Inside Outdoor Retailer

#ORshow Winter Market: Innovations In Avalanche Airbags

As more and more outdoor enthusiasts head further and deeper into the backcountry, safety has become an increasing concern for the outdoor industry. Snow safety has come along way in the industry, but the industry has still been facing issues around cost-prohibition and the actual effectiveness of the tools. During Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015, we were excited to see some huge innovations to avalanche airbags.

Photo by Vertucci Visuals

Photo by Vertucci Visuals

Arcyteryx has been a strong brand in the backcountry arena for a while, however, unlike many other players they’ve chosen not to develop an avalanche airbag for their consumers. So, why is Arcteryx getting into avalanche bags now? Very excited to share their launch, Gordon Rose, Senior Industrial Designer at ARC’TERYX, dives into why it took them so long to bring the airbag to market, “We wanted to do a pack primarily because we weren’t happy with what was out there. After doing some research we decided there were some limitations with the compressed gas cylinders that we weren’t really happy with. We decided at that time we wouldn’t get in the market if we couldn’t get overcome some of the fundamentals. The big ones: people couldn’t train with them or travel with them. In 2010 we started testing the blower. The first time we did it we knew if we could harness this energy  suddenly you have no travel restrictions, multiple inflations, no cost for refills. So I jumped into it really seriously then.” If you haven’t seen it, Arcteryx’s airbag has brought some true innovation to the tool. The heavy-duty 22.2V Lithium-Ion Polymer rechargeable battery allows the backcountry user to deploy the air bag multiple times. The battery can be disconnected for safe travel. 

Photo by Vertucci Visuals

Photo by Vertucci Visuals

Mammut took a slightly different approach to their avalanche bag innovations recognizing the biggest barriers to the airbag use have cost, weight complexity. Their consumers have requested a bag that was smaller, lighter and less expensive. Dave Furman, Hardgoods Category Manager of Mammut, explains “It’s totally proven airbags create safety. The mortality we talk about in the backcountry, the airbags cut that down in a half from 22% to 11%. We have a new airbag system. It’s the Mammut Airbag System 3.0. It’s about 20% lighter and 30% smaller. It’s got a bunch of other improvements. Data based: deploys easier, deploys better. It provides a little extra safety because of that.” At 4lb. 3oz., Mammut’s Ultralight Removable Airbag 3.0 makes it a lot more comfortable to practice safety in the backcountry.

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Also focusing on coast and weight was Arva. Jeremy Jolley, U.S. Brand & Sales Manager for Arva, details, “Cost and weight are what we see as the two biggest barriers for more people to use this type of safety product. As an independent company we launched the Reactor product because we knew we could build an improved product that would also be lighter weight, and cost the consumer less.”The Arva Reactor Airbag Pack is compatible with single-use cylinders, includes a proprietary trigger system and comes in 18, 24, 32, and 40 liter sizes.

Community Question: What are your favorite pieces of backcountry gear? #weareOUTDOOR

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