MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Fall Winter 2018

FALL/WINTER 2018 MLCM 31 BLACK DIAMOND JETFORCE DEFLATION EQUIPPED Fan system: Ducted fan Power source: Lithium-ion battery Balloon volume: 200L Pack volume: 28L (Halo), 30L (Saga) Weight: 3400g (Halo), 3500g (Saga) Price: $1549-$1599 Since Black Diamond’s acquisition of Austrian transceiver manufacturer Pieps in 2012, the Salt Lake City-based company has slowly expanded into more technological gear applications. The JetForce airbag system is its first entry to the avalanche airbag market and features the largest balloon (200L) of all airbags described in this article. That doesn’t make the others any less safe, it just gives your all- important head and neck a bit more room to breathe. Three minutes after deployment, the JetForce fan reverses to deflate the balloon, creating a potential air cavity. SCOTT PATROL E1 SUPERPOWER CAPABILITY Fan system: Centrifugal blower Power source: Supercapacitors + 2x AA batteries Balloon volume: 150L Pack volume: 30L Weight: 2670g Price: TBA ($1100 USD in the US) The latest iteration of electric avalanche pack technology, theAlpride E1 airbag system (which Scott Sports purchased temporary rights to) is the first such system to utilize supercapacitors. These handy little components are able to store and discharge electrical charges, comparable to rechargeable batteries. The E1 relies on two rechargeable AA batteries to top up the supercapacitors after bag deployment. The result is a lighter airbag system that is more resistant to colder temperatures. At almost 800g lighter than the equivalent Voltair pack, supercapacitors may be the electric option you’ve been waiting for. Note:At time of printing Black Diamond has acquired rights to use Alpride E1 system in its packs as well, though the timeline for Canadian availability is still unknown. ARC’TERYX VOLTAIR ENGINEERED DURABILITY Fan system: Centrifugal blower (radial compressor) Power source: 22.2V lithium-ion polymer battery Balloon volume: 150L Pack volume: 20L, 30L Weight: 3235g (20L), 3465g (30L) Price: $1300 (pack only). Battery ($400) and charger ($100) sold separately Built with rugged, waterproof fabrics and zippers, the Voltair is arguably the most powerful airbag on the market with respect to initial air pressure. A centrifugal blower coupled with a high-voltage lithium-ion polymer battery ensures the balloon is deployed rapidly and able to stay inflated even if punctured or torn against trees and rocks during the melee of an avalanche. While a lighter pack would be preferable for ski touring, the durability and longer product lifespan is worth a minor weight penalty. One important note on the Voltair battery; an unanticipated change during the battery’s production led Arc’teryx to raise the minimum operating temperature limit for Voltair airbags from -30°C (-22°F) to -20°C (-4°F). That temperature range is reasonable for the Coast Mountains, but Rockies and interior skiers may want to weigh their options. Always, always wear the leg strap. It might seem uncool to have a dangling strap caressing your crotch. But like a parachute, avalanche airbags require retention to keep the bag from being ripped off over your head in an avalanche, or worse, strangling you with the chest strap. Practice, Practice, Practice. Trigger a slide, pull the trigger. Sounds easy enough but field tests reveal the majority of people testing avalanche bags fail to pull the trigger properly the first time. Practice until you are confident the airbag has your back, for real. False triggers are real (and dangerous). Ever wondered what an inflated avalanche airbag balloon looks like inside of an airborne helicopter? Learn the trigger failsafes of your airbag and educate anyone who borrows it. Mind the load. Check how your airbag pairs with external ski carry and tools like ice axes. Keep sharp edges away from the balloon’s inflation zone. Avalanche Airbag Tips TECH