ARVAReactor 32L Avalanche Airbag Backpack

Stack the odds in your favor.

The chances of walking away from an avalanche aren't great, but if things do hit the fan, it's nice to know you'll have an extra line of safety to fall back on. Not that wearing the Arva Reactor 32 Avalanche Airbag gives you a green light to ski any slope on high-danger days, but you will be glad it's there when you feel the slope you're on give out beneath your feet. Arva is using technologies that have become the standard in avy airbags the last few years by giving the Reactor a canister deployment system (canister sold separate) and dual air chambers that actually absorb impact and help protect the head and neck from mechanical injury.

The height-adjustable pull handle gives you the ability to dial in the most comfortable feel for you, so you know right where to pull it in the event of an emergency. The Reactor system's collapsible handle locks into place, so you don't accidentally deploy it when you're getting on a ski lift. The design of the pack consists of a large main compartment that will haul enough gear for big tours and committing backcountry objectives. A front quick-access pocket stores avalanche safety equipment, and a single eyewear pocket keeps your goggles or sunglasses within easy access during transitions. The ventilated back panel offers a comfortable fit, and its back length and shoulder straps can be dialed into match your torso length.

Please note: this airbag system is NOT a guarantee that you will survive an avalanche; get educated, get the right tools, travel with partners, and be smart out there.

  • A 32-liter avalanche airbag for big tours in the backcountry
  • Reactor airbag system with Smart Head Protection
  • Gas canister sold separate
  • Adjustable activation handle with locking design
  • Ventilated back panel with adjustable torso length
  • Quick-access avalanche safety pocket
  • Gear loops for skis, snowboard, or ice axes
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

A great do it all BC pack

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Arva Reactor 32 has been my go to pack for BC missions from the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram. I find with it's true 32 liter capacity, I can easily fit all of the necessary backcountry gear for quick Tram laps to longer tours and lines that may require technical climbing gear. The placement of the airbag balloon system and canister is such that it enables the packs weight to be centered closer to middle of my back, alleviating the top heavy feeling I have found with other brands. As a snowboarder, I feel more centered on my board and not like I am being pulled backwards on every heelsisde turn. The packs carrying straps work great with my boards, both splits and solids, and also double as compression straps when I want to cinch the pack down for a tighter fit while carrying the minimal amount of gear.

When it really matters

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

Last year on a full day tour one of the guys in my group was caught in a slide. No question . . . the airbag he was wearing saved his life (not an ARVA pack) and the rest of us a panicked effort to try and save a friends life. This was the first (and hopefully only) slide that someone in my party has been caught in. He walked away injury free. The bad news is it took nearly 30 minutes to deflate the airbag and get it back in the pack so we could get off the mountain. It was a bitter cold day and nearly a year later I still have no feeling on the bottom of my right foot because of how cold I got trying to get the airbag back in the pack. The ARVA system is great for quickly getting the pack back into ski mode and getting you back in motion (instead of trying to lay on the bag to try and deflate the air bag). With plenty of room and good fit system if you have a choice on air-bag systems, this has become my favorite for it's usable features. Easy to use, snug fit, versatile, quick inflation, and simple to deflate after use.

When it really matters

The ARVA does require one to push on the airbags to deflate them, like others. FWIW, while it has a release clamp (smart) so you can use both hands to do so, here's a quick tip on how to get two hands free with an ABS bag that may work with others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yssO2Z97PUA

This being said, the ARVA does pack small and has plenty of nice features, and that's what I plan to get.

Here is a video of the Arva Deflation process, pretty quick and easy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCph6oGNTCA

Why Compressed Gas?

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Arva went with a compressed gas canister for a few reasons, the primary one being safety should not be compromised. The fact is the compressed, and sealed, gas canister is the most proven system on the market. Zero leaking, more stable at temperature and elevation than compressed air, less susceptible to corrosion, and more blasting power (4300 PSI) are some of the other benefits. Sure some arrangements need to be taken to travel, if renting or exchanging are not a convenient option, consider shipping a canister to your destination ahead of time whether a new purchase, or one of your own.

Last, the small size of this system allows for a lot of functional and packable space compared to other packs and systems. You can pack a load close to your back and balanced inside the pack.