Highmark Ridge 3.0 Avalanche Backpack Review

Avalanche backpacks are one of those pieces of gear you need to have complete confidence in. It is an item that absolutely needs to work when it is needed. If it does not, there is no point in even wearing it in the first place. That is why we come to you today to talk about the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack. Pair your avalanche backpack with an avalanche transceiver and you’ve knocked out two of the best things you can do to help yourself if you ever find yourself in an avalanche on a snowmobile.

Arguably one of the industry’s most reliable avalanche backpacks on the market, the Highmark Ridge 3.0 is trusted by thousands of backcountry riders across the world. Highmark is a company that is trusted by many in the snowmobiling community. Riders from every skill level choose to wear this gear. Throughout this article we will tell you all about the many features of the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack as well as our opinion on it. We hope this article gives you the information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing an avalanche backpack. 

Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack Review

The Highmark Ridge 3.0 is a dual purpose backpack. It features a Removable Airbag System for days where you do not need the option of an airbag. This would only be on days when you are not riding in the mountains in areas that do not have avalanches. When removed the backpack is to be utilized as a regular backpack for carrying whatever items you care to have on you during a day of riding. This is an awesome feature as it allows you to get as much use out of your avalanche backpack as possible. 

This avalanche backpack defines reliability. Being it is powered by pressurized canisters this bag is undeniably reliable. Pressurized canisters offer a source of reliable and dependable energy which they can store over a period of year. You could buy a pressurized canister, leave it on the shelf for a couple years and it will still be ready to be used like it was the first day you bought it.  Many riders find comfort in knowing the pressurized canisters will always work when they need them to. 

The pressurized canisters used to inflate the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S release a high initial pressure to inflate the bag even when external pressure is applied to the backpack. For example, if you were laying on your back while in an avalanche and deployed your bag, these pressurized canisters would still be able to inflate your bag with ease. Many times you are in an awkward or uncomfortable situation when these avalanche backpacks are needed for their intended purpose. Knowing the airbag is going to inflate should provide you with the peace of mind you need while out on the snow. 

Weighing a mere 5.5 pounds this avalanche backpack is the lightest backpack on the market for snowmobiling. That 5.5 pounds includes the airbag and the pressurized canister. That is considerably lighter than most other avalanche backpacks on the market. Highmark took a minimalist approach when they designed this bag. Its low profile nimbleness makes it feel as if it is not even being worn at times. This is great, but also an issue if you actually do end up forgetting you are wearing it when you need it. We appreciate the low weight of this bag as we have worn other bags that are much heavier causing use to reach physical exhaustion and strain much sooner than we would had we been wearing a lighter avalanche backpack such as the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S. 

The Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S has a totally new handle design as compared to previous backpacks made by Highmark. They found through studies that, in extreme cases, riders were over-challenged and failed to actually deploy the airbag in their avalanche backpack. The new deployment handles sets out to solve this problem with its ability to be height adjusted and its intuitive “T” shape design. Now a bright orange color makes it even more noticeable while being worn. When not needed the handle folds up and can be tucked away within the shoulder strap of the backpack. 

Worried about storage? Don’t. This 15 liter bag features an external shovel blade and handle location as well as an internal pocket for your other avalanche safety gear. Not only that, it also has one main stow compartment for other random things you plan to bring with you and a radio pocket with attachments. As small as this avalanche backpack is there is definitely no lack of storage. 

How Much Does The Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack Cost? 

After reading about all the features this backpack has you may be worried about the cost. We get it. The sport is expensive and no piece of gear is necessarily cheap. Well, we are pleased to tell you that this backpack is one of the cheaper options of its kind. You will be able to add this avalanche backpack to your gear setup for $599.99 USD. That is not bad for an item with so much function and the ability to increase your odds of survival. 

Unfortunately in addition to that $599.99 USD you will have the cost of $199.99 USD for a pressurized canister which is required in order for this avalanche backpack to be effective. When all is said and done you are all in for roughly $800 USD. An avalanche backpack is an investment you will not regret. If you are not willing to flip the bill, show your girlfriend some youtube videos of avalanches. By the end of it she will be handing you her credit card. Ladies, don’t even bother explaining the purchase of an avalanche backpack to your boyfriends. We already know you are much smarter than the men and will not look for excuses to be properly equipped.

How the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack Works

Screwing your pressurized canister into your avalanche backpack is the only thing required to make the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack ready for a day of riding. It is designed to be low-maintenance and extremely user-friendly. Its ease of use makes it even more reliable as it is very difficult to set this backpack up incorrectly. 

Once the deployment handle has been pulled. The Inflation System 3.0 by Snowpulse activates the deployment mechanism. In result a pin on the pressurized canister is pulled allowing the airbag to inflate. Simultaneously the air volume amplifier pushes ambient air into the airbag alongside of the gas that was released from the pressurized canister. Together these two pieces of the inflation system ensure your airbag is fully inflated and provides the most float for you as it can.  

Space and weight were saved by putting the air volume amplifier and the pressurized canister in the same housing within the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack. Being it is the smallest avalanche backpack on the market, this space and weight had to be saved somewhere as it still provides plenty of other storage for items such as your probe, saw, snacks, etc. This is in fact a 15 liter bag after all! 

The Full Snowpulse Air Cylinder needed for the Highmark Ridge 3.0

You will need the Full Snowpulse Air Cylinder, which is the pressurized canister referred to earlier, for this avalanche backpack to work the way it is designed to. This pressurized canister is compatible with all Highmark avalanche backpacks as well as all Mammut avalanche backpacks. It is filled with dry, compressed air and can be refilled at any authorized refill station. If not near one of these authorized refill stations look for a local paintball or scuba shop. These places can also refill these air cylinders. When fully pressurized they are at 3000 psi. 

The air cylinders are aluminum as that is the only type of cylinder available in North America. Each cylinder comes with a burst disc installed on the cylinder as well as an extra 3-pack. These burst discs will need to be replaced every time the airbag is deployed. This complicates the refill process a little as it is an extra step, but when remembered as it needs to be, it only takes a few seconds to do. 

The Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Compared to Other Highmark Avalanche Backpacks 

The Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack is very comparable to the other avalanche backpacks offered by Highmark. The main differences are in size and cost. One other important feature that sets this backpack apart from the others is its ability to have the airbag system removed. Not all of the other avalanche backpacks do this. 

As far as the function or operation they are all pretty much one in the same. If it ain’t broke, dont fix it, right? Highmark really nailed it with the design and function of how these airbags work. It is no wonder why the rest of their avalanche airbags use the same inflation system and operate alike. With that said the other avalanche airbags are a tad different when it comes to the shape of the inflated airbag. The other backpacks are considered P.A.S which stands for “Protective Airbag System.” They call it this because when the airbag is fully inflated it wraps around bth sides of your head providing a bubble-like feel which supports your head and neck more than the R.A.S system does. The R.A.S airbag is more or less parallel with the backside of your body when fully inflated. Both are good, the P.A.S just provides more support and protection. 

Our Opinion 

Whether you choose to wear the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S Avalanche Backpack or a different one the important thing is that you are wearing one. Each backpack has its own pros and cons just like anything else. We would suggest the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S hands down, but there are several other avalanche backpacks that we would also suggest. Find the one that is right for you. If you can, go into a dealer and try out the different options. Then go back online and do a little shopping around. We hope this article helped you gain a greater knowledge of the Highmark Ridge 3.0 R.A.S and is a guiding tool in your purchasing decisions. If you have any comments or questions please comment below or feel free to message us on any of our social platforms @sledheadzzz. Have a good one and stay safe out there! 

Highmark Ridge 3.0