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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Arcteryx Voltair Airbag Pack

    Anyone use one of these this before? Ever seen the system deployed in real time? How's the durability? Any issue with the electric system?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    西 雅 圖
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    I've deployed a demo pack a couple times, seems to work great. No idea about longterm durability, I don't own one. It's LOUD.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Vancouver BC
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    My buddy has had the 30L since November and seems pretty happy with it. Test deployments are ok, no real world usage luckily. He was willing to pay the premium for multiple deployments, not having an incentive to resist pulling ("I only have one canister") and ease of travel with the pack. No problems with durability, Arcteryx does have a good warranty dept.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    125
    I love the Voltair. I've used it all season and have had zero durability issues. Highly recommend. In my opinion, it's worth the money.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Powder Mountain
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    Not really an issue of funds as my employer will be footing the bill.

    Does anyone have experience using this bag as a ski patrol pack?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    On the topic of airbags in general, how much volume in say, a 40L pack, are you losing to the mechanism?

    Weight is one thing, but if half the available storage is now full of the works ...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    125
    Quote Originally Posted by BeardedClam View Post
    Not really an issue of funds as my employer will be footing the bill.

    Does anyone have experience using this bag as a ski patrol pack?
    I don't know of any patrollers who use it but I've been heliskiing with a few guides that have them and they have held up from my knowledge. The exterior material is pretty sturdy- compared to the bd alternative the voltair is definitely going to be more durable.

    Not sure how the interior section that holds the battery will hold up to patrol specific gear. I use the outer section for avy gear and mostly have extra layers, first aid, food, and water in the main section. It also has a smaller separate pocket within that main part of the bag for valuables or easy access tools.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Ogden
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    30L seems a little on the small side for mid winter, full day tours. Is that 30L realistic after the fan and battery? My 35L mammut passes just barely but the canister and airbag take some of that room.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2010
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    Powder Mountain
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    Canister sleeves fit coffee mugs perfectly.


    The material is one reasons my employers are looking toward this bag. The dry bag like material, coupled with waterproof zippers and most importantly good weight carrying capability make it seem like a no brainer. The BD bags are the only other bags I've tried on that don't feel like toys. Most on the market feel like airbags first, backpacks second. These feel like durable packs that carry well, with an airbag system

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    voting in seattle
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    4,280
    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    30L seems a little on the small side for mid winter, full day tours. Is that 30L realistic after the fan and battery? My 35L mammut passes just barely but the canister and airbag take some of that room.
    Legit 30L of usable space. Seems bigger than my mammut nirvana 30L (non airbag)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Your Mom's House
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    6,577
    Quote Originally Posted by N1CK. View Post
    On the topic of airbags in general, how much volume in say, a 40L pack, are you losing to the mechanism?

    Weight is one thing, but if half the available storage is now full of the works ...
    It really depends on the brand. Some measure before the system is installed, some measure after the airbag is installed. Some include all the pockets, some don't. There's no real standard and it makes comparing packs online a bitch.

    No experience with the dead bird packs, but I find the Mammut packs feel a little smaller than their stated volume (all of them, not just the airbags). My 35L Pro RAS packs more like a 30-32L pack. My non-airbag Spindrift Guide 45L is no bigger than my Osprey Varient 37L either...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    gone
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    I used the smaller (20l) version for a while and really like it. By far the best airbag-pack i ever used. I really like the sturdy and waterproof material the pack is made of (love that in my old arctery arrakis pack as well). The pack carries very well for an airbag pack, which is due to several reasons:
    1. "real" and proper hipbelt buckle, makes it easy to transfer weight onto the hips and tighten the hip belt. also easy to use with gloves etc. and the buckel will not freeze... so much better than the usual shitty metal-thingies used on basically all other airbag packs.
    2. weight distribution, the shape and placement of the battery close to your back is much nicer then the often head heavy (or just incredibly heavy like jetforce) airbag-packs.
    3. rather nice pack design

    i also love the "loop which goes between your leg" (no idea how you call that in english). since it attaches to the right side of the hip-belt with a clip it is much quicker and easier to attach/detach than the usual "fiddle it in while using the stupid metal buckel on your hipbelt"-thing other packs use. it also enables you to leave the thingy on while taking something out of your pack (open hip-belt and sternum strap, slide pack down while leaving this other strap closed) which makes things like having a drink, taking the camera out e.g. much quicker.

    another great feature is the on/off with the turn of the handle. this is quick, straightforward and can be done blind. much better than fiddling the handle into some kind of pocket while in the gondola, chairlift etc.

    there are some downsides of course, like the not very good or basically non-existant system for ski-attachment, not really separata safety-pocket (should eb on the outside) and only very little space in the extra-pocket for smaller things. i can fit keys, some energy bars etc. in there, but e.g. not my sunglasses.
    overall great pack for resort riding or "normal" daytours without too much stuff, id love to have the 30l, which would be a perfect size for everyday use for me. in general tha arc'teryx voltair offers quite some usable space in regard to the sizes, as for example oppsoed to the BD jetforce (i have the largest version fo that one) where you need a degree in tetris to be able to use just half the space in the pack. id say the voltair 30 offers at least the same amout of pack space as the jetforce 40l.

    if deployed, the pack inflates really fast but is INCREDIBLY loud (much louder than jetforce), you wont be able to hear a thing while it inflates, which might be a bit fo a downside as well. i like the shape of the balloon better than the one of the jetforce.

    freak~[&]

  13. #13
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    Jun 2010
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    Powder Mountain
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    anybody else use one this year?

  14. #14
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    Jun 2010
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    Powder Mountain
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    Any more info on these bags?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Up North
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    955
    can't speak for arcteryx, but at work we've been using the BD packs and have had essentially zero issues thus far which is pretty amazing considering the working environment/conditions we deal with. we purchased 50-60 of them last season supposedly making us the first patrol group to be exclusively using fan based packs and luckily we have the option of only using them for AC work at this point.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    bump.

    Just borrowed a friend's 30L Voltair to take to Europe rather than go through the previous hassle of getting surly French store techs to fill my Wary airbag.

    The Voltair system itself seems great in principle although battery should be smaller and I was surprised how hard a pull the trigger needs. Trigger seems to be burried low on shoulder strap - at least on me anyway. Both minor niggles given the ease of travelling with it. (Was briefly hand checked by Heathrow security on return flight - he admitted more out of curiosity than any concern).

    Re-packing the air bag after a test fire seemed far more hassle than deflating the Wary or BCA packs I've owned. Seems curious that they'd go so light weight and minimalist with the deflate valve.

    The pack itself though is terrible. While I understand their need to avoid users carrying skis a-frame style the resultant absence of any compression straps on the bottom of the pack means it carry loads horribly. The upper compression straps then have to cinched down tight meaning they have to be undone to get access to the main compartments. The diagonal ski carry and ice axe straps are ineffective, clunky and overly complex. The heavy water proof fabric is totally unnecessary and just makes the battery weight a bigger issue.

    Once avy danger dropped I ended up using a regular non-airbag pack rather than dragging the Voltair along.

    Wished I'd dealt with refilling my old Wary pack instead.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Zurich, Switzerland
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    350
    I am with my Voltair 20l since one year now and I like it a lot. Most of what I fancy was mentioned by freak already:
    - AC2 Material is the main point for me. Waterproof and durable. I can not imagine other pack's material getting close. I have a lot more use on an Alpha FL so it is not only judging by one year.
    - The suspension system has a great fit and for me it is just perfect. The leg-loop is easy to handle and therefore I really use it (in contrast to my old ABS Vario). I don't have to take it of for chairlift rides and stops to take something out of the pack.
    - the 20l feel large as the upper half of the pack is very boxy. the taper at the bottom is a bit wired but it prevents the problems of the 30l version described by PNWbrit
    - the trigger is great. I like the bit bigger resistance and the easy on-off switching.
    - the zipper goes all the way down on one side so I use it as practical side access under the compression strap (this enables keeping the leg loop on whey you lay the pack on its side)

    The ski carry indeed sucks. Bigger shovels proved to be a problem for packing.

    -> If you don't fancy the material, suspension and the trigger get a different pack.
    -> If you are into other arcteryx AC2 packs and their style of gear you will be very happy with your voltair if you have lots of money and like 20l of volume

    And I guess it is a good idea to really consider the pack itself as all the airbag systems seem pretty dialed these days.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    Waterproofness and uber-durability are ski backpack solutions without a problem in my view.

    Especially when you combine it with a particularly heavy airbag mechanism.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Vancouver BC
    Posts
    2,868
    Bump... anyone with 3-4 years on this pack have any longer use comments? Any thoughts versus the new BD JetForce 2.0? I have the chance to get a new/unused Voltair with battery etc. for $900CAD off a friend who bought it but can't use it and can't return. Seems like a no brainer at that price.

    My ski partner is into his 4th season on his with no complaints other than weight... the BD ones are maybe a couple hundred grams lighter so to me it's just the price you pay for an airbag.

  20. #20
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    Dec 2003
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    Seattle
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    Unless you're going to be flying with it a lot.. don't bother.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Church of the Nifty Blue Chrysler
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    As a counterpoint, I used a JetForce 2.0 (the 30L version) for a week recently, and I'll be buying one in the near future. Canister airbag packs are rapidly becoming obsolete. Multiple inflations on a single charge, larger volume airbag, auto-deflate, self-diagnostic, and the weight difference is negligible is you're already committed to carrying an airbag. It felt a little small for a 30L pack, but was workable for mid-winter touring. Something in the 35-40L stated volume would be perfect, but I ski with a 42L Osprey pack as my usual touring pack, so I'm used to having a lot of space.

    Multiple deployments is a big feature, in my $0.02, because it means you are going to spend more of your time out there with the trigger out and the pack armed/turned on. To me, it seems foolish to take the weight penalty of carrying an airbag to only have it in a usable state for about 150 seconds per ski day because you're concerned about inadvertently triggering it. It would really suck to get slid on your ascent while your airbag trigger is zipped away in the shoulder strap. I treat it like a beacon: on at the car, off at the bar.

    This is neither canister or fan driven airbag related, but I found it curious that one of the guides on the trip said he skis with an airbag when freeskiing, but doesn't use one while guiding because he feels it would give his clients reason to doubt his terrain management/snowpack evaluation.

    ETA: the auto-deflate is also a potentially valuable advantage that fan driven airbags have over canister ones.
    Last edited by glademaster; 01-17-2020 at 04:45 PM.
    Set my compass North, I got Winter in my blood.

  22. #22
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    Oct 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    To me, it seems foolish to take the weight penalty of carrying an airbag to only have it in a usable state for about 150 seconds per ski day because you're concerned about inadvertently triggering it. It would really suck to get slid on your ascent while your airbag trigger is zipped away in the shoulder strap. I treat it like a beacon: on at the car, off at the bar.
    I'm not really sure what you're on about here. I have a Mammut airbag pack and I make sure the trigger is out from car to car. I've never been that concerned about accidentally pulling it while climbing.

    I agree that the airbag deflating is a big advantage, probably the biggest one, of the fan pack.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Zurich, Switzerland
    Posts
    350
    Still love the Voltair. Can not say all too much about its durability compared to some guides or so but I can say a lot about the durability of my other packs from the same material: the best. The AC2 (name of the fabric by arcteryx) part of my alpha FL pack still holds 100% waterproof after years of abuse by scratching it over rocks and such.

    btw: Suspension of the Voltair is still the most comfortable pack I ever had for my back.

    I think the system has two problems only: weight and price. The pack as a pack is really great.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Church of the Nifty Blue Chrysler
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    I'm not really sure what you're on about here. I have a Mammut airbag pack and I make sure the trigger is out from car to car. I've never been that concerned about accidentally pulling it while climbing.

    I agree that the airbag deflating is a big advantage, probably the biggest one, of the fan pack.
    Sorry if I came across like I was trying to make a point emphatically there. It's good to know that you use your airbag in that way.

    The part of my previous post that you quoted was directly related to the experience I had on a backcountry trip earlier this month, where I was one of four (out of 11) who had airbags. The other three had canister-style ones, and they all practiced what they vocally defended as "best practices" of keeping the trigger stowed unless you were actively skiing. They all felt that on a week-long backcountry trip, the risk of accidentally triggering your bag outweighed the risk of not having the device be usable while ascending. I found this to be puzzling and counter-intuitive, as we were often skinning slopes in the 33-40 degree range one at a time, or with 20-30M spacing between us, and we never saw ratings drop below Considerable for all aspects and elevations during the week.

    I'm a believer in the HYOH principle as long as you aren't blatantly putting others at risk, so I shrugged off their approach to things (their life, not mine, 0-FG), but the conversation actually arose when one of those folks called me out in the morning one day and chided me for having my airbag turned on and the trigger out to start the day. "We're only skinning up, it's not like you're going to die, what are you so worried about?" My reply of "oh yeah, excellent point, make sure to let Craig Kelly know" made the point that needed to be made.

    It's refreshing to hear that your SOP is different from theirs.
    Set my compass North, I got Winter in my blood.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    1,514
    I always keep my trigger out, even on the Stairmaster. I never heard of an accidental deployment.

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