Posted on November 30 2013
With avalanche airbag packs, as with all backcountry equipment, these day just about everyone is in the game. Atomic (compatible with ABS base unit), Arva, ABS, Ortovox (using ABS airbag innards), BCA, The North Face, Mystery Ranch, Mammut and coming soon Black Diamond and Arcteryx. So... How to choose the right bag. Well, for me, being a ski bum turned ski shop owner (but still living on a ski bum's wage) cost is the biggest factor. That quickly narrowed the choice to BCA with the Float 32 Pack coming in at $550 and refillable air cylinder for $175 you're all in for $775. This is a couple hundred dollars cheaper than most of the other options on the market.
- Other things to take note of when it comes to airbag packs, there is some misinformation out there concerning their effectiveness. The Utah Avalanche Center has a great article, clearing up some of the confusion.
- With many different options it's difficult to wade through it all. Luckily, Nick Thompson, guest blogger for Wildsnow.com has broken it all down already.
- Here is a sweet Euro Vid of bombs and airbags in action. Clear example of how these bags work.
- Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fan packs coming down the pipes from Arcteryx and Black Diamond. My biggest complaint for air bag packs is that they are heavy. I had hoped the fan systems would be much lighter. Unfortunately, they're not, but that was not really the point. These systems work off rechargeable batteries meant to make them much more use friendly. You can practice deploying and repacking a few times and then simply recharge the battery at home instead of mailing back your canister or finding a refill center. Also fan packs will finally make traveling with airbags a no brainer.