When it comes to the pack itself, ABS has more licensees than anyone, so there are a number of pack makers to consider. Ortovox’ Tour 30 +7 is worth a close look. It is not a good pack for half day trips unless you’re always bring extra stuff just in case, but it is a good size for overnight hut trips where you routinely need the extra space.
M.A.S.S. – Ortovox spin on VarioAt the heart of Ortovox line of ABS packs is their Modular Airbag Safety System, a set of tie-in loops on a portable, rectangular harness that hold the airbags, venturi valve, and tubes to connect it all, including the trigger cord. Although the idea is for the MASS to be transferable between various packs, once you’ve gone through the connection you may be less inclined to swap it much. As a piece of safety equipment the MASS needs to be tightly bonded to the pack it’s in or it may not work. Thus, attaching or removing is not a trivial procedure either. It is not a “no tools required” affair — it helps to have a pair of pliers to get the tabs through the tie-in loops. You also need to read the directions; sequence is important for proper assembly.
3x Clamshell PackOnce you have the MASS installed, the system of compartments and straps are fairly self explanatory. Whether or not you like the combination of stacked clamshell compartments with double zips is a personal preference. Each compartment is relatively thin, but full length. Including the MASS compartment, the Tour 30 is essentially a triple stacked clamshell design.
The outer panel seems thin on first glance, yet is still roomy enough for a shovel blade and handle, plus other items you typically want fast access to, like a probe, skins, spare gloves, snacks, and a layer of clothing. To put all that in the outer panel is a snug fit, but that outer panel can expand via a circumferential zipper that yields an additional 7 liters of space – hence the plus seven in the name – when zipped out.The obligatory small stash pockets and functional straps for lashing mountaineering tools to the back are there as well, using high strength hypalon straps with metal hooks for long term durability. On the waist strap a metal buckle is used, but this one has a metal button that hooks to the mating side with a safety latch that can be easily depressed with your fingers to unhook it, but is not so easily removed while wearing gloves.
The interleaved compartments will absorb a lot of stuff, but require more thought on what goes where to fill the pack out. When half full, which is about how it fills for a day trip, the zippers are not filled out and taught, making access to various compartments tedious.
If you want a lot of room and the ABS for safety, the Ortovox packs carry nice, and offer the option to swap the airbag system between different pack styles and sizes. As a day trip pack, the Tour 30+7 is a tad big. As something for bigger days, or overnights, Ortovox did a great job of moving the weight of the ABS system from the top to the middle of the pack, and made access to all the compartments easy.
MSRP: $1200 (w/MASS)
Weight: 7 lbs., 3 oz. (3.26 kg) w/MASS
Volume 30 liters, expandable to 37 liters.
Overview of Airbag Systems