Alpride E1 Capacitor Avalanche Airbag Backpack

Post by blogger | January 27, 2018      
Louie trying it out, it filled in similar fashion to any other avalanche airbag backpack.

Louie trying it out, the E1 filled in similar fashion to any other avalanche airbag backpack.

As Alpride promises, so Alpride delivers (or so it appears). Here at Day 2 of Outdoor Retailer trade show, easily our most exciting booth visit was that of checking out the Alpride E1 electronic airbag system.

Massing at 1270 grams (2.8 pounds) for the entire airbag parts configuration (NOT THE BACKPACK, but the balloon, fan, power, etc.), E1 easily bests other electronic systems, and is what I’d call “average to below average” in weight compared to compressed gas systems (for example, one major brand’s system weighs 1200 grams). By way of total pack weight the Alpride 30 liter backpack model we feature here weighs 2670 gram (5.88 pounds) for pack and airbag engine system combined.

As I’ve covered in other blog posts, instead of batteries being the main power source E1 uses an array of super capacitors. I’ll not get into deep technicalities here, main advantage of the capacitors is they’re not near as sensitive to cold temperature power loss as a lithium ion battery. Thus, you can carry just enough capacitor “capacity” to inflate your airbag — you don’t need extra in case it gets cold.

The E1 can be charged in three ways. A typical wall wart gets things ready in 20 minutes, while a micro USB port is somewhat slower. A set of internal AA batteries primarily intended to keep the capacitors topped of will give you a charge in about 40 minutes. With AA batteries installed and the system powered down, a charge will last about three months.

We will soon have an Alpride E1 at WildSnow HQ for testing and review. Meanwhile, show photos and official verbiage.

E1 guts in transparent display case.

E1 guts in transparent display case. The blue cylindrical objects are the capacitors, you can see the two AA batteries as well, which do multiple duty as either for charge maintenance or renewal, but can be removed for a small weight savings. A typical set of fresh alkaline AA batteries will charge the system one time. A wall charger is provided for normal use, and the system can also be charge via a USB connector. No charging stone left unturned, or something like that.

Another view of the show board, with words.

Another view of the show board, with words.

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah.

At the Scott booth.

At the Scott booth. Expect to see this technology used in other brands once Scott’s one-year exclusive sunsets. We heard a rumor that Alpride is in negotiations with Black Diamond,for example. Makes sense, as comparing an 8 pound Jetforce to this, something like seeing the writing on the wall? Of course Jetforce is available now, not next season — I’ll give it that!

Below from the Scott Alpride official infos, edited.

The SCOTT Backcountry Patrol AP 30 backpack is the ultimate freeskiing backpack featuring the new electrical Alpride E1 airbag system. With its supercapacitor technology, along with its exceptional design the Alpride E1 system is clearly one of, if not the lightest electronic airbag systems on the market to date.

The system solves battery-related limitations that have been difficult if not insurmountable for lithium-ion based avalanche airba systems. Without the need for extra capacity and weight, it performs in temperatures from -30 to +50 degrees centigrade, and can be recharged an essentially infinite 500,000 times rather than the finite number of charges possible with batteries. It inflates once per charge, with a variety of options for recharge (see below).

MSRP is 900 euro, available fall of 2018.

HEIGHT: 60cm, WIDTH: 28cm, DEPTH: 19cm VOLUME: 30L APPROX. WEIGHT: 1390g Backpack, 1280g Alpride System total = approx. 2670g

FEATURES + SCOTT ALPRIDE AIRBAG SYSTEM E1 + TÜV-certied avalanche airbag + Diagonal ski carry system + Side compression straps with A-frame ski carry system and front snowboard carry function + Separate sleeves for safety equipment (shovel, probe) inside the main compartment + Top pocket with fleece lining + Stow away ice axe/pole holder + Versatile daisy chain loops + Light hip belt with safety leg loop + SOS label with emergency instructions + Sternum strap with emergency whistle + Inside map pocket with key holder.

The E1 SuperCap System uses two AA batteries for two primary purposes: 1) to recharge the SuperCapacitors 2) to guarantee that the SuperCapacitors keep their full power, compensating for their slow loss of charge and ensuring several months of autonomy (Wildsnow note: capacitors in some cases do not hold a charge as well as a lithium-ion battery, but neither type of electrical storage is 100% in that regard).

Only alkaline or lithium (AA batteries) should be used (lithium for quick recharging at very low temperatures). Use brand new, premium quality Alkaline AA/LR6 batteries. Do not use AA zinc carbon batteries and NiCd or NiMH accumulators (rechargeable). These are often not strong enough to sufficiently charge the SuperCapacitors.

Depending on the AA batteries technology, recharge and “autonomy” can vary: Alkaline batteries are capable of 1 recharge OR 3 months autonomy of normal use (1.5 month if constantly on) — change the batteries after 1 recharge of the system. Lithium batteries are capable of 3 recharge OR 5 months autonomy of normal use (3 months if constantly on). (Wildsnow Note: Autonomy refers to the length of time the system will remain charged.)

The micro-USB port (5 volt 2 amp) makes it possible to recharge the SuperCapacitors using micro-USB cable. Charging can be completed with a standard USB charger (not included), like those used for cell phones. Recharging the SuperCapacitors with the micro-USB cable takes priority over recharging via the AA batteries (Wildsnow comment: the AA bats are not required for day use of a fully charged system, and could thus be used as a reserve battery source or removed to save weight). The SuperCapacitors can be recharged with the micro-USB cable even in the absence of the AA batteries.

NOTE: In some browsers images below may not enlarge correctly without a few extra steps. In testing, I right click then “open in new tab,” I can then enlarge. Experiment.

Official stuff.

Official stuff from the provisional user manual. Click to enlarge.

LED status indicators infos, from provisional Alpride manual. Click to enlarge.

LED status indicators infos, from provisional Alpride manual. Click to enlarge.



36 Responses to “Alpride E1 Capacitor Avalanche Airbag Backpack”

  1. Mike January 27th, 2018 5:07 pm

    Hey Guys, please remember that there are no stupid questions…only stupid people asking questions! How many times can you inflate the airbag on a charge? Is it only once like it is with the gas system’s? Or can you get more than one? Saw somewhere that a fairly large percentage of people who die in avalanches with air bags didn’t deploy them. Speculation being that perhaps they didn’t pull the cord because they didn’t want to ‘blow” their one chance so to speak.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 January 27th, 2018 5:26 pm

    Hi Mike, I’m still debating how much info to add to the post, but in any case, it inflates once on a charge, and re-charges fairly quickly from AA batteries if one desires to do recharges out in the wild. As for speculation as to reasons people do not pull, yeah, speculation. Could be they think aliens are watching and it’s embarrassing to be seen with a red balloon.

  3. See January 27th, 2018 6:45 pm

    That’s amazing. In addition to being more tolerant of low temps, is the super capacitor system able to discharge much more quickly than batteries, so the designers can get away with a lower total capacity— number of amp hours?

  4. Mircea January 27th, 2018 11:49 pm

    Hi, does it have the power to keep the baloon inflated even if it get brocken ? like the li-ion systems from pieps, for example. Thanks!

  5. Kristian January 28th, 2018 10:04 am

    Yet another reason to standardize all backcountry devices on AA and not AAA. Less spare batteries to carry. And you can always switch batteries from other devices.

  6. Halsted Morris January 28th, 2018 10:43 am

    Anything new with transceiers?

  7. Rar0 January 28th, 2018 11:14 am

    Great news thanks !

    Question 1 : is the system removable and adaptable to other future packs using the same technology, like the mammut RAS system ?

    Question 2 : Any hint of a lighter pack version yet ? 1390gr is fairly heavy for 30l …

  8. Nexus6 January 28th, 2018 12:30 pm

    Any issues with air travel and the super capacitors? That’s by far the biggest gotcha for canister bags.

  9. Nexus6 January 28th, 2018 12:59 pm

    Mike and Lou, as for the lack of deployment in accidents, another theory which is backed up by a friends recent experience is that it’s hard to actually grab the handle during the tumbling while caught in the slide. A friend was recently caught and carried about 200 feet and said he couldn’t grab the handle. Luckily ended without serious injury and only buried up to his waist but the ergonomics of the deployment handle system might be worthy of further investigation.

  10. emmanuel January 29th, 2018 3:53 am

    As for the lack of deployments, I think a potential problem is that many people ski with the straps of their poles engaged which make grabbing the handle difficult when caught.
    For me it is mandatory not to use the staps in the backcountry.

  11. rich January 29th, 2018 6:00 am

    After reading the above post on the Alprid bag I was wondering what ABS have been doing to remain relevant in the Avi bag race. So I had a quick look and saw that their latest is the P.Ride. While the wireless remote partner activation is marginally innovative, I must admitt that I am taken by the idea of increasing survivability by increasing floatation via a larger bag. After all, the whole point of having an Avi bag is to increase your chance of surviving a slide. I have not seen anyone doing much on that front, it seems weight and inflation technology have been the focus. To be honest I’d rather survive than be able to charge my bag with a micro USB.
    Stay safe.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2018 9:06 am

    Hi Rich, the avalanche airbag market is brutally competitive, you will continue to see all sorts of claims about one system being “safer” than the other for various reasons. Fact is that what’s required in the ISO standard that TUV certifies to has been tested extensively for “flotation” performance and performs quite well. I believe that’s a 150 liter balloon. Since the basic technology is vetted, nothing wrong with incremental “convenience” improvements such as USB charging for electronics, easier packing after deployment, and weight reductions.

    Another thing: airbag backpacks do not “float” you (despite BCA calling their packs “Float”). The balloon helps you end up on the avalanche surface because of the amount of volume it creates. I’m told ratio of weight to volume does have a bit to do with it, but it’s mostly about simply making yourself larger than the chunks of snow in the avalanche, and you thus end up on top the same way larger nuts in mixed nuts end up on top when you shake the can, despite all the nuts having similar density.

    In other words, you could do the same thing as an avalanche airbag by simply wearing a large backpack stuffed with a sleeping bag.

    I guess my point is that so long as the 150 liter airbag does it’s job, which it does, there is no need for added volume, system weight, etc.

    Same thing with deployments. Multiple deployment capability is 99.99% a red herring in the arguments of what system is better of safer. Literally millions of people use compressed gas systems that only allow one deployment. Lives are saved, the systems work. Sure, every now and then a person might pull a deployment, and decide to keep skiing avalanche terrain, and want another deployment. Impossible with gas, possible with electric, Alpride needs 40 minutes with fresh AA batteries to get you another charge. Seems reasonable to me.

    I think I’ve mentioned in reviews that the multiple deployment capability of Jetforce and Voltair are certainly interesting, even attractive. But if I didn’t say it there I’ll say it here: optional not essential.


  13. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2018 9:36 am

    Nexus, agree on the handle grab issue. I think they all need improvement, or perhaps something needs to be created out of the box. Lou

  14. etto January 29th, 2018 10:21 am

    The focus on weight is important, the lighter the system the more probable that people will bring it, which is kind of crucial… However, I do wish for hard data for the different designs. Does ABS actually have a point with somewhat larger volume, and two separate bags? Is the “keep inflated even when torn” capability of the electrically powered bags important? What about the shape and position of the airbag(s). Robustness of different balloon fabrics? I want Euro NCAP for avalanche airbags 🙂

  15. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2018 10:56 am

    Etto, yeah, we have to wait ’till the market is big enough to support an independent non-profit testing lab, otherwise the comparos are simply not going to happen, as even the simplest thing is incredibly time consuming and complex. For example, starting up the tests again for best balloon volumes? That involves tossing pack equipped dummies into real avalanches, and as I alluded to, would actually be a mostly redundant effort that simply reproduced the testing they used long ago to reach the 150 liter standard. Of, trauma protection? Look at how little information we really have about what level of protection a helmet really gives you in real life…how would they really test an airbag for that?


  16. Lou Dawson 2 January 29th, 2018 12:32 pm

    Another system that looks interesting:

  17. Jason January 29th, 2018 1:55 pm

    Any chance the Alpride E1 system will be compatible with Alpride 2.0 packs? It doesn’t appear so from the drawings, but figured I’d ask. I know Alpride 1.0 and Alpride 2.0 aren’t cross compatible, similar to BCA’s Float versions. Nevertheless it would be pretty cool if it was, allowing existing pack owners to merely buy the airbag and not a whole new pack too!

  18. Travis January 29th, 2018 2:47 pm

    Fingers crossed I can connect a super-capacitor unit to my Jetforce pack. Now that would be awesome.

  19. Pablo January 30th, 2018 3:44 am

    Hi Lou,
    A few questions.

    Jetforce packs have some features I find interesting:

    -When deployed, fan still working to mantain the balloon inflated even with a small cut on ballon.

    -Also when deployed fan still working in “power cycles” to mantain pressure inside the balloon and after several minutes it automatically deflates the balloon, which can give you an air chamber if you gets buried even with the airbag.

    -When you put the jetforce in mode “on” it makes a quick system-fan test in order to assure you thet all is “ok”.

    Does Alpride E1 system have this or similar features?

    Thank you in advance

  20. uysy January 31st, 2018 8:34 am

    About “handle grab” and poles.
    Fresh case study how NOT to ride. A couple of things went wrong.
    1st – Pole Straps
    2nd- ABS handle NOT ready to use.
    3rd – to many riders at once..
    (short case study in Polish but with screenshots)

    Play YT on slo-mo

  21. Lou Dawson 2 January 31st, 2018 10:27 am

    Pablo and all, lots of information to convey. I might start a FAQ page or post, but meanwhile I’ll add a provisional copy of some Alpride manual pages explaining LED status indicators. The system does have extensive self testing and does deflate “automatically” though not with power assist. It does not have an extra series of pulses that might help with a compromised balloon — though it does blow for a full 6 seconds which is quite a bit of time. Extra blower pulses are a nice feature, but I’m not sure it’s worth carrying the quite a bit of extra battery weight. Bear in mind that compressed gas systems are saving lives, and they’re generally quite simple, in my view the design philosophy of the Alpride E1 capacitor electric system is more along the lines of simplicity and weight savings. Perhaps that’s not for everyone but it resonates with us. Main thing, I’ll try to be very clear about what is what with the now 3 electronic packs.

    Following from provisional manual:

    In the event of an avalanche, pull hard (between 5 to 10?kg) on the activation trigger. The airbag will inflate in 3-4 seconds.
    The compressor will operate for six seconds and then stop.
    The airbag will remain inflated for a minimum of three minutes and then slowly begin to deflate.
    Once inflation is complete, the SuperCapacitors will automatically recharge thanks to the two AA batteries if installed (Note from Lou, provided the system is charged it will blow the balloon without the AA batteries but will not recharge).

  22. Lou Dawson 2 January 31st, 2018 10:55 am

    BTW, I have the Alpride E1 pack here at WildSnow HQ, am happy to entertain any questions. We’ll have it out in the field with various testers, soon. Lou

  23. Pablo February 1st, 2018 7:51 am

    Thank you so much Lou.

    As you describes I also think Alpride point of view of electronic airbag devices is on the minimal or simplest side vs the most featured side like Jetforce.

    Another question.
    As I understand from Reading capacitors needs to be recharged after activation from AA bateries.
    That means you have to wait about 40 minutes to have a second activation?

  24. Lou Dawson 2 February 1st, 2018 8:25 am

    Hi Pablo, yes, if you activate in the field you can recharge from AA batteries, would probably do ok with a set of lithiums you had in there to maintain autonomy, but would be best to install fresh batteries if you wanted another charge. The recharge time is said to be 40 minutes. While I like this feature, it is way down on my list. I avoid situations where I’d need an airbag deploy more than once, if ever! I’ll test the pack here at outdoor temperatures and see how long the recharge takes in real life. Using lithium AA batteries which is all we use here in backcountry devices due to their way superior performance. Lou

  25. uysy February 1st, 2018 8:39 am

    Guys, 40 minutes it’s not so long. If you deployed backpac this means you are “down in the valey” so you are in less threatened area.

  26. justin February 2nd, 2018 2:11 pm

    Anything new in more traditional airbags, like from Mammut, Ortovox, BCA etc?

  27. uysy February 2nd, 2018 3:03 pm

    Ortovox still in AVABAG model – nothing important changed.
    BCA – they changed 17L and 27L version to “speed” with 2.0 system (little bit smaller).
    Mammut – no changes. Still with 3.0 system (sam as previous year(s) ).

  28. Ben February 5th, 2018 4:11 pm

    Regarding “FLOAT-effect” from the ABS website:

    “Think of an avalanche as a mass in motion. It consists of vast quantities of tiny snow crystals, which start rotating as they slide downhill. As a result of this rotation, all objects with a volume greater than the individual snow crystal are automatically pushed up towards the surface. This is called the “segregation process”. Close to the surface, however, the force of rotation declines and with it the lift. Here it is important for the skier’s volume to be at least equal (for the same mass) to the volume of the snow in the avalanche. The snow in a loose snow avalanche in the middle of winter has a volume that is 2.5 times greater per pound than the volume of a human being. In hard figures, 2.2 lb of loose snow has a volume of about 0.66 gallons. 2.2 lb of human being has a volume of 0.27 gallons. So if a person weighs a total of 220 lb, he or she would have a volume of 27 gallons. 220 lb of avalanche snow in the middle of winter, however, has a volume of 66 gallons. To ensure that a person will float on top of the avalanche snow, an extra volume of at least 39 gallons is required.

    The ABS avalanche airbag is designed for these extreme conditions. It has a volume of about 170 liters (45 gallons), more than enough to make up the difference for a skier weighing 220 lb. This prevents the skier being buried/reduces the burial depth, multiplying the chances of survival. Put simply: the lift generated by the rotation of the snow crystals brings the avalanche victim up to the surface. The airbag provides the missing volume and prevents the victim sinking back down into the snow.”

  29. Cody October 17th, 2018 10:47 am

    So it definitely is not a rumor anymore about BD + Alpride.

    I feel like this got NO press from any of the shows.

  30. Chris December 2nd, 2018 4:59 pm

    I’m trying to figure out “battery management” with the capacitor powered airbags. When finished with skiing, and the pack is sitting at home for a few days, should the batteries always be taken out, so that the capacitor isn’t charging from the AAs as it sits in the closet, thus necessitating a new set of batteries prior to the next use of the pack? From what I can tell, the indicator lights are only related to the capacitor; there isn’t an indicator of battery condition.

  31. Rocco December 10th, 2018 7:20 am

    I also like the new approach and the solution that they have now. Have been usung my ABS for many years now, never had to deploy it in an incident but for practice only.

    However, a few things from above postings I want to add.
    Reaching the handle with any system that is available right now could be just pure luck once the avalanche train got moving. Remember the acceleration of the slide is largest in the first moment. Meaning, from 0-x in the blink of an eye. Could happen, that you just actually realise a slide was triggered once you get knocked off your feet. I guess the best approach to mitigate the risk of not being able to reach the handle is actually repeating the motion as often as possible and then while skiing being as aware as you can and maybe be able to pull the trigger while still on your feet.

    Regarding the multiple deployments:
    It starts moving up the list for me. Reason being several week long trips to remote locations. Although you do return back to camp at night I would not have another cartridge with me.
    To avoid the thought of rather pulling later to save the charge, the possibility of just triggering the airbag and being ready again soon for another pull is very comforting.

    I will be skiing in Georgia again this winter. Remote hut, no stores anywhere close and a week of skiing in the backcountry. Being able to just pack the bag up and fire again tomorrow sounds really nice to me. Plus the practice is easier as well.

  32. Lou Dawson 2 December 10th, 2018 8:25 am

    Rocco, excellent thoughts. Indeed, the handle on all these things needs an option to make it easier to grab. Some guides clip a cordelette to their client’s trigger and drape it horizontal, so it’s much easier to grab. I do that sometimes, when I’m really scared. But mainly, I practice triggering. Many gas operated packs can be triggered without the cylinder installed, giving at least a faux practice. But nothing is as good as having the balloon actually deploy. (Though remember the electronic packs have a given number of duty cycles, so you wouldn’t want to be practicing hundreds of times, or using the thing as a party favor.) Lou

  33. Rocco December 10th, 2018 9:27 am

    Hey Lou, cheers. I’ve seen the across cordelette thing as well before but was not sure if I like it or not. However, in my case at least I know pretty well where my handle is from the many times I have put it in place and removed it again. Will I be able to pull it while tumbling? I don’t know!

    Another thought on the practice aspect: When unexperienced clients go anywhere with a guide they usually receive the avy kit from the guide or from the company they booked the trip with.
    You know what’s coming…

    Usually the guide will avoid any critical situation so that his clients won’t have to worry. But as much as the standard mini pratice with the beacon helps them familiarise at least a bit, the according trigger system would allow at least a quick field practice for novices.

  34. Kris December 13th, 2018 8:40 am

    “I do that sometimes, when I’m really scared.” Would you ski/walk there if you weren’t wearing a balloon? Question I ask myself from time to time. Can you help out a newbie and describe what that situation looks like for you? Just for perspective. Thanks a lot!

  35. Lou Dawson 2 December 13th, 2018 10:14 am

    Kris, everyone has a different style of dealing with risk. Some indeed do not increase their level of risk acceptance due to their equipment, others do. In my case, I don’t mind being honest and saying that when equipped with a good partner, beacon and airbag I might ski a slope I would otherwise avoid. However, in my case that would be only a slight variation, not a sea change in my risk level. Lou

  36. John Karl January 30th, 2019 3:25 pm

    Thank you for this review and the review of the Scott pack itself. I understand that Scott has an exclusive license on the E1 in the US currently, though the BD JetForce Tour 26 is using the same system. As the SIA/Outdoor Retail show is currently going on, have you seen who else will be using offering packs with the E1 system for next year? G3? BD? Others?


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