The new Backcountry Access Float 22 is our OutdoorGearLab Top pick winner, as it's the best airbag pack for downhill oriented backcountry adventures like side-country, heli, or cat skiing and snowboarding. The Float 22 is also a fantastic pack for sledders (folks who ride snowmobiles) because it is roomy enough for all your safety gear and a couple extra layers, without feeling cumbersome. The Float 22 is an essentially a smaller version of our Best Buy the Backcountry Access Float 32. Both Floats have the same basic pack design and layout, which overall is one of our review team's favorites among all the airbags we tested. There are a few improvements from the older Float 22 to the current one, most notable is this pack's larger, more functional and user-friendly snow safety gear pocket and improved ice axe carrying system.
The Float 22 excels at mechanized (heli, side-country, etc.) skiing and snowboarding but still functions well for day touring - as long as not too much technical gear is needed (AKA: rope, harness etc), whereas the Float 32 is primarily an all day touring, ski mountaineering, and light hut-to-hut pack. The Float 22 is one of the lighter airbag packs on the market and is one of the best-priced airbags in our review. At $500 for the pack and $175 for the canister ($675 total) it's $50 less than the Float 32, $200 less than the next closest priced airbag pack, and half the price of our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice, the Arc'teryx Voltair 30 or the Black Diamond Halo 28. The BCA packs don't have as fancy, unique, or as modular of an airbag systems, but they remain extremely functional, dependable, and are among the least expensive.