Pro Protection 3.0 vs. Original Pro Protection
We noticed some significant cosmetic changes to the new Pro Protection 3.0. In addition to an updated, sleeker look, we noticed some changes to the details. For a full summary of these changes, keep reading! And check them out for yourself here: the new 3.0 is on the left, with the original that we reviewed on the right.
Here's a summary of the updates:
- Hip Belt — Now featuring climbing harness-esque gear loops ideal for ski mountaineering
- Front Pocket — It looks like the front pocket of this pack is bigger than on the original version. This new pocket features snowboard carrying straps, diagonal carrying straps for skis, and is crampon-bag compatible.
A Note from Mammut about Airbag Compatibility
The new 3.0 generation airbag pack does not function with previous generations, including 1.0 and 2.0. The 3.0 is also not able to be used with the old Protection Airbag system, starting with generation 2.0 (from w 2011-2012 through 2015-2016 (including). The new 3.0 system can only be installed in 3.0 packs starting in the 2016-2017 season. The cartridges for the 2.0 are unchanged and can be used with any system, including the new 3.0 and older systems."
Mammut Ride 22L Protection Airbag Backpack
Mammut's PAS (Protection Airbag System) airbag system was one of our favorites and was only just barely edged out by ABS's system for our top pick among airbag systems. The PAS system works because the airbag is not only built into the backpack but also into the shoulder straps, so when deployed it inflates around your head and neck in an effort to further reduce the chance of trauma. We also really like that the PAS system is interchangeable between packs. You could buy one PAS system and one canister and then it's only $290-$350 for each additional pack.
Unzipping the shoulder strap of a Mammut Pro Protection 35L pack, showing the PAS (Protection Airbag System) inside.
Mammut uses compressed air canisters, which is easy and cheap to refill in comparison to compressed nitrogen. You might be able to find refill stations at local paintball, outdoor gear, or diving shops. The standard fitting found on Mammut cartridges increases your chances of finding a place to fill it.
We tested these packs head-to-head by taking them out individually in groups, switching throughout the day to help best write this review. Here, Chris Marshall gathers valuable feedback for our tests wearing a Mammut Pro Protection 3.0 airbag, with the Matier Glacier in the background.
A small disadvantage of the Pro Protection 3.0 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. Domestically, you can fly with an empty compressed air canister in your checked baggage, which you can't do with nitrogen canisters. We recommend keeping the box when you purchase a canister so that you can use it when flying. This helps TSA quickly identify it and increases your chances of finding your canister still in your luggage when you arrive at your destination.
The Pro Protection 3.0 carried heavy loads on the up wonderfully. This pack features an aluminum frame that was one of the most robust frames of any model we tested and a thermoformed back panel that was among the most comfortable we tested. It is great for overnight trips; even with heavier loads, the Pro Protection's comfort was among the best and slightly better in performance than the Backcountry Access Float 32. Its comfort level was higher than that of the Backcountry Access Float 42 and Black Diamond Saga 40. The Pro Protection is only available in one frame size and it offers around three inches of adjustability that is primarily designed to help the PAS airbag better protect your head. This helps the pack fit a wider range of people. Our testing determined that it fit most people 5'5" to 6'2". It fit shorter people better than the single sized Backcountry Access Float 32. All in all, our top performers in this category were the Arc'teryx Voltair 30, Black Diamond Halo 28, BD Saga 40, and Mammut Light Removable 3.0.
Showing the zippered snow safety gear pocket of the Mammut Pro Protection airbag pack. This pocket wasn't extra long, but was able to fit most average sized probes and shovels and was deep enough that we could also store our skins in there.
Our testing team loved the backcountry utility of the Pro Protection and thought it was one of the best backcountry packs we tested. Its major downside is that really big shovels might not fit in the snow safety gear pocket. This pocket did have enough volume to effectively act as a "wet" pocket and was a good place to keep skins or other things we didn't want to put in the main compartment. The Pro Protection has an easy-to-use mesh helmet holder that tucks away nicely in a Velcro pocket on the back of the pack.
Showing the mesh helmet attachment on the Mammut Pro Protection 35L. The helmet attachment also stealthily hid away in a small pocket in the middle of the pack.
Snowboarders take note, this one of the few packs that has a zippered back panel access to the main compartment. Not as big of a deal for skiers but for snowboarders, that means you don't have to take your board off to access the main compartment on your pack. Additional contenders to be considered for their high backcountry utility scores include the Arc'teryx Voltair 30, Backcountry Access Float 32, and Backcountry Access Float 42.
Carrying Skis or Snowboard
The Pro Protection 3.0, like other Mammut airbag packs, is one of the best options for carrying a snowboard. For skis, they feature a decent (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, 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 where you might want to deploy your bag. A scenario 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.
Showing the ski carrying system on the Mammut Pro Protection 35L avalanche airbag pack.
The Pro Protection 3.0 is PACKED full of usable features that our testers loved. This pack features a nice sized goggle pouch that actually fit most average sized goggles well (something that was not the case with several other models we tested). It has an incredibly well-designed, quick and easy to use built-in helmet carrier, and is also hydration system compatible. This packs hip belt has a decent sized zippered pocket on one side. Opposite the pocket is a built-in gear loop, which was nice for ski mountaineering or anytime we traveled on glaciers so we weren't forced to clip gear to our harness, where it would often get pinched and become uncomfortable.
This is how well the pack moves with you and hugs your body while descending when skiing and snowboarding. Compared with bigger volume airbag packs like the BD Saga 40, the Mammut Pro Protection performed similarly. It was also comparable to the BCA Float 32. Compared with medium size airbag packs, the Pro Protection 3.0 was average and was about the same as the Mammut Ride Removable, with the Black Diamond Pilot 11 Jetforce earning the highest score.
The Pro Protection 3.0 checks in at 7 lbs 3 oz for everything, with a weight breakdown of 5 lbs 13 oz without the canister. The canister weighs 1 lb 6 oz, which is pretty average weight among airbag packs in its volume. Our Top Pick Black Diamond Halo 28 and Backcountry Access Float 32 offered comparable performance in terms of weight, while the Mammut Ride Removable 3.0 and Mammut Light Removable 3.0 scored towards the top of the pack.
The cost of airbag packs can be confusing, as 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 Pro Protection 3.0, it's $800 for the system and $190 for the canister. Sometimes you will see it all packaged together, offering a slight discount.
The Mammut Pro Protection Airbag 3.0 is best suited for all-day touring, mountain guides, hut-to-hut trips and even for 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 some, it might be edged out by the Mammut Light Removable 3.0 because it's one pound three ounces lighter.
The zippered access panel on the shoulder strap side of the Mammut Pro Protection 35L pack. This feature provides access even with skis or a snowboard attached to the pack.