Gear We’re Excited About: Ortovox Litric Avalanche Airbag Pack
Backcountry powerhouse brands Ortovox and Arc’Teryx have collaborated to design a new avalanche airbag system, the Litric, which will be available next fall—and each brand also has developed a new pack line to house it.
We’ll get into the packs in a minute, but first let’s talk about the new avalanche airbag system itself, which will be identical for each brand. The new system is most notable for being the lightest electronic airbag system on the market. (The name, Litric, pronounced with a hard “i,” comes from “light” and “electronic.”)
To fully understand this, here’s a little background. There are two kinds of airbag systems out there: electronic, which employs fans to inflate the balloon; and mechanical, which inflates via a cartridge of compressed gas. The main advantages of an electronic system are that you don’t need to search for a scuba store in a ski town to refill your gas canister, it’s easier to travel with, there’s no need for complicated refolding of the balloon, and you can deploy it more than once in the field. The downside to the electronic systems, however, has always been that they’re heavier than mechanized systems—until now.
The Litric weighs just 1,080 grams (2.4 pounds), making it lighter than even most mechanized systems. The battery holds 60 hours of charge, can inflate at least twice before being recharged, and can be charged at home with a USB-C. It can also withstand extremely cold temperatures for an extended period of time. This all adds up to more safety, comfort, and versatility.
Both Arc’Teryx and Ortovox’s new packs will use this new system, and both come with all kinds of new technology—including safer trigger-lock mechanisms, leg straps, and airbag compartment closures. But we’re particularly excited about the Ortovox versions, for one very good reason.
Ortovox has solved the volume problem that most airbag packs present with an easy-to-use modular design. (Because airbag packs are so expensive, most of us can’t afford to buy several for various uses. Therefore, if we choose the smaller volume pack that better suits our daily needs, we leave our precious life-saving tool home on multi-day hut trips.)
Ortovox’s idea is that you choose one back panel or “base”—which houses the avalanche system—and then zip on whatever volume backpack bag you need for your objective. The new pack line comes in three options: the supremely versatile Tour, which we think will suit most of our readers; the movement-oriented Freeride; and the minimalistic Zero. (The Tour and Freeride lines are all interchangeable; the Zero is not.) From the video we watched, the zipping process is quick, easy, and fuss-free.
The Tour backpack bags come in 28 L short, 30 L, 36 L short, and 40 L; the Freeride comes in 16 L short, 18 L, 26 L short, and 28 L; and the Zero comes in one size, 27 L.
Also of note, depending on which line you choose, Ortovox’s packs are also more than $400 cheaper comparatively than the Arc’Teryx version. Here’s the price breakdown for comparison:
16 L: $1,700
32 L: $1,800
42 L: $1,850
So, while other companies have made modular interchangeable designs, the Ortovox solution seems to be the cleanest yet. We have yet to get our hands on a sample, but when we do, we’ll keep you posted. Both brands’ packs will be available in September 2022.
Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late Skiing Magazine (RIP). She now uses freelance writing as a beard to ski powder anywhere it falls. She lives in Denver with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.