A big thanks to Onx backcountry for making these post happen. Check out the Onx mapping app for your next backcountry adventure and click here to use the app to support your local avalanche forecasters
Not long ago, esteemed wildsnower Crazy Horse made a blog comment that said something like “I won’t be impressed until you make an espresso with that Voltair.” Here you go. I acquired a Handpresso portable electric espresso press, hooked it to the Voltair, fired off the balloon, then when survival was certain I made myself an electric cuppa to celebrate life.
In all seriousness, the idea here is to illustrate just how commodious and nicely engineered the Arcteryx Voltair battery is. We are NOT recommending this as any sort of consumer modification. In fact, we don’t recommend modifying any safety gear. Not only is the Voltair LiPo lithum battery 3,700 mAh in capacity for ultra reliability no matter how cold soaked it gets, but it’s fully overload protected and includes logic that records some temperature metrics along with how many total inflations it’s powered. Something you simply don’t want to be interfering with.
We do wonder if they’ll make us a special version that records how many espressos we brew (just kidding).
Voltair battery specs:
Type: Lithium Ion Polymer (LiPo)
Voltage: 22.2 volts
Amp hours: 3.7 AH, 3,700 mAh
Watt hours: 82 (well under TSA limit of 100 watt hours for carry-on battery)
Water Ingress Protection: IP65
Battery maker: Tex:energy
Compliance and Certification stamps: CE, RoHS
Since we’re on the subject of batteries and mods, a note of caution. Samsung’s recent epic problems with smartphone batteries bring the point home; electrical batteries contain energy. When released quickly and improperly, battery energy can cause everything from smoke, to fires, and even explosions.
Thus, batteries in electronic devices in theory need various protection circuits. While Samsung clearly lacked such, I did ask Arcteryx about how the Voltair battery is protected. Most importantly, they told me the Voltair battery has a couple of redundant levels of short circuit protection, both software and hardware, as well as over-heating protection. Nonetheless, any battery with this much stored power should be handled with care. Avoid damage to both the case and wires. Specifically to alpinism, that means care with how you pack items such as crampons, ice axes, and shovel blades.
(For those of you with no electrical chops, a “short circuit” means somehow directly connecting the positive and negative sides of a battery, causing a huge surge of electricity that in turn can heat up the wires and battery to the point of proverbial smoke and fire. Quick intermittent shorts may only cause sparks, while connecting the plus and minus sides with a firm connection, known as a “dead short” is what can really produce fireworks.)
It’s worth restating that our previous Arcteryx hack involving a small lightweight aftermarket RC helicopter battery was fun, most RC batteries do not have the protections built into the Voltair battery. I verified this with real-life testing.
We continue to be fans of the electronic airbag packs, but in our opinion they probably won’t come into their own for mass consumption until battery technology and better balloon materials trim at least a pound (~500 grams) off the weight. I say that because compressed gas airbag packs coming online this season, some with composite cylinders and others with downsize tanks, are winning the weight wars.
Oh, and regarding the Handpresso espresso maker. That thing is cool. It makes a nice squirt of go juice and works well off your car cigarette lighter. I’ll ramp up a review sometime soon. In case you’re curious how I connected it to the Voltair, I used an Amazon acquired “buck” voltage converter that drops the Voltair 22 volts to 12, along with a cigarette lighter to Metri-pack 480 connection converter I cobbled together here at the WildSnow mod studio. The Handpresso yanks up to 12 amps from the buck converter, which in turn dumps quite a load on the Voltair battery. Again, testimony to the robust nature of the Voltair power pack, which had enough energy to inflate the balloon, make an espresso, then inflate the balloon again!
Please enjoy our numerous other Voltair posts — all intended to be educational and help with your shopping plans.