Airbag safety has officially deployed into the ski industry and was featured at the Snow Show. The Float airbag backpack by Backcounty Access (BCA) provides the latest in avalanche safety. The pack features all the staples like hydration compatibility, probe and shovel-specific compartments, ski and board straps, pocketed waist belt, and thigh straps. New to backpack technology is the 150-liter airbag that could be the very ticket to save your life.
Skiers and riders are swept away with the moving snowfield and then buried by the debris when most avalanches occur. Evacuation time becomes the biggest contributing factor in avalanche fatalities, according to BCA research. The airbag pack is designed to deploy with a hard tug on the ripcord located within the right shoulder strap. The airbag fills in seconds allowing continued motion capability while providing float to stay above the snow, therefore minimizing evacuation time and ultimately preventing burial.
The Float is designed after another backcountry backpack brand based in Germany. The bag costs nearly $1,500. BCA reinvented the system, which uses a small, 2,700-psi compressed-air cylinder, and an efficient standard scuba tank or paintball adapter to easily and affordably refill the bottle.
"We knew we had to get a bag like this on the market, but we had to figure out how to get the cost down," BCA's Steve Christie told OnTheSnow. "Not only is our bag almost half the price, it's lightweight, and we're providing refill stations all over North America."
Christie recommends traveling with the cylinder empty, then log onto BAC's website and find a refill station wherever you're next backcountry adventure takes you. The website also provides ample instructions and videos demonstrating use of the ripcord, and how to properly fold and re-store the airbag.
Recent studies performed in Europe found the airbag provided a 97 percent success rate within 226 uses. The Float has already had three confirmed positive outcomes since being produced and used.
The Float will be offered in three sizes for the 2011/12 season: 18, 30, and 36 liters.
Backcountry Access talks about it's new avalanche protection airbag at the 2011 SIA show in Denver, Colorado.