Tried and Tested Avy Bag 2020
Why our Backcountry Editor chose the Arva Reactor 32 as his airbag for ski touring, winter 2020.
I've been looking around for a new avalanche airbag to replace my 7 year-old BCA Float 22, partly because of its age, but mostly for extra storage as I'm touring more and more now with an airbag.
Looking around in our local backcountry specialist, Approach in Briançon, I poked and prodded the Arva Reactor 32 and bought one!
The price is about average for this size at €619, the weight below average at 2110g plus 320g for the carbon cylinder, but construction doesn't cut any corners regarding durability.
- Daisy-chain system on the back for ice axes, poles, helmets etc, the usual diagonal ski carry setup, plus vertical for snowboards.
- A flat pocket on the rear for flat stuff!
- And gear loops on the left hand waist strap for gloves, ski crampons etc.
- Handy pouch built in to the waist strap, ideal for energy bars, compact camera or in my case a Personal Locator Beacon.
- On the top rear of the bag is a good-sized "brain" for goggles and Buff.
- The rearmost orange section is a dedicated avalanche equipment pocket, plenty big enough for skins plus all sizes of shovel and probe with 2 easy to use straps to hold everything secure, also a handy aide-memoire for signalling the rescue heli should it all go pear-shaped!
The main compartment houses the Reactor airbag system, it's really unobtrusive and gear is easily packed around the cylinder and operating mechanism.
Again, an aide-memoire for re-packing the bag after deployment is attached. To the left of the cylinder are the re-arming tool to reset the mechanism after deployment and a release tool to deflate the bag for packing.
Interestingly, the 150l airbag is split into two, so if one punctures during an avalanche, the other is still fully functional.
The bag(s) are packed around the edge of the pack which makes the Reactor slightly wider than my BCA, but allows it to ride much flatter, great for using chairlifts for powder lapping.
Also at the top you can see the adjustable torso-length system straps, another cool idea to ensure a snug, easy carrying fit.
Moving to the front view, obvious are the air intakes for the inflation system, this is the least likely area to get clogged by snow, also metal belt buckle, elasticated chest strap with whistle and the trigger handle, which can be fitted left or right, with the hydration tube then using the opposite strap.
The handle is covered by a small neoprene pouch for safety when not needed, the trigger is easily folded like a pair of pliers for lifts, tree-skiing etc and fully deployed is very easy to grab!
By removing the gas cylinder, it's possible to test fire the system to get a feel for the forces involved and then reset the firing pin using the aforementioned re-arming tool!
The only tweaks I've done to the bag was to add a carabiner to the leg strap as I'm always forgetting to pass it through the waist strap!
Also, the chest strap is a little too elasticated for my liking, so I added a fixed webbing strap there to allow me to get the chest tight enough!
All in all, a really good Avibag, which has a great build quality, rides well and is lighter than just about any other full-featured bag of this size on the market, nice one Arva!