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Hands-on Gear Review
Mammut Light Removable Review
Cons: Not many features, no dedicated snow safety gear pocket
Bottom line: If you have been considering an airbag pack but don't love how much weight they add to your touring kit, this pack is probably for you.
The Mammut Light Removable is one of the lightest removable airbag packs on the market and is the lightest airbag pack in its volume range, period. Big enough for most day tours and well supported hut-to-hut trips, the Light Removable airbag (yes descriptive, but boring name) is a surprisingly functional and versatile backcountry pack that wins the award for being the "Best Light Airbag Pack". Many backcountry tourers often spend several hundred dollars or more to save ounces on skis, boots or bindings, but with the Light Removable Protection you spend a little less than average and save a pound or more with this pack over other balloon-pack models. You obviously cut a few bells and whistles, but nothing in the areas of primary pack functionality for comfort on the up or performance on the down.
You may want to check out our How to Choose an Avalanche Airbag article as well or our complete Avalanche Airbag Review to see how the competitors rated.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Avalanche Airbag Pack Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The lightweight Mammut model (highlighted in blue) performed well, especially for its weight. The chart below displays the combined scores from each metric we used when reviewing these products.
The Light Removable Airbag uses a single 150L "balloon" that inflates above your head through a breakaway zippered pocket. Its size and shape is more or less the standard among avalanche airbag packs. It doesn't offer anything special like two bags for redundancy or a head/neck wrap shape for trauma protection. But it is still incredibly effective at its most important task: keeping the wearer on top of the snow, and there are exceptionally few cases of a single bag failing.
The RAS: Removable Airbag System
The RAS system (Removable Airbag System) available from Mammut is similar to the ABS Vario series in that you can buy one airbag system and a canister and move it among multiple packs that are all around $280. That compares with Mammut's PAS (Protection Airbag System) that costs $600 and offers an airbag that wraps around your head to both prevent trauma and increase the odds of having your head sticking out of the snow.
Unlike the ABS packs, the trigger is not interchangeable between shoulder straps and is fixed on the left side. The trigger mechanism is not as important a factor to consider when buying an airbag pack as are other features. That said, the trigger mechanism on the Mammut Ride RAS isn't the best but is still highly reliable.
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 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 you 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.
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 the box that your canister came in; then, when you fly, put it back in this box to clearly define what your canister is and help make sure TSA doesn't take your canister away from you. Our testers go one extra step and put a note on mine, saying it's empty and that it's for an avalanche airbag pack.
The Light Removable Airbag brings a different type of backcountry utility than most packs. While most airbag packs are feature heavy, the Light Removable is no-frills. It is just functional enough and its low weight is certainly enough of a benefit for the human powered backcountry adventures that most users are embarking on (compared to Heli/Cat/Side-country use). The Light Removable uses a 3/4 length clam-shell zip style design but does not feature a separate avy tools pocket. Instead in its single main compartment, it uses a sleeve/divider style system to help keep you organized. We found it could fit average sized shovels and proves but most 300cm probes were tight (or didn't fit) and several larger-than-average shovels didn't work well either.
Carrying Skis or a Snowboard
The Light Removable Airbag features a lightweight diagonal ski carry system that works well for even the widest skis and splitboards to the surprise of many readers, even traditional snowboards, via a vertical carry. The straps continue all the way around to the sides of the pack on the Light Removable Airbag to offer compression but also the option to carry skis in an A-frame style. This is a great feature on a pack you might use on longer ski mountaineering trips, where you could be carrying your skis for longer periods of time (where A-frame is slightly better) at lower elevations but remember, don't carry skis in avalanche terrain in an A-frame on the pack because it could effect the airbag's deployment.
As we mentioned, this pack doesn't offer a lot of extras in the way of features, with its primary attributes being its simplicity and exceptionally low weight. However, it does offer a handful of nice features that most backcountry users will appreciate. It has a single zippered pocket on one side of its waist belt and a fixed gear loop on the other. Our testers really liked the gear loop for ski mountaineering or anytime we were traveling on glaciers and had gear we wanted to have readily accessible. By clipping it to the outside of the hip belt rather than our harness, it kept carabiners and other equipment from pinching underneath the waist belt, a common occurrence when items are clipped directly to your harness while wearing a pack. This pack also features a small zippered pocket on the top of the pack to help keep small items from getting lost, and it is hydration system compatible.
The Light Removable Airbag is only available in one size and like many similar one sized packs, it fits a lot of people - but not everyone. Our testers found it fit most users around 5'4"-5'5" to around 6'1" or 6'2", depending on torso length. As far as comfort goes, the Light Removable Airbag features a burly suspension, meaning you could load this pack up with essentially as much as you could fit in it. Don't let its light weight make you think that it's not comfortable because to our surprise, we thought it was one of the more comfortable packs in our review, earning a 9 out of 10. Other comfortable contenders include the Arc'teryx Voltair 30, Black Diamond Halo 28, and Black Diamond Saga 40.
The performance on the down of each pack measures how we felt they carried and moved with us while skiing and snowboarding. The Light Removable Airbag performs far better than we thought on the down, with its lightweight and narrow profile pleasing all of our testers. Overall, we thought it scored among the highest among in its size range. It performed equally, if not better, than some of our other mid-sized top scorers like the Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce, the Backcountry Access Float 32, and the Arc'teryx Voltair 30.
At 5 pounds 6 ounces (2440g), the Light Removable is easily one of the lightest airbag packs (for its volume) on the market. This pack feels roughly the same volume as the Black Diamond Halo 28 (7 pounds 8 ounces) but is over two pounds LIGHTER!!! Even the Backcountry Access Float 22, which certainly feels smaller in volume, is over a pound heavier at 6 pounds 8 ounces. The Light Removable is certainly lighter weight than our other award winners, the Arc'teryx Voltair 30 (7 pounds 7 ounces) or the Backcountry Access Float 32 (7 pounds 1 ounce).
Value and Cost Breakdown
The price of the Light Removable Protection with the airbag is $580 and the price of the cartridge is $190. Mammut sells the Light Removable Protection 3.0 as "ready", AKA pack only, with no airbag systems available for around $229.
The Bottom Line
The Mammut Light Removable Airbag is a cool and unique pack that will work wonderfully for most backcountry day tourers. This pack is best for folks who are looking for a simple design and will appreciate its light weight over a plethora of other features. While it didn't have a bunch of extras bells and whistles, (or sometimes even the basics, with the biggest thing being that it's missing an external/easy access snow safety gear pocket) it still has okay but not excellent backcountry utility. It does carry loads well on the up and performed among the best on the down.
— Ian Nicholson
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