Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Feature Image

7 Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks 2022 (Ranked & Reviewed)

Avalanche airbags are an essential safety device for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. They can be the difference between life and death in an avalanche situation. We ranked and reviewed the 7 best avalanche airbag backpacks for 2022 so that you can make an informed decision about which bag is best for you.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Avalanche Backpack

Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Overall - Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro

Key Features

  • Electric Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: 25L (10L, 35L)
  • Weight: 6.5 lb (2.96 kg)

Best Budget Avalanche Backpack

Backcountry Access Float 32

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Best Budget Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Backcountry Float 32

Key Features

  • Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 32L
  • Weight: 6.4lbs (2.94Kg)

Best Canister Avalanche Backpack

Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Canister Powered Airbag Pack - Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

Key Features

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

A wide array of avalanche airbag packs are on the market, and choosing the right one is essential. When picking the best avalanche 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. Helmet/ additional equipment carry.
  6. Finally, you’ll want the pack to have a comfortable fit. Can it adjust to your body size?

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Read More Gear Reviews Here

What is the Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack?

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

The 7 Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack 2022

  1. Best Overall Avalanche Airbag Backpack – Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro
  2. Best Budget Avalanche Airbag Backpack – Backcountry Access Float 32
  3. Best Canister Powered Airbag Backpack – Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag
  4. Best Electric Powered Airbag – Osprey Soelden Pro 32/Sopris Pro 30
  5. Best lightweight Airbag Backpack – Mammut Light Removable 3.0
  6. Best Side-Country Airbag Backpack – Backcountry Access Float 22
  7. Best Guiding Avalanche Airbag – Ortovox Ascent 40 Avabag

1) Best Overall – Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Overall - Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro
Best Overall – Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro

Overview

The JetForce 25L Pro is Black Diamond’s best airbag system yet. It uses an electrical deployment system that is lighter and more effective than previous models. With user-friendly features that give the best fit and function, this pack is my favorite in the Black Diamond fleet and is the easiest to deal with.

The JetForce 25L Pro Pack is the latest version of BD’s best avalanche backpack. The rechargeable battery-powered airbag, which uses Alpride’s E1 supercapacitor-powered fan design, reduces the pack’s weight by around 2 lbs. The electrical system makes this airbag a breeze to take on a plane and lets you test the system without having to purchase more compressed air canisters. You no longer need to find a compressed air supplier if you are traveling. Something of a challenge for more remote locals. It even includes Bluetooth connectivity for updates and allows you to personalize your settings.

The pack design is also spot on. There is a place for everything in the backpack, from your keys to goggles. The pack fits securely and has valuable features such as a helmet holder, hip belt stash pocket, and diagonal ski carry that doesn’t get in the way of the airbag. And perhaps The most exciting feature is Black Diamond’s modular construction. The system’s pack portion is removable, meaning one bag can have multiple sizes. The boosters (10L, 35L, and 25L splitboard sizes) are simply zipped on and off the base pack, allowing you to adapt to all types of winter weather demands.

Specs

Key Features

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

Recommendation

I recommend the Black Diamond JetForce 25L Pro as the best overall protection airbag system for 2022. Its lighter supercapacitor-powered fan and rechargeable battery make it an excellent choice. The pack is designed with backcountry skiers and boarders in mind, and the booster packs allow you to modify the pack’s capacity.

Price

MSRP $1,499.95 Check Price on REI

2) Best Budget Airbag Pack – Backcountry Access Float 32

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpacks - Best Budget Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Backcountry Float 32
Best Budget Avalanche Airbag Backpack – Backcountry Float 32

Overview

The Backcountry Access Float 32 is a comfortable budget airbag backpack. 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 also features storable straps for diagonal ski carry and vertical snowboard carry. The pack includes zippered shoulder pockets, internal webbing to hold your radio, and internal connections for a hydration system.

At 32L, the Float is in the middle size range that meets the needs of backcountry skiers and boarders. The pack is large enough to hold enough equipment for a full-day tour and not so hefty as to shift about when just heading out for a run in the side country. The compression straps will keep the pack compact and ensure it doesn’t move around however you plan to use it. The pack also has an adjustable waist strap, allowing you to modify the fit to your preferences. The BCA float 32 is a great backpack for those who want all the features without breaking the bank.

Specs

  • 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

Recommendation

The BCA Float 32 is the best budget backpack on our list. It has all the features of an excellent airbag pack without the price tag. The bag is made with durable materials and has plenty of space to store all your gear. Plus, the airbag system is simple to use and very effective. If you’re looking for a great value, the BCA Float 32 is a perfect choice.

Price

MSRP $584.95 Check Price on Amazon

3) Best Canister Powered Airbag Pack – Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Canister Powered Airbag Pack - Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag
Best Canister Powered Airbag Pack – Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag

Overview

While electric fan airbag packs may be the future, canister-powered designs still have a lot going for them. The Ascent 30 Avabag from Ortovox is a clear leader in this category in terms of performance, capacity, and features.

The ASCENT 30 AVABAG is the perfect airbag pack for long ski excursions. There are 30 liters of usable volume to carry everything you need – safety equipment, a hydration system, a change of clothes, and a snack – everything has its place! The AVABAG airbag system created by ORTOVOX is housed in this ski touring backpack. The ortovox protection airbag system is removable and can be transferred between packs. Together the pack, airbag, and canister weigh 5.5lbs.

The ASCENT 30 was designed as a lightweight ski pack first. It has a foam molded 3D back system that is light and strong while still very comfortable to wear. 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!

Avabag’s practice deployment capability stands out most from other canister systems; it allows you to get acclimated with the process without having to go through and recharge multiple canisters. The Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a top-of-the-line canister airbag pack.

Specs

  • 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
  • Features many pockets and compartments for storage
  • No electronics

Recommendation

The Ortovox Ascent 30 Avabag is the best canister-powered airbag because of its many safety features. It has a Recco reflector system to assist in rescue. Additionally, the bag has spacious compartments for storage and is comfortable to wear even when fully loaded.

Ortovox also offers a 3-year warranty on the Ascent 30 Avabag, which is longer than most other brands.

Price

MSRP $720 Check Price on Amazon

4) Best Electric Powered Avalanche Airbag – Osprey Soelden/Sopris Pro

Bast Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Electric Powered Avalanche Airbag - Osprey Soelden_Sopris Pro
Best Electric Powered Avalanche Airbag – Osprey Soelden/Sopris Pro

Overview

Osprey is a significant player in the hiking and backpacking industry and has been making a lot of noise in the snow market lately. The Soelden Pro 32 is Osprey’s flagship pack, combining its well-known excellent quality with the Alpride E1’s top-notch supercapacitor-powered fan airbag. The Soelden, like most of Osprey’s packs, offers exceptional comfort thanks to an efficient suspension design, hip belt, and back panel. Osprey has gone to the next level to better serve women’s customers by creating the women’s-specific Sopris Pro 30. It offers all the same great features but in a slightly smaller package designed to fit women better. Both the Soelden and Sopris come in two different fabric choices: Nanofly, a solid yet lightweight fabric, or Cordura, a more durable option for those who plan on putting their pack through the wringer.

The pack is easily accessed through a full zipper access panel to the main compartment. The J -zip front panel gives quick access to avalanche safety gear.

The Soelden/Sopris come with Osprey’s excellent All-Mountain Adjust harness system. The adjustable shoulder straps and sternum straps allow you to dial in the fit of your pack for optimal carrying.

The Soelden/Sopris uses Alpride’s E1 fan unit, which is powered by a supercapacitor. The E1 is a small, lightweight unit with a dedicated pocket at the bottom of the pack. The fan is activated by pulling a handle on the shoulder strap, which inflates the airbag in about 3 seconds.

Specs

  • Inflation System: Supercapacitor
  • Capacity: Soelden(M) 32L /Sopris (W) 30L
  • Weight : 6.5lbs (2.96Kg), 6.3lbs (2.88Kg)

Key Features

  • Excellent build quality
  • Alpride E1 fan inflation system
  • All-Mountain Adjust harness system
  • Full zipper access panel
  • J-zip avy gear panel

Recommendation

The Osprey Soelden and Sopris Pro are great options if you’re looking for an electric airbag pack. These packs offer excellent build quality and comfort and come with Alpride’s E1 fan inflation system. The All-Mountain Adjust harness ensures a perfect fit, while the full zipper access panel and J-zip avy gear panel make it easy to get to your gear.

Price

MSRP $1200 Check Price on REI

5) Best lightweight Airbag Pack – Mammut Light Removable 3.0

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best lightweight Avalanche Pack - Mammut Light Removable Airbag Pack 30
Best lightweight Airbag Pack – Mammut Light Removable Airbag Pack 30

Overview

The Mammut Light Removable 3.0 may not be the most feature-rich avalanche 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 has a Mammut light removable airbag system.

While it doesn’t include a slew of frills or even some necessities (it lacks a separate snow safety gear 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.

The 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. While it doesn’t come with everything, this pack has what’s needed for light touring and may be the right choice for you.

Specs

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

Key Features

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Minimalist design
  • Robust suspension system

Recommendation

The Mammut Light Removable 3.0 is the perfect minimalist airbag pack for those who appreciate a reduced carry weight. This backpack is comfortable and features a robust suspension system, making it ideal for day touring. So if you’re looking for a lightweight and comfortable option, the Mammut Light Removable 3.0 is a perfect choice.

Price

MSRP $580 Check Price on Amazon

6) Best Side Country Airbag Pack – Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Side Country Airbag Pack - Backcountry Access Float 22
Best Side Country Airbag Pack – Backcountry Access Float 22

Overview

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 BCA Float 2.0’s mechanical mechanism uses a compressed air canister 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 the ideal pack 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.

Specs

  • 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

Recommendation

The Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0 is the perfect choice for those looking for a smaller, light 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. So if you’re looking for a smaller, light side-country touring airbag backpack, the Backcountry Access Float 22 2.0 is a perfect choice.

Price

MSRP $534.95 Check Price on Amazon

7) Best Avalanche Airbag For Guiding – Ortovox Ascent 40 Avabag

Best Avalanche Airbag Backpack - Best Avalanche Airbag For Guiding - Ortovox Ascent 40 Avabag
Best Avalanche Airbag For Guiding – Ortovox Ascent 40 Avabag

Overview

This category was a bit of a toss-up between the Ortovox Ascent 40L Avabag and the Black Diamond JetForce 35L Pro. Both packs are excellent and have comparable features, with the JetForce being electric and the Ascent being compressed air. Both Packs have a modular design. The airbag from the Ortovox can be moved between different packs, and the JetForce has a backpack/airbag frame that you can change out “Boosters” to change the carrying capacity. If you have already invested in one of the two systems, you won’t go wrong purchasing components to size up.

That being said, if you haven’t already invested in a pack system. We recommend the Ortovox 40L over the JetForce for several reasons. First, as a guide, you need as much storage space in your pack as you can manage, and that extra 5 L is essential. Second, Ortovox packs are designed as backpacks first and avalanche airbags second, and you can tell. The bag is a technical pack with an excellent suspension system. This is evident in the way it carries skis, boards, and all of your other gear.

In short, if you are looking for an airbag to use day in and day out as a full-time mountain professional, the Ortovox Ascent is the best option.

Specs

  • Inflation System: Compress Air
  • Capacity: 40L
  • Weight: 5.9lbs (2.66Kg)

Key Features

  • Technical backpack with an excellent suspension system
  • It can be used as an avalanche airbag or a regular backpack
  • Large Capacity

Recommendation

The Ortovox Ascent 40 Avabag is an excellent option for mountain guides and professionals who are looking for a high-performance pack at a great price. The pack has a large capacity, making it perfect for carrying all the gear you need for your job. Additionally, the backpack features an excellent suspension system that makes it comfortable even carrying a lot of equipment. The pack is also modular, so it can be used as an avalanche airbag or a regular backpack. This makes it a versatile option that can be used in various situations.

Price

MSRP $750 Check Price on Ortovox

Avalanche Airbag Buyers Guide

Regarding avalanche safety, one of the most critical pieces of equipment you can own is an avalanche airbag backpack. An avalanche airbag 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 keep a few things in mind when purchasing an avalanche airbag backpack.

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 batteries or a power source to operate the system. Newer eclectic fan systems use a supercapacitor versus older battery systems which are more efficient and have shorter recharge times.

Weight

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.

Capacity

The capacity of the pack is essential to consider because you need to be able 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 are planning on carrying extra equipment, such as a rope or overnight gear.

Features

Some features to think about when looking at airbag backpacks 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 had to manage 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. Personally, 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 need to be in an easily accessible pouch, preferably on the outside of your pack. In an emergency, you need to be able to access the shovel and probe as quickly as possible.

Fit

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing an avalanche 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. For women, 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 either with a removable airbag or an interchangeable airbag. 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.

FAQ

What is an Avalanche Airbag?

An avalanche airbag is 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 Avalanche Airbags Work?

Avalanche airbags work by inflating an airbag when triggered by a cord that the user pulls. The airbag then fills with air, helping to keep the person afloat on the surface of the snow.

What Are The Benefits Of 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, avalanche airbags can help protect the user from being injured by debris thrown up by the avalanche.

Are avalanche airbags worth it?

Avalanche airbags are definitely worth it! They can significantly increase your chances of survival if caught in an avalanche. Avalanche airbags will 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 avalanche airbag?

There are several avalanche airbag designs on the market, and getting the one right for you is crucial. Choosing the right avalanche airbag depends on the pack size you need. If you just 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 a compressed gas and an electric airbag system. Although compressed gas is typically less expensive, it can be used only once per canister, cannot be carried on a plane, and must be refilled. 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? When considering which pack is best for you, these are all questions you need to ask yourself.

What is the lightest avalanche airbag?

The lightest 30L avalanche airbag on the market is the Mammut Light Removable Airbag 3.0L, which weighs just 1.65 kg (3.6 lbs). It is a compressed gas system with a small canister of CO2. The airbag itself is removable from the pack, making it very versatile.

Can you reuse avalanche airbags?

Yes, Avalanche airbags can be reused. However, they must be recharged after use. An electric system 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

When it comes to avalanche airbags, there are a lot of great options on the market. The packs we have listed above are all excellent choices and will serve you well in the backcountry. That being said, the best bag for you is the one that fits your specific needs. So take some time to consider what features are most important to you and decide accordingly.

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