Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Awesome airbag system, tons of cool extra features, lots of volume.
Cons: Heavy, snow safety gear pocket is super tall.
Best Uses: All-day, hut-to-hut or mutli-day backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
The Mammut Pro Protection 35L PAS avalanche airbag pack was nearly one of our OutdoorGearLab top picks for longer trips, mountain guides or for anyone who needs a bigger pack. It scored high in nearly every category and has a host of great features. It was just barely edged out by the Mammut Light Protection for our top pick for longer tours because it is 1 lb 3 oz heavier and the Light Protection offers the same PAS airbag system, our second favorite on the market. We liked nearly all of the features and other performance characteristics of the Pro Protection better and it's a lot more durable.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Mammut uses compressed air canisters in the airbag system. Compressed air, while slightly lower in performance compared to compressed nitrogen, is much easier and cheaper to refill. Mammut's cartridges use a pretty standard fitting and can be refilled at most scuba shops, paint ball shops and some outdoor gear stores for around $5-$20. If your own a scuba tank, have a glass blowing setup or anything else that uses compressed air, you can buy an adapter from BCA and refill your own canisters.
A small disadvantage of the Pro Protection 35L is that unlike the ABS packs, the trigger is not interchangeable between shoulder straps. It is fixed on the left side making it best for right-handed users.
Using compressed air rather than compressed nitrogen has a big advantage when it comes to air travel. TSA and the FAA allow you to fly with an empty compressed air canister as long as it's in your checked baggage; not so with nitrogen canisters. A good tip is to keep your the box that your air canister comes in; when you fly put the canister back in this box, which defines what your canister is and helps to make sure TSA doesn't take it away. I go an extra step and put a note on mine, saying it's empty and that it's for an avalanche airbag pack.
Comfort and Fit
The Mammut Pro Protection 35L carried packs on the up wonderfully. It is big enough to load up for overnight trips and even with heavier loads the Pro Protection performed great. We thought it carried around the same with a 35 lbs load as the Ortovox Tour ABS 32 + 7 and ABS Vario 40 but better than the Backcountry Access Float 32. Mammut Pro Protection 35L is only available in one frame size. However, the Pro Protection 35L as well as other Mammut PAS packs offer around three inches of adjustabitiy that is primarily designed to help the PAs airbag better protect your head. This helps the pack fit a wider range of people. We thought it fit most people 5'5" to 6'2". It fit shorter people better than the single sized Backcountry Access Float 32 but the Pro Protection 35L fit shorter people even better.
Backcountry Pack Utility
Performance on the Down
This is how well the pack moves with you and hugs your body while descending when skiing and snowboarding. Compared with bigger volumne airbag packs like the Ortovox Tour ABS 32 + 7, the Mammut Pro Prtoection preformed better. It was comparable to the Vario 40. Compared with other more medium size airbag packs, the Mammut Pro Protection 35L was average and was around the same as the Mammut Ride RAS 30L or the Backcountry Access Float 32. It didn't perform quite as well as the ABS Powder 15 or our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice, the ABS Vario 30.
Mammut Pro Protection 35L Airbag checks in at 7 lbs 3 oz (5 lbs 13 oz without the canister; 1 lb 6 oz for the canister) which is slightly heavier than most other average weight airbag packs. But it is in line with all the other bigger airbag packs like the ABS Vario 40 (7 lbs 10 oz) and the Ortovox Tour ABS 32 +7 (7 lbs 3 oz).
Carrying Skis or Snowboard
The Mammut Pro Protection 35L, like other Mammut airbag packs, is one of the best options for carrying a snowboard. For skis they have a good but not excellent diagonal ski carry system. The upper strap is wide and across the back of the pack so the skis can move around a little. This wasn't as much of a problem for just booting it, but when the terrain got trickier they moved around more than other airbag packs like the Backcountry Access Float 32. With the Mammut Pro Protection 35 it is one of the few airbag packs you can carry skis in an A-frame style, though Mammut does not recommend this for situations were you might want to deploy your bag. A senrio for carrying your skis A-frame could be hiking up through the woods to get to the start of the snow where you can put your skins on.
Overall Cost Breakdown
The cost of airbag packs can be confusing because some manufacturers include the cartridge in the price and some don't. Some companies sell options without the airbag system or base unit, so make sure you know what you are buying. With the Mammut Pro PAS 35, it's $600 for the PAS system, $200 for the canister and $350 for the "PAS Ready" Mammut Pro Protection 35L pack. Sometimes you will see it all packaged together for $1100,offering a slight discount.
The Pro Protection 35L is best suited for all-day touring, mountain guides, hut-to-hut trips and even lighter overnight trips. It could work for heli, cat or side-country skiing and snowboarding but because it's so big it isn't ideal. For longer trips we thought if performed similar to the Ortovox Tour ABS 32 + 7. For some it might be edged out by the Mammut Light Protection because it's one pound three ounces lighter.
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 29, 2013
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