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Extreme Skiers/Snowboarders/Snowmobiler's Need To Own & Use The Avalanche Air Bag

Updated on May 12, 2015

If You Extreme Ski or Just Ski The Back Country? You Need The Avalanche Airbag

Before anything, you need to understand WHY you need the avalanche airbag system. First? We need to understand 'Why' avalanche airbags were developed in the first place.

With the continued loss of life in avalanches, In 2014 alone, (two skiers in Colorado in February, one snowmobiler in November in Montana, one skier in Alaska in December ) then beginning in January and February of 2015, two more skiers in Colorado, one snowboarder in Utah, and in March and April, one snowmobiler and one back country skier. All dead in avalanche's plus. six more in France (Jan. 2015)

Technology MUST be taken to the forefront in order to save lives.

To get to the simple explanation of what an Avalanche Airbag is? it's a safety device that is worn as a lightweight backpack. Deployment of the Airbag (by the user when needed) is to protect that user by attempting to keep the wearer on top of the snow instead of being buried. It seems simple right? Something that will keep us on top of the snow?

In reality, when it comes to avalanches, it is us, the skier, snowboarder and back country snowmobiler who trigger the majority of them without knowing it initially. It takes but one second to start a mountainside in motion. Today, with the advent of "Extreme Skiing," snowboarding and snowmobiling in far and remote places?? Too far out in the back country for immediate help, so it was time to create something to help us. A safety device unlike any other.

Extreme Skiers/Snowboarders/Snowmobiler's Need To Own & Use The Avalanche Air Bag.

Back country, or extreme skiers and even snowmobilers are taking bigger and bigger risks for several reasons actually. They either do it for the thrill of it all or more likely for the images they can post on any and all social media. lots of endorsement money for the risk taker. In response, many manufacturers came forward with numerous designs, in order to try to help save some lives.

The Image above is of the Black Diamond Jetforce Airbag system, soon to be available.

Avalanche Technology

Airbag backpacks have become the newest innovation in the Avalanche Safety Gear market and are quickly rising to the top.

Current Avalanche Airbags on the market today, utilize compressed gas cylinders to inflate an airbag. But, the compressed gas cylinder does not do ALL of the job of inflating the airbag.

Half of the air needed to inflate the bag is drawn in from the ambient air surrounding the user, via a venturi valve. As the gas leaving the cylinder expands, the canister is drawing ambient air through that venturi valve in order to completely fill the air bag. Thus allowing for a smaller and lightweight canister for inflation. Technology.

Do you remember when I said that there is no one simple answer to describe airbags? Well the truth of it all is, airbag's themselves don't lift you up as much as they make your body a bigger part of the avalanche. The bigger the part of the avalanche, the higher up in the slide. Hopefully, enabling a person to keep from being buried. Think of a bag filled with chips, the smaller ones sift to the bottom and the bigger ones stay on top. With the airbag inflated, you are in effect a bigger chip.

It does not matter whether you just enjoy back country skiing, extreme ski, extreme snowboard or even back country snowmobiling. Any and I mean ANY time you are off the beaten trail, you need to buy, learn to use and wear one of these avalanche safety solutions.

The ABS Company was the first in the market and utilize compressed nitrogen to fill a dual bag system

The ABS Airbag, Fully deployed in action and on TOP of the snow

ABS Avalanche Airbag Activation Unit
ABS Avalanche Airbag Activation Unit

Here is the replacement handle and activation canister for your ABS Avalanche Airbag System Having a backup system allows you to not have to wait for a return shipment for the one you sent in to be recharged.


Mammut Avalanche Airbag - Uses Compressed Air

The Mammut Avalanche Airbag

As evidenced by the picture, the Mammut system (wings if you will) addresses the safety issue the same as the other manufacturers in that they are attempting to take safety to the next level in airbag protection. The Mammut system's inherent design is to protect the head, neck and torso. The head neck and torso are protected even more so in this 2014/2015 version. The Mammut Airbag system is quickly becoming a front runner in the safety argument. From the moment you pull the airbag release handle until full inflation is no more than three seconds.

The advantage of this newer system obviously is the immobilization of the head, neck, and upper chest by the airbags. All of which facilitates staying On Top of the avalanche as opposed to under it. As in all things in life, there are no guarantees. An avalanche as we all know is very unpredictable. But wouldn't you want the most protection and the best opportunity available to survive an avalanche should you be caught in one? Of course you would.

On the plus side of the issue, the Mammut system just up's the ante on protection. Another advantage to this system, is that it is completely removable and can be transferred from one backpack to another as conditions and or skiing habits require. Maybe you are done for the day, but a buddy wants to continue? You can transfer your airbag system to his or hers in seconds. With three airbag systems to choose from between 15, 30 and 35 Liters, you have more choices.

Finally, one last simple difference.

The design of the Mammut airbag system is such that if you are caught in an avalanche, your head should be facing downhill, with your body on top of the snow when you come to a stop, thus eliminating the threat of suffocation if your body were facing uphill to sustain the full force of the snow.

Is the Mammut Avalanche Airbag System for you? You decide

Extreme Skiing - Requires thoughts of safety beforehand

Safety first

For all of us who choose to ski, snowboard or snowmobile in the back country and even for the extreme skiers, we must temper the rewards experienced with the inherent dangers. Safety above all else must be tantamount. Avalanches can be triggered in a second and most of the time we will not see them begin until it's almost too late to react.

ABS has been designing safety equipment for many years and at the moment, they ARE the undisputed industry leader today's market place.

There are many avalanche airbag products on the market today, but if you read up on any of them, you will find out they almost ALL, utilize the ABS system as a basis of their individual design. That's not to say that there are not other products out there just as good as ABS, as there are. Just none yet that surpass the ABS system.

Compressed air or nitrogen filled canister's? One works at any temperature (nitrogen) and one is affected by temperature (air canisters). You simply need to decide which backpack is for you. After all, what's your life is worth?

Extreme Skiers/Snowboarders/Snowmobiler's Need To Own & Use The Avalanche Air Bag

Do you Snowmobile or Snowboard? - How about Ice or rock climbing?

One of these packs is for you.

Wary AviVest - XL/2XL Avalanche Airbag Vest with Air Canister
Wary AviVest - XL/2XL Avalanche Airbag Vest with Air Canister

Snowmobiling? This newly redesigned for 2015, the Wary AviVest comes complete with canister and leaves room in the backpack for all of your essentials for the long or even extended trip into the back country.

Ortovox Free Rider 24 ABS Pack Blue Ocean One Size
Ortovox Free Rider 24 ABS Pack Blue Ocean One Size

Snowboarding? Maybe Ice Climbing? The all new Ortovox Free Rider is the backpack for you. Snowboard, Ice Axe and helmet holders all on this roomy backpack and they even too in FREE Shipping too!


In Closing Today - Avalanche safety should be your first priority

An Avalanche Airbag in Use

Choosing an avalanche safety device should be given serious thought. I know, many of you right now reading this say: "I would never wear something like that on my back as I need the freedom of movement. You couldn't be more wrong.

Whether you choose an airbag system or not, depends upon you and your personal type of skiing. Extreme skiing by name should tell you that anything you can do to increase your safety would be first and foremost in your mind. The Avalanche Airbag system just adds another innovative technology to the game plan and the choice of the right pack for you, will mean you won't even know it's on your back and you extreme ski down ANY slope.

Hopefully, you will make the right choice and choose an airbag system designed for you and your back country endeavor of choice. ALL Extreme Skiers/Snowboarders/Snowmobiler's Need To Own & Use The Avalanche Air Bag

That being said: Avalanche Airbags are here to stay. They offer an added advantage to the skiers who loves the back country. As technology advances, more and more options are sure to be made available. Black Diamond's AvaLung avalanche safety gear was the original innovator in safety devices and now we have the Avalanche Airbag systems. What's next?

Thanks for reading today, ski safe and I'll see you on the slopes--CampingmanNW

Are You An Extreme Skier - Or just a back country skier interested in safety? Feel free to comment

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