Last year I was deciding between ABS and Snowpulse. At the end I bought Snowpulse 45. I would sure like to have vario fetaure fro different volumes, but at the end neck and head protection and simple mechanic release made the decision. I also like that if in some case you are covered over head with snow, snowpulse start to release 150 L of air around your head. About punctures in baloons, I think that you must take care of this delicate equipment (also goes for ABS). The material for baloons at Snowpulse are really compact (in comparison to ABS from friend is thicker). The variable volume problem I solve with compression straps. It doesn't look clean and nice as ABS but it is effective.
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:32 am Posts: 44 Location: Zurich, Switzerland
I got the Vario ABS, a couple of zip ons with different sizes. Just look for my rave on it, in an older post. My fave is the Ultralight 18 L together with the carbon canister, it's light but not light enough for my liking. The ABS also has the Powderline, lighter, smaller with small carrying capacity (5L and 15L). Seems squishy when you have to carry all the essentials, definitely have to carry things outside the bag like crampons, skins and the like etc maybe, but nice system all the same. If you look on the web you'll get a review on the Powderline. It's meant to be for smaller tours and resort off piste.
I just had a demo with the Swiss crew from Mammut. Seen the RAS RIDE (Snowpulse's other system) system, tried it on, seen it triggered a few times, seen it packed. The bag and system Impressed me alot. Airbag is mono bag compared to the duobag ABS system. RAS Bag inflates to 150 L air. ABS inflates to 170 L duo bags together. Still no carbon canister. But Mammut is hinting it may come with a snicker on their face. I reckon they're working on it. The non refillable canister (two types exist in Europe, don't know what is available for US) is from the same source as the ABS so figure they're probably testing as we discuss this issue. I actually heard during the session that the original ABS carbon worked with the RAS, apparently ABS pushed for a change in the carbon canister and this left the RAS system to work unreliably with the carbon canister. For those that have the ABS carbon canister don't try to connect the RAS with it since it has not passed the tests yet. I bet it'll come next season.
Got the preview of the other zip ons. They are gonna go all sizes on either side of the current offerings. One has a back protection integrated. Feck I sound like I friggin work for them. I am gonna invest in one for my girlfriend. When she's not using it, i'll be rocking it.
Regarding punctures, one can't say if it holds when you scrape in sharp rocks, broken crap in the slide. But the Mammut guys say they have done rigorous testing. How rigorous, did not tell me.
I would be more worried of the anchor effect, with the board on your feet, since the bag will hopefully hold intact, but this airbag is not going to work well with an anchor. You will probably be pulled down. Check out the instance of the skier completely buried with an airbag inflated. Its on the airbag avalanche stats list somewhere on the web, probably European paper. For this airbag to work efficiently, you need to be in the moving, flowing slide, like the larger pieces of muesli or cereal puffs when you shake the box, this extra volume helps to keep you on top of the smaller pieces of slab, smaller pieces end up on the bottom. The fancy word is Inverse Segregation. Get bombed directly on top of your head (does that happen often?, probably not) with no flowing, moving slide pieces, then this bag won't float you for shit.
So check out and install the DIY binding pull cords, to get your bindings off quick after you pull the Airbag trigger. I got a steel cable attached on mine, got a picture in an old post somewhere here. Just look for it.
Does anyone have any info on the board carrying modes of the ABS vario line?
I'm interested in the 15L and the 25L but would like confirmation that they will carry my board in a stable way.
I have had some packs in the past (non-airbag) that hold your board vertical, but the straps connect to the pack away from your actual back, which if the pack is not loaded fully, allows the board to swing around. In my experience I've found that the straps that hold your board to the pack must attach to the "back" of the pack... as close to your body as possible.
Anyone have experience with the Mystery Ranch Blackjack? Although it's the heaviest (7.8lbs) I'm leaning towards this pack for it's versatility. Plus it's hand made in the USA by a company that makes some of the most bombproof packs of all time.
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:08 am Posts: 124 Location: Melbourne, Australia
Anyone got any more reviews (i.e. 2012 vintage) on airbag backpacks?
I currently use a BD avalung pack, but the more I think about it (I read skier Elyse Saugstads story about an avalanche she survived with an ABS pack at Stevens Pass last year), the more I think I should get one, particularly for Heli.
I'm leaning towards ABS vario line, but the Mammut RAS system looks good too.
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:44 am Posts: 107 Location: Easy Street
I have also been convinced to invest in an airbag pack this winter. Looking through the various airbag threads I've yet to see mention about a pack's ability carry a snowboard, nor much about pack features and functionality (minus the airbag functions).
I know that some of the BD Avalung packs are not snowboard-carry friendly, e.g., so I wondered if there are some airbag packs to stay away from because they also lack this feature.
I was in a small avalache last year, I pulled the cord on my Snowpulse Highmark 22, and stayed on top as I slid down 500 vert. The airbag works. Wind loading is real, it hadn't snowed for a few days The pack has lots of pockets,carries a snowboard, has an airbag that wraps around your head.
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:16 pm Posts: 77 Location: crested butte / canterbury (nz)
i have a BCA Float 36. cool company, i like their beacons, nice people, but i don't like this pack. haven't found a good way to carry a (solid) board. the waist strap metal sinch-down seems like it will break and sometimes i need to take my gloves off to tighten the straps. only about 10 days on it
i also have a black diamond covert avalung that is great.
edit: i do like the zipper on the main pack on the bca, it zips all the way around almost so it's easy to grab things stored at the bottom. also i haven't had to pull it yet in the bc, so i can add nothing to the most important thing: if it works
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:44 am Posts: 107 Location: Easy Street
...haven't found a good way to carry a (solid) board...
Thanks that's exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. The airbag gets all the scrutiny but the pack often does not. I almost bought a BCA because the price was great but I held off, glad I did.
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:59 am Posts: 255 Location: Amsterdam
I used a BCA last year, didn't like it much but this years model looks a bit better. Still don't like the handle on those bags though.
I haven't seen an airbag pack with a great carry system for boards yet, the Rossignol bag seems alright. What I've seen in a regular pack this year was a really wide velcro strap that held the board vertically on the pack. That seemed to work pretty good by the look of it, but I forgot what brand the pack was.
I did try on the new Patrol ABS packs from North Face a few weeks ago, they're really nice as well.
Regarding the carbon canisters, I think those will probably be a "Europe only" option again. I've also noticed that the canister used in the US for Snowpulse are a lot larger than the ones in Europe, maybe the pressure is different.
To give a bit more feedback on the Snowpulse I have myself: -It has more room than you think. I have the 15L, it holds my shovel/probe, first aid kit, emergency bivvy sack, food/drink, tools and spares and skins. I don't like to carry a lot more than that anyway. -Quality of the pack is very nice and durable, well made for sure. -The board carry straps don't really work. -The inside of the bag is a bit messy because of all the hardware. In some packs this all zips away behind a compartment, that's probably a better idea. -The lower back is padded, but the padding material soaks up water/snow and gets very wet after a while. Not good if you're sitting in a chairlift - The shoulderstraps are a little stiff after you've repacked the airbag, because the airbag itslef gets stuffed inside the straps. I wear the pack around town for a few days after I've pulled it to meke it more comfortable. - I can refil this thing at my local shop or scuba shops, they haven't charged me anything yet. Great. If it's expensive/complicated to refill, you're not as likely to test the bag every season and I think it's important to do that.