Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 review: avalanche safety with a green agenda

Care about climate and being safe in the backcountry too? The Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 will tick your boxes

Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 backpack with airbag inflated on white background
(Image: © Arva)

Advnture Verdict

Skiers and riders who want an avalanche airbag system for sidecountry missions – and quick backcountry laps – will love this pack.


  • +

    Balloons are easy to pack after deployment

  • +

    Affordable (for an avalanche airbag)

  • +

    Simple and user-friendly


  • -

    Airbag system takes up more space inside the pack than other systems

  • -

    No reinforcement to protect the pack from ski cuts

  • -

    No key clip

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18: first impressions

With the Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18, Arva claims to have designed the world’s first eco avalanche airbag backpack, using the fewest components and the least complexity possible to limit fabric scraps and manufacturing waste. Perfect if you like to combine avalanche safety with eco-consciousness. (An avalanche backpack, by the way, is a ski backpack with an integrated avalanche airbag system, which deploys a balloon at the pull of a cord.)


• List price: $599.95 (US) / €529 (EU)
• Fabric: Recycled polyester
• Sizes: One size only
• Volume: 18L / 1100 cu in
• Weight: 1,780g / 3lb 14.8oz
• Airbag Compatible: Yes
• Colors: Black / Moss

Arva’s Reactor airbag system is designed, manufactured, and assembled in France near Arva’s headquarters by subcontractors located within 50 miles/80km. The Calgary 18 is made from recycled polyester, which generates four times less CO2 emissions than virgin polyester.

But no pack can stand on its environmental claims alone. A great pack has to have the features and functionality to make it worth the investment. Arva’s Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 is one of the most affordable avy airbag packs. 

It uses Arva’s Reactor airbag system, a dual balloon system. Each 75L air chamber fills independently. Together, they offer the security that if one is slashed by a tree or rock when you’re caught in a slide, the other one stays inflated, increasing your chance of survival.

Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18: on the slopes

Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 on white background

Lots of pockets, but the airbag system itself takes up a lot of room (Image credit: Arva)

The Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 can cart both skis and snowboards. The bag has three pockets: a main storage area that also contains the airbag system, a shovel pocket with an easy-to-see red zipper and a brushed goggle pocket. 

The webbing waistbelt secures with metal hardware and a crotch strap. And despite this pack’s compact design, it comes with a webbing loop for an ice axe / trekking pole that tucks away when not in use. The pack can carry skis A-frame style, and can also tote your best snowshoes. A helmet holder is sold separately.

Man wearing Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 backpack with skis attached

The Arva Airbag Reactor Calgary 18 carries skies A-frame-style (Image credit: Arva)

Though this pack is one size fits most, on test it worked particularly well for smaller riders and skiers. It’s low profile and did a great job of stabilizing gear ripping powdery chutes and carving down open slopes.

Arva’s Reactor system runs on compressed air. Arva sells two canister options – one that can be swapped at an Arva retailer once it’s been used, and a refillable canister. As my home base is far from big mountains, I opted for the refillable one.

Berne Broudy

Vermont-based writer, photographer and adventurer, Berne reports on hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding, travel, climbing and kayaking for category-leading publications in the U.S., Europe and beyond. In the field, she’s been asked to deliver a herd of llamas to a Bolivian mountaintop corral, had first fat-biking descents in Alaska, helped establish East Greenland’s first sport climbing and biked the length of Jordan. She’s worked to help brands clean up their materials and manufacturing, and has had guns pulled on her in at least three continents.