Arcteryx Releases New Ski Boot and Fan Airbag Backpack

Post by blogger | December 7, 2015      

I’m up here in Vancouver, Canada covering what Arcteryx is calling their biggest product launch ever — by a factor of “five.” I’ll get into the clothing some other time, for now I’m blasting up a blog post just to get this out there for all you gearheads. They’re keeping us too busy, but I’ll update this post with more details and photos over the next 12 hours.

The Arcteryx Voltair (Volt Air) airbag backpack getting its first journalist demo.

The Arcteryx Voltair (Volt Air) airbag backpack getting its first journalist demo.

The Voltair electric fan avalanche airbag backpack (available next winter of 2016/2017) comes in two sizes with “true volume, measuring what’s left AFTER the airbag guts are taken out of the equation.” Both the 20 liter and 30 liter versions appear to live up to that, as they’re quite commodious. They weigh 7.1 nd 7.6 pounds respectively. The fan system appears to work quite nicely, blowing the 150 liter balloon up to taut pressure in 5 seconds or a bit less. Standout features include a snappy leg loop system I very much like, and a mechanical triggering system (basic housed cable) that’s intuitive, with a handle that’s an easy grab and pull. The plumbing uses an impeller with a centrifugal blower, said to be difficult to engineer but able to provide excellent pressure as well as volume.

A rather large battery yields the juice for many Voltair inflations at normal winter temperatures, and insures at least a couple of puffs in arctic refrigeration. As always, we’d sure like to see a smaller battery — but they’ve got to keep it working up to standards. No worries, near as I can tell you could swap in a smaller 22.2 volt battery sourced from the RC race car hobby circuit. I feel my mod a growin’!

The marketing push for Voltair includes interesting (and valid) wrinkles. For example, they’re emphasizing that a percentage of avalanche deaths may be caused by people failing to deploy their airbags. Solution: As emergency personal do, any airbag user should do repetitive training for pulling the trigger, so they don’t freeze up in a real situation. You really can’t do that with a compressed gas system — it is simply to much hassle to keep recharging your tank. Electric, trivial. Just recharge and keep practicing until you pull the trigger subconsciously at the slightest hint of a slide.

I didn’t notice any immediate downsides to this version of the fan pack. Weight is a little higher than I expected (3465 gr, 7.6 lbs for the 30 liter). I’ve studied this issue quite a bit now. The weight problem resides in the batteries. Due to the need for high pressure inflation in 5 seconds or less, at temperatures down to negative 30 centigrade (these types of batteries are quite temperature sensitive), retail versions of these electric packs have to be sold with a massive lithium battery. I think the aftermarket can eventually step in on this and sell smaller swap-in batteries specified for a higher temperature range and fewer fills from one charge, but until then we’re stuck hauling around an 800 gram brick.

Aparantly, other battery technologies are available but nothing beats the basic 22.5 volt lithium polymer in terms of cost/reliability/capacity/weight. For example, a D-cell sized “thermal cell” exists that would inflate an airbag rucksack. Problem is it costs $700. The consensus on all this seems to be that first we simply need better batteries, and second we need more data about real life temperatures so we could avoid hauling around 500 or so grams of redundant power.

Interestingly, Arcteryx built “black box” data recording into the Voltair controller and battery electronics. With user permission they can downlink a full data set, including battery temperatures. Apparently they’ve been recording their test unit battery temps in the field, then comparing to ambient air temperatures, to ascertain exactly how cold the batteries become during different types of use (e.g., quick day trip vs overnight in a tent). One of the designers told me they’d indeed experimented with battery insulation and electric warming, but such tweaks added more weight than simply using a larger battery. He also told me that the battery does stay slightly warmer due to body heat, but only a by a few degrees and of course only if the pack is on your torso.

Arcteryx Procline boot may hit a real sweet spot in the ski touring and glisse alpinism market.

Arcteryx Procline boot may hit a real sweet spot in the ski touring and glisse alpinism market.

I think the new Procline boot blew me away more than the airbag blower (even though the fan is so loud you should wear ear protection for testing). These boots may be a category breaker. Design philosophy is a shoe that skis — but also climbs — as in rock and ice. This is accomplished by the usual suspects, such as extreme cuff articulation and light weight. But with an added twist that is literally, a twist.

The Procline cuff attached to the cuff pivots is actually two pieces instead of the usual one. When you unlatch into touring/walking mode, the left and right sides of the cuff add noticeable flex for natural left-right ankle roll. It’s Almost like being in a hiking or alpine climbing boot, only with a bit more limited travel so you still have support when you need it. Idea is when skinning uphill, you can keep your skis much flatter on the snow when desired, with much more natural movements while doing kick turns. Sounds a bit out there, but I think these things might actually work, I’ll find out tomorrow. They feel amazing in carpet testing, like a top quality lightweight ski touring boot when locked up, and yes, you can walk around like you’re in a pair of hiking boots.

I was interested in how long it took to develop these, so I asked, Federico Sbrissa, who is the Product Line Manager for Arcteryx. He told me they started on the project around 2013, and got serious about the “split cuff” patent in June of 2014. Thus, basically a four year project. For a ski touring boot that’s quite different, that seems like a quick roll.

Procline 'split' cuff is an ingenious way to allow rolling movement of your ankle while unlocked.

Procline ‘split’ cuff is an ingenious way to allow rolling movement of your ankle while unlocked. The two sides simply bend outward, it’s like ‘why didn’t I think of that?’

Procline Carbon ski alpinism boot.

Procline Carbon ski alpinism boot. Let me count the ways. Use of ‘old’ style tech fittings for more sole rubber under sole. Check. Built in zipper gaiter. Check. Grip rubber over toe to hold crampon straps or help with rock climbing. Check. Velcro free power strap. Check. Webbing laced liner. Check. Grilamid plastic scaffo, Grilamid-carbon fiber cuff. Check. More later, gotta go eat some dinner.

This is a boot that is intended to climb and rock scramble, so they put as much rubber as possible under the old style tech fittings.

This is a boot that is intended to climb and rock scramble, so they put as much rubber as possible under the old style tech fittings. According to Federico Sbrissa, “Most tech bindings have something to locate your boot anyway, Power Towers or whatever, so the Quick Step-in type boot fittings are not needed.” I’d tend to agree that in many cases having more sole to wear under the fittings trumps using the larger Quick Step-in fittings. But not always. Depends on end use.

Arcteryx design philosophy for Procline.

Arcteryx design philosophy for Procline involved the proven method of first finding a need, then filling it. In this case, the need is that of alpinists for a boot that both skis and climbs rock and ice. The rolling side-articulating cuff is the major feature for such, but the built-in gaiter, shorter sole, heavy rocker and low volume contribute to what is indeed a “shoe like” feel. Impressive, really.

A summary slide from Procline presentation.

A summary slide from Procline presentation. All well and good, but skiing these over the next few days will tell the honest truth. Nice some samples fit me!

Arcteryx boot designers must have been reading WildSnow dot com.

Arcteryx boot designers must have been reading WildSnow dot com, because they addressed a number of our major grips. Pictured here, the carbon boot cuff has a full plastic bushing molded into the pivot point. Without this, the carbon material eats into the lower shell at the pivot point, developing well known slop that’s been the bane of other boot designs with carbon cuffs. Also, Procline has (drum roll) a lower buckle located on top of the instep instead of too the side where it can be opened or damaged by rocks.

Ok, back to the Voltair for a while. I’ve got a pack I’ll be field testing for the next few days up here in Canada, so I’ll file more photos and impressions when that stint is done. Meanwhile, below are more PR screen grabs and such.

I particularly like the simple mechanical handle and trigger system. You lock out by rotating the handle. Arm by rotating.

I particularly like the simple mechanical handle and trigger system. You lock out by rotating the handle. Arm by rotating back, and trigger with a pull. I’m thinking I’d simply get in the habit of twisting in the unlock direction while pulling, to guard against accidentally leaving the trigger locked.

Centrifugal blower and the snappy harness.

Centrifugal blower and the snappy harness. The industrial designers on this project went though years of iterations on the blower systems. One guy told me how he’d hooked up the centrifugal fan from a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner and bumped the RPM up to some ungodly level like 40,000 rpm (why? because he could?), the fan blew apart in his face. Result, disintegrated eyeglasses and a set of stitches on his nose.

Catalog metrics:
Procline Carbon Lite 1190 gr, size 27.5
Procline Carbon Support 1260 gr, size 27.5 (Exact same shell, liner with more ski performance.)
Procline Men’s Lite 1190 gr, size 27.5 (Carbon infused cuff plastic, no fiber.)
Procline Men’s Support 1260 gr, size 27.5 (Infused cuff, liner with more ski performance.)

Procline Women Lite 1060 gr, size 25.5 (Carbon infused cuff plastic, no fiber, sizes from 23 to 27.5, exact same shell as “men’s” with a liner shaped for differences in women’s leg shapes.)
Procline Women Support, 1120 gr size 25.5 (Same as above with ski support liner.)

Voltair rucksack 20 liter, 3235 gr, 7.1 lbs (Both Voltair models have surprising cargo volume.)
Voltair rucksack 30 liter, 3465 gr, 7.6 lbs

Voltaier available for purchase fall 2016, 20L – US $1,650, 30L – US $1,700

Offical press release, edited and condensed by


…ARC’TERYX proudly debuts its Voltair avalanche airbag, an advanced airbag backpack technology designed to keep skiers and riders at the snow’s surface during an avalanche event, reducing burial. Unlike traditional compressed air cylinder airbag systems that are limited to one deployment per charged cylinder, the ARC’TERYX Voltair airbag system is powered by a heavy-duty 22.2V Lithium-Ion Polymer rechargeable battery…

“Along with routine testing of the system, the multiple deployment advantage allows backcountry skiers and riders to practice deploying the airbag to better train themselves on how to react during an avalanche. In high consequence situation, you don’t rise to the occasion, you fall back on your training,” said (designer) Gordon Rose.

Utilizing an advanced engineered centrifugal blower to fill the 150 Liter balloon, the Voltair system delivers more initial pressure than any other battery powered avalanche airbag system on the market. This superior system ensures the balloon deploys rapidly, consistently and continuously – even if small tears or punctures result from colliding with hard objects like trees and rocks. Another exclusive advantage of the Voltair’s rechargeable battery is its high-grade automotive quick connector for convenient assembly of the system, while also allowing for the ability to disconnect the battery completely from the backpack in order to meet air transportation safety regulations.

Rose: “The Voltair’s sophisticated battery system is extremely robust and is also field rechargeable with a special adapter for portable power sources, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.”

Made in Canada at ARC’TERYX’s own advanced manufacturing facility, other innovative features that set the Voltair airbag apart include its unique mechanical ‘always available’ trigger handle that is permanently accessible and can be quickly unlocked to deploy the airbag during descent. Using proven designs from its award-winning climbing harness technology, the Voltair employs an easy-to-use, one-handed wire gate leg loop/harness system that solidly secures the airbag to the body. Available in 20L and 30L volume, the fully seam-sealed Voltair is constructed with waterproof N400r-AC² nylon 6 ripstop body fabric with WaterTight™ zippers for top
and side access to the two main compartments. Both sizes offer dedicated compartments for additional snow safety equipment like shovels and probes. Front lash ladders and straps diagonally carry skis or snowboard while ice/mountaineering tool loops keep everything else in place for a stable and safe ride.

Product photos provided by Arcteryx:

Arcteryx Voltair 30 backpack deployed.

Arcteryx Voltair 30 backpack deployed.

Voltair 20 Backpack Cayenne suspension.




First look snapshots in the field:

System can continue to fill itself even with small tears or punctures that could occur during an avalanche. Waterproof, taped AC2 pack provides full weather protection

System can continue to fill itself even with small tears or punctures that could occur during an avalanche. Waterproof, taped AC2 pack for weather protection.

Voltair’s rechargeable battery has an automotive quick connector for convenient assembly of the system, while also allowing for the ability to disconnect the battery completely from the backpack in order to meet air transportation safety regulations.

Voltair’s rechargeable battery has an automotive quick connector for convenient assembly of the system, while also allowing for the ability to disconnect the battery completely from the backpack in order to meet air transportation safety regulations.

side vent
22.2v Lithium polymer rechargeable battery

22.2v Lithium polymer rechargeable battery

22.2v Lithium polymer rechargeable battery airbag
External indicator on shoulder strap signals system readiness.

External indicator on shoulder strap signals system readiness.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


104 Responses to “Arcteryx Releases New Ski Boot and Fan Airbag Backpack”

  1. Beau Fredlund December 7th, 2015 7:44 pm

    Holy moly.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 December 7th, 2015 7:45 pm

    Yeah, this is big. More soon, gotta go eat dinner and drink some more Koolaid. Lou

  3. Greg Louie December 7th, 2015 8:05 pm

    Whoever thought Fede Sbrisa was going to be making approach shoes for the rest of his career had it wrong. Can’t keep genius like that bottled up for long!

  4. Charlie December 7th, 2015 8:09 pm

    What do you mean by “old” style tech bindings? Can you elaborate on that or point to an article that discusses it?

  5. John S December 7th, 2015 8:22 pm

    Based on other Dead Bird pricing I expect the pack to be $3K and the boots $2K.

  6. johnb December 7th, 2015 8:28 pm

    Woah. I was skeptical when I saw Arc’teryx ski boot but it looks cool.

  7. Ben W December 7th, 2015 8:30 pm

    Boot looks sick. I’m afraid the price will be stratospheric.

  8. Joe Risi December 7th, 2015 8:56 pm

    Well there goes the neighborhood! Fede stirring up trouble again! Looks truly awesome. With two pivots?!

    Easy on the Canadian Koolaid, Lou.

  9. Andrei December 7th, 2015 9:00 pm

    Yeah… I can’t imagine the boots to be much less than $1200… Pack, I don’t even want to think about…

  10. Coop December 7th, 2015 9:15 pm


    A feasible hardboot for splitboarding? Keep us in the loop!

  11. See December 7th, 2015 9:34 pm

    Maybe the biggest advantage is when using boot crampons?

  12. GDreej December 7th, 2015 9:35 pm

    I’ve spoken to a few buddies who work for Arc, they have said the boot will be at the $1K mark, I’d be surprised to see it more than that.

  13. XXX_er December 7th, 2015 10:22 pm

    This years Vulcan which is not even carbon anymore is 1050$ then you could possibly add 200-300 $ for a liner that doesn’t suck, I know that to get to where I could ski my Mercury’s cost 1000+ after visiting intuition …

  14. Jim P. December 7th, 2015 10:34 pm

    Gee I wonder if I could just split the back cuff of my beat up, DYNA Evos, paint some rubber on the front toe, and I’ve got those boots!

    Seriously, I love seeing innovative ideas in ski gear. I haven’t had any problem with crampons coming off the front, so the rubber bumper might be a nice touch, but can you imagine torquing those boots into an offwidth? The ankle flexibility (al la French style cramponing) would be a great help though. What keeps the cuff together when downhilling? A power strap? Some sort of clip?

  15. Robert Kay December 7th, 2015 10:37 pm

    I’m hoping these boots do all the right things – fit well, ski even better, are warm, light and don’t hurt me. Keep us posted!

  16. Lou Dawson 2 December 7th, 2015 11:25 pm

    Procline Carbon Lite, 730 euros, 1,000 usd
    Procline Lite (no carbon fiber cuff), 580 euros, 750 usd

  17. XXX_er December 7th, 2015 11:43 pm

    Works out to 1070 CAD which is in the ball park IF that figure is the bottom line

  18. jasper December 8th, 2015 12:32 am

    Eso es

  19. Joar December 8th, 2015 12:41 am

    Boots weight?

  20. Jeremy C December 8th, 2015 1:04 am

    It is interesting that they have gone with a 150ltr bag, given that in theory with a fan they could easily have gone larger. What do they know that BD don’t, or vice versa.

    The airbag shape seems an interesting mix of Mammut / Snowpulse head protection, and standard balloon.

    Two features that indicate the designer actually uses airbag backpacks; you will actually get the advised volume (something no other airbag gives), and a quick connection leg strap (the loop through the waist belt, or plastic buckle of ABS are both awkward wearing gloves). I replaced my ABS leg loop with a military retention quick release strap.

  21. treeski December 8th, 2015 1:47 am

    when will the boots be available? Any idea on the last?

  22. OliC December 8th, 2015 1:57 am

    I think trying to make up for a big heavy battery by saying it means you can practise often is poor. Perhaps for punter’s going on their first held-ski or guided Vallee Blanche descent it means they can quickly get used to a very alien concept.

    But the problem with air bag deployment is surely down to various factors. If you get knocked off your feet as soon as the avi happens, you barely know which was is up, let alone where your correct arm is, in relation to your handle. Hesitation as to weather to pull the handle or not if you think it might be a small avi (!) is another issue. Though knowing that you can easily repack and go is a plus of the battery system.
    Having said that, my Scott Alpride, which I bought because it’s such a light system has a wonderful handle system. And, if I was caught in an avi I’d probably either being going to hospital, or taking it extremely easy for the rest of the day, or the rest of the multi-day tour, and not concerned about having used up my one time only cartridges.

    But must give them props for designing it to actual volume! Mammut’s are terrible at that!

  23. Michael December 8th, 2015 2:11 am

    What liners do the use for the procline boot and can you also post some facts about the fit comparing tlt 6 or atomic backland


  24. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 5:43 am

    Hi Michael, the fit is pretty similar to Backland, once suspects there is some cross-pollination due to the ties between Atomic/Salomon/Arcteryx due to umbrella ownership by Amer Sports. I’d call it a roomy fit. I tried on both the 27.5 and the 28, which is where the shell break is. I could wear the 27.5 and as usual with my low volume foot that would be my choice, with a big toe punch in the shell (easy to do with Grilamid). For testing over the next few days we molded up a pair of 28, which are too roomy for me for real life, but they’ll work for testing with an extra insole to take up some volume.

    The 27.5 Procline Carbone Lite weighs 1190 grams. I’m adding catalog weights to the end of the blog post in a moment.

  25. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 7:15 am

    Jeremy, these are indeed the highest interior cargo volume I’ve seen in relation to stated volume, for an airbag backpack. I guess everyone measures them differently and yes, every person I met who was key in developing this does use it, in fact we will be skiing with them over the next few days.

    Everyone, I know you’re going to ask what are some of the key differences between Voltair and another major brand. Below is comparo, I’m not sure what’s better or just different.
    – Voltair has a mechanical cable that actuates the inflation. There are no electronics in the handle.
    – Voltair does pulse in case of puncture, but does not auto-deflate
    – Voltair deflation is done by opening a valve and pressing air out.
    – Voltair balloon is simply stuffed in a small compartment at the top of the pack.
    – The Voltair leg loop is quite different, has a typical Arcteryx look and feel.
    – Probably more I can eventually come up with.

  26. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 7:21 am

    added Voltair prices to bottom of post, don’t faint when you read them

  27. Marc December 8th, 2015 7:44 am

    More photos when available please.
    Any release dates?

  28. Josh December 8th, 2015 7:55 am

    Wow those thermal batteries are crazy. A pyrotechnic fires in the battery, melts the electrolyte and bingo!

  29. Drew Tabke December 8th, 2015 8:58 am

    Very exciting for the population who enjoys a mix of technical rock and ice with their extreme and remote ski descents. And folks wishing their AT boot was just a little more nimble on the soccer pitch.

    I propose an AT boot designer’s soccer cup. Each brand’s team has to play in their respective boot.

  30. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:09 am

    Drew, agree, I didn’t want to be frothing at the mouth before even using Procline, but I’m pretty sure they’re disruptive. Bad idea about the soccer game, as Federico will probably make all us bloggers and journalists do it at our next meeting instead of skiing. Perhaps I should censor you comment before he sees it. (grin) Lou

  31. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:11 am

    A little correction, Federico Sbrissa title is the Arcteryx footwear line manager, though he does do a lot of design work.

  32. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:14 am

    Marc, this stuff is all for fall 2016, they do these launches some time before availability to build buzz for retail orders, and to start the general consumer PR cycle. It’s fun for us because we get the hands on, but I always feel bad that there is the months of delay before the products are generally available. Reality, I guess.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:19 am

    BTW, the third big product launch is a redesigned Alpha SV jacket, again for this coming fall though they’re probably making plenty of “samples” that’ll float around. The new SV is pretty impressive, but somewhat “normal” if you’re used to Arcteryx nth degree quality, and nth degree prices. We watched them making the jackets, essentially by hand though with modern efficiency. Pretty cool.

  34. Patrick O December 8th, 2015 9:23 am

    What about moding to a smaller battery and keeping that next to the body?

    Oh yeah and that boot – that opens up a world of objectives – drool!

  35. Tom December 8th, 2015 9:29 am

    The catalog info you added to the bottom of the page shows Procline Carbon Lite and Support with same weights as the Procline Men’s Lite and Support. I’m assuming this is a typo? Or Arc’Teryx knows ski tourers are a bunch of suckers that will pay more for carbon just because.

  36. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:30 am

    Patrick, yeah, those are the exact kind of things the aftermarket can do. It’s just like the automotive business, you buy a car or truck that’s quite constrained due to standards and regulations, then if desired you mod it with aftermarket parts, using your own judgement as to what is safe.

    I’m told the avy airbag standards overall are pretty good, but the temperature requirements seem out of whack and too constraining on the battery operated stuff. But really, all we need is a pack we can swap our own battery into, problem solved. And oh so easy to test. Just hook up your smaller battery, leave the pack outdoors overnight in your location, and trigger in the morning. That’ll give you a worst case idea of what is what. Get two inflations out of the deal? Good to go. Who the heck needs 8 inflations in the field?

    I can pretty much guarantee that most ski tourers in the world will be perfectly fine with a battery half the size (or smaller) of what Arcteryx and others are being forced to put in these packs.

    Apparently, where any high current lithium battery mods will come from is the RC car and aircraft world.

  37. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:33 am

    Tom, sorry, that’s a typo. The Carbon Lite is 1190 gr, and the Carbon Support is 1260. The shells weigh virtually the same but the denser Support liner ads some grams. That’s my understanding, anyhow. I’ll edit. Thanks for the catch.

  38. Charlie Hagedorn December 8th, 2015 9:33 am

    Super cool. Thanks, Lou!

  39. Lou Dawson 2 December 8th, 2015 9:36 am

    Oh, Tom, whoops again! In too much of a hurry here. Yes, the “Men’s” and the “Carbon” are the same weight. The carbon just gets you more stiffness for the same weight. I just double checked. Lou

  40. Ivan December 8th, 2015 10:10 am

    The boots seem like a possibly very sweet hardboot splitboard boots. How is the flex in the non-carbon when locked?

  41. Tom F December 8th, 2015 10:12 am

    BCA is happy with the Voltair’s price, I’m sure.

  42. Tom December 8th, 2015 10:14 am

    Same weights, different stiffness could be a major selling point for the more expensive carbon versions. I guess it depends on how stiff the non-carbon cuffs end up being. Most bc skiers I know are willing to ski a somewhat softer flexing boot while touring versus resort skiing, but there’s a line as to how soft people are willing to go. Whatever version someone buys, they are getting an incredibly light boot, but as we’ve seen with other popular boots (Maestrale RS comes to mind), people are willing to pay more for a stiffer boot, especially if theirs no weight penalty.

  43. Mods? December 8th, 2015 10:17 am

    I think people are a little off-base on the ‘just use a smaller battery’ in an electric balloon pack. [Or, suggestions to just use a smaller cartridge (or remove a cartridge) in a gas pack.] Those ideas keep being floated by Lou and others…. For me, pack weight is really important but I’m not convinced that mods like those should be made without VERY significant testing.

    Do you really think that BD and ArcTeryx are intentionally using heavy batteries and don’t care about pack weight?

    It is true that the regulations imposed on the electric packs are probably stricter than necessary for all people/conditions. But I think we all agree that the battery used must provide enough power, repeatedly, and do so at cold temperatures.

    Electric packs have the inverse performance characteristics of gas packs – they have the LEAST inflation power at the start of their inflation process. So, if you underpower the inflation fan/blower and you are immersed in the snow – will it actually be able to inflate? Will it do so on a -20C day if the balloon got a bit wet earlier in the trip? Will it do so if you gave the balloon a test inflate demo for your buddies earlier in the day and then actually need to use it later? Will it do so after a year or two and a whole bunch of test inflations and battery cycles? Will it…..?

    The battery size/weight and pack weight have to come down.
    I’m certainly not against experimenting. I’m just saying that with this type of product, mods need to be done with a full understanding of how the pack physically works as well as of their electronics/firmware…

  44. PQ December 8th, 2015 10:27 am

    Does anyone know if the BD or Arcteryx airbag packs are designed to allow for future upgrades (e.g., batteries) and firmware updates?

    With the cost of all of those packs, that should be the case.
    [Sorry if that has been discussed and I missed it.]

  45. Max December 8th, 2015 11:09 am

    are there more pictures of the pack? All I can see is the part that touches the back.

  46. Jeremy C December 8th, 2015 11:09 am

    @PQ, BD can definitely be firmware updated, as there was a recall to do it. The batteries do not a simple connector to swap the battery, but it would be probably be possible to install one. It would of course void the warranty and probably any future recall.

  47. uysy December 8th, 2015 12:07 pm

    It’s simple. There will be brand new ultra uber extra new Air Pack….with 1/2 of actual battery…for more money.

  48. jasper December 8th, 2015 12:16 pm

    Stiffness does not equal performance. Ones ski boots are only as good as the person wearing them. Skiing, especially in ‘wildsnow’, is dynamic. Why is there such an appeal to make things more rigid? Look at the noboard and tech binding explosion. Less is more! I for one would like to see a ski boot that not only focuses on being light and mobile but also promotes the grace and flow that is inherent in skiing.

  49. etto December 8th, 2015 12:52 pm

    Jasper; they’re called ankle height leather boots 😉

  50. Tom December 8th, 2015 1:07 pm

    Stiffness is absolutely a contributing factor in the performance of a boot. The necessary stiffness however varies greatly depending on the skier. Matching the appropriate stiffness to the skier and their style of skiing is far more important than which boot weighs more or less or has the best walk mode. A stiff boot is never rigid when the right skier is using it. Bigger guys need stiffer boots, even when they’re skiing soft snow in the backcountry. Plus, it’s easier for a boot fitter to soften the flex than to stiffen it up.

  51. GeorgeT December 8th, 2015 7:19 pm

    Procline boot aimed at TLT6 and Backland in weight and price. I look forward to the ski tests from Skialper next year.

  52. VT skier December 8th, 2015 8:36 pm

    “the grace and flow that is inherent in skiing.”

    That’s called the Telemark turn.. 😉

  53. johnb December 8th, 2015 8:41 pm

    I’m curious about the statements that BD and Arc’teryx make about their airbag’s capabilities to continue to fill with punctures. It seems that a pack would be able to continue to fill and maintain some rigidity with a small tear while above the snow. However I’m skeptical that an airbag fan would be able to keep a pack close to full inflation while there is external pressure on the bag while in an avalanche.

    That said I’m fully willing to admit that the continued inflation from an electric airbag pack is much more likely to keep a pack with a hole inflated while compared to a compressed gas pack.

    It just seems untrue for both BD and Arc to make that statement w/o at least a video or two of how the packs do in that situation. Does anyone want to volunteer their pack for science?

    I just had to get that request for clarification off of my chest after reading it in so many reviews of the Jetforce and now the Arc pack.

  54. VT skier December 8th, 2015 8:52 pm

    I have some experience with Lithium Polymer batteries, in RC aircraft, UAVs and E-sailplanes.

    A 22,2 volt power source, sounds like a 6 cell LiPo. Each cell can be charged to a maximum voltage of 4.20 volts. So a fully charged 6S LiPo would indicate 25.2 volts. I fly a Trex -500 heli with one of these.

    These LiPos (at least the ones I use) are quite sensitive to cold temps, and I’m talking about 40 F. Another issue is you don’t want to leave them fully charged for a very long time, say more than a week. So you need to discharge them down to 50% capacity between flights, or life of the LiPo is shorter..
    It would be interesting to see how many mAh (milli amp hours) each deployment of the airbag takes from the total storage capacity of the LiPo. This will determine how large a LiPo you really need. It would be easy to set up an inline device to measure mAh used, with this

  55. See December 8th, 2015 9:28 pm

    A really high capacity drone with a tether could fly above us and lift us above an avalanche with the push of a button.

  56. Nelson1111 December 8th, 2015 10:00 pm

    The 30L Voltaier is $1,700 US? Yikes! Compare this to the Mammut Pro Protection 35L Airbag which has better head trauma protection, weighs almost 25% less (2.64kg vs 3.465kg), has a proven technology, excellent quality, and is practically half the price ($975 Cdn from MEC – have you seen the exchange rate lately?). Granted you do have to buy the air canister for a Mammut.

  57. Andrei December 8th, 2015 11:54 pm

    Question. Dyson’s electric motor is supposed to be spinning over 100,000 rpm. Why can’t they use an existing design? If the whole vacuum costs about 500 bones I can’t imagine the motor would cost more…

  58. Wookie December 9th, 2015 1:37 am

    those boots. I think I need to go lie down.

  59. Matus December 9th, 2015 1:47 am

    At this point, I would rather buy Mammut airbag with two carbon canisters. Lower weight, lower price, bombproof reliability. The bad: this combination is no go for the air transfers.

  60. Toby December 9th, 2015 2:34 am

    Concerning air travel: what is the Wh (Watt-hour) rating for the battery?
    IATA limit is 160Wh, above that you must be sort of DGR professional to ship it in a cargo.
    Batteries below 100Wh are no issues.
    Between 100Wh to 160Wh some issues similar to gas cylinder may occur.?!

  61. Michael December 9th, 2015 4:39 am

    hi lou!

    how is the lock for the boot working? I can see 2 cords going from the back of the shell to the side of the boot. So if you walk will the backplate stay as it is and the splitparts will move forward? this will not allow to move free forward because you are limited with the length of the cord connected to the back and the lockswitch.

    you can see it on this picture:

  62. Lisa Dawson December 9th, 2015 7:30 am

    More photos have been added.

  63. DHX December 9th, 2015 7:46 am

    What is with CD saying you can’t travel with rechargeable batteries? I travel with rechargeable batteries all the time. No one I know has had any problems traveling with the BD bag… So if I can’t travel with their battery, I have to get one at my next location?

  64. Lou 2 December 9th, 2015 8:07 am

    These high capacity batteries have to be carried in carryon. Same thing with computer bats. Lou

  65. DHX December 9th, 2015 8:55 am

    The objective is that you can check the bag and disconnect the battery and put in your carry on?

    It doesn’t seem like anyone has had any problems checking or carryon with the BD pack. So are these significantly different than the BD batteries in terms of capacity?

  66. Max December 9th, 2015 9:10 am

    any word whether they plan to add a back protector for the final retail version? Some of the Mamut packs have that, find it great.

  67. Toby December 9th, 2015 9:16 am

    Link to TSA leaflet for Batteries Carried by Airline Passengers: it looks good for any avalance pack batteries.

    Would be still interesting to know the Ah or Wh value?

  68. Nelson1111 December 9th, 2015 9:34 am

    Interesting. Outside online article:
    says the retail will be about $1,250 and $1,350…. but here it says the price will be $1,650 & $1,700 (20L & 30L respectively). So which is it?

  69. Silas Wild December 9th, 2015 10:14 am

    Hey Nelson, maybe $1650CDN = $1250USD?

    On another note, check out this interesting news on rescue techniques:

    Thirdly, can we please get a powder dump so we can leave these computers and head for the hills? Lou is probably out there with Fede right now testing the new Arcteryx gear and having fun!

  70. Nelson1111 December 9th, 2015 10:18 am

    $1,650 Cdn = $1,250 US could make sense, though the article here clearly states $1,650 US… PS – aside from the recent warming yesterday, forecast for the next week in the Kootenays looks great!

  71. Sam Ley December 9th, 2015 10:56 am

    Regarding batteries, given the size of the thing that is being held in the hand, I’d guess that it is a 6-cell (6S) battery, as VTskier identified, and I’d guess somewhere in the 2000 to 5000 mAh range, assuming that a fair amount of that plastic case is insulation and physical protection (and what looks like a disconnect switch).

    That would put the usable storage in the 44 Wh to 110 Wh zone, still under the air flight restriction levels (for carry on).

    The chemistry of the battery would be of some interest – there are many lithium chemistries, which have different behavior in two areas of most interest here – cold weather performance (a weak spot for all lithium cells) and how long they can remain at a high state of charge without damage (not long for many cells). I wonder if the firmware will have a “safe discharge” setting to bleed off power before storage, with a hot recharge prior to your trip.

    As for the boots, I’m pretty excited at the shakeup in boots. I just picked up a pair of the Salomon MTN Explore, and my very early impressions is that they are better in every measurable way to my Scarpa Skookums – more range of motion, lighter, stiffer, more progressive, more comfortable, and quicker to transition. I hear Tecnica is working on a new light-fast-stiff AT offering, and now these boots come along. Some of the current most-recommended offerings are looking positively old-fashioned by comparison.

  72. Dave December 9th, 2015 11:30 am

    I would love to hear about the battery–Is there an age or # of charge cycles before it needs to be replaced? How much power will it lose after X number of charge cycles, i.e. if it inflates 8 times when new how many times will it inflate in cold temps 2 seasons later after I’ve charged it 50 or 100 times? Any damage from charging in cold temps like some other lithium batteries? And, I assume it’s a given that the battery will have a lifespan, how do you know when it’s time to replace it? With the talk about aftermarket smaller batteries, and replacements of the oem battery probably costing 4-500 dollars, this seems like important info?

  73. Dennis December 9th, 2015 1:46 pm

    Probably a silly question but I assume boot weights provided were for a single boot? The Atomic Backlander and Dynafit TLT6 give weights for the pair and the weight given for the Arcteryx boots are half the weight of these.

    Looking forward to hearing how the boots compare to Atomic, Dynafit offerings in the same class. I assume only the liner is heat moldable?

  74. swissiphic December 9th, 2015 5:24 pm

    hmmm; looks like specific niche boot for sure and seems to address some issues for more general ski mountaineering folks. Also looks like a lot of stuff to wear out/and/or break…hope they field tested with lots of heavy gorilla boot destroyers on the coast. Can already see the mods for downhill performance *if* forward support is limited in stock form…i.e.: carefully sculpted vulcan tongue?

  75. Fede December 9th, 2015 7:19 pm

    Back on wildsnow after a while. Connection here is a bit tough but snow is good 🙂
    I saw a few questions scrolling quickly the comments:

    1. Last, the last width in mm is irrelevant as foot is a 3dimentional element. So the circumference is what count. What I can say is that procline is quite by far one of the most comfortable boots, we spent quite some time in fine tuning the last 🙂
    2. Stiffness, differently from other boots in the market who priviledges the carpet test being very stiff there, the procline is designed to offer a very peogressive and even flex for better ski driving performance in the variable conditions you can find on open mountain terrain. It is anyway quite stiff and it skis pretty well 🙂 . The procline with plastic cuff is sensibly stiffer and better performing than similar product with plastic cuff. Instead of pebax or pure grilamid it is made with Grilamid 30% charged with carbon fiber which makes it quite solid. Obviously the carbon layered version it is stiffer but for a higher price.
    3. Beside how the boot skis which we think it is great, they are designed to offer superior hiking, climbing and skinning performances. Especially on steep traverses while skinning (the cuff helps to keep the skis flat and have more skin contact) and obviously much superior while using crampons in any terrain.

    Feel free to make any other question, I’ll try to give some more answers tomorrow night once back to civilization 🙂 … In the meantime I’ll enjoy some more skiing 🙂


  76. Sam F December 9th, 2015 7:42 pm

    Ha I love the rubber rand! I’m always gouging that section up. Hopefully it is replaceable to so degree

  77. See December 9th, 2015 7:44 pm

    Congratulations on some very nice looking boots. I have a technique question. Is it really an advantage to roll your ankles to get increased skin contact on steep, firm traverses? I’ve always had the feeling that such conditions require decent edge bite first, and one dials back the angle of ascent to get the skins to grip with reduced contact area.

  78. Lou 2 December 9th, 2015 7:52 pm

    I am here in Canada with Arcteryx guys. Packs are 1700 usd and 1650 usd. BTW they say they have lighter and more compact balloon fabric in the works. Lou

  79. Nelson1111 December 9th, 2015 8:27 pm

    $1,700 US for the 30L. Hmmm…. I know the strategy, premium pricing for early adopters and all, but I’m curious if that is really effective when dealing with new backcountry safety gear. Think about it. Version 1.0 typically ends up with all sorts of tweaks after being released to the public the first year. Do you really want to pay a premium to risk your life as a guinea pig? I guess it makes it easier having fewer sales at the start in case you need to recall.

  80. GeorgeT December 9th, 2015 8:49 pm

    How about adding Airbag Packs to your Gear Weights page. Personally, I struggle with carrying an extra 3-4 lbs. in a pack after spending big bucks to lighten my boots, bindings and skis. Think about it. The fourth biggest drag on your body skiing is the backpack. The skis, boots and bindings contribute the most effort because they are connected to your feet, but after that packs are the anchor on our backs. What say you?

  81. See December 10th, 2015 3:01 am

    I think I may have figured out the answer to my technique question– just increase the angle of ascent?

  82. wyomingowen December 10th, 2015 9:52 am

    Nelson 1111
    Marker went through you’re exact scenario, but I can’t agree more……
    I’m always up for innovation but at what cost?!?!

    As for airbags, lighter sure would be nice, but there’s a reason billions of fire extinguishers are “pre-engineered stored pressure systems” ….they can sit around for a long time and still work the instance you need it

  83. atfred December 10th, 2015 10:30 am


    for something that steep and slippery, I would just slap on ski crampons. Sure, you can roll your ankle to gain more skin purchase on a steep traverse, and some skiers are very good at this, but for the rest of us, ski crampons save a whole lot of energy, and also provide extra confidence on sketchy kick turns.

    Why kill yourself??

  84. jasper December 10th, 2015 7:02 pm

    Just to clarify. Of course boot stiffness effects boot performance, but I don’t think that a stiffer boot is a better performing boot. There is a huge push in the industry to make stiffer boots, as seen with companion boot models being offered in a stiff and less stiff version. However there seems to be less attention going into a better flexing boot. With so many options in ski flex and shape there should also be options in boot flex, after all that is the first point of contact. Anyways, keep up the good work, and any leads on some of those leathers with tech fittings, but maybe shin high?

  85. See December 10th, 2015 7:16 pm

    Unlocked Proclines?

  86. See December 10th, 2015 7:37 pm

    Actually, Jasper, I like soft boots too. Scarpa Matrices worked for me for many years, and now I’m happy in Rushes (wimpy Maestrales). Maybe just try and resist the temptation to get the latest super gear. The weight penalty is small, and the fit is better for those of us with high volume feet (in my limited experience).

  87. swissiphic December 11th, 2015 12:36 am

    ski touring boot flex spectrum:

    too soft: Dynafit tlt 4s; collapsed like a snapping mousetrap hitting any terrain undulation in firm snow while skiing wearing pack…or without pack in warm spring conditions…

    too stiff: Garmont Axon: The term ‘brick like flex’ probably spawned from days spent with feet in this torture chamber.

    just right: Salomon mtn lab: there; that’s better…

  88. Ji December 12th, 2015 3:23 am

    Some questions.
    Fascinating, so the boots ankle flexibility is just side to side within the split back (+ the normal flexion in the plastic / carbon)? So the carbon is less flexible when unlocked for walking? Is the upper upper boot designed to give more left-right flexibility? When the boot closure method is activated is there a material lock side to side of the upper boot rear (sort of like the Alien boot stiffness is entirely dependent on the locator beam at the back connecting the upper and lower boot) to provide support? Could you describe the differences in design of the forefoot for crampon attachment vis a vis a “normal” ski mountaineering boot? Finally, so more information on and photos of the integrated zip gaiter please.

    Looks really interesting. I’ll need to replace my Aliens in the future and more varied styles and niches of boot will mean more fun investigation of all that’s available. If they are more comfortable than my Aliens then that will be awesome.

  89. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 7:38 am

    Hello Ji, the way it works is actually quite simple, yes, once the cuff is split into two pieces it flexes left-right quite a bit just due to inherent flex of the grilamid shoe at the pivot point and of course some in the actual cuff. When you latch into downhill mode, the two vertical pieces of cuff simply are pressed down on a vertical rear spoiler with a few bumps that insert into holes in the split cuff.

    And yes, the fore-aft stiffness of the boot is totally dependent on how cuff interacts with rear spoiler vertical “rib.” The boot does not have a removable tongue though one could be retrofit.


  90. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 7:42 am

    I’ll add boot prices to the reviews. For now, Procline Carbon is 730 euros, 1,000 usd, Procline Lite/Support is 580 euros, 750 usd. Names of the boots are confusing as seems to always be.

    There are three shells, Procline Carbon, Procline Men’s, and Procline Women’s.

    Each shell has the option of either the Lite liner or Support liner.

  91. Dennis December 12th, 2015 11:24 am

    So Lou any comparisons yet between the Arcteryx boot with Atomic Backland and Dynafit TLT6? Have you even had a chance to do a carpet test no less a ski test?

  92. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 3:54 pm

    I’ve skied all three, Arcteryx in snow I found challenging so it was a good test. Procline quite similar to Backland without tongue. TLT6 tighter and stiffer. Three very different boots, comparo is a bit apples/oranges. Lou

  93. Nick December 12th, 2015 4:58 pm

    One thing is certain – at those prices, for me, the Voltair would definitely be carry on. No way would I risk it in the checked luggage 🙁

  94. Dennis December 12th, 2015 5:04 pm

    Lou just for clarification: what do you mean by Procline quite similar to Backland without tongue? Do you mean it walks the same as the Backland without the tongue?

    I was understanding that the TLT6 and Backland were similar to each other – one skiing slightly better (TLT6) and the other walking slightly better (Backland). The rest was about the fit. Is this not correct?

    Procline boot would be really for mountaineers who use skis to speed approach/exit while the TLT6 and Backland for long distance ski tours?

  95. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 5:15 pm

    Hi Dennis, more the fit, but the walk mode feels similar with the Backland only without the lateral rolling motion that the Procline allows.

    Id say your understanding about TLT6 and Backland is accurate.

    As for final use, your theory is good but we’ll have to see who adopts actual use.


  96. Lou Dawson 2 December 12th, 2015 5:22 pm

    Nick, I’d agree! I’d add that baggage insurance is probably a good idea. BTW, the price might look high but there are going to be some things about this pack that I think will make it extremely attractive. More on that over coming months. He he he. Lou

  97. Frame December 13th, 2015 1:22 am

    Lou or Fede,
    So we have a crossover boot, are there plans for further boot ranges, more on the skiing end of the spectrum?

  98. Greg Louie December 13th, 2015 9:17 am

    Not sure Arc’teryx has total freedom to start stamping out burlier AT boots. When the Amer boot designers sat down to divvy up the category Atomic took the “light and fast” end of the spectrum and Salomon the”medium weight and more skiable” end, but they did it without Arc’teryx’s input. The “ice climber approach” niche was what was left over.

  99. Dennis December 13th, 2015 9:49 am

    From what I’ve seen out in the bc (not sidecountry) most people are not skiing 60 slopes and doing big hucks. In fact the popular (from both safety standpoint and level of interest) terrain has been 30 degree slopes with some spots of up to 45 but not long shots of those. So I wonder do most people need a big burly boot? Resort and sidecountry skiing is very different – taking a chance on a steep icy line or jump is OK as help is close at hand and rescue needs limited.

    Perhaps “light and fast” might be a better boot for most, esp newer bc (not sidecountry) skiers as fitness seems to be the greatest limiter. And if you don’t do steep lines and big hucks maybe getting in one more lap is better than anything the heavier boot may offer?

    Or perhaps my speculation is wrong and people need a heavier boot to ski well enough on such slopes, thru trees etc for enjoyable skiing (and not survival skiing)??

  100. swissiphic December 13th, 2015 10:02 am

    @dennis: i think it really depends on what type of snowpack and terrain you’re skiing in. I ski a lot of coastal moist/wet snow with mucho variability; breakable crusts, intermittent upside down characteristics and and bumpy, lumpy chunky terrain features. Flexible boots just don’t hold up to some of those torquing forces and bend, bow and collapse on any slope angle. Put the same boot on a nice smooth planar slope with dry right side up pow and it would feel like hero footwear. I know, cause i’ve spent time experimenting with skiing perfect snow on a smooth planar slope in leather hiking boots clamped into dynafit bindings just to see. easy peazy…just don’t hit a variable patch of snow, over the handlebars you go… Stiffer boots that don’t collapse with a snug fit tension is the name of the game for more difficult snow conditions, imo, though for me the tradeoff is the ramp and stance angles must be really dialed in not to get knocked fore/aft and off the centered ‘sweet spot’.

  101. swissiphic December 13th, 2015 10:19 am

    …or, as i’ve experimented with my mtn labs, skiing very deep moist unconsolidated snow or settled with a bit more consistent resistance…skiing with boots in walk mode but snugged up…allows for a bit more ankle flexion forward and enough support in the rear direction that there is no ‘trap door’ feel causing full rear fall…kinda feels like a ‘progressive’ rear flex 😉 this allows a skier to adjust their center of mass subtley fore and aft on the ski in response to terrain features, allowing the ski tips to plane more effectively in snow conditions that may be a bit tip divey…also, when you get the balance just right, it’s amazing the cadillac smooth , more dyanamic (more moving parts) feel you get. more sensory stimulation. not for all conditions for sure but when it’s just that exact snow type, very very fun; in lumpy terrain where tips would spear the snow, you can dynamically launch skis forward to more evenly match the terrain, i’m speculating similar to what style is assumed while ‘noboarding’ with the rear flex of boot allowing for straighter legs and more perpendicular angle of center of mass to ski topsheet.

  102. Dennis December 13th, 2015 10:38 am

    @swissiphic are you suggesting that boots like Dynafit TLT6 and Atomic Backland are like hiking boots? Because they are far stiffer and provide full locked ski boot stance. They are not the full on randonee boots the racers use, sort of in the middle of the two extremes. I have not skied either of these boots but have tried them on and they seem as stiff as my Maestrals with actually a little bit less forward flex as the shell tongues have no soft spot. It seems they are just a lot lighter so you’d have less “driving force” with the lighter boots. And yes, like a DH bike, weight means more control in the rough no question but in the mtn bike world everyone has finally shifted to the compromise AM bike with carbon builds (light, geometry not as slack, lighter tires, etc) giving up the downhill performance for more uphill ability but not full on XC racer style.

    I ski on the Wet Coast of BC so I know all about variable snow, crust, ice etc I suspect you are very correct that the heavier boots (and skis) will ski the crap better. Everything is a compromise, no ski (or boot) is perfect for all conditions. The question becomes what is each person’s balance point (based on what they ski and how they ski)? As fun as the DH bike is on the down, and the XC makes the up easy, the compromise shifted to the AM bike. Should the same thing happen in bc skiing? Or has it already? Lighter skis are fairly common now and rarely do you see someone skiing heavier equipment. 90% is spent going up! But if light skis are popular now, why not lighter (but still stiff) boots? Or is that going too far? Should the boot be light and the ski heavy?

    Just questions to ponder while we plod our way up the mountain and then sail back down 🙂

  103. swissiphic December 13th, 2015 11:10 am

    Dennis: nope, not suggesting the backland or tlt6p ski like hiking boots…i just threw in the hiking boot anecdote to give an example of how snow and terrain combine to require or negate the preference of a stiffer boot. I’ve been ski touring for 30 years; started with leather boots, home made wooden ‘alpine trekker’ clones and pencil stick skis. mostly no fun since in prince rupert there were literally never perfect snow conditions and the lumpy dumpy terrain made ever day a survival ski day. Things improved years later during the era of skiing in dynafit tlt 4s boots, dynafits and tua cirque mx skis…at least i had some fun turns in a broader spectrum of snow conditions but, the boots still collapsed forwardly like snapping mouse traps in those heinous breakable rain crusts and deep punchy upside down snow we get on the coast.

    Have lots of ski buddies around here skiing in dynafit tlt 6p’s and are living happily ever after in the back country..they seem like a great compromise boot. I prefer a bit more mass and stiffness cause i like to pound moguls in my touring boots.

  104. Markus Mohn Werner December 14th, 2015 3:21 am

    I disapprove of what you say your avy assessment, but I will defend to the death your right to say it just GIVE ‘ER!

    Love, Arcteryx Voltair(e)

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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