I was super excited when this airbag was announced. Prior to this pack, I carried a 30L BCA Float airbag for my personal use and a Black Diamond Jetforce 40L pack while patrolling. I highly value the extra margin of safety airbag packs can provide, but the weight of other packs really cuts into the enjoyment of trying to move quickly.
When I saw the specs on the Mammut Ultralight 3.0 I was blown away, and in a bit of disbelief. This pack is nearly 50% lighter than my BCA. It’s a smaller volume, but as I’ve moved my gear selections to “light and fast” equipment I have found that I rarely ever need more than a 20L pack. On paper the Ultralight 3.0 was everything I wanted.
I purchased one just before the start of the season in 2016 and wore it 4-6 days a week from November to April when the snowpack finally stabilized.
Most of my tours are 2-4 hrs in length on weekday mornings before work. I tend to stay on the go, and limit the amount of time my pack is off my back. For me, the design of this pack has been great. One main compartment that holds all my stuff. After initially spending some time packing and repacking to figure out what was most efficient, I learned that I can pack everything I need for a full day… shovel, handle, probe, first aid/repair kit, food, puffy jacket, goggles, ski crampons. If things are going to be serious, I even have room for a tightly coiled 6mm x 30m rope!
The back-panel access has advantages and drawbacks, but I can’t say I’d prefer another style of opening over this one. The panel has just enough cushion to keep me from feeling the contents poking me and has a nifty pocket on it that’s meant to hold a water bladder. I found it more useful for stashing my first aid/repair kit and spare energy bars or gels. I attached a CAMP soft flask holder on the off shoulder to carry .5L of easily accessed hydration. This worked well and the elastic cross strap Mammut includes accommodated the flask holder nicely.
The diagonal ski carry takes a minute to set up initially, but after getting it established is very quick to get the skis on the back. I have found it quite stable and dependable, even while climbing 5th class rock in sketchy situations.
The ability to remove the airbag system and swap it into another compatible Mammut pack is an incredible feature. I also have the 30L Light 3.0 pack that I use for guiding and have swapped the system between them several times. After learning how to do it the first time, subsequent swaps were easy and less than 5 minutes. I really like this feature because a full season of ski mountaineering can be very hard on the pack material. Mammut’s new system makes replacement of the worn-out pack body a reality, as well as the possibility of having a quiver of packs with airbag safety built in to meet every ski mountaineering demand.
I can’t say enough good things about this system. I’m a very happy user. My only wish is that Mammut finds a way to make the carbon canisters available in the US so that this system can get even lighter.
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