Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Modular airbag system, Best airbag pack for shorter framed people
Cons: Diagonal ski carry system is just okay, small avy gear pocket
Best Uses: Side-country skiing and snowboarding, Day touring, light hut to hut trips, Snowmobiling
The Mammut Ride Short Removable Airbag 28L is a shorter framed airbag pack that is designed to fit women, kids and shorter framed men. While we didn't include a few of the other women's specific airbag packs in our review, we checked them out and both because of the fit and the overall backcountry utility the Ride Short Removable Airbag was our top pick. The Ride Short Removable Airbag has a near identical layout as the popular Mammut Ride Removable Airbag pack, that version is features a little longer frame, wider shoulder straps and is 2L bigger. The Ride Short Removable Airbag back panel is very comfortable using conforming and supportive foam with a cozy fabric and the shoulder straps are nicely articulated. We didn't like the RAS airbag system quite as much as Mammut's PAS system or the ABS system, but it's still a solid and dependable modular system that most people will be more than happy with.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Mammut Ride Short Removable Airbag uses a single 150L bag that inflates above your head through a break-way zippered pocket. This size and shape is more or less the "standard" among avalanche airbag packs and is the most common. While it doesn't offer anything special like two bags for redundancy or a head/neck wrap shape like Mammut's PAS system, it is still incredibly effective and there are exceptionally few cases of one bag failing.
Mammut's RAS or Removable Airbag System is the least expensive modular airbags on the market. With the RAS, you can buy one airbag system ($450) and move it among multiple packs that cost all around $260-$300. This is by far and away the least expensive modular system available. Compared with the ABS Vario the Base until and a cartridge is $1100 and the packs are around $100-$125. Or Ortovox's MASS unit ($700) or Mammuts PAS system ($700) then cost around the same amount for the pack, sans airbag.
Unlike the ABS packs the trigger is not interchangeable between shoulder straps and is fixed on the left side. We thought the actual trigger mechanisms themselves were not as important a factor to consider when buying a airbag pack, with that The trigger mechanism on the Mammut Ride RAS itself isn't the best but is still highly relabel.
Mammut uses compressed air canisters in the airbag system. Compressed air while slightly lower in performance compared with compressed nitrogen, is much easier and cheaper to re-fill. Mammuts's cartridges use a pretty standard fitting and can be refilled at most scuba shops, paint ball shops, some outdoor gear stores for a cost of around $5-$20. If your own a scuba tank, have a glass blowing set-up or anything else that uses compressed air you can buy an adapter from BCA and refill your own canisters.
This is a big advantage of Mammut using compressed air over compressed nitrogen. TSA and the FAA allow you to fly with an empty compressed air canister as long as it's in your checked baggage. A good tip is to keep your the box that your canister comes in; then, when you fly, put it back in this box, it clearly defines what your canister is and helps to make sure TSA doesn't take your canister away from you. I always go one extra step and make sure to put a note on mine, saying its empty and that its for an avalanche airbag pack
Comfort and Fit
The fit of this pack is why most people buy it. While we didn't include many other womens specific airbag packs like the Women's Ortovox Free Rider 24 or the Womens Tour 32 + 7, partiality because those two packs are that much smaller than their male counter parts. So ladies and short framed men, if you have a hard time finding an airbag pack that fits you, then the Ride Short RAS 28 could be your answer. As far as Comfort goes the Ride Short RAS also reseved top marks, it's pack panel uses a comfortable and supportive foam that feels great even when we didn't have very many layers on. The shoulder straps are nicely articulated and like the short frame, work well with narrower shoulder people. Another feature that helped the Ride Short RAS help fit smaller people was the waist belt, a lot of waist belts are too big for more petit people but the Short Ride Removable 28L should fit just about anyone. The Mammut Pro Short Protection should also be considered and it stands a excellent chance to be our top pick for shorter users but we haven't gotten the chance to try one out yet.
Backcountry Pack Utility
The Mammut Ride Short Ride Removable looks like most like normal ski packs. It has a nice zippered internal pocket for keys or other easily lost items and a nice fleece-lined goggle pocket. The snow safety pocket is well laid out but it is a little on the small side. It will fit everything you need as long as your shovel handle or probe isn't too long. The RAS part of the pack or Removable Airbag System is great because it means you can drop around a pound and a half from your pack if you go out on a lower danger day, spring skiing or to use it as a more traditional pack in the summer.
Some other small downsides to the Mammut Short Ride Removable 28L are that it has no waist belt pockets and the airbag system eats into the pack volume. This pack only felt a little more spacious than the Patrol 24, around the same as the Float 22, and not nearly as big as the Snowpulse Lite 35 or the Backcountry Access Float 32.
Mammut Ride Short Ride Removable 28L along with the slightly bigger Ride RAS 30L is probably the best pack to carry a snowboard, being just a little bit better than the North Face Patrol ABS 24. For skiers who like A-Framing there skis the Mammut Ride Short RAS 28L excels, while there is some debate as to carrying them in this style possibly effecting airbag deployment, the Ride RAS 30L gives you the option. The Ride RAS 30L was a little below average at carrying skis diagonally did an okay but not great job, offering a slightly awkward to use straps that we had the skis slipping down after long booters.
The downhill performance or "ride-ability" of each pack is how we felt they carried and moved with us while skiing and snowboarding. We thought the back panel and Y shaped support stay offered a nice combination of freedom of movement and support the Mammut Ride Short Removable did have one draw back. We didn't like was how far out the pack stuck from our back, we think it mad the pack feel more cumbersome than several other packs we tested. The shoulder straps also just fit most of our users okay, they weren't bad, but they weren't great. The Ride-ability and the small safety gear pocket were the things that kept it from winning an award.
Overall Cost Breakdown
The cost of airbag packs can be confusing because some manufacturers include the cartridge in the price. Some companies sell options without the airbag system or base unit so make sure you know what you are buying. With the Ride Short Removable the pack is $700 and the canister is $200. Buying them together you will often see it priced around $875 offering a small discount. The advantage of the RAS system is once you have the canister and the airbag system is each additional pack is only around $300.
The Mammut Ride Short Ride Removable 28L checks in at 6lbs 6 oz,exactly the same as the Ride Removable Airbag 30L. That is on the lighter side of airbag packs on the market and is lighter than average for the 30 liter volume range, especially when you take into consideration it has a modular airbag system. That was nearly a pound lighter than our Editor's Choice the Black Diamond Halo 28L JetForce, which checked in at 7lbs 3 ounces.
The people who will enjoy the Short Ride Removable 28L the most are shorter framed men, kids and women who struggle to find an airbag pack that fits them. The Mammut Ride Short RAS 28L is a versatile pack that will preform well both as a day touring pack that could likely pull off a light weight hut to hut trip but is also rides well enough that it is a solid heli, cat and side-country pack.
The Mammut Ride Removable, $700, scored very well during testing and is also the best airbag pack for carrying a snowboard.
— Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: November 8, 2013
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