Should we call this the “year of the airbag” instead of Year of the Horse? Yeah, I’m paying a bit more attention to China now that we’ve lost our ISPO innocence. But in this case a crazed mechanical designer from France takes the stage. Apparently the UBAK airbag system has been around for a while in various incarnations and business dealings that the developer could only hint at in his excellent but still rapid-fire “Frenglish.” Check it out.
Nothing like a different concept to shake the backcountry skiing consciousness. Yes, this avalanche airbag solution covers and surrounds your head to prevent injury as well as creating an air space that fills with oxygen when the bag deflates. More importantly, it operates independent of a backpack, but can be integrated to a rucksack.
It's similar to a life preserver 'yoke' you wear around your neck, in this case anchored down to your climbing and mountain skiing harness.
Info, click to enlarge. I thought this to be super interesting in concept, though it appeared a bit bulky and uncomfortable for real world ski touring as it's up-close and personal around your neck and chest.
Rear view shows harness integration. A backpack or back protector can easily be integrated. Also includes a helicopter lift D-ring. Jerk you right out of there if you get hurt! It's a basic compressed gas system, only it uses oxygen.
Front harness integration. To understand this system it helps to know it comes from a region and style of ski mountaineering wherein a harness is almost always worn. More, a key concept is even if your backpack is removed you still have your airbag protection -- critical for guides and rescue personal who may be removing their rucksacks to help other people while they themselves are exposed to avy hazard..
Another view of how UBAK rides. Developer claims a huge reduction if cervical injury forces due to it acting like a neck collar.
Yet another view. Other than it covering your head and obscuring vision, I quite liked this concept for an airbag.
Apparently the UBAK system weighs 2.8 kilos with a bag volume of 100 liters.