These Backpacks will Save You from an Avalanche

Nov 20

Avalanche backpacks are created to increase the chances of survival in the event of an avalanche. They consist of refillable airbags to help you stay afloat in addition to space to keep tools for digging through snow.

Recalling one of the worst avalanche in history that happened in the Himalayan mountain, carrying a good avalanche backpack during your trip in the mountains may make the difference between life and death.

In this avalanche backpack review I will cover three of the most popular avalanche backpack models on the market today.

Avalanche Backpack Reviews to Pick the Best

#1: Mammut Ride RAS Airbag Backpack

One of my top avalanche backpacks is the Mammut Ride RAS Backpack. It is made of nylon with a total volume of over 1300 cubic inches. It has room for two ice axes or comparable tools. The refillable airbag is 150 liters in volume.

An external front pocket allows room for extra tools such as a snow shovel or probe. It features an A-frame-compatible diagonal ski carry system along with accommodation for snowboards. The padded pouch and zipped inner pocket keeps gear safe and a padded hip belt provides extra support.

In my opinion there are three necessary factors to consider when choosing an avalanche or ski backpack, and the first is ease of use. A benefit of this pack is the fact that its airbag deploys in only 3 seconds. The deployment is smooth while the handle is easy to grip and pull.

A disadvantage of this model is the fact that it runs on the smaller side. Because of its smaller size it is not made for long days or tours lasting multiple days at a time. Also, even with its ski compatibility feature, skis are hard to strap on as doing so would interfere with the deployment of the bag itself.

Swiss company Mammut creates mountaineering gear and apparel in conjunction with top athletes. They have over 150 years experience and are recognized as a leader in manufacturing climbing ropes for mountain activities.

#2: ABS Avalanche Rescue Devices Vario 15 Backpack


The ABS Vario 15 backpack is a polyurethane pack with dual airbags that displace snow to push you to the top of a slide. It features one loop for storing an ice axe, and it also has room for a shovel and probe.

It can be fitted with a hydration pouch and comes with a detachable helmet holder. Adjustable straps along the pack stay secure no matter your height or what type of chaos you may endure. It comes equipped with a canister of compressed nitrogen for use in particularly low temperatures.

Another necessity I believe is important when choosing a bag is its durability. The ABS Vario line features an array of rugged packs that are also customizable. Perhaps the most important benefit is the dual bag feature. If one bag is damaged, there will always be a backup.

Picture of top avalanche backpackImage of best-selling avalanche backpack

An engineering flaw with this model is the pocket for storing shovels and tools. In the event of an emergency, the pocket is essentially “trapped” in a space behind the main compartment and your back, making access cumbersome. Also, the tools stored in this space will be easily pressed against the back causing discomfort. If the pocket is used for storing a shovel, it leaves a gap of unused space in the area.

Lastly, if the airbags are ever deployed, the cartridges are not refillable. They must be sent back through the mail to one of the distribution centers. This creates extra time for which the pack can be used again.

Backcountry Access Float 32

The Float 32 by Backcountry Access is a lightweight reusable backpack. It weighs less than 7 pounds and comes with the typical features of a tool pocket, waist belt pocket and compression straps. It has padded shoulder straps, one ice axe loop and a shovel pocket. The Float 32 has a simple design which allows for its light weight. The design is long and streamlined for simplicity.

As mentioned earlier, there are necessary factors a bag should be able to bring to the table. For the Float 32, its most important characteristic is its comfort. The removal of excess volume from previous models allows for the 32 to be easily carried along on long trips. A standout feature of this model is that it uses compressed air rather than nitrogen or carbon dioxide to inflate. The compressed air system can be recharged at shops around the globe.


When it comes to ease of use, the Float 32 could offer slightly better features. Its helmet attachment is not removable, thus adding extra weight where the user may not want any. It also lacks a designated mechanism to carry a rope. When touring some areas, this feature is a necessity.

And the Best Avalanche Backpack is…

This avalanche backpack review has shown you the three best alternatives when it comes to airbag backpack selection.

A backpack is something than cannot be purchased without full knowledge of its operation. In order to survive an avalanche, you must be able to minimize or prevent burying.

Most of the time spent during avalanche rescue involves uncovering the victim. With the right backpack, you can stay near the surface, significantly reducing the depth to which you may become buried.

Do you have a love for traveling? If you are, you may want to check out which backpacks made it to our pick for the 3 best travel backpacks.

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