As proven by my own torture testing, the original Voltair battery will inflate the balloon at incredibly low temperatures, while completely cold soaked. Apparently, while that’s generally the case it’s not something Arcteryx can guarantee without specific numbers, and it’s possible that due to changes in manufacturing the battery does not do as well as before. Previously, they specified the battery to do one inflation at -22°F (-30°C). Perhaps due to recent testing or changes in manufacturing, they are revising the specified minimum operating temperature to -4°F (-20°C).
Fact of the matter is most skiers will not be doing extended tours in below zero fahrenheit conditions, especially tours long enough to cold soak the battery. But if you do tour in such a miserable environment, start with a battery at indoors temperature and stuff your puffy jacket around it on the uphill. By doing that, it’ll be a long time till the battery cold soaks. Along with that, I’d suggest doing a few inflations tests that simulate arctic conditions.
If this above sounds dodgy for those of you sporting airbags in Antarctica, Arcteryx has a generous return program due to this battery issue, see the following and more info on their website.
Interestingly, the information associated with this states:
“Even when the battery is fully charged, and the green LED is flashing the Voltair Airbag should not be used in temperatures below -20°C (-4°F).” Which begs the question, are we supposed to carry a thermometer? Or perhaps they’re building a temperature alarm into the battery? Not to be ironic here, either idea could work but seem a bit much.
In the end, what we probably need with this — and about a million other things in life — is improved battery technology.
IMPORTANT ADVISORY NOTICE (From Arcteryx)
Today, we are announcing an advisory notice for both 20L and 30L Voltair Avalanche Airbags.
Our quality control team has recently discovered an issue with our battery which affects its proper deployment at extremely cold temperatures (WildSnow bolding, key phrase)due to an unanticipated change during battery production. This change impacts the proper deployment of the airbag when the battery is exposed to temperatures below -20°C (-4°F).
Due to this change, we are revising the minimum operating temperature limit for Voltair Airbags from -30°C (-22°F) to -20°C (-4°F). No other parts of the Voltair Airbag have been affected by this change.
We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. With the newly stated temperature limit of -20°C (-4°F), we are confident the airbag is still a great solution for your backcountry adventures, however we are offering you the following 2 options:
Option 1 – Keep my pack.
If you wish to continue using your Voltair Airbag, understanding the revised minimum operating temperature of -20°C (-4°F), we request that you submit an online warranty form, sign a release form and receive instructions to relabel your pack. To compensate you, we will send you an arcteryx.com Gift Card for $250CAD ($200USD/22,240JPY).
Option 2 – Return my pack.
If you are not satisfied with the revised minimum operating temperature of -20°C (-4°F), Arc’teryx will offer you a full refund. To compensate you, we will send you an arcteryx.com Gift Card for $250CAD ($200USD/22,240JPY