Mammut Pro Protection 35L PAS Airbag Pack
Stated Weight: 2640 grams / 5.8 lbs (without canister)
Price: $950 MSRP
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.