This gets more difficult when you’re talking about an airbag pack. The main reason you’re buying it is for the insurance the airbag provides, and you bear the cost every time you heft it. Mammut does a stellar job of minimizing the weight with their Light 30. The main savings occur with the fabric, a thin but strong Cordura-like fabric with an aramid reinforced nylon panel on the outside that deflects abrasion with a smooth surface, and won’t run if punctured; excellent protection against steel edges or branches.
The Light 30 looks and acts like a mid-sized top loader with a lid that seals the top and provides two chambers, a mesh lined one inside, the other accessed from the outside for doo dads. Big enough for some goggles, but not the moon sized variety. For quick access to stuff at the bottom the Light 30 has a side-zip down the main compartment with a snap closure at the top to keep the contents at the top from spilling out when you zip ‘er down. A two way zipper might be preferred, but that would certainly add excess weight, especially since you would want it to be a waterproof zipper, which is significantly heavier.
Le AirbagIn the main compartment the airbag system is tucked and clipped in to the top of the pack with webbing straps, so you can remove the protective airbag system. Since the Light30 uses Mammut’s PAS®, two arms of the airbag run inside the shoulder straps so you get some protection around your upper torso and it makes the straps rather soft and cushy to carry. The canister slides in to a sleeve along the port side and simply screws to the interface which has the trigger and dump valve already connected. It’s a bit more idiot proof, just don’t forget to use the key to cock the safety release open for actual use. As Rochus says, “You will figure it out.”
CompartmentsTwo sleeves on the front and back of the main compartment help with organizing your gear. The outer panel makes a great place for stashing a shovel blade, telescoping handle, probe, skins, stuff you want fast access to from the top. All the straps you need are located on the sides and back for lashing your skis A-frame style, or a snowboard on the back with reinforced hypalon anchors to resist being cut by sharp edges. All the webbing comes with nib-nabs for controlling those annoying loose ends.
SuspensionTo save weight there isn’t a lot of framing or suspension added to this pack. At 30 liters you’ll probably have it fairly full most days, adding some rigidity to the whole pack. Though it lacks a chassis, the inside panel against your back has molded foam, allowing for some ventilation and a soft frame of sorts.
Overall, it’s an airbag pack that compliments a minimalist attitude with essential conveniences and Mammut’s PAS® insurance. Though there aren’t any statistics, having an airbag that conforms to more body area gives a tad more assurance. For a pack large enough to carry a days worth of gear, either on a hut-to-hut trip or a long day tour, this is one of the better packs available.
Light 30 PAS®
Weight w/o cartridge: 2120 g / 4 lbs., 11 oz.
Weight w/cartridge: 2750 g / 6 lbs, 1 oz.
Volume: 30 liters
Overview of Airbag Pack Systems