The avalanche airbag pack is one of the smartest investments one can make if you venture into dangerous backcountry zones. Carrying a beacon, probe, and shovel along with an airbag pack exponentially increases your chances of surviving a bad slide. The Backcountry Access Float 30 pack is one of the best options on the market and a real quality product. The airbag inflates from compressed air and is triggered by a rip-cord in one of the shoulder straps. The airbag is a single chamber, 150 liter bag. It’s design not only helps prevent burial but also protects the head and neck from trauma.This is a major plus in it’s design!
*Statistics from the Swiss Avalanche Institute (SLF) show a 98 percent survival rate for those who have deployed their airbags since 1990.
One of the drawbacks of the airbag systems is the added weight. This pack isn’t light, weighing around 8 pounds but is a minor detail in comparison to the safety and security of those additional Lbs. Once I started using the pack, I found it very comfortable and it fits well. The extra weight wasn’t as noticeable as I thought it would be once I got used to it. The details of the pack are really nice such as the burly, metal waist strap buckles, the individual probe and shovel pockets, the fleece lined goggle pocket as well as pockets on each of the waist straps. Like I mentioned earlier, the quality of the construction and materials is AWESOME! Really the only complaint I have with my pack is the lack of ski straps for hiking, which I learned they added to the newest version of the Float 30. I can still strap my skis to the side of the pack with the compression straps though and this works well enough for me.
While this is an expensive investment, it is definitely smart and one that can really save your life when s@#t goes bad! The Float 30 retails for $700. Check out BCA’s website at BackcountryAccess.com.
The following is from BCA’s website explaining just why the Float 30 works,
Inverse segregation, more commonly referred to as the “Brazil nut effect,” is the science behind why airbags work. The turbulent movement sorts different shaped objects by size (similar to the way large Brazil nuts will rise to the top when a bowl of mixed nuts is shaken). Smaller objects are more likely to fall into the voids created by the turbulence, while larger objects move to the top. In addition to increasing your overall buoyancy, the Float 30 avalanche airbag is designed to make a backcountry user “bigger” than the surrounding pieces of debris in an avalanche. The Float 30 uses compressed air in the cylinder to fill the bag and make the user’s volume larger, reducing or eliminating burial depth and increasing your chances of survival.