-piste skier. I mostly ski 'side country' within the resort boundries for three weeks out of the year, don't tour and have never done heli or Cat trips (but hope to do some in the near future). If I do a 'off-piste' day at a resort I always hire a guide (mostly in St. Anton). I know that inbounds avalanches are not that unusual -most resorts take great efforts to keep these very quiet. Am I right in thinking that the main reason why everyone who is venturing 'off-piste' does not use one is down to the cost? If cost was not a factor, would you use one, even if you were not a top tier, freeride skier??

I make the analogy: would I still want to drive a car without an airbag eventhough I only go a few Km's a day within the city limits?
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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.
ludwigk wrote:
If cost was not a factor, would you use one, even if you were not a top tier, freeride skier??

I make the analogy: would I still want to drive a car without an airbag eventhough I only go a few Km's a day within the city limits?


yes, spot on with the analogy, I hope to never use the airbags in my car, but they could help me in a crash.
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ludwigk, Very good question, I have to assume that you already have a transceiver shovel and probe with you, when you are, as you say,
Quote:

'side country'


More and more people are adding an airbag to their kit as an addition to the transceiver,shovel and probe because it may increase the chance of survival. Just like a car airbag!

Most people buying an airbag now are good or improving off piste skiers, the costs have actually come down, Snowpulse is cheaper this year than last year and improved design.

People who I have discussed this with have mostly said yes they would use one if they were a more reasonable price.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
ludwigk, cost and transport hassles had put me off to date. i spotted a 15% off deal Wink which kind of pushed me over the edge to get one and it sounds like transport issues are at least manageable
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Arno wrote:
ludwigk, cost and transport hassles had put me off to date. i spotted a 15% off deal Wink which kind of pushed me over the edge to get one and it sounds like transport issues are at least manageable


My exact rationale too
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livetoski wrote:
ludwigk, Very good question, I have to assume that you already have a transceiver shovel and probe with you, when you are, as you say,
Quote:

'side country'


No -I don't have my own stuff (yet). If I do an 'off-piste' day with a guide, they provide all the kit.

More and more people are adding an airbag to their kit as an addition to the transceiver,shovel and probe because it may increase the chance of survival. Just like a car airbag!

Most people buying an airbag now are good or improving off piste skiers, the costs have actually come down, Snowpulse is cheaper this year than last year and improved design.

People who I have discussed this with have mostly said yes they would use one if they were a more reasonable price.


Seems crazy that we spend thousands$$$ on the cool kit but not on saftey. Christ, my new jacket this year cost almost as much as one of these bags!
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ludwigk,
Quote:

Seems crazy that we spend thousands$$$ on the cool kit but not on saftey. Christ, my new jacket this year cost almost as much as one of these bags!


Very Happy Quite agree I have seen people spend over a 1,000 on jacket and pants, then buy the cheapest socks available, on the reasonning that other people can not see the socks
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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?
As someone who recently got caught in a slide. I would without a doubt go for the Snowpulse due to the increased protection. I rag dolled down the slope bouncing off all sorts, going airborne and was incredibly lucky. I can easily see the benefit of the increased protection and I think it would be well worthwhile. However, I did doubt whether I could have activated an airbag in the heat of the moment.
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^ Yup - i also have no doubt that air bags are a good idea...
Anything that helps keeps skiers on the surface has to be a good idea.

Quote:
Seems crazy that we spend thousands$$$ on the cool kit but not on saftey


Very True.
But spending money on kit alone doesn't keep you safe...
To state the obvious this is something you should never plan on using.
(obviously easier said than done, and no one plans to be avalanched).

Quote:
SnowPulse


Just to play devils advocate...
I have heard the following comments on SnowPulse packs

- The SnowPulse air-bag could potentially add a bigger lever / force to your neck.
- The Snowpulse configuration is perhaps more likely to leave you face down in the snow.
- Once the Snowpulse pack is triggered you ability to ski out of any danger is greatly reduced

Quantifying each of the above would obviously be pretty tough.
And would also depend on specific scenarios. So its hard to say if they are actually real negatives.

Played with a friends SnowPulse pack - and it looked really good, if a little heavy.
If (when?) i eventually buy a pack then it might be the BCA (cost / lighter weight) or SnowPulse (increased protection).
Primarily because you can fly with either of these 2 packs.

ABS packs also look good - but the explosive trigger / flying issues are a big minus for UK based skiers.
(apparently the reason ABS use small explosives is because compressed air could in theory freeze up and block the pipes.)

One final comment - based on friends experience re-filling SnowPulse in ski resorts apparently isn't perhaps as easy / straightforward / quick as the manufacturers claim.
But you can certainly fly with them no bother.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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Haggis_Trap wrote:
Just to play devils advocate...
I have heard the following comments on SnowPulse packs

- The SnowPulse air-bag could potentially add a bigger lever / force to your neck.
- The Snowpulse configuration is perhaps more likely to leave you face down in the snow.
- Once the Snowpulse pack is triggered you ability to ski out of any danger is greatly reduced

Quantifying each of the above would obviously be pretty tough.
And would also depend on specific scenarios. So its hard to say if they are actually real negatives.


Like you say, the best thing is to avoid a slide altogether...
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What does everyone think about the Snowpulse ProRider? I will not be doing any touring so it seems like the best compromise??
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

As someone who recently got caught in a slide. I would without a doubt go for the Snowpulse due to the increased protection. I rag dolled down the slope bouncing off all sorts, going airborne and was incredibly lucky. I can easily see the benefit of the increased protection and I think it would be well worthwhile. However, I did doubt whether I could have activated an airbag in the heat of the moment.


It would make me feel less guilty about making you go first. Given how overdrawn you are at the luck bank, an airbag might not be a bad move.

Quick question: is anyone aware of someone actually getting refused on a flight with the ABS in spite of having the correct paperwork etc? I've seen a lot of worrying but no actual refusals as of yet.
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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!
Haggis_Trap,

- The SnowPulse air-bag could potentially add a bigger lever / force to your neck.
- The Snowpulse configuration is perhaps more likely to leave you face down in the snow.
- Once the Snowpulse pack is triggered you ability to ski out of any danger is greatly reduced

No idea on the first one, but I beleive the neck support is a pro rather than a con, it can depend on the way you fall with any of these packs.
One testing Snowpluse dummies were 100% face up, unlike any others.
Having skiied in La Grave with the pack inflated, although your periperal vision is reduced you can ski fine, my view is that anyone skiing places to warrent one of these cna ski with it inflated no problem, even my Snowboarding companion was suprised at the vision he had.

In terms of weight the Snowpulse is lighter than the ABS and not sure about the weight of the BCA.

ludwigk, Used the 10L prorider last year on a 3day your and sold it to my mate and just got my 15L as the 10L was slightly too small, but I can't wait to get in on my back and get skinning up!
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^ like I said - just playing devil advocate. Snow-Pulse looks like a very good option.
Though for off-piste skiing I would want a 30L pack.
Plenty space for map / food / water / shovel / probe / skins, plus 8mm rope & harness if your on a glacier.
If your doing any skinning or hiking its also nice to be able to store your fleece / jacket.
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Just to update that my Snowpulse arrived yesterday. Even aside from the safety features, it is a really nicely made and specced pack. i struggle to think of another pack better put together for off-piste skiing/touring (maybe the Marmot La Meije runs it close). if it didn't have the airbag, i might complain that the fabric is a bit too heavy/tough but this is always a compromise between weight and how hard wearing it will be. for a pricey bit of kit like this, i don't want the fabric to be wearing out in a couple of years and I don't think this will be a problem with this pack
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