This winter I’ve been lucky enough to be able to test the Vojd 18 ABS Ski Pack from Haglöfs. I’ve been even luckier as I’ve not had to deploy the airbag!
Value for money ****
Airbag rucksack technology is designed to aid skiers and snowboarders in the event of being caught in an avalanche. They feature a gas cartridge which when triggered, deploys each airbag which expands out of each side of the pack. The idea being it makes you bigger thus increasing your chances of staying on the surface of the avalanche.
There are those who are for and those who are against these sorts of backpack, but I feel that coupled with knowledge and good judgement, I would rather ski with one than without. It is definitely not a substitute for adequate knowledge and good judgement though, and should never be seen as such. There are also some interesting statistics courtesy of the Utah Avalanche Center that are worth reading when making your own choice.
I’ve used the Vojd 18 Pack for lift served off piste around Chamonix and La Grave, I’ve used it on glaciated terrain and I’ve also taken it on day long ski tours.
So, what about the Vojd 18 (pronounced Void apparently)? What is it like? Well first of all, in the past these types of rucksack have generally been pretty heavy. To begin with, ABS’s in-house packs were basically solely designed to house the airbags (the rucksack features being a bit of a second thought) and it is only recently, with partnerships forming with other dedicated outdoor brands, that more thought has gone into the actual pack design itself. And this is definitely noticeable with the Vojd 18.
The Vojd 18 ABS Pack features 2 internal airbags which deploy out of the side of the pack when you pull the release handle. This can be seen more clearly in the video below:
Looking at what is available out there, and comparing capacity/weight, the Haglöfs claim that their Vojd 18 ABS Pack, is one of the lightest on the market, certainly appears to be correct. I don’t have a whole list of comparative statistics but at 2.42kg (this is without the gas canister) the 18 litre pack does not feel particularly heavy on my back and the low profile design means it gives a comfortable carry whilst skiing and doesn’t interfere with getting on and off chair lifts too much either.
I don’t like skiing with a big heavy pack on. The Vojd 18 suited me perfectly. It is small enough to take care of your shovel, probe, spare gloves and other bits and bobs for a day of lift served, off piste skiing. But is also big enough to carry the extras required for day tours, skiing on glaciers etc, although admittedly you do need to pack it carefully if you are taking skins, crampons, rope, spare clothes, rescue kit and all the other back country essentials. The position of the canister does cause some dead space beneath it and you need to be clever to fill these spaces when packing, if you are to effectively utilise the full 18 litre volume.
The internal shovel pocket worked well but I did feel that the zipper closing on the main compartment interfered a little with storage of my shovel handle and probe. The tips of which, pressed against the inside of the zipper. Like I say, this isn’t the biggest pack in the world but with careful packing you can reap the rewards of a versatile and low profile ABS ski pack that is comfortable to carry and relatively light. Interestingly, if you do require a bit of extra space, Haglöfs make a 30 litre version too and this actually weighs in not much heavier, at just over 2.6kg without a canister.
Other features I like on the Vojd 18 ABS Pack are the ice axe holder which is very simple and secure and also keeps the blade neatly stored away. The front zipped pocket with key clip is great for storing bits and bobs like keys, sunblock and change but I did often wish it was ever so slightly bigger. It’s all a balance though.
The waist belt felt sturdy and comfortable and the zippered pockets were large enough to keep snacks and a lens cloth in. The metal buckles worked easily, were reassuring, secure and didn’t freeze up. The crotch strap was easy to secure and adjust and this meant that there was a lot less danger of the pack being pulled up and over your head if the bags were deployed!
The shoulder straps felt comfortable and low profile, adjusted easily and the chest strap was secure and adjustable both up/down and side to side.
Carrying skis worked well, with a top and bottom strap facilitating a vertical carry system. I used this system numerous times and it was easy to set up and secure. The fabric also stood up well, to abrasions from ski edges and other sharp objects. Additional straps also come with the Vojd if you wish to use it to carry a snowboard.
Finally, and perhaps the most important thing, is the deployment handle for the airbags. This is positioned on the left shoulder strap and is easy to access. You can also adjust the height that the handle sits at. The handle then sits under a velcro strap which is designed to stop you pulling it accidentally. I did see a lot of people skiing around with their strap over their handle, and couldn’t help thinking that they might struggle to then deploy the bag in an emergency situation! I generally would keep the handle secured on the lifts but would remove the strap before I started skiing downhill!
So to conclude, the Haglöfs Vojd 18 ABS Ski Pack is a well made pack that is low profile and comfortable to carry whilst skiing. With careful packing it is big enough for most day long off piste adventures/tours but Haglöfs do a 30 litre version for those who take more kit or just like more space. The Vojd 18 is relatively light for an ABS pack and has the right balance of space, size and features. The main compartment zip is a little small. Overall, a great pack that I will continue to use on all my day long off piste ski adventures.