Ortovox Free Rider 20 S Avabag Avalanche Backpack | Review

Comfortable carry at a fairly low weight, the Ortovox Free Rider 20 S is a great choice for ski touring

Weight: 2410 g
Sizes available: 18, 20, 22 litres
Price: £665


If you’ve ever worn one of these beauties, you’ll know the comfort of the Free Rider series of packs is second to none. Ortovox have done a great job at creating a large hip belt that contours around your body, something that combines well with a back system that feels like it’s gently hugging your back. As you can probably tell, we’re big fans of these Ortovox packs.

On top of the Free Rider 20’s comfort, the pack comes in at a puny weight of just 2,130g (without the avalanche canister). Add a carbon canister, 310g, into the pack and you’ve got yourself an airbag system that won’t break your back if you have to throw in a few other essentials. Touring skins and/or glacial rescue gear, it’ll happily take the lot.

“The extremely compact ‘Avabag’ avalanche airbag system comes in at a weight of 690 grams”

The extremely compact ‘Avabag’ avalanche airbag system comes in at a weight of 690 grams for the full system. Thanks to the compact design, the Free Rider 20 S is able to offer an actual volume of 20 litres even when the airbag is installed within the pack.


With its small pack size, and additional back protection built in, it’s clearly a freeride focused pack (as if the name hadn’t given it away already). The removable nature of the airbag system here though means that you’ll be able to easily transfer it between different bags in the Ortovox avalanche pack series. Going for some lift-served freeride? Combine the airbag system with the 18 litre Cross Rider. Full on touring mission planned? Plonk the system into the 30 litre Tour Rider.

The removable airbag system in the Free Rider 20S allows for weight to be stripped when required – such as on multi-day hut-to-hut tours where the airbag’s additional 1000g might not be required.

“It firms up further when the foam feels impact”

Take a quick look at the back system of the Free Rider and you’ll find an assortment of eight foam pads that combine to create the Spine Protection System (SPS). This system isn’t just some run-of-the-mill rigid spine protector. Sure it remains rigid in normal day-to-day use but what sets it apart, somewhat, is the fact that it firms up further when the foam feels impact.

We’ve featured the Free Rider 20 S here (the ‘S’ series is for men and women with short back lengths). The Free Rider series is also available in 18, 20 and 22 litre sizes – with small or regular back lengths.

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