The Ortovox Ascent 22 is designed as a daypack for off piste or day touring with an airbag built in for avalanche protection.
Avabag is Ortovox’s relatively new airbag systems and is similar to ABS and Mammut products in that it uses compressed gas canisters to inflate the bag. Unlike ABS it does not need an explosive charge, relying instead on a mechanical trigger to inflate the bags. This means you can test the system, with or without using a cartridge (though if you use one it will need to be refilled for around €25) and won’t need to replace the trigger each time. There’s also a refillable canister available that you can top up yourself at diving, paintball and other shops that have compressed air refills. The system has fewer airline restrictions than ABS without the explosive element. The version I tested had the carbon cartridge which reduces the weight slightly but of course costs more. The system weighs around 690g and the bag in total is 1,640g, pretty light for this size of bag.
In practice the system fits neatly in the bag, taking up a small amount of space up at the top and sides but unlike many airbags it isn’t too heavy or bulky. I normally use an 16l Black Diamond pack with a built in Avalung but this 22l seemed to have a lot more space even with the Airbag system. I was comfortably able to pack a metal shovel, probe, first aid kit, head torch, bivy bag, spare gloves, hat & goggles, down jacket, food, water bottle, skins & ski crampons, sunglasses & cream plus a compact SLR with a zoom lens in the pack. In the 18l there was no chance of getting the SLR and extra jacket in with the skins and crampons.