Gearbox: Litric Packs

Tech Talk: The Litric System

Though less-expensive canister models still exist for entry-level airbag packs, lithium-ion rechargeable versions set the standard these days. Ortovox and Arc’teryx collaborated on the Litric system (pronounced Lie-Trick), a 1,080-gram, supercapacitor-powered airbag inflation device. With two deployments per full charge, the Litric bags can be easily used for practice or can offer insurance on a multiday trip. Per the companies, it has 60 hours of active time per charge and takes just 25 minutes to fully recharge. Our testing found that charging time is not always accurate and that it often took longer than advertised. Perhaps the most user-friendly feature is that, unlike some airbags of yore, the airbag doesn’t need to be folded or repacked in any particular way, just restuffed into the top of the pack. Its two-toned pull cord (black side out when locked, orange when active) makes plain when the pack is ready to save your life and when it’s not.

Ortovox Avabag Tour 30L

The Ortovox Avabag Tour is an airbag base onto which different backpack models can be zipped. Our tester’s 30L is compatible with all normal-length torso Ortovox Litric packs while the S, standing for short torso, can be interchanged with the bags in the brand’s S-labeled line up. “It’s a neat idea,” our tester said. “That way you don’t have to buy multiple airbags.” Clocking in at just over 5 pounds, the weight was similar to a regular pack. Though he lamented the lack of a snowboard carry option, he liked that all the pockets (main compartment, avy tools sleeve and small snack vessel) were accessible with skis A-framed. “Everything is really user-friendly and well-thought out,” he said. “Those Germans know a thing or two about engineering.” His biggest gripe was that the bulk of the airbag and Litric system were at the top, making it hard to stuff layers back in on a tour. He also thought the 30L was a bit tight once all his touring and emergency gear was packed, but, he said, “I could just zip on the next size up.”

Arc’teryx Micon Litric 32L

“My ski partners like how the orange color stands out in a storm,” our tester said. Beyond aesthetics, he was impressed with how well he could pack and access gear because of the main compartment’s 270-degree zipper. “But I don’t love that the avy tools sleeve is inside the main pocket,” he said. He found the 32L ample enough, and the roughly 5-pound weight light enough for daily touring, and airbag deployment was smooth and easy. The outer fabric shed snow well, and even though the Micon’s storage options are sparse, the snack/map pocket is large. A pair of straps across the front hook into loops on the side, offering both A-frame ski and snowboard carry. “My friendship with those and the finicky tensioning buckles started rocky,” our tester said, “but we’ve figured things out after a few tours.” For winter 2023/24, the Micon Litric is available only through Arc’teryx’s professional sales program, but the company plans to roll it out for the consumer market in the future.

These reviews were originally published in The Historic Issue | No. 157. To read more, pick up a copy, or subscribe to read our gear reviews when they’re first published in print.

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