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Mammut Pro Protection 35L PAS Airbag Pack

Mammut Pro Protection 35L PAS Airbag Pack

Sam Shaheen reviews the Mammut Pro Protection Airbag Pack (35L) for Blister Gear Review.

Mammut Pro Protection Airbag Pack 35L

Volume: 35L

Stated Weight: 2640 grams / 5.8 lbs (without canister)

Price: $950 MSRP

Features:

  • Protection Airbag System: Trauma protection, head on top and removable airbag
  • Safety leg loop
  • 3-step back length adjustment
  • U-frame 6mm aluminum, adjustable
  • Thermoformed back for high carrying comfort
  • Fully zipped access into the main compartment from the back
  • Side compression straps
  • Front pocket for avalanche safety equipment
  • Diagonal, stowable ski attachment
  • Removable snowboard carrier
  • Helmet carrier with snow protection, stowable
  • Stowable axe-pole carrier
  • Very large, lined head pocket
  • Hip belt pocket
  • Range of inner compartments
  • Hydration system compatible

Reviewer: 5’10”, 135 lbs.

Days Tested: 8

Test Locations: Berner Oberland, Valais Switzerland

The Debate

Last winter, I talked to a local guide back home in Colorado who said that he believes that avalanche airbags will largely replace current beacon technology in the near future. I have also met others offering much less support for airbag systems. A friend of mine here in Bern, Switzerland is vehemently against them in favor instead of caution and education for mountain safety.

The two prevalent arguments are:

Against: Using an airbag system encourages people to take more risk in the mountains, endangering themselves and others.

For: Airbag systems can help save your life in the event of an avalanche.

Whether you are for or against airbag systems, they are becoming increasingly prevalent. Last winter, while skiing in St. Anton, Austria, I hardly saw a person on a pair of fat freeride skis who wasn’t also wearing some sort of airbag system.

In every case, airbags are purchased for safety reasons. That is what sparked my interest in the Mammut Pro Protection Airbag. The Protection line from Mammut utilizes an airbag that envelops your head when deployed to minimize the likelihood of head injury in the event of a slide.

There are varying statistics out there, but somewhere around 25% of avalanche fatalities are due to trauma. Of course depending on the type of terrain you typically ski in (e.g., in trees, above cliffs) that number could be a lot higher.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Mammut Pro Protection Airbag Pack (35L) for Blister Gear Review.

Mammut Pro Protection Airbag Pack, inflated

Mammut offers the Pro Protection pack as both a traditional RAS (Removable Airbag System) and as the Pro Protection PAS airbag system reviewed here.

The RAS system does not envelope your head when deployed, the PAS system does.

I highly suggest checking out Dana Allen’s review of the Mammut Pro pack with RAS. I will refer to Dana’s review throughout. The RAS and Protection versions of the pack are somewhat similar, but for the most part, the packs should be considered separately.

Airbag System

The heart and soul of this pack is the airbag, and the primary difference between the Protection airbag and the RAS is the shape of the airbag. The firing mechanisms, air canisters, and removability are just about the same.

However, the Protection airbag has large wings housed in the straps of the pack that extend around the head when deployed. There are zippers that extend all the way down the pack straps. The wings of the airbag are rolled underneath and extend all the way to the base of the straps. This makes the pack straps extremely bulky and stiff (more on that later).

The trigger is still located in the left strap, and can be zipped into the strap for safekeeping. I have pulled the trigger on this pack and a few BCA packs, and the force required to pull this trigger is very similar. It pulls easily with a sharp tug.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Mammut Pro Protection Airbag Pack (35L) for Blister Gear Review.

Mammut Pro Protection Airbag Trigger

I pulled the airbag in my room at the end of the season, but I have never had to pull it in the field—and hopefully I never will. It inflates in just a few seconds, and is approximately as loud as a jumbo jet. It inflates to a fairly high pressure and it seems to hold the air very well. I left it inflated for about five minutes and saw no notable decrease in pressure.

Deflating the airbag is simple with a small valve on the airbag mechanism in the pack. Repacking is also pretty simple, although the wings of the airbag make it a touch more finicky to repack than standard airbag systems.

For part of my testing, I was using the Euro style of canister which is bit simpler to work with than the North American version, and saves some of weight and bulk. I will be bummed when I have to switch back to the North American version.

Other than that, I concur with Dana’s comments on the actual airbag system. The SnowPulse system in the Mammut Protection is a proven design, used in countless packs by multiple manufacturers.

NEXT: Fit, Features, Durability, etc.

5 Comments

  1. Alex May 26, 2015 Reply

    Just a heads up on the diagonal carry. As I understand it, this is the way ABS style packs have to carry skis in order to allow the bags to deploy. And the “Diaper strap” sucks any way you slice it, but if you ask people who have been caught in an avalanche, many will tell you that their normal backpacks were ripped from their bodies. Imagine what a deployed airbag would do without a little more to hold it on.

    • Sam Shaheen May 27, 2015 Reply

      Hey Alex, thanks for your comments.

      These are just a few of the luxuries one must sacrifice in the name of safety when using an airbag pack. I’d love an A-frame ski carry and no diaper strap, but I’d rather stay alive if I get caught in an avalanche.

      Cheers,
      Sam

    • Blister Member
      Michael October 27, 2015 Reply

      Actually, that “Diaper strap” needs to be there and fairly tight, not too loose so that the pack could be lifted off your shoulders and basically having the chest strap strangle you like it happened to Holger Achim Fritz in the Revelstoke backcountry on Feb 22nd 2013 while they triggered a slide out of bound.or without a chest strap attached, it could well be ripped from you. I remember reading the detailed report from the avalanche.ca website when that happened and the airbag was deployed and his body was very close to the surface, but the bag got pulled up and his body pulled down and the chest strap is basically what killed him, it literally strangulate him. If he would have wore that “diaper strap” fairly tight, this could have most likely be avoided. This one really struck me when I read the report, as everything worked as t’s supposed to, except for this guy who wasn’t wearing the strap. Some of his ski partners also deployed their airbags and they were able to dig themselves out. …

  2. Blister Member
    Michael Lachance October 25, 2015 Reply

    Almost wonder if it wouldn’t be better to go with the 45L in the same model? Since it has compression straps, you could cinch it if you are packing less… Based on photos it they look the same, just the light gray portion around the whole pack that it bigger, so it could extend a bit more to give you more room inside … Have you had a chance to check the 45? Or you find that the 35 would be good enough for any regular touring day?

    Thx

  3. Scott November 29, 2016 Reply

    I have skied numerous tours in Europeian alps with the 45. What I have found is if your pack is bigger you will fill it. Minimalist packs keep you safer. Go small and light.

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