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The 5 Best Avalanche Airbags
The best avalanche airbag can be a useful tool while you are on a mountain. Avalanche airbags can help prevent you from being buried in the event of an avalanche, which is the biggest cause of death in avalanches. Because of this, an avalanche airbag is definitely a must-have if you’re going to be backcountry skiing or shredding down the black diamond slopes. Check out our avalanche airbag reviews and ratings below.
There are many different sizes, types, and systems available, and it all can be confusing. In order to help you, we’ve gone through as many as we could find to locate the best of the best. Check out the top five best avalanche airbags below.
In This Article
The Backcountry Access Avalanche Airbag with Shoulder Trigger is the best avalanche airbag because it has a convenient trigger located on trigger so it’s within reach at the first sign of an avalanche.
The Backcountry Access Avalanche Airbag with Shoulder Trigger is one of the best avalanche airbag options because it has the ability to integrate with BC Link radios. It has a main compartment that has an internal pocket for tools like an avalanche shovel and avalanche probe. It also gives you the ability to carry your skis diagonally.
This avalanche airbag has a float system that is integrated in it, and it has the ability to attach the trigger mount to either the right or left shoulder strap. The full-sized bag is one of the lightest available and allows you to tour all day. The Backcountry Access float pack has the airbag already attached to it. When you purchase the float cylinder, you are able to connect it to the airbag and inflate the bag once you pull the trigger.
- It is compatible with a float cylinder
- Affordable price tag
- Has a place for carrying skis
- Does not come with a float cylinder
The Backcountry Access MtnPro Vest Avalanche Airbag is the best avalanche airbag because it’s a lightweight vest-backpack combination that has pockets to make carrying your gear easier.
The Backcountry Access MtnPro Vest Avalanche Airbag is the best avalanche airbag because it is an all-in-one, lightweight, and breathable protective vest. This current version is six percent lighter than older versions of the Float MtnPro Vest models. It has a central pocket that comes with an internal tool pocket for items like a shovel and probe.
This avalanche airbag must have a float 2.0 air cylinder to operate, but it is not included with the backpack and needs to be purchased separately. The avalanche airbag pack has a volume of 1,220 cubic inches or 20 liters. The pack comes with a carry pocket for a shovel that is on the outside of the bag. It has a compact and lightweight float 2.0 inflation system. This bag has full protection in the front, side and back areas with a 1 mm of hard shell that is surrounded by two layers of PE foam.
- Built in integration with transceiver and BC Link radio
- Lightweight and durable vest
- Oval-shaped trigger won’t get bumped as easily
- Float cylinder required but not included
The BCA Float 22 Avalanche Airbag Backpack is the best avalanche airbag because it is a more affordable option that still gives skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers the safety and protection of the more expensive options.
The Backcountry Access Float 22 Avalanche Airbag 2.0 Backpack is one of the best avalanche airbags because it is designed for many different uses from freeriding to mechanized skiing and snowboarding. This backpack gives you the ability to float to the surface and gives you buoyancy. The protection airbag is 150 liters and it can protect your head and neck from any trauma.
The volume of the avalanche backpack is 22 liters and can carry all the items you need for a rescue and food for the day. It is constructed of nylon and is one of the most lightweight and economical backpacks you can purchase. The weight of the empty backpack is just about 5 pounds. The dimensions of the bag are 21.3 inches by 11.8 inches by 5.9 inches.
- Affordable price
- You can choose which shoulder to put the trigger on
- BC Link radio integration
- Does not include the 2.0 cylinder
The Mammut Flip Removable 20 Liter Airbag 3.0 is the best avalanche airbag because it gives you a place to store your skis while not in use and also gives you loops to put your avalanche equipment on.
The Mammut Flip Removable Airbag is one of the best avalanche airbag options because it gives you everything you could possibly need in a lightweight airbag system. It has a large pocket in the front to hold your avalanche safety equipment. It has a different pocket for your devices for communication. The main pocket can be accessed from the top or a zipper on the back.
The Mammut Flip has mountings to hold skis, snowboard and split board. It includes a daisy chain loop to hold all your extras. It has compression straps to provide you extra comfort. This bag will hold up to any trip that you want to make. This bag measures 54 centimeters in high by 25.5 centimeters in wide by 21 centimeters long. It also has a loop on the hip belt for a carabiner that attaches the leg loop, and it features a completely removable airbag system.
- Compatible with hydration systems
- Includes two attachments for an ice ax and trek poles
- Comes in 20L and 22L options
- Narrow shoulder straps may be uncomfortable for some people
The The North Face ABS Patrol 24 Airbag is the best avalanche airbag because it’s from a well-established brand that’s known for its high-quality wilderness survival and safety gear.
The North Face ABS Patrol 24 Airbag is one of the best avalanche airbag because it comes with the North Face design and experience that you have come to expect. It has an ABS dual bag system. North Face and ABS have teamed together to manufacture this bag. It provides 24 liters of storage and offers internal pockets to keep the storage all of your extra items neat and secure.
When you activate the airbag, compressed gas will inflate the two airbags to help keep you above the surface of an avalanche. The pull handle for the ABS activation is positioned on the left shoulder strap for quick access and airbag deployment. It has a small pocket on top of the bag and dual waist belt pockets to keep snacks close by. The pack has durable zippers that are oversized and water-resistant.
- Includes the nitrogen gas canister
- Has an auto grade airbag
- Water-resistant zippers won’t rust easily
- The canister is not included
Features to Consider for the Best Avalanche Airbag
Now that you’ve read through the avalanche airbag reviews, it’s time to think about which features you want in an airbag. When you are looking for the best avalanche airbag, there are some features that you want to consider before making your final selection.
Size absolutely matters when you are looking for an airbag. You have to remember that this pack will be on your back while you are riding the slopes or mountains. If you are staying on slopes that allows you to use a ski lift, then you only need a small amount of items with you, and a small pack that holds 18-20 liters is the best size. If you are planning to go touring during the day, you need a pack that can hold 25-35 liters. If you are planning on taking a longer trip, or trips over many days, you need a large pack that can hold 40-50 liters. Another good rule of thumb go follow is to get one that is your torso length.
Type of Activation
There are two different types of activation types of which you should be aware before making a decision on your pack so it doesn’t become a hassle when you need it.
A canister or cartridge is a cylinder that is made out of metal or carbon fiber and it holds pressurized gas that you use to inflate the airbag. Some bags have canisters that you can refill with compressed air at specific places. Other cartridges can be refilled by the dealer—you cannot refill them yourself. You have to send them back and then you receive a discount on another cartridge. If you plan to travel on a plane in the US with this type of bag, the cartridge must be empty, and you must show TSA that it is empty and disconnected from the airbag.
Electric Fan Packs
This type of pack uses a rechargeable battery operated fan system that will inflate the airbag. This type of pack does not use cartridges, so it may be a better choice for people who are trying to save money. A high speed fan inflates the airbag and can be used many times with just one charge, and this type of activation makes it much easier to travel. You can also practice inflating the airbag when you are home so you know how to use it in case there is an emergency.
Some of the airbag manufacturers allow you to switch your airbag and the mechanism between more than one pack. This gives you the flexibility to switch between different size bags based on the trip you plan to take, without having to buy more than one airbag mechanism. If you did not know, the mechanism is the most expensive part. If you are feeling safe, and the risk of avalanche is minimal, you can decide to remove the mechanism completely.
Benefits of Using Avalanche Airbags
When deciding on the best avalanche airbag, you will probably wonder if you really need one. They are fairly expensive, so it is not unreasonable to consider if you really need one. Avalanche airbags help you from getting buried or suffocating in an avalanche. Data from 2012 showed that 89% of people who wore an avalanche airbag survived the avalanche, while 78% of people not wearing one survived. Avalanche airbags do make a difference, and if you’re going to be skiing in the backcountry, you should seriously consider using one.
In addition to the airbag actually preventing you from suffocating in an avalanche, the pack also has a carry system to let you bring your goggles and a lot of other equipment with you while you travel the mountains. You can have food, water, and extra supplies on your back along with an avalanche airbag. Having an avalanche airbag can give you a sense of security while on the slopes. Many deaths occur as a result of trauma and having this pack may help you during a traumatic event. If you can’t afford an avalanche airbag or decide you don’t need one, you could also choose to carry waterproof walkie-talkies or an avalanche beacon instead. Both of these options are much more affordable and can help protect you in case of an avalanche.
Precautions of Using Avalanche Airbags
The biggest mistake people make when wearing an avalanche airbag is thinking that they are 100% protected from avalanches. While they do help protect you, nothing is 100% certain, and you still need to act responsibly while wearing one.
One of the most important precautions you should take is to understand that just having an avalanche airbag is not enough to fully protect you during an avalanche. You must know how to use it before you find yourself in a dangerous situation, and you should go beyond that and take classes to learn what to do in the event of an avalanche. And, of course, remember than an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—if there are avalanche warnings, don’t go out into the mountains. The easiest way to avoid an avalanche is to not be where an avalanche is likely to occur.
In this review of the best avalanche airbags, we have chosen the Backcountry Access Float 27 Speed 2.0 Avalanche Airbag as the best avalanche airbag. Not only does this pack provide the ability to carry your skis diagonally, but it can integrate with BC Link radios.
The main compartment has a pocket inside it that is perfect for your avalanche shovel and probe. It also has a float system integrated into the airbag to help you stay above the avalanche. The trigger can be mounted on either the left or right shoulder strap. This is a full-sized bag, but still offers the ease of carry of a lightweight bag. The airbag is already attached to the float pack and it connects directly to the cylinder. Whether you’re on or off the piste, this is a great avalanche airbag.