Buyer’s guide for an anti-avalanche airbag
When freeriding, avalanche risks are real. The snow is not groomed and there is nobody for using explosives in couloirs for clearing the snow excess. You are in the nature and you have to behave accordingly. Before you go out there and shred, you must analyse the conditions, the forecast and the avalanche risks. And since you cannot predict the unforeseeable, you also need to carry everything you may need to survive an avalanche.
What do you need for freeriding and stay as safe as possible?
The most important equipment every freerider needs with him is the package including probe, transceiver and shovel. Only these 3 allow you to find and to be found in case of an avalanche. But beyond these basics, more and more freeriders carry an airbag backpack with them. These bags maximise your chances of staying afloat in an avalanche and get out of it unharmed.
How does an airbag work?
Research has shown that in an avalanche, big bits like rocks or ice blocks tend to be pushed towards the surface while small particles go down. Based on this observation, engineers worked on designing the first airbags following one main idea. If big things stay on surface, then let’s make skiers or snowboarders as big as possible. Manufacturers like Scott, ABS, K2, Pieps and BCA are all making reliable airbags backpacks. The system is made of an air cartridge, an actual airbag placed in the backpack, and a release system with an ergonomic handle. If you are riding and an avalanche starts under your feet, pull the handle immediately. This will trigger the air cartridge which will inflate the airbag (150 to 200L) in a few seconds. An airbag is not a guarantee of escaping or even surviving an avalanche but it does increase your chances significantly. In the past years, another system was released, utilising a fan plugged to a battery. The idea remains the same with the handle and the airbag, the difference is that the airbag inflates thanks to the fan. The great benefit of this system is that you can re-use it as many times as you want. All you have to do is to charge the battery and you’re done. With the other system, if you empty the air cartridge, you need to change it.
How to recharge an airbag?
When you trigger the cartridge system, the entire cartridge is used to inflate the bag and goes empty. This means after every use you need to change the set for a new one. You have two options. The metal cartridge, inexpensive but heavy, or the carbon cartridge, lighter and more pricy.
Check out our selection of airbags backpacks and complete your equipment!