Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Feature Image

5 Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks 2023/2024 – Expert Reviewed

Let’s be honest Avalanch backpacks are expensive!

The best avalanche airbag backpacks cost 2 – 5 times as much as a regular backpack!

So why do you need one?

The backcountry is dangerous, and people die out there every year!

No matter how experienced you are, you can’t control all the variables. You are taking a risk every time you go beyond the resort boundary.

I, for one, want to come home to my kids every day. An avy pack could be the difference between me coming home and not.

Avalanche safety starts well before you leave the house in the morning – Checking the weather report, telling someone where you’re going, and ensuring all your gear is in proper working order.

But when I’m standing at the top of an epic line, snugging up my straps and connecting the safety leash, it gives me peace of mind knowing I have done everything I can to be safe.

An avalanche backpack isn’t your first line of defense, but it may be your last.

Before going into the backcountry, take a safety course, and ensure you have a beacon, shovel probe, appropriate ski, and a good ski buddy. The guy skiing with you is the one who will be digging you out!

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Soelden/Sopris 32

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Osprey Soelden 32

Key Features

  • Electric Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: 32L
  • Weight: 6.4 lb

Best Value

Float 32

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Backcountry Access 32

Key Features

  • Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 32L
  • Weight: 6.4lbs

Best Canister

Ascent 30 Avabag

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Ortovox Ascent 30 AVABAG

Key Features

  • Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Weight: 5.5lbs

A wide array of avalanche packs are on the market, and choosing the right one is essential. When picking the best airbag, there are a few key features to consider. 

  1. Size: You’ll want to ensure the pack is large enough to fit all your gear. 
  2. Construction: The pack must be well-built and durable
  3. Ski or board carry. Can you connect your skis without interfering with airbag deployment?
  4. Is there a dedicated snow safety gear pocket? All avalanche bags should have a dedicated safety pocket separate from the main gear compartment.
  5. The pack should have helmet carry.
  6. Finally, you’ll want the pack to have a comfortable fit. Can it adjust to your body size?

Let’s get started!

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What is The Best Avalanche Airbag?

Here is our ranked and reviewed list of the best Avalanche airbags.

The 5 Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks 2023/2024

  1. Best Overall Avalanche Airbag Pack – Osprey Soelden/Sopris Pro 32
  2. Best Budget Avalanche Airbag Pack – Backcountry Access Float 32
  3. Best Canister Powered Airbag Pack – Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag
  4. Best Electric Powered Airbag Pack – Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro
  5. Best lightweight Airbag Pack – Mammut Light Removable 3.0
Best Overall Airbag Pack


  • Alpride E2
  • Ski/helmet carry
  • USB/AA recharge


  • Harness can be hard to adjust


  • Inflation System: Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: Soelden(M) 32L
  • Weight: 6.4lbs

Key Features

  • Alpride E2 fan inflation system
  • All-Mountain Adjust harness system
  • Full zipper access panel
  • J-zip avy gear panel
  • In-field rechargeable fan
  • Men’s and Women’s versions

The Soelden Pro E2 32 is Osprey’s flagship pack. It features Alpride’s E2 supercapacitor-powered fan, the industry-leading battery-powered fan.

Like all of Osprey’s packs, the Soleden offers exceptional comfort thanks to its efficient suspension design, hip belt, and back panel.

Osprey has gone to the next level to serve women better by creating the women’s specific Sopris Pro E2 30. It offers all the same great features but in a slightly smaller package designed to fit women better.

The Soelden and Sopris come in one color, red mountain. The fabric integrates ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene to create a lightweight, abrasion-resistant material that will stand the rigors of the backcountry.

The features that I think make this bag stand out include the ability to recharge the fan in the field with USB or two AA batteries. The steel frame adds rigidity to the pack distributing the weight well and helping to keep its shape. I like how they have men’s and women sizing.

My only complaint is how challenging adjusting the harness can be. The metal buckles can be tough to adjust with gloves on.

Best Budget Airbag Pack


  • Great price
  • Proven record
  • Comfortable


  • Air Canister


  • Inflation System: Float 2.0 Cylinder
  • Capacity: 32L
  • Weight: 6.4lbs (2.94Kg)

Key Features

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Storable straps for ski and snowboard carry
  • Fleece-lined goggle pocket

The Backcountry Access Float 32 is a tried and tested avalanche pack. It has been on the market for several years and is well respected. While it isn’t the newest or flashiest backpack on the block, it is a great value for anyone looking to get their first avalanche pack.

It has plenty of features, including zippered waist belt pockets, a mesh helmet holder (that can be positioned diagonally), and a low-profile ice ax lashing system.

The float 2.0 airbag system is an updated and lighter version of the float 1.0 system that leaves more room in the pack for storage.

The pack features storable straps for diagonal ski carry and vertical snowboard carry.

At 32L, the Float is in a mid-sized pack that meets the needs of backcountry skiers and boarders. It’s large enough to hold enough equipment for a full-day tour and not so hefty as to shift about when heading out for a run in the side country.

The compression straps keep the pack compact and ensure it doesn’t move around. The pack also has an adjustable waist strap, allowing you to modify the fit to your preferences. The Backcountry Access Float 32 is a great backpack for those who want the features without breaking the bank.

My issue with the pack is the air cylinder. I prefer the Alpride E2 battery versus an air cylinder. I fly internationally, and finding places to recharge a bottle can be challenging. BCA has introduced a new electric version, the Float E2 32, but the price bump is significant.

Best Canister airbag pack


  • Multiple discharges
  • Ample pockets
  • Comfortable


  • Air Canister


  • Inflation System: Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Weight: 5.5lbs (2.49Kg)

Key Features

  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Can be deployed multiple times without needing to recharge canisters
  • Lots of pockets and storage

Something is to be said for the simplicity of a compressed-air Avy bag. Electric fan airbag packs may be the future, but dealing with batteries and capacitors in the field can be unreliable.

The Ortovox Ascent 30 is a clear leader in canister-powered airbags. With its 30L capacity, it’s the perfect pack for long excursions. Carry everything you need – safety equipment, a hydration system, a change of clothes, and a snack – it all has its place!

The ASCENT 30 is designed as a ski touring backpack first and airbag second. It has a foam-molded 3D back system that is light, strong, and comfortable. As a full-featured bag, it has an ice ax and hiking pole attachment, circumferential zipper for quick equipment access, ski attachment for increased wear comfort, and much more!

The removable AVABAG system can be removed from the pack when you don’t need it, saving 5.5 lbs.

Avabag also features a practice deployment capability that allows you to acclimate to the process without going through and recharging multiple air cylinders. The Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag is excellent for a top-of-the-line canister airbag pack.

Best Electric airbag pack


  • lighteweight
  • Battery powered
  • Modular design


  • Pricey


  • Inflation System: Electric Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: 25L (10L, 35L Booster Packs Available)
  • Weight: 6.5 lb (2.96 kg)

Key Features

  • Lighter supercapacitor-powered electric fan
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Multiple deployments
  • Automatic deflation creates an air pocket

The Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro is their most impressive airbag system. I personally tried the 25-liter version of this pack and was amazed at its all-around performance! Though, when fully loaded up, it does have a tendency for the airbag compartment to gape open – it still stands as one of the most feature-rich options out there.

The electrical deployment system is both lightweight and more powerful than previous models, combined with user-friendly features that give unparalleled fit and function; this truly has become my favorite within Black Diamond’s entire collection – making usage smoother than ever!

I especially like the Black Diamond JetForce booster packs (10L, 35L, and 25L split board sizes) that can be easily zipped on and off the base pack, allowing you to quickly adjust the size according to your day’s needs.

Best Ultralight airbag pack


  • Lightweight
  • Most featurs incl.


  • $70/use
  • Poor tool access


  • Inflation System: Electric Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: 26L
  • Weight: 4.4 lb (1.99 kg)

Key Features

  • Ultralight
  • Alpride 2.0 CO2 Argon canisters
  • Removable Avy system

If weight is your number one concern, then the Black Diamond JetForce UL is what you’re looking for. It is the lightest option and one of the best ultralight avalanche backpacks.

Despite its ultralight build, the Black Diamond JetForce UL does a nice job balancing weight and comfort: the shoulder straps are lightly padded and adjustable to fit different torso lengths, while the waist belt is also comfortable and adjustable for varying sizes. Plus, the pack is constructed from 420-denier nylon, durable enough to handle a few seasons of abuse.

The Alpride 2.0 canister system is ultralight, extremely powerful, and travel-friendly. It stands out due to its minimal weight, a mere 1130 grams, including cartridges.

But the reduced weight comes at a hefty cost. The canisters use compressed CO2 and Argon and cannot be refilled. At almost $70 a pop, deploying the bag becomes pretty expensive. The Ortovox LiTRIC Freeride 18 uses the Alpride E2.0 system and is similar in weight. It’s more expensive up front, but the operating cost is much lower.

The Black Diamond JetForce UL is a great choice for those looking for an ultralight and comfortable option.

Best of The Rest

Lightweight airbag pack


  • Product Pro 1
  • Product Pro 2
  • Product Pro 3


  • Product Con 1
  • Product Con 2
  • Product Con 3


  • Inflation System: Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Weight: 5.4lbs (2.44Kg)

Key Features

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Minimalist design
  • Robust suspension system

The Mammut Light Removable 3.0 may not be the most feature-rich airbag on the market. Still, what it lacks in features, it makes up for in reduced carry weight. The pack is the lightest in the 30L volume range and uses the Mammut removable airbag system.

While it doesn’t include a slew of frills or even some necessities (it lacks a dedicated snow safety pocket), it does have adequate backcountry usefulness. It has a robust suspension, so you can put practically anything in it. Don’t be fooled by its light weight; this pack is comfortable.

This is a minimalist pack that comes in small sizes for smaller loads. It’s ideal for individuals searching for a basic design and who appreciate its lightweight over other qualities. It’s suitable for most day excursions since it’s sized correctly. It has straps for diagonally carrying skis, but no dedicated helmet carry, so you’ll have to choose boot packing with your helmet on or let it dangle. As part of the Mammut removable airbag system, you can easily transfer the airbag to another pack. While it doesn’t come with everything, this pack has what’s needed for light touring and may be the right choice for you.

Side Country airbag pack


  • Lightweight
  • Simple to use
  • Great for side country


  • Air Canister
  • Small


  • Inflation System: Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 22L
  • Weight: 6.1lbs (2.78Kg)

Key Features

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Storable straps for ski and snowboard carry
  • Fleece-lined goggle pocket

The Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0 is a solid pack in a small package. The bag may not have the newest design or the lightest airbag system, but it is a tried and tested performer in the backcountry. The Backcountry Access Float 2.0’s mechanical mechanism uses a compressed air cylinder to inflate the airbag. The 22-liter version is well built with hydration compatibility, ski/snowboard, and a specialized avy tool pocket.

The Backcountry Access Float 22 is an excellent ski, heli, or cat ski option. Its great pack design and low profile make it ideal for riding chairs, yet it can still fit a day’s worth of gear.

The Backcountry Access Float 22 also has an adjustable waist strap, allowing you to customize the fit. The BCA Float 22 is a fantastic backpack for those looking for all the features without breaking the bank.

The Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0 is perfect for a smaller, side-country touring airbag backpack. Well-constructed, the bag is hydration compatible with ski/snowboard carry straps and a specialized avy tool pocket. Additionally, the Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0 has an adjustable waist strap, allowing you to customize the fit. If you’re looking for a smaller, light side-country touring airbag backpack, the Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0 is perfect.

BCA Electric airbag pack


  • BCA track record
  • Electric Fan


  • Limited history


  • Inflation System: Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Weight: 6.1lbs (2.78Kg)

Key Features

  • Aplride E2 Fan
  • Double Ripstop lining
  • 30 and 35 L capacities

If you’ve been waiting for BCA to jump onto the electric fan band wagon, this is your year. BCA has taken the leap and made an updated version of their Float avalanche airbag backpack.

The Float 35 combines BCA’s knowledge in safe pack design with the Alpride E2 fan technology. The bag weighs 6.1 lbs, and the 35-liter capacity provides plenty of room for your avalanche safety gear, lunch, and an extra layer.

The BCA Float 35 E2 packs a lot of features into its light and relatively affordable package. This pack is ideal for those who ski in various conditions and want to be prepared in the event of an avalanche.

Ortovox Electric airbag pack


  • Modular design
  • Good harness
  • Clasp spine protector compatable


  • Limited history


  • Inflation System: Electric Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: 28L
  • Weight: 5.7lbs (2.59Kg)

Key Features

  • Zip On-System
  • Snowboard and snowshoe holder
  • Hydration system compatible

Ortovox’s LiTRIC airbag backpacks are set to revolutionize the industry. The Freeride 28 is one of the offerings from Ortovox, featuring a body-hugging design and a simple zip-on interface that allows you to customize your pack depending on snow conditions or ski objectives.

It features an impressive 28L of volume, a hip belt with two pockets for quick access to snacks and small items, a hydration bladder pocket, and four compression straps to keep your load stable during the day.

The key difference between the Freeride 28 and other avalanche airbags on the market is its innovative LiTRIC system, which uses a supercapacitor instead of bulky batteries or gas cartridges. This dramatically reduces the weight of the pack.

The Ortovox Freeride 28 LiTRIC is perfect for freeriding, ski touring, and ski mountaineering. Its modern design and all-in-one safety features make it an ideal pack choice for anyone looking to stay safe in the backcountry.

Airbag Buyers Guide

When in avalanche terrain, an airbag backpack is one of the most critical pieces of equipment you can own. An avalanche backpack is designed to help keep you afloat and visible if you are caught in an avalanche. They work by inflating a large bag that surrounds your body and keeps you on the surface of the snow. You should remember a few things when purchasing an avy airbag pack.

Inflation Systems

There are 2 main airbag systems: a compressed air canister and an electric fan. The electric systems are typically lighter and have a shorter recharge time. The compressed air systems are a bit heavier but don’t require batteries or a power source.

Compressed Air Canister

The compressed air canister is the most common system. It uses a small canister of compressed air to inflate the airbag. These canisters are typically suitable for 1-2 inflations and must be replaced after each use. The main advantage of canister-powered airbags is that you don’t need batteries or a power source. The downside is that they are a bit heavier and must be refilled after each use.

Electric Fan

The electric inflation system uses a battery and fan to inflate the airbag. These systems are typically lighter than compressed air systems. The main advantage of the electric system is that you don’t need to replace canisters after each use. The downside is that you need two AA batteries or a power source to operate the system. Newer eclectic fan systems use a supercapacitor versus older systems that require aa batteries. They are more efficient and have shorter recharge times. Once used, the inflated airbag shrinks, and the airbag volume creates a breathing space around the victim.


Airbag packs are designed to be worn while you are skiing or snowboarding. As such, they need to be lightweight and comfortable. The weight of the pack will vary depending on the size and features. The larger the pack, the heavier it will be. Typically, an airbag pack will weigh between 4 and 6 pounds.


The pack’s capacity is essential to consider because you need to fit all of your gear inside. Airbag packs usually have a capacity of 30-40 liters. You will need a bigger bag if you carry extra equipment, such as a rope or overnight gear.


Some features to think about when looking at an airbag are:

Suspension System

The bag suspension system is important because it will determine how comfortable the bag is to wear. A sound suspension system will distribute the bag’s weight evenly and make it easy to carry. Don’t forget that you will be using the pack when you ride down. You want it to sit securely and not move while skiing.

Internal Radio Pocket

An internal radio pocket is an excellent feature because it gives you easy access to your radio. A radio pocket will keep the radio safely in your pack and usually has a shoulder compartment for the microphone. Anyone who has managed a radio in a coat pocket will understand the benefit of a dedicated radio pocket in your bag.

Hip Belt Pockets

Not always considered a significant feature, I find hip belt pockets useful. They are a great spot to store sunscreen, snacks, or even your GoPro.

Helmet Carry

Some airbag packs have a helmet carry system. This is convenient if you want to take your helmet off while hiking. I usually wear a cap while hiking. It keeps the sun out of your eyes, and you don’t sweat as much. A good helmet carry system will stop your helmet from swinging while skiing which is annoying.

Ski/Board Carry

Ski and board carry, on airbag packs is similar to any other ski/board bag. However, the carry system mustn’t interfere with the airbag release. Most avalanche backpacks do not support A-Frame carry; double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations before strapping your gear onto your pack.

Safety Features

The best avalanche airbags should all have a dedicated pocket to carry your safety gear. Your shovel and probe must be in an easily accessible pouch, preferably outside your pack. In an emergency, you need to be able to access the shovel and probe as quickly as possible. You should also look for a pack with pockets for a cell phone or GPS device for safety. I like to carry a ski watch with GPS whenever touring the backcountry.


One of the most important things to consider when purchasing an airbag backpack is how well it fits. An ill-fitting pack can cause serious problems in the event of an avalanche. If the bag does not fit snugly, it can be pulled off your body by the force of the avalanche. Try on different packs and find one that best suits you. Unfortunately, most bags are designed with men in mind. Consider a women’s backpack like the Sopris Pro for better fit and safety.

Interchangeable Systems

Many manufacturers of the best avalanche airbags have started to design systems with either a removable airbag or an interchangeable one. This is beneficial because it allows you to use the same pack for different activities. For example, you can use your airbag backpack for skiing in the winter and then remove the airbag for mountain biking in the summer. Black Diamond, Ortovox, and Mammut offer different versions of a removable airbag system.


What Do I need to put in my Backpack?

Packing a bag for the backcountry is a little different than packing for your ski trip. There are certain safety items that you must include:

  • Shovel
  • Beacon
  • Probe

You must also pack food and water layered clothing and other essential items to keep yourself safe while outside the resort.

What is an Airbag?

Avalanche airbags are designed to help a person survive an avalanche. The airbag is usually worn like a backpack. When deployed, the airbag helps to keep the person afloat on the surface of the snow. This can provide vital time for rescuers to locate and dig the person from beneath the snow.

How Do The Best Avalanche Airbags Work?

When an avalanche is triggered, a snowboard or skier caught in the slide activates their airbag. The bag quickly inflates with air and helps to keep the skier or boarder on top of the avalanche. This reduces the risk of being buried and injured during the slide.

What Are The Benefits Of The Best Avalanche Airbags?

Avalanche airbags can help to keep a person afloat on the surface of the snow, providing vital time for rescuers to locate and dig the person out. Additionally, airbags can help protect the user from being injured by debris thrown up by the avalanche. When in avalanche terrain, you should have an airbag for maximum safety.

Is An Airbag Worth It?

An airbag is worth it! They can significantly increase your chances of survival if caught in an avalanche. They help keep you afloat on top of the snow and help prevent you from being buried alive. They are critical safety equipment in the backcountry and can mean the difference between life and death.

How Do I Choose An Airbag?

Several avalanche airbags are available on the market, and getting the right one is crucial. Choosing the right backpack depends on the pack size you need. If you want to use the bag for lift-accessed backcountry, consider mid-sized 20L packs, but if you want to go on full days or multi-day excursions, consider 30L – 40L packs. Second, you must choose between compressed gas and an electric airbag system. Although compressed gas is typically less expensive, it can be used once per canister and is not allowed on planes by the international air transport association. Electric systems can, however, be recharged numerous times and taken on a flight. Finally, you must select the pack you wish to employ based on its backpack capabilities. What are the features most important to you in a backcountry ski pack? Is there storage for your skis or board, and is it convenient to access while wearing the bag? Does the product have a spot to carry a helmet and/or an ice ax? If unsure, head to your local outdoor store and ask the staff.

What is the lightest airbag system?

The lightest airbag on the market is the Black Diamond JetForce UL. This ultralight pack weighs in at 4.6 lbs. Making it almost 1 lb lighter than its competitors.

Can you reuse avalanche airbags?

Yes, an avalanche airbag system can be re-used. However, they must be recharged after use. Electric fan systems can be used up to 4 times before requiring a recharge. In contrast, a compressed gas system must be recharged after every use.

Final Thoughts

In backcountry skiing and snowboarding, I can’t stress enough how crucial safety is. The allure of untouched powder and those breathtaking lines can sometimes overshadow the real risks of venturing beyond the resort boundaries. And that’s where avalanche airbag backpacks come into play – an absolute game-changer that can mean the difference between life and tragedy.

The backcountry is a wilderness with its own rules, unpredictable and unforgiving. Regardless of how seasoned you are, you can’t control every single variable when you’re exploring off the beaten path. The statistics don’t lie – lives are lost in the mountains each year due to avalanches. This isn’t a pursuit for the careless or unprepared.

the value of an avalanche backpack isn’t just about owning one; it’s about understanding its role as part of a comprehensive safety strategy. From keeping an eye on weather forecasts to ensuring you’re equipped with the right tools, every detail helps mitigate the risk.

While adventure beckons, safety should always take the lead. So, as you gear up to blaze your trail through the snow, make sure you equip yourself to stay safe.

See you in the mountains!

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