Carbon airbag gas cylinders (i.e., tanks, cartridges) are beautiful. About 327 grams (larger aluminum version is 666 grams). Smaller, so you don’t need as big a rucksack. These can’t be retailed in North America, but transport hacking them over here from the enlightened EU seems to work. What you end up with is a 30 liter capacity avalanche airbag backpack, Mammut Light 30, that weighs 2.1 kilos (4.6 pounds). That’s amazing, considering just a few years ago the “normal” weight for a similar sized airbag backpack was more along the lines of 3 kilos — a third more!
NOTE: This blog post contains guesswork and conjecture about transporting items that may not be allowed by TSA or other United States transportation system rules. We are by no means recommending any of this, only sharing what we’ve heard people have done. If you choose to use any methods of transporting goods, you do so at your own risk. We do not recommend the methods we communicate in this blog post. It’s also worth noting that these small cylinders filled with compressed air or inert gas are extremely safe when safety capped and packed inside checked baggage. There is virtually nothing of concern, which is why ITA allows them on commercial flights originating in Europe.
Indeed, if you carefully shop for the latest, the mass of an avalanche airbag system has become a non issue. My how things change.
Conclusions I easily have dozens of days touring with the Light 30, as I made it my go-to airbag pack this season. It’s a bit large in volume for my normal day trip, and the long torso feels slightly odd. I found some of the dangling straps needed to be taped down, and the birthing zipper comes apart too easily. I use a carabiner on the leg strap to avoid the fiddly threading required by the stock configuration, but I’m not sure doing so is entirely safe; it probably needs to be a locking biner. Durability appears fine. For the most part, configured with the carbon cylinder, this is the airbag rucksack I’ve waited twenty years for.
Shopping? As always, the furious pace of airbag rucksack development makes it hard to know the sweet spot timing dictating the use of plastic payment instruments. In the case of Mammut Light 30, I don’t think you can go wrong if you find it on sale. Backcountry dot com is looking good.
To reiterate: Our experiments involved acquiring one cylinder from Snowinn. We also brought one back from Europe in checked baggage with a domestic connection — we’re uncertain if that was ok or simply overlooked by TSA. But bringing one back direct is entirely fine and legal as far as we know, since the European flight origination is covered by ITA (the European version of TSA), which allows airbag cylinders.
See our previous Mammut reviews.
I did stop by and visit Mammut at ISPO. Highlights:
The Light 30 backpack will be available in black for next season. That’s good news, as I’ve been heavily using my light colored version and it’s looking contaminated. In the beacon department, I went through their new Barryvox S beacon with an insider expert at the ISPO booth. We’d reviewed the Barryvox S from contact at the OR show but it was nice to get a run with the European perspective. Quite a nice unit, recommended. Favorite feature is the intelligent fine search, appears that will shave valuable seconds off your rescue.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.