Best Avalanche Airbags

Oh, did you think that airbags were confined to just being used in your car in the instance of an accident? Guess what, they have more uses than that. For those of you who love winter activities, such as snowboarding, skiing or ice climbing, you need to be prepared in the instance of a disaster. Trapped by nothing but glistening snow, this can only refer to an avalanche. When you get caught in an avalanche, larger objects will naturally rise to the top while smaller objects will sink to the bottom. With an airbag, your life may be spared. The entire purpose of avalanche airbags is to provide you with a safety measure against an avalanche. While there are other design features that make them great, it all comes back to safety.

Standout Picks

Backcountry Access BCA Float 27
This Backcountry Access BCA Float 27 is a great avalanche airbag with plenty of wonderful reviews. It comes with plenty of compartments to keep you organized including main compartments with an internal tool pocket for your shovel and probe.
ORTOVOX TOUR 32
There are so many features that make the ORTOVOX TOUR 32 one of the best avalanche airbags in the market for even snowmobilers. The height has an adjustable waist belt for your torso length, it also has dual hip belt pockets and a fleece-lined goggle pocket all to keep you organized and stay fitting.
Backcountry Access Float 32
Backcountry is known for making exceptional outdoor adventure gear and their Backcountry Access Float 32 is another great product. This avalanche airbag has many different features making it a popular choice including having a fleece-lined goggle pocket to zippers with DWR coating and even is hydration compatible. This product may even save your life.
The North Face Patrol 24
With a 95% success rate, this is a backpack to consider. It has a slim and narrow design that provides stability and great weight distribution. It uses compressed nitrogen gas to deploy the airbag. The gas, airbag, and handle can all be removed, allowing you to use this backpack for many other adventures.
Thule Upslope Snowsports
The Upslope is a great backpack for many different adventures. It is a shame that the airbag system must be purchased separately, but it does add a bit more versatility to the backpack. There are well-thought-out pockets and storage compartments that are easy to access. You can also choose between multiple colors and sizes.
Amazon Link
$279.95
Mammut Ride Short
The Ride Short from Mammut is a great choice for short or small-framed people, or also for women in general. The design and length of the backpack are slightly shorter and very comfortable. For versatility, the airbag system is removable.
Amazon Link
$479.95
Black Diamond Halo 28
Black Diamond integrates jet-fan inflation for their Halo 28 Airbag and that is certainly what is most notable here. Not only does this provide exceptional inflation power, but it also does so in the blink of an eye.
Mammut Light Removable 3.0
If you're looking for lightweight, look no further than the Mammut Light Removable 3.0. It's sized appropriately for most day tours and is the lightest airbag pack in the 30-liter volume range. You don't have to spend a ton to save a pound or more vs typical balloon pack models.
Amazon Link
ARCTERYX VOLTAIR
If you have followed the brand, anytime you see an Arcteryx product, then it will not be a surprise if it features some sort of weather protection. Besides this, they actually implement a battery design for their inflation.
BLACK DIAMOND SAGA 40
Black Diamond makes another appearance on this list and their Saga 40 and Halo 28 are closer in practice than 100 to 101. Honestly, you could flip a coin to decide and both would satisfy your needs. But, the Saga 40, in specific, does have minor blimps that slightly hurt its overall rating.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Use

If avalanche airbags are not integrated with the utmost safety in mind and do not perform what they should, then they turn into an overpriced backpack. Anyway, one of the key design elements to take note of is the way the airbag is activated. Typically, this will either be by compression air or a battery or jet-fan.

Even though both are great, those with batteries or jet-fans do hold the advantage in terms of inflation. Here is why. With compressed air, you must get the cylinders refilled with air every time you use it. Not only this but you must do so at certified locations. With a battery-operated airbag, you can simply recharge the battery and are good to go. Again, both work fantastically but one is clearly more convenient. But, there are also other safety features to keep an eye out for. Features such as the system performing a self-diagnosis to see if there are any issues, inflating air in even when abrasions are present and even a locking clasp to prevent accidental activation.

Features

To be honest, these types of features are not necessary but they are ones to keep an eye out for. After all, anything that offers convenience to you is positive. The question is, what is deciphered as a convenient feature? Well, as stupid and obvious as this is going to sound, any feature could classify. In reality, this entire guide could have been dedicated to it. This section is more for those features that are terrific but do not have a specific section they fall into with other airbags.

This could include the inclusion of leg loops for security. When an avalanche hits, the worst thing that could happen is for you to lose your pack. Also, how about water-resistance? You do not see it very often, but some designers will integrate water-resistant technology. Or, this could be as simple as having the option to choose which side the trigger mount goes on. Do you feel more comfortable activating the trigger with your left or right hand? Those that give you the option may appeal to you more.

Comfort

Safety and convenience are both great, but it can be argued that comfort is just as important (or even more). On long journeys, your back and legs will be aching so it is helpful when you have a pack that is not exaggerating the pain. Of all the specific comfort implementations to look for, perhaps the most important is adjustability. With packs, it is nice when you are given the option to adjust the shoulder straps and waist belt (if one is there). At times, you may want it tighter to fit snug to your body. However, this can grow tiresome and you may want the option to loosen it up. With avalanche airbags that offer a stable fit, it can quickly become a hindrance.

However, it does not stop there as padding and stabilization are also important. Padding is self-explanatory, as straps can get uncomfortable on your shoulders after too long. But, features such as a thermo-molded back panel and compression straps will assist in the overall fit and stabilization of the weight.

Portability

There is a high likelihood that when you are off on your adventure, you will need to bring along gear and accessories for the trip. Why bring along another bag when most airbags provide you with enough storage space? That is if you choose the right one. It is important to analyze the different sections of storage that are designed into an airbag. For example, are there pockets on the outside for valuables, pockets on the hip belt, or interior compartments for accessories?

But, probably more importantly, what do you intend on using your avalanche airbag for? Is it for weekend trips or all-day adventures? This is an extremely important question as it will decide the capacity that you aim for. Speaking in a general sense, a pack that holds 20 to 35-liters of volume will work best as a daypack. Beyond this, packs from 40-liters to 50-liters will adapt for weekend trips.

Top Ten Avalanche Airbags

1. Backcountry Access BCA Float 27

Where to buy
Backcountry Access BCA Float 27
Amazon Link

This Backcountry Access BCA Float 27 is a great avalanche airbag with plenty of wonderful reviews. It comes with plenty of compartments to keep you organized including main compartments with an internal tool pocket for your shovel and probe.

Read more

Use
Not only can you practice deploying the airbag, but the deployment system also guarantees that you can transport the pack on an airplane without needing to pick up canisters. This avalanche airbag creates buoyancy and helps you float to the surface in any dangerous accident. Not only does this airbag decreases your burial depth but it also protects your neck and head from any trauma in an avalanche.

Features
The Backcountry Access BCA Float 27 is one of the safest airbags on our list with its buoyancy feature to help while kayaking and 150-liter airbag to help you in an avalanche. There are many different storage compartments including an internal tool pocket for your shovel and probe and main compartments.

Comfort
The straps of the backpack are padded and provide great comfort. The compression straps help to provide more stability.

Portability
The vertical ski-carry shoulder straps allow for a backpack-style airbag. Meanwhile, the compression straps help in weight distribution.

2. ORTOVOX TOUR 32

ORTOVOX TOUR 32
Amazon Link

There are so many features that make the ORTOVOX TOUR 32 one of the best avalanche airbags in the market for even snowmobilers. The height has an adjustable waist belt for your torso length, it also has dual hip belt pockets and a fleece-lined goggle pocket all to keep you organized and stay fitting.

Read more

Use
The trigger can be on the left or right side which you get to choose to help with any convenience while in an emergency. There is also many external straps and attachments including a fixed leg strap and an internal and external shovel attachment to help too. The air canister and cylinder is not included. You will need to purchase the air canister to keep you safe while adventuring in the snowy weather.

Features
A fleece-lined goggle pocket, while obviously possessing the capability to hold goggles, will also store your water bottle. For quick access to small items, there are pockets on both sides of the waist belt. There are also dual hip belt pockets for extra storage too.

Comfort
The back section of this backpack is well-ventilated and breathable. The shoulder straps and hip belt are both decently padded.

Portability
With a hip belt and chest strap, this backpack is easy to carry. This is a wonderful avalanche airbag and has many overall features and attachments that will help keep you safe and organized when in need. It is able to hold everything you need when traveling to the backcountry.

3. Backcountry Access Float 32

Backcountry Access Float 32
Amazon Link

Backcountry is known for making exceptional outdoor adventure gear and their Backcountry Access Float 32 is another great product. This avalanche airbag has many different features making it a popular choice including having a fleece-lined goggle pocket to zippers with DWR coating and even is hydration compatible. This product may even save your life.

Read more

Use
The Float 32s 150-liter airbag creates buoyancy and minimizes burial depth and also protects your head and neck from trauma in an avalanche. This bag does not include the float 2.0 cylinder and so does not guarantee your survival. The cylinder must be purchased separately.

Features
There are many special features in the Backcountry Access Float 32 including its dedicated shovel and probe storage compartment as well as a helmet carry to keep you organized. There are several different storage compartments including several special pockets and comes with an adjustable waist belt. It is also made with DWR durable water-resistant materials.

Comfort
This avalanche airbag is very comfortable when it comes to long voyages and has wonderful ratings on its comfort and durability.

Portability
With a great chest strap, along with hip and shoulder straps, this bag is easy to bring along with you.

4. The North Face Patrol 24

Where to buy
The North Face Patrol 24
Amazon Link

With a 95% success rate, this is a backpack to consider. It has a slim and narrow design that provides stability and great weight distribution. It uses compressed nitrogen gas to deploy the airbag. The gas, airbag, and handle can all be removed, allowing you to use this backpack for many other adventures.

Read more

Use
The Patrol from North Face uses compressed nitrogen gas. There are two airbags, one on each side of the backpack. They are easily and quickly deployed by pulling down on the ceramic handle on the left shoulder strap. One of the great things about nitrogen airbags is that you can practice at home and then have the canister refilled. It should be noted that the canister is not included.

Features
This is a very durable bag. Not only can it be used for avalanche safety, but it can also be used a regular backpack. You can remove the airbag system and handle and replace it with a hydration pack. There are also attachments for skis or a snowboard. There are plenty of pockets and organizational areas for your gear and tools. Additionally, the hip belt has dual zippered pockets. The areas of the bag that take the most damage are reinforced for extra durability. To top it all of, there is a built-in safety whistle on the chest strap.

Comfort
The slim profile of this backpack is comfortable and provides great stability. The shoulder straps are nicely padded and there are a hip belt and chest strap for even weight distribution. The hip belt has a strong metal clasp to ensure that the bag stays firmly on your body in the event of an avalanche.

Portability
This backpack is both versatile and portable. It is slightly heavy, at 6.6-pounds, but it literally is a lifesaver so we can’t complain. Without the canister, it can be taken on a plane without issue.

5. Thule Upslope Snowsports

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$279.95
Thule Upslope Snowsports
Amazon Link

The Upslope is a great backpack for many different adventures. It is a shame that the airbag system must be purchased separately, but it does add a bit more versatility to the backpack. There are well-thought-out pockets and storage compartments that are easy to access. You can also choose between multiple colors and sizes.

Read more

Use
This bag can be used with or without the airbag. The recommended airbag system is the Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0. Sadly, they are sold separately and the price of the airbag itself is more expensive than this backpack alone. However, the airbag system is highly rated and uses compressed gas. The compressed gas is dependable and not affected by the weather. It has a T-shaped deployment handle which can be adjusted to your comfort.

Features
Accessible is a great way to describe this bag. There are great pockets that provide easy access to the things you need. There are two large zippered side pocket, a front pocket dedicated to tools, and a large main compartment that can be easily accessed from the back panel. One of the pockets is lined with fleece, making it an ideal pocket for your goggles. The built-in hydration sleeve and reservoir pocket are specifically designed to help prevent the hose of the reservoir from freezing. As for your gear, you can easily attach your skis or snowboard to the bag. The bag is durable and features reinforced seams and stress guards.

Comfort
The Thule Upslope is comfortable and stable. The straps are well-padded and the side pockets wrap around your body and meet in the front with a buckle. There is also a chest strap for even weight distribution.

Portability
The bag itself weighs about 3.5-pounds. It is important to remember that adding the airbag system or hydration reservoir will make it a bit heavier. The Upslope is highly versatile and can be used for many sports and in many climates. The exterior compression straps ensure that your gear stays where you packed it, no matter how many tumbles you take.

Amazon Link
$279.95

6. Mammut Ride Short

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$479.95
Mammut Ride Short
Amazon Link

The Ride Short from Mammut is a great choice for short or small-framed people, or also for women in general. The design and length of the backpack are slightly shorter and very comfortable. For versatility, the airbag system is removable.

Read more

Use
Luckily, all of these airbag systems are easy to use. You pull down on the deployment trigger and boom! The Mammut Ride Short is no different. This removable airbag is powered by compressed gas. When activated, the airbag is deployed from a break-free zipper compartment behind your head. It quickly inflates and highly raises your chances of survival. As an added measure of safety, this backpack features a safety leg loop.

Features
There are decent storage and organization in this backpack. You’ll find an integrated helmet carrier, a padded fleece goggle pouch, and a small internal zippered pocket for small items such as your keys or phone. The backpack is compatible with a hydration pack, but it is not included. When attaching your skis or snowboard, they will sit diagonally.

Comfort
The overall design of this backpack is meant for short or small-framed people and women. The removable hip belt is well padded and the foam back panel provides an extra layer of comfort. Also, the padded shoulder straps are nicely articulated. Some say that the aluminum frame sits slightly off the back and can cause the bag to feel a bit cumbersome.

Portability
To keep all of your gear in place and travel without worry, there are compression straps on the outside of this backpack. You can easily fly with the backpack and airbag, as long as the cartridge is empty. The weight of the backpack is 6.6-pounds.

Amazon Link
$479.95

7. Black Diamond Halo 28

Black Diamond Halo 28
Amazon Link

Black Diamond integrates jet-fan inflation for their Halo 28 Airbag and that is certainly what is most notable here. Not only does this provide exceptional inflation power, but it also does so in the blink of an eye.

Read more

Use
Yes, jet-flan inflation technology is integrated here and it is fabulous. Besides the fact that it will inflate within four seconds, it will deflate after three minutes to create an air pocket. Plus, the system also performs a self-diagnosis on every start-up to conclude if there are any issues.

Features
Even while your skis are attached to this bag, the system will still deploy when needed. In addition, it is also easily repackable and provides zero-cost user practice and friendly performance. Black Diamond provides you with a few color and size options. For colors, select between either black or fire red. Sizes, on the other hand, consist of either small/medium (26-liters) or medium/large (28-liters).

Comfort
The zippered back panel access system and reACTIV suspension system with SwingArm shoulder straps should deliver enough comfort for everyone.

Portability
Past the main compartment, which when totaled with everything else will hold either 26-liters or 28-liters of equipment (depending on the size you pick), there is an internal pocket, a hip-belt stash pocket, and an avy-tools pocket. Some may feel this does not offer enough capacity and that is fine, but do not overlook the other design features that make it spectacular. Features such as the number of separate storage compartments, safety, and inflation technology.

8. Mammut Light Removable 3.0

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Mammut Light Removable 3.0
Amazon Link

If you're looking for lightweight, look no further than the Mammut Light Removable 3.0. It's sized appropriately for most day tours and is the lightest airbag pack in the 30-liter volume range. You don't have to spend a ton to save a pound or more vs typical balloon pack models.

Read more

Use
Innovation is key here as Mammut has implemented a design to minimize the chance that your breathing is obscured when the airbag inflates and opens. The airbag opens in a horseshoe-esque manner to concentrate the floatation behind and above your head so you are facing above the snow.

Features
To ensure that the pack does not escape from your grasp, there are included leg loops for security. This pack doesn't have a ton in extra features, but it has a zippered pocket on the side of the waist belt and a fixed gear loop on the other. There is also a small zippered pocket on the top of the pack to help keep small items from getting lost. It is also hydration system compatible.

Comfort
Even with this pack loaded to the brim, you are still promised a comfortable ride. The pack fits a lot of people, from 5'4" to 6'2".

Portability
While you can’t pick from any other color option (just black), you can select a 35-liter or 45-liter model. The Mammut Light Removable Airbag is a unique pack that will work for most backcountry skiers. It's lightweight, with a simple design, that can still hold plenty of your gear.

Amazon Link

9. ARCTERYX VOLTAIR

ARCTERYX VOLTAIR
Amazon Link

If you have followed the brand, anytime you see an Arcteryx product, then it will not be a surprise if it features some sort of weather protection. Besides this, they actually implement a battery design for their inflation.

Read more

Use
Safety is at the forefront here with a plethora of design features. This includes an impeller that is custom-engineered to increase the pressure for superior inflation, a single-leg safety loop that is connected with a carabiner and enough air to inflate even when minor abrasions are present.

Features
With a durable and seam-taped design, this airbag is highly water-resistant. In addition, the pack can secure a single ice tool and features compressions straps for skis and snowboards. Past the dual main compartments, also integrated is an internal security pocket and an internal waterproof sleeve. All this considered, you can expect to hold up to 30 liters of gear and accessories. The 30-liter capacity is the only size option, but you can select between two different colors (either black or cayenne).

Comfort
When you see something from Arcteryx, you can expect only the best in craftsmanship and design. Their Voltair airbag is certainly no different and while it is not the cheapest version in the world, good luck finding any better. The padded shoulder straps make this bag easy and comfortable for all-day trekking.

Portability
While the adjustable sternum strap allows you to get the best fit possible, the compressions straps will help stabilize the pack when you are carrying skis or snowboards.

10. BLACK DIAMOND SAGA 40

BLACK DIAMOND SAGA 40
Amazon Link

Black Diamond makes another appearance on this list and their Saga 40 and Halo 28 are closer in practice than 100 to 101. Honestly, you could flip a coin to decide and both would satisfy your needs. But, the Saga 40, in specific, does have minor blimps that slightly hurt its overall rating.

Read more

Use
Just as the others, the safety of the Saga 40 all stems in its airbag. If you are really concerned, you can practice deploying this airbag as often as you like. The inflation is powered by a rechargeable battery, meaning that you can charge it when it gets low.

Features
All sorts of compartments are integrated here including an avalanche tools pocket, hip-belt stash pocket, and a zippered top accessory pocket. But, all in all, expect to hold either 38 or 40-liters of gear (depending on the size you choose). You can select from either black or fire red (for colors) and small/medium (38-liters) or medium/large (40-liters).

Comfort
As with their other airbag, Black Diamond designed this pack with a reACTIV suspension system with SwingArm shoulder straps. Plus, they also included zippered back panel access.

Portability
If need be, you can easily transport this pack onto an airport with no restrictions. In addition, the design allows the airbag to be deployed even while skis or snowboards are attached.

Sources