Pack Tested: BCA Float 22, Avalanche Airbag Backpack (color: blue and gold)
Reviewer: Miles Clark, Height: 6’1” (185cms), Weight: 170lbs (77kgs)
Number of Days Using Backpack: 32
Where Pack Was Used: Hakuba, Japan
There’s really no argument anymore. Before you go into avalanche terrain you need knowledge, a partner, a beacon, a probe, a shovel, and most recently: a backpack with an airbag system.
This BCA Float 22 is the ideal pack for side-country skiing and day touring in backcountry terrain. This pack is simple, sleek, and safe.
Simple, because it has only two pockets. A large one and a smaller one. The large pocket has room for your snow saw, goggles, sunglasses, skins, extra layers, water, and more. This larger pocket can unzip completely and fully fold open for access to the entire pocket and its contents. The smaller pocket can fit quite a bit but has quicker access so it’s a great spot for food, water, hats, gloves, shovel blade, sunglasses, and goggles. This smaller pocket has two vertical sleeves sewn inside to accommodate your probe and shovel handle making access to them quick and easy. The large pocket also has one small, zippered pocket built into it for can’t-lose stuff like keys and wallets.
This pack comes with a helmet carry pouch that can be attached to the outside of the pack and easily carries any ski helmet to the pack. I’ve used this helmet pouch a lot and it’s very useful.
The most important feature of the BCA Float 22 is the inflatable avalanche airbag system. The handle is located on the left shoulder strap and consists of a circular knob that is easy to grip. I did pull the handle and inflate the airbag once and you do need to give a decent pull to get it to go. This is good, as it helps insure you don’t end up accidentally pulling the airbag handle. The handle can be stashed away when not needed into a small zippered pocket located on the left shoulder strap. The airbag system is also fully removable if you’d like to use the pack for other activities (ie mountain biking). Also, this airbag system is compatible with other 2012/13 BCA Float packs; so you only have to buy one system for multiple sized packs.
Go to 3:10 of this video to watch a guy pull the knob and deploy the airbag on an Float 22
The backpack wears comfortably when hiking or skiing. It only ways 5.5 pounds making it one of lightest on the market right now. The shoulder straps and hip belt are padded and easily adjustable. There is an additional crotch strap that can be worn between the legs to ensure the pack stays on in an avalanche situation.
The BCA Float 22 has a diagonal ski carry system that consists of a loop of strap on the back of the pack in the lower left corner and a loop with a buckle on back of the pack on the upper right. This ski carry system is strong, quick, easy, and efficient. There is a snowboard carrying system that is sold separately.
Waist belt pocket is $$$. I love hip belt pockets. This one is located on the right hip belt and is large enough to fit many snacks plus a small camera or it’ll even fit a small video camera. This pocket is fantastic for anything you want to be able to grab and stow quickly.
The final aspect to review is the overall look and style. The pack I used comes in two shades of blue with gold highlights at the zippers. The bag looks slick and it by far one of the sexier looking avy airbag packs on the market.
BCA FLOAT 22 SPECIFICATIONS:
Price: $606.11 at evo.com (click this link to have look: bca float 22 at evo.com) (one of the most affordable on the market)
Compressed-Air Cylindar: 2,700psi (186bar), can be filled at the 165 BCA authorized refill stations
Airbag: 150-Liter, single-chamber
Weight: 5.5lbs (2495g) entire system, 4.2lbs (1905g) pack, airbag, engine, no cylinder, 2.45lbs (1111g) pack only, no airbag, engine, nor cylinder
Backpack Volume: 22-Liter (1343 cubic inches)
Warranty: 3 years
Torso Length: 17-22 inches
Bag Height: 19 inches
Bag Width: 10 inches
Bag Depth: 5 inches
Detachable Helmet Carrying Pouch: Yes
Diagonal Ski Carry System: Yes
Snowboard Carry System: Sold serparately
Waist Belt Pocket: Yes
Refill Stations: http://www.backcountryaccess.com/customer-service/map2/
How Airbags Reduce Burial Depth: http://www.backcountryaccess.com/product/float-22/
For 360 degree view of BCA Float 22, click here: BCA Float 22 360 view