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|The 30-liter Lifebag can be refilled with compressed air from scuba shops.|
Backcountry ski gear has changed dramatically over the last few years. Fatter skis, lighter boots and bindings, and open boundary policies means more people are accessing out-of-bounds terrain than ever before. But the risk of avalanches remains unchanged. Which is why you might consider investing in an airbag backpack, like this one from Snowpulse.
WHAT IT IS:
Snowpulse backpacks come with a quick-release, inflatable airbag, which lifts an avalanche victim to the surface of a slide and helps protect the head, spine and chest from trauma. The packs come in a variety of sizes. The low-profile ProRider 15-liter is a minimalist pack for holding just your shovel, probe, and other necessities for quick sidecountry jaunts. The LifeBag 30-liter (pictured above) is ideal for more lengthy ski tours. It has a dedicated shovel pocket and enough room for extra layers, water, and plenty of Snickers bars. Both packs feature ergonomic back and shoulder straps and a back ventilation system with air channels.
WHY IT RULES:
The Snowpulse airbags have what's called Head-On-Top Technology, which is designed to keep you on your back with your head out of the snow. To release the airbag, pull the handle on the shoulder strap and the airbag inflates in just three seconds. If you use your airbag, you can repack it and refill the canister with compressed air found at any scuba shop (but good luck finding those in remote ski towns). "The position of the airbag has obvious advantages in terms of floatability and protection," says Swiss pro freeskier Nicolas Falquet, whose life was saved with one of these packs. "I got caught in an avalanche last year, and fortunately, I set my Snowpulse airbag off."
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Click here to find a retailer that sells Snowpulse packs near you. Or click here for more info on Snowpulse packs. The packs don't come cheap -- the 15-liter pack costs $1,049; the 30-liter pack costs $1,099 -- really, isn't your life worth more than that?