Extreme sports like skiing and winter climbing often come with risks like avalanches that can cost you more than a few broken bones. But, wearing a backpack with an incorporated avalanche airbag can be effective in saving lives by preventing burial.
From the more modern battery-powered systems to the classic canister designs, here are some of the best avalanche airbags and what you need to know about them.
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Avalanche Airbag | All You Need to Know
What Is an Avalanche Airbag?
An avalanche airbag is a powerful, life-saving piece of equipment that will help ensure that you do not get buried in case of an avalanche.
How Do Avalanche Airbags Work
Smaller objects sink to the bottom in an avalanche while bigger things rise to the surface.
With that said, avalanche airbags are often incorporated into backpacks. The wearer pulls a cord that inflates the airbag into a giant balloon in an emergency, making the person wearing it more prominent, which, in turn, allows them to rise to the snow’s surface naturally.
The airbag prevents the wearer from getting buried in snow and suffocating from it – is critical in surviving avalanches.
How Effective Are Avalanche Airbags
Experts believe that skiers and mountain climbers wearing an avalanche airbag have an 89% chance of surviving the disaster – this is 50% more than those unequipped with it.
How To Use An Avalanche Airbag
1. Set the system up correctly
you can only deploy most airbags balloons once before their gas cylinder requires replacing.
But, newer models equipped with battery-powered electric blowers, while slightly more expensive, can make realistic practice easier.
Before hitting the slopes, make sure that your airbag system has been tested for any problems.
2. Know precisely how to use it
Please familiarize yourself with the airbag’s inflation process to avoid mechanical failures when it is time to use it.
3. Pull the trigger when needed.
Practice is essential when operating this piece of emergency equipment so that pulling the trigger becomes second nature in case of an emergency.
Best Avalanche Airbag 2022
1. Black Diamond JetForce Pro Pack 25L
Of all the avalanche airbags on this list, the Black Diamond JetForce Pro Pack 25L is one of the most well-rounded. Over the years, the brand’s JetForce series has gone through numerous iterations, but the Pro is the best one yet.
It has a lightweight battery-powered fan and modular design that raises the standards for the weight of electric techniques. It also offers multiple deployments with just one charge.
This avalanche airbag is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to update it and personalize its settings quickly.
The backpack itself is also well-designed. It has a secure fit that gives the wearer easy access to their gear and is equipped with other valuable features like a hip belt stash pocket, a helmet holder, and a diagonal ski carry.
The Black Diamond JetForce Pro also has a modular design, meaning you can swap out your Boosters in 10, 25, and 35L sizes. This new feature gives the user maximum versatility for snow missions.
2. Ortovox Ascent 22 Avabag Kit
The Ortovox Ascent 22 Avabag Kit is one of the best canister-powered airbag packs.
While electric fan airbags seem to be the future, many people still prefer classic and reliable canister-powered designs – this is where Ortovox’s Ascent Avabag comes into play.
The brand is a leader in capacity, features, and performance. However, what makes it truly stand out is that you can use it for practice deployment without churning through multiple canisters.
It also has a 5.5-pound weight, which is competitive for canister-powered airbags. Its proprietary airbag is also removable and compatible with all the other packs on their lineup.
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3. Backcountry Access Float 32 Avalanche Airbag 2.0
Most avalanche airbags clock in at over $900, but if you are on a budget, the Backcountry Access Float 32 Avalanche Airbag 2.0 is perfect for you. This canister-powered Avabag is one of the most time-tested Avabags out there.
The Backcountry Access Float 2.0 has a simple mechanical system, both affordable and reliable. It also has a well-designed build with straps for ski and snowboard carry, hip-belt pockets, hydration compatibility: a dedicated savvy tool pocket, and a plush molded back panel.
Of course, you can always bump up to its 42-liter version for more adjustability, features, and support.
However, with the Backcountry Access avalanche airbag, what you get more than any other company’s airbags is convenience. BCA’s canisters are easy to use because they have over 300 authorized refill locations scattered worldwide.
4. Black Diamond Pilot 11 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack
Being one of the users’ favorites for its “rideability” or how well the pack moved with the wearer on the down, the Black Diamond Pilot 11 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack is the brand’s heli and cat-oriented avalanche airbag pack.
The pack is large enough to carry food, gear, a layer, and an additional pair of gloves. Because it has a battery-powered fan that inflates its airbag, refilling it while traveling is also hassle-free.
Black Diamond’s Pilot 11 JetForce Avalanche Airbag is great for skiing and boarding. It has a small size that makes moving and riding with it easier for the wearer. However, for touring, its uses may be limited, so keep that in mind before purchasing this bag.
5. Mammut Avalanche Airbag Backpack Ultralight 3.0
At a weight of only 3 pounds, the Mammut Avalanche Airbag Backpack Ultralight 3.0 is one of the most lightweight avalanche airbags. The backpack is designed specifically for the “light is right” crowd, as it weighs around two and a half pounds lighter than most avalanche airbags.
It has a removable, canister-powered airbag that gives you the option to save some serious weight – this makes it perfect for low-angle meadow skipping or for wearing around the resort.
The Mammut Avalanche Airbag Backpack also has a minimalist design. However, it still has features like its diagonal ski carry straps, hydration-compatible sleeves, and ice ax loops.
Now that you have a handy avalanche airbag with you, learn about the other steps you need to take to survive an avalanche with this video courtesy of Tech Insider:
A handy and reliable avalanche airbag can spell the difference between life and death when doing activities like skiing, snowboarding, or winter climbing. So before going on your next snowboarding vacation, prepare for the worst by equipping yourself with the best avalanche airbag.
Do you know of an avalanche airbag that you think should be on this list? Please share it with us in the comments section below!