Statistics show that skiers and snowboarders caught in an avalanche have a better chance of survival with an airbag backpack. The relatively new outdoor gear has become the new cornerstone of the back-country snow safety kit.
ARC’TERYX has developed its Voltair avalanche airbag, which it calls “the new standard in avalanche safety tools.” The airbag backpack’s technology is designed to keep skiers and riders at the snow’s surface during an avalanche event, reducing burial depth and increasing survival rate.
Unlike traditional compressed-air cylinder airbag systems that are limited to one deployment per charged cylinder, the company’s new system is powered by a heavy-duty 22.2V lithium-ion polymer rechargeable battery that allows the user to deploy the airbag multiple times.
“Along with routine testing of the system, the multiple deployment advantage allows back-country skiers and riders to practice deploying the airbag to better train themselves on how to react during an avalanche,” said Gordon Rose, senior industrial designer at ARC’TERYX. “In a high-consequence situation, you don’t rise to the occasion; you fall back on your training.”
Utilizing an advanced engineered centrifugal blower to fill the 150-litre balloon, the Voltair system delivers more initial pressure than other battery-powered avalanche airbag systems and ensures the balloon deploys rapidly, consistently and continuously – even if small tears or punctures result from colliding with trees and rocks.
Another advantage of its rechargeable battery is its high-grade automotive quick connector for convenient assembly of the system, but to also disconnect the battery completely from the backpack in order to meet air transportation safety regulations. The product’s battery system is is also field rechargeable with a special adapter for portable power sources, solar panels, wind turbines and so forth.
It also has a unique mechanical trigger handle that is permanently accessible and can be quickly unlocked to deploy the airbag during descent. Using proven designs from its climbing harness technology, the product employs a one-handed wire gate leg loop/harness system that solidly secures the airbag to the body.
Available in 20L and 30L volume, the seam-sealed Voltair is constructed with waterproof N400r-AC² nylon 6 ripstop body fabric with WaterTight(TM) zippers for top and side access to the two main compartments. Both sizes offer dedicated compartments for additional snow safety equipment like shovels and probes. Front lash ladders and straps diagonally carry skis or snowboard; ice/mountaineering tool loops keep it all in place.
Arc’teryx Equipment is a technical high-performance outerwear and equipment company based in North Vancouver, Canada. The avalanche backpack will be available on the market in fall 2016.