I like the ABS Escape freeride, but the one I like the best is the Vario line. The reason I like the vario is because you can have the flexibility to have multiple size packs without the expense of buyin multiple airbag backpacks. With the Vario, you buy a base unit which has the airbags. You then can purchase different zip-on packs depending on what size you need.
The vario currently has a 15L, 30L, and 50L size zip-on backpacks that fit on the base unit. In the future there will also be other sizes that will zip on to the base unit.
We carry the Vario pack in multiple colors and all the Escape line in multiple different colors (rather than just one choice of black w/ yellow).
Freeride lite 10L, 15L, 30L, and 45L. And with the Vario you get lots of seperate pockets, i have the 30L Vario and there 5 seperate stoage zip pockets. I wouldnt be suprised to see the other Escapes go away in a year or 2, even for resale, everyones going to want the versatility of the Vario.
I agree that if you are looking for the smallest pack that has an airbag, the Escape Freeride will be your best bet. However, if you want the flexibility of having an airbag with multiple size packs available to you without having to buy a whole new airbag, the Vario is the way to go.
Freeride = small & light
Vario = Flexibility for now & future