ORTOVOX AS­CENT 30 AVABAG

PRAC­TICE MAKES PERFECT WITH THIS FULL- FEA­TURED AVALANCHE PACK.

Backpacker - - EDITORS’ CHOICE AWARDS -

A 2014 study pub­lished in The Avalanche Re­view shows that one in eight peo­ple wear­ing an avalanche airbag pack will fail to de­ploy it when caught in a slide. That’s a sober­ing truth for win­ter war­riors: No mat­ter how ex­pen­sive your gear, it can’t help your chances in an emer­gency if you don’t use it cor­rectly. ORTOVOX seeks to elim­i­nate that prob­lem with its new line of AVABAG packs, which lets users dis­con­nect the car­tridge to prac­tice as much as they need to get the drill down pat. With the same pres­sure and re­lease, the car­tridge-free pull feels just like the real thing. In prac­tice sce­nar­ios in the Monarch Moun­tain side­coun­try, we found the over­sized grip was easy to lo­cate and pull, even when we were ski­ing fast. Nice touch: The trig­ger’s rounded grip makes it grab­bable from any an­gle. It also has two length po­si­tions.

The airbag unit it­self is a scant 1.5 pounds, thanks to a first-of-its-kind seam­less con­struc­tion. The whole unit fits into a sleep­ing pad-size com­part­ment at the top of the pack­bag, and is re­mov­able so you can use the pack with­out the airbag. Or­ga­ni­za­tion is de­cent: A wrap­around zip­per splays the pack open like a book so you can stuff gear be­neath the airbag as­sem­bly, while a sep­a­rate com­part­ment fits avy tools. The As­cent has a hel­met carry, a key holder, and all the stan­dard features of a moun­taineer­ing pack, which, when com­bined with the foam back­panel and wide shoul­der straps, make it a go-to choice for day mis­sions, with or with­out the airbag.

$720; 5 lbs. 8 oz. (with car­tridge); ortovox.com

Tak­ing a lap be­neath 13,125-foot Mt. Kennedy

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