I am using the Ortovox Free Rider 22 Avabag since the beginning of 2017 and here are my thoughts after roughly 40 days skiing with it:
The best part about this backpack is its fit. It wont move around on your back while you jump around in the powder. The wide Strap around your waist secures the backpack tightly. I also like the integrated back protector and the general great build quality. Most buckles are made from metal and most seams and attachments are well stitched.
While the wide waist belt is great, the velcro is worn out after many days of use, since you still have a buckle to secure the belt its not a real problem but I find myself wishing for a different way of closing the belt.
The backpack fits most things you need while being on the mountain. Yet if I want to pack skins, rescue gear, hydration system, first aid kit, snacks and then an extra jacket I see myself wanting to have some more room.
The Ortovox Avabag system is the companys first self developed avalanche airbag system since they stopped working with ABS in their backpacks. I like the system for its light weight and compact size. The whole system is removable and since you can reset the activation mechanism you can practice pulling the handle (without the cartridge) in different situations or with multiple gloves. To recharge the cartridge you send it to Ortovox and they fill it up for a fee (around 30€).
I found the Backpack fantastic for freeriding in any condition. It also works great for small ski tours.
What i like:
- Tight and secure fit
- Integrated back protector
- Easy to use airbag system
- solid build
- many features
What i dont like as much:
- Any pressurized cartridge airbag system can be difficult to bring on an airplane. (see my other post)
- When the shovel and probe is packed, its difficult to access the main compartment
- can run a little small
If you plan on bringing loads of gear, extra jackets or camera equipment you might find the backpack running a little small. In that case Mammut offers great alternatives.
- Lots of room
- Many features
- Can be bulky
- Cartridge with compressed air
- Normal price for avalanche backpacks at around 650€
If you need to travel by plane constantly you might consider a backpack with an electrical avalanche system. Jetforce offers a system like that which would make traveling much easier – a great option if you are willing to pay for it.
- Electric airbag system
- Travels well on airplanes
- You can test the complete system and repack it yourself
- Expensive at around 1100€