3 Best Avalanche Packs

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Hey there my backcountry skiing and mountaineering enthusiasts and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best avalanche packs for some high country safety this year.  Now, if you are someone who does like to head away from the groomed tracks for a little adventure, then it must be assumed that at some stage the risk of avalanche or snow drift can become a very real possibility.

So if this is you and you are considering your safety requirements, to help get you ready I have had a good look around and come up with three decent avalanche pack options below.

Let’s check them out…

My three recommended best avalanche packs

I will review these in more detail below. Still, if you want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience: 

02/19/2024 09:08 pm GMT Lasso Brag

What are avalanche packs?

Avalanche packs, also known as avalanche safety packs or airbag backpacks, are specialized backpacks designed for backcountry skiers, snowboarders and other winter sports enthusiasts who venture into avalanche-prone areas. These backpacks have a built-in airbag system that, when triggered, inflates to create a larger surface area around the person wearing it hence reducing the chances of being buried or trapped.

A typical avalanche pack includes a canister of compressed gas, a trigger mechanism and a large airbag that deploys from the top of the backpack. The trigger can be activated manually by pulling a ripcord or by using an electronic sensor that detects sudden changes in movement or orientation.

Avalanche packs should be used in conjunction with other safety equipment such as a beacon, shovel and probe within proper training in avalanche safety and rescue techniques.

Check out my: Best avalanche beacons

best avalanche packs - Mountain biker with avalanche pack

What should you be looking for?

the following factors should be considered as you look around for a good avalanche pack to suit your back country adventure needs.

  1. Inflation Systems: Canister or Fan
  2. Capacity
  3. Weight
  4. Sizing and Fit
  5. Removable or Interchangeable Airbags
  6. Maintenance and Life Span
  7. Additions

Inflation System

Avalanche airbags are classified into two types: inflated by a canister filled with compressed air or gas and operated by an electric fan. Canister-powered airbags differ from electric models in several respects, including weight and packed size, convenience, pricing, travel capability and more. 

As a result, while selecting whether an airbag is best for you, one of your first considerations will be the sort of power supply.

  1. Compressed air or gas is retained under pressure in a cylinder (typically made of aluminum) by a thin metal disc or O-ring valve in a canister system. As you pull the lever, air or gas is released into the airbag inflating it to its total capacity.
  2. Electric airbags draw air into the airbag using a high-speed fan driven by a battery or a supercapacitor (which itself is powered by a battery). Before using either of these systems, you must charge the device and turn it on.


Most airbag backpacks have capacities ranging from 20 to 35 liters. Skiers and snowboarders may get away with a smaller model (in the 20-liter range) for toting the minimal essentials such as water and food and possibly a layer for heli- or cat-powered laps.

for longer periods, look to upgrade to a 25 or 30-liter pack to fit extra layers, skins, food and water for the entire day.


In general, gas-cylinder-powered airbags will be the lightest, followed by most current supercapacitor- and battery-powered systems. The bulk of compressed air-powered airbags is on the hefty side. Wights for avalanche packs generally range from around 1 pound 8.3 ounces up to 2 pounds 6.1 ounces. 

As with anything to do with moving around in the great outdoors, the lighter the pack you can manage, the better.

Sizing and Fit

An ill-fitting backpack will be challenging to carry, especially given the inherent weight of airbag packs. Also, airbag packs lack the adjustability range of regular backpacking packs, so make sure you buy the correct size and adjust the pack properly each time you use it.

As a result, I recommend that you consult the size charts provided by manufacturers prior to purchase.

Removable or interchangeable bags

In general, avalanche airbags are offered as all-in-one systems which implies that the airbag you buy can exclusively be used with the backpack that comes with it.

Some brands, however, provide replaceable component where airbags may be purchased separately or as part of an all-in-one system, and they can be switched between compatible backpacks. 

It is however critical to keep in mind that a detachable airbag must be combined with a pack developed exclusively for that airbag. If you utilize another combination, it might be dangerous and result in device failure.

best avalanche packs - hiker with avalanche pack

Maintenance and Life Span

Despite their comparatively high prices, avalanche airbags are not a one-time buy with many good for up to 40 to 50 deployments, which generally equates to 5 years of regular use. Manufacturers often suggest that airbags be decommissioned ten years after purchase as well.

You can do a few things to help your airbag last longer however and experts recommend deploying it at least once a year and allowing it to dry thoroughly before repacking. I strongly advise doing routine system inspections, such as inspecting the airbag, wiring, fan (if applicable), deployment handle and backpack suspension as well.


Other potential additions include:

  1. Zippered sleeve: This is where you find the airbag handle extends.
  2. Shovel pocket: This component allows you to secure your light snow shovel, which could be helpful during emergencies.
  3. Hipbelt pocket: This item allows you to keep your essentials and climbing gear close at hand.

Check out these: Light Snow Shovels


Are avalanche backpacks worth it?

Avalanche backpacks, also known as avalanche airbags, are designed to help protect users in the event of an avalanche by increasing their chances of staying on the surface of the snow. They are worth considering if you plan to spend time in avalanche-prone areas, especially when participating in activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or mountaineering.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Backcountry Access Float 22 Avalanche Airbag

My first product offering is widely regarded as one of the best avalanche packs for downhill-oriented backcountry excursions such as side-country, heli or cat skiing and snowboarding. It has enough storage for your safety gear and other clothes without feeling bulky as well. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Backcountry Access
  • Type: Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 22 liters
  • Material: 330 Denier with PU coating
  • Dimensions: ‎21.4 x 12.7 x 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.1 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Durable zippers
  • Integration for BC link radios

Why have I chosen it?

This backpack has a capacity of 1,342 cubic inches / 22 liters (with the system) and can carry all necessary outdoor gear, including food, water and clothing that may be needed on the trails.

Its main body comprises 330 denier micro ripstop nylon with a PU coating, 420 denier oxford nylon with a PU coating for heavy wear sections, and 200 denier polyester for the interior. These fabrics are tough and can resist the rigors of the outdoors. There is also includes a single, spacious, zipped hip belt pocket ideal for ski straps, snack bars, an Inclinometer or a classic point-and-shoot camera as well.

2. Backcountry Access BCA Float 15 Turbo Avalanche Airbag 2.0 

Next on my list is a technical, low-volume backpack that features an external shovel storage compartment and a built-in airbag system to provide additional safety when exploring the backcountry. It has a pack Volume 15 Liters / 915 Cubic Inches and is lightweight as well. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Backcountry Access
  • Type: Compressed Air
  • Capacity: 15 liters
  • Material: 330 Denier with PU coating
  • Dimensions: ‎‎21.1 x 14.4 x 3.6 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • External shovel carry system
  • Adjustable waist
  • Hip belt

Why have I chosen it?

The backpack’s low-volume design makes it ideal for mountain sledding, providing a streamlined profile that won’t interfere with your movements and the external shovel storage compartment makes it easy to access your shovel when you need it as well.

The airbag system is designed to help keep you on the surface of the snow in the event of an avalanche, increasing your chances of survival and can be easily deployed with a single pull of the handle then recharged after use.

3. Osprey Soelden Pro 32 Ski and Snowboard Backcountry Avalanche Backpack

My last recommended avalanche backpack is specifically designed for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. It comes in a striking red mountain color and is built with the Alpride E2 electronic avalanche airbag system, a reliable and lightweight system that’s easy to use. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Type: Electric airbag
  • Capacity: 32 liters
  • Material: Nanofly 100D Recycled Robic Nylon material
  • Dimensions: 23 x 14 x 6 inches
  • Weight: 6.41 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Hipbelt storage pocket
  • Internal radio harness
  • Internal water bottle pocket
  • Stowable helmet carry
  • USB port for charging purposes

Why have I chosen it?

One of the standout features of this backpack is its sizeable front panel J-zip access to the avalanche safety kit pocket that comes with a shovel handle and probe sleeves, providing quick and easy access to your essential safety equipment in case of an avalanche.

The backpack also features extensive U-zip access to the main compartment with internal zippered organization pockets, a GPS/Radio pocket with mic harness webbing attachment points and a single-zippered hipbelt pocket. Additionally, the A-frame or diagonal ski carry and vertical front panel snowboard carry to make it easy to transport your skis or snowboard up the mountain too.

02/19/2024 09:08 pm GMT Lasso Brag


There you have it, my three best avalanche packs for some mountain safety this year. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.