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Avalanche backpacks for better safety in the mountains

Anyone spending time in alpine terrain through the winter months needs to know about avalanche dangers. If an avalanche strikes while you’re snowshoeing, freeriding or ski touring, an avalanche backpack can increase your chances of survival.

What is an ABS backpack

An avalanche backpack, also known as an ABS backpack, is similar to a regular snowshoeing backpack, ski touring backpack or freeride backpack. But in addition to having practical compartments for your winter set-up, an avalanche backpack with ABS (Avalanche Balloon System, or Avalanche Balloon Security System) has a built-in airbag. The air bag in these backpacks reduces your chances of being fully buried by an avalanche and makes rescuing easier since the airbag will keep you near the surface of the avalanche. This substantially increases chances of survival, which is why in addition to an avalanche transceiver or beacon, and an avalanche shovel and probe, an avalanche airbag backpack should be a standard part of your avalanche safety equipment, whether you’re mountaineering in winter or skiing in the backcountry.

How does an avalanche backpack work?

If the worst happens and you find yourself in an avalanche, the airbag from your avalanche airbag system inside your backpack will inflate to create a large pillow of air directly attached to your body. Once you’ve triggered the airbag system, the airbag is fully inflated within seconds. An airbag increases your overall volume to help you stay at the top of the flow of snow.

Did you know?

deuter uses the Alpride E2 fully electronic airbag systems, which do not require a gas canister to inflate the airbag. This means you can take deuter avalanche backpacks on airplanes without having to declare them for special dispensation. Gas canister powered ABS ski backpacks are not banned for air travel, but most airlines will require documentation that proves the pack meets IATA guidelines.

Know-how for safer mountain tours

Ski touring, free skiing, downhill biking or extreme mountaineering all require you to travel through mountains at a certain altitude and therefore to take safety measures and have safety gear with you, as well as to know what to do in an emergency. In the deuter Base Camp we’ve compiled some useful information on topics such as avalanche safety, nutrition, carrying out partner checks and even on sustainable travel.

When do I need to deploy my airbag?

Your avalanche backpack is there to help you through each stage of an avalanche emergency. You must trigger or deploy your airbag at the first signs of an avalanche. Whether you’ve seen a crack develop in the snow or are being carried downhill by a slab, your airbag will give you better chances of survival.

Our top tip: It’s best to practice deploying your ABS airbag system before the start of the season. You’ll be better prepared to deal with a real emergency and intuitively know where to grab the trigger handle, and also how much time it takes for the ABS system to fill with air.

How safe is an avalanche backpack?

An airbag avalanche pack reduces the risk of full burial in avalanches, and therefore increases your chances of survival. An avalanche backpack does not however guarantee your safety. But it should be part of your standard winter gear. And always remember, an avalanche backpack in no way replaces the need for other avalanche equipment.

An avalanche transceiver or beacon, an avalanche shovel and a probe are also part of your obligatory avalanche safety equipment. Proper training and sensible behavior and decision making in the mountains in winter can also cut the risk of getting caught up in an avalanche.

A good avalanche backpack will also have attachment options for other gear you can use in an avalanche rescue. Our deuter avalanche backpacks have an ice axe loop, a detachable helmet bag, and adjustable sternum strap with whistle buckle and an ice clipper slot.

Our top-spec features also give you better safety. In an avalanche, the waist belt, two-way adjustable sternum strap and leg loop ensure the pack stays on your back. Even the deuter Alpine back system contributes to your safety. The two SoftStripe back pads mold themselves snug against your back and keep the pack close to your body. This gives you full control over your ABS air bag backpack.

An LED panel indicating battery status etc. is visible from the outside of the pack and our easy to operate trigger handle makes deuter avalanche backpacks simple to check and easy to use. Check out these top tips for safety checking your avalanche backpack:

  • Practice deploying your airbag while wearing thick winter gloves, since that’s what you’ll be wearing when you’re in an actual situation
  • Check the batteries are fully charged before you head into the backcountry
  • You should not have any sharp or pointy items on the outside of your airbag pack that could damage the airbag
  • Carry out regular tests to check the airbag system is deploying correctly

How long will my avalanche backpack last?

Airbag systems that are powered by gas cartridges are single-use and the cartridge needs to be refilled after each deployment. The airbag backpacks from deuter can be triggered multiple times – which reduces the cost and offers increased safety. Using a combination of batteries and supercapacitors the airbag systems we use have a charge life of approximately three months and can be deployed three times on a single full charge.

When the supercapacitors are flat, they can be charged using a USB-C cable plugged into a mains electricity socket. And the regular batteries are also rechargeable. The airbag system indicates its charging status so you can always check how much charge you have left.

Avalanche backpacks from deuter with airbag technology

At deuter, we use the very latest airbag technology: The updated, fully electronic Alpride E2 avalanche airbag system, which features the latest supercapacitor technology, and is one of the lightest electronic systems on the market. The advantage of the Alpride E2 avalanche airbag system is that it deploys quickly and at high pressure, even in freezing cold temperatures. The Alpride E2 avalanche airbag fills with air in just 3-5 seconds.

Buying an ABS avalanche pack – reliable quality from the experts

In addition to safety features, there are other factors to look out for when buying an avalanche backpack. deuter avalanche backpacks are lightweight and offer clever storage solutions. All deuter avalanche backpacks are PFAS free and TÜV Süd GS certified.

Alproof 30 SL & 32

The Alproof 32 or Alproof 30 SL is an ideal choice for a freeriding or ski touring avalanche backpack. Superior carry comfort and a snug, solid fit give this pack excellent load control and handling. A leg strap prevents the backpack from being ripped off in the event of an avalanche. The Alproof 32 weighs around 2660 grams (under 94 oz.) including airbag system and offers 32 liters’ capacity. Our avalanche backpack is designed for people who are 170 cm to 195 cm tall (5’6” – 6’4”). The Alproof 30 Slim Line version is suitable for smaller people with narrower shoulders and wider hips. A good fit ensures the pack sits securely in an emergency.

Alproof Lite 20 SL & 22

Weighing just 2400 gm including airbag the Alproof Lite 20 SL is a really lightweight avalanche pack. The Regular fit model, the Alproof Lite 22, also only weighs 2430 gm. If you will be going on the odd single-day ski tour or snow adventure, then the 20 liter or 22-liter capacity backpacks will have ample space. They feature an ice axe loop, gear straps, SOS label with emergency telephone numbers and a leg safety strap. The Slim Line model, the Alproof Lite 20 SL, is ideal for women or shorter people between 158 cm and 178 cm tall (5’2” – 5’8”), with narrower shoulders and rounder hips.

Alproof Tour 36+5 SL & 38+5

Bring on the next ski traverse. The biggest of our avalanche backpacks, the Alproof Tour has flexible packing volume and a no-compromise avalanche airbag safety system. The roll-top opening allows the capacity to be extended by 5 more liters if required. Compression straps and clever zipper positioning keeps the pack compact and the additional stow space doesn’t get in the way of your head or the airbag deployment.

Why should I buy a deuter avalanche backpack?

At deuter we’ve been making top-class, innovative backpacks for over 120 years. Quality and safety are very important when it comes to alpine terrain. Whether you need an avalanche backpack depends on what kind of conditions you’ll be moving through, how prone the terrain is and how high the risk of avalanches. An airbag backpack will definitely provide increased levels of safety in snowy mountains. So, our avalanche ski backpacks will add to your winter adventures.

  • We pride ourselves on excellent build quality. And provide a 2-year manufacturing warranty. 
  • If you snag your avalanche on a branch, say, we’ll gladly repair it for you, for its whole lifetime. It’s part of our Lifelong Repair Service.  
  • Our avalanche backpacks carry TÜV Süd GS certification. We also use PFAS-free waterproofing treatment that is harmless to the environment and human and animal health.
  • The deuter Alproof series earned the Plus X award in 2022. High quality, user friendliness, functionality, and ergonomic comfort is what the specialist judging panel decreed.