At the Camp of Champions we've done both Water Ramps and Air Bags for years and we stopped doing water ramps because airbags in general are so much better, safer, you can get more hits in less time and best of all they are more fun. We had the first Air Bag in North America and have owned one of almost every manufacturer's bags out there from Acro Bag, BagJump and Big Air Bag.
Dual Chamber Speed and Safety
We now use Big Air Bag exclusively for our air bag needs because they are the only bag with a double chamber set up that ensures you land safely every time. Also, the bag cycles (reinflates) in 10 seconds so that if you are doing it in a public sort of set up, the line up doesn't make you want to go back to ski racing. The Bag Jump etc style with a single chamber, the bags cycle in about 45 seconds to a minute. If you rush it in the cycle and drop in early, you land on a semi inflated single chamber bag... In other words you hit the ground. 20 people in line, at a minute a drop and all of a sudden you are waiting forever for your turn. At 10 seconds a person you can get in so many hits that you learn more tricks, faster than you ever thought you would.
Missing The Bag
If you miss the bag... It's not the bags fault you had a painful landing. That is one thing that is better about water ramps to Air Bags. If you carve hard off the lip, you can miss the bag. If you carve hard off the lip into a pool, you miss the bubbler. Still hurts but definitely not as badly.
Dual Chamber Adjustability
With the Big Air Bag design, the top chamber can be adjusted from soft to firm depending on the ability of the people hitting it. If you know everyone is just learning to jump you can set it up super soft so that even when you land on your face, it's mellow. The second, lower chamber is always inflated to the same firmness so that on impact, the first chamber gently slows you down, the second chamber stops you. If the crew hitting it are all rippers we set the top chamber of the bag firmer so you can actually get the feeling of stomping it and riding out. Big Air Bag is the only bag that gives you this flexibility.
Soft is a relative term. If your bag is set up to hard because the people watching it aren't paying attention or they actually just don't care or you are poaching a national team set up Air Bags aren't super soft. If the team taking care of the bag pressure is on it, the landing is soft. With a Big Air Bag you can adjust the air pressure in the top chamber to dial in the bag perfectly for the pressure to match the tricks.
Slanted Sides Keeps The Wind From Affecting The Bag As Much
With the slanted sides Big Air Bags don't get that "All the air blown to one side" problem as much that square sided bags have when the wind picks up. Water Ramps, you don't get as many hits. Even with a bubbler they leave you feeling beat down and mugged after a session, no to mention cold and wet. Also you can't train on a water ramp in the winter unless you want a REALLY hard landing.
Check Who's Calling Out Big Air Bags
If you hear water ramp facilities talking about how bags suck, just remember who has invested at least a million dollars in a water ramp facility and is exceedingly threatened by air bags taking away their business.
Pay In Money or Pay in Blood
The best material for the in run is definitely Snow Flex. When you wipe out on it you don't look like you had a run in with a cheese grater. You can bail on it in shorts and walk away laughing. You can't say the same for the cheese grater effect M-Snow has on your clothes and skin. Most places use MSnow on their run ins because it is about 1/10the the price of Snowflex. After a couple good scrapes on M Snow, we switched to Snowflex two years ago and it has been the best thing ever.