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 Post subject: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:38 pm
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Location: British Columbia
I finally bent to the peer pressure inflicted by two of my friends and bucked up and bought an ABS avi pack. The statistic support its value. But for most the cost is hard to justify. Sledders seem to not bat an eye according to the local rep but backcountry riders on the other hand seem to be slow to adopt. What are the thoughts will it become the new must have standard?

For some more background and some expanded thoughts check out

http://powdergangster.blogspot.com/2011 ... wards.html

How many people are currently riding with an avi pack of some sort?

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:57 am 
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Location: Fernie, BC
I think the use of this equipment is very situationally dependent. If you ride in the trees you might want to look at the pros and cons of wearing one. Ive heard some discussion of the chances of serious trauma from staying on top of the snow in gladed areas, and issues of the bag anchoring to trees under the snow, preventing you from even trying to swim. From what I have heard island lake lodge will be recommending against use by guests in their terrain. If you are riding in wide open terrain though it certainly seems like a no brainier, even though having held one I don't know how I'd feel about skinning up with it. At the end of the day the decisions you make, and not the gear you carry are what is going to save your life.


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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:56 am 
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Location: British Columbia
I agree with the decision making part that is the most important factor. It is interesting if true that island lake lodge does ban them what legal issues that could bring up if a guest who normally uses one and can't then has an accident that could have been prevented. Quite a few heli ops are now making them available to guess if they want to use them.

One way or the other it is a personal choice. I use an ABS I barely notice it compared to my other packs on the up track. It is one of those things you never hope you have to use but if you do and it saves your life then it is worth the frustrations.

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:36 am 
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Location: Sweden & Vermont
It goes without saying that an airbag isn't a get out of jail free card... nor is it always the right answer (trees, cliffs, etc), but I would rather have it with me and make that decision when the time comes.

I personally have never used an avy airbag, used to think of them mostly as an expensive gimmick for sidecountry enthusiasts at Beaver Creek, but nonetheless I have been converted and I am committed to getting one asap. Last week an avalanche killed an old buddy of mine along with two of his friends. There was also a fourth skier who was in the thick of the slide as well but she was saved by using an airbag backpack. I wasn't there, I don't know the details, but the account was that they slid 1500 feet in a Ravine and the airbag helped her to stay on top of the slide whereas the others got buried.

For the sake of getting the ball rolling, I have outlined some specific [uneducated] assumptions that I've come up with, and I would love to get feedback from anybody with experience using these packs:

Snowpulse pros:
-possibly help create a breathing pocket in front of your face?
-neck/head support?
Snowpulse cons:
-Do the snowpulse bags impede on your vision as a snowboarder (where looking over your shoulder is crucial)?
-I can imagine that in many cases the board can suck you down while the bag above your head holds you up, and increase you exposure to trees, rocks, etc.

ABS pros:
-ABS "wing" design possibly helps you float more horizantally, less likely to strike objects in a slide
-increased visibility
-2 bags decrease chances of total misfunction
ABS cons:
-no neck/head support
-higher risk of ending up face down?

Furthermore is there any benefit (other than increased visibility) to using a single-bag-behind-your-head model? (BCA, Mystery Ranch, etc)

Any words on these packs in general will be much appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:16 pm 
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Location: Calgary, AB
dangraham wrote:
Ive heard some discussion of the chances of serious trauma from staying on top of the snow in gladed areas, and issues of the bag anchoring to trees under the snow, preventing you from even trying to swim


Just mho, but if you get swept into a tree/trees I would think that there would be an equal chance for trauma; not that that's based on any facts.

PowderGangster wrote:
Quite a few heli ops are now making them available to guess if they want to use them.


My buddy had to sign a waiver not to wear one at Eagle Pass in Revy.

Snötrocket wrote:
It goes without saying that an airbag isn't a get out of jail free card... nor is it always the right answer (trees, cliffs, etc), but I would rather have it with me and make that decision when the time comes.

Furthermore is there any benefit (other than increased visibility) to using a single-bag-behind-your-head model? (BCA, Mystery Ranch, etc)

Any words on these packs in general will be much appreciated!


Apparently a guide got swept of a cliff by a avy with one of those bags
(the behind your head) and got smashed into some rocks. Still got beat up but the bag saved his life. They help, but a helmets going to protect you much more.

Most of the data relating to these bag is mostly based out or Europe and hasn't been totally applicable to North America. However, if every things installed properly (i.e. tank with bag), the user's familiar with the system, and the thing's activated it sounds like you have at the very least a small increase in surviving an any. Seems like money well spent and prices should come down in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:55 am 
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Location: Whistler, Coast Mtns
Couple recent quotes that stuck with me.

When a Euro avalanche professional was asked if he had only one option, transceiver or airbag he answered without hesitation. Airbag, no question.

Here's a quote from the husband of the woman who survived this weeks avy in Steven's Pass...."My wife was saved by an ABS today. If that's not enough reason to get one I don't know what is...two close friends lost and my wife saved".


When I bought my bag I also heard a good analogy.
An airbag in snow is like a lifejacket in water.

My friend has had his for 10yrs, used it a couple times, and is very thankful for it.
There may be a few instances where the bag is a hinderance, but overall it's going to give your a better chance of not being buried.

I think the question should be why are you not riding with a airbag pack.
If you spend $X on a board, $X on a probe/transceiver/pack, $X on outerwear/bindings, $X on gas to the backcountry why wouldn't you spend $1000 on an airbag.

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:01 am 
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Location: The Magic City
Maybe I'm missing the point of these Canadian companies/others arguments against the use of an airbag pack in treed situations, but wouldn't the person theoretically involved in a slide already be facing the same chance of a trauma injury/death whether or not they pull an airbag? What is the argument exactly?

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:20 pm 
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As I understood it: the pack will help you stay on top and therefore not get dragd along the botton and hit rocks etc on the ground.

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:32 am 
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I meant what is the guiding company's main argument against the client wearing an airbag pack.

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:49 pm 
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nickstayner wrote:
I meant what is the guiding company's main argument against the client wearing an airbag pack.


Oh, well, hmm, Ahh! Probably sponsor money problem for the photos? :scratch:

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:21 am 
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Snötrocket wrote:
-Do the snowpulse bags impede on your vision as a snowboarder (where looking over your shoulder is crucial)?
I own a Snowpulse Lifebag 30 pack and did a test release while riding last weekend: the airbag slightly reduces vision to the left side (as a regular rider), however that is not much of an issue. One will still be able to try a straightline escape.

I'd again buy a snowpulse pack over a ABS. Not only because in my opinion the pack is made better, but mainly because of the head/neck protection.


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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:05 am 
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Location: powder central, bc, canuckistan
nick the arguement against using airbags in treed terrain is the airbag, when opened, exposes a lot of surface area to the moving snow, increasing the forces applied by the snow on the shredder. a tough example of this occurred just recently around here, a (smallish, size 1-1.5) slide in treed terrain, victim activated his airbag and was greatly accelerated into a tree, body on one side airbag on the other.

having skis on the bed surface thru the sliding snow can provide some control, but yah without an airbag he probably would have suffered some trauma anyway, probably not so bad as it was with the airbag.

maybe with an airbag pack you have to think about the timing of pulling the rip, if theres any chance of maintaining some kind of control with your edges you might want to wait to activate the bag..... good luck workin the math on that one, think fast hippy!!

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 Post subject: Re: Avalanche Air bags? New standard in avi safety
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:45 am 
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I wonder if randosteve used an airbag? It seems like it may have helped looking at the slide photo.....

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