Hip Belt Clip
A standard in airbag packs, the hip belt clip is load-bearing aluminum, and is made of two metal plates that slide through one another and nest together. It is a serious pain to operate in a warm room with bare hands, let alone outside in big gloves.
I’ve heard it called many things, but whatever name you know it by, it is annoying as hell. All airbag packs have one. It’s just a load-bearing piece of webbing that goes from the back of the pack, between the legs, and loops through the hip belt (see above).
I had always attached it to the hip belt with a spare carabiner for convenience. It turns out Mammut doesn’t recommend this because it is relatively easy for the biner to catch on the strap because of its width. I typically stow the diaper strap in the loop between the snaps on the avy pocket zipper pulls when not in use.
I constantly forget to put on the diaper strap (which is, again, one of my least favorite features of all airbag packs). When I take my pack off, I’m tethered in with the diaper strap, and if I forget to put it on when I put the pack on, I have to deal with the difficult hip strap clip again.
(Note: if you are wearing a harness, you can just loop the hipbelt through the belay loop and not worry about the diaper strap.)
Removable Airbag System
Speaking specifically about the “removable” part of this feature, it is exactly as advertised. You can remove the complete airbag system relatively easily to cut weight (almost two pounds without the canister) or move the airbag to a different Mammut Protection pack.
The airbag is held in place with very sturdy double thickness webbing secured with quite a few polished aluminum toggles.
For those with a quiver of packs, the removable nature of the airbag is great. I could imagine having the Pro Protection for touring, and one of Mammut’s Protection vests for freeriding here in Switzerland. Being able to switch the airbag between them would save me a cool $650 USD.
However, removing the airbag just to shed some weight seems a little silly to me. Airbag packs are built as a part of weight bearing system. They are heavy, really heavy, and utilize lots of thick webbing and aluminum. Removing the airbag leaves you with a very heavy and overbuilt touring pack. I would much rather spend $100-150 on lightweight pack without an airbag for lightweight excursions. So if cutting weight is important to you, I wouldn’t take an airbag pack—with or without the airbag.
Helmet Stow Strap
This is probably my favorite feature. There is an awesome helmet stowage system on this pack. A stretch mesh square of fabric can be pulled out of a small velcro pocket and stretched over a helmet of any size or shape. The mesh is then secured by two plastic carabiners. It is easy to use with gloves and works well.
The main zipper pulls are awesome. Huge plastic loops that are very easy to use with gloves on. I strongly approve.
Summary on Features
While I generally like simple and more minimalist gear, overall, I think the majority of the features on this pack are well thought out and work well.
So far so good. I expect this pack will last for a long time. Small scuffs from the diagonal ski carry are the only signs of wear that appear on my pack.
This pack is really heavy. Mammut offers a pack called the Light Protection Pack that shaves 5L and about one pound off of the weight of the Pro Protection. I would love to get some time in this pack.
If airbag packs were cheap and light, everyone would have one. Currently, you have to sacrifice a few pounds of weight for the added safety of an airbag. The Protection version is practically the same weight as the standard RAS version though, with the added insurance of the head cushion.
The Mammut Pro Protection 35L PAS Airbag pack offers some of the best protection against mechanical trauma available in the world of avalanche airbag packs. Since the primary purpose of an airbag pack is to improve safety, I think the Pro Protection is a pretty damn good choice for increasing the safety of your tours.
It is feature rich and well thought out, but it is also heavy and expensive. There is no perfect airbag pack, but the Protection pack is a great option.
There are cheaper packs out there, and there are lighter packs, too. But if I’m going to be shelling out the dough and carrying the added weight of an airbag on my tours, I want to make sure I’m getting the best protection I can. The Mammut Pro Protection offers that in an attractive package.