Airbag backcountry for backcountry skiing are proven to save lives. We review and test a variety of models.
This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. They won’t drill holes in your pack for you, but they’ll discuss it.
This winter is my first season skiing exclusively with an airbag backpack, the new Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26. While avalanche airbags have been in development since I was born, cost and weight have been the primary reasons for slow adoption by myself and many other skiers. Also, here in the United States, terrain type is another reason for limited use. Efficacy of a balloon bag is proven for long slide paths lacking trees and and terrain traps. Instead, much of our winter skiing on this side of the pond, and particularly in Colorado, is near or below treeline in rolling terrain, often terminating in creek beds where you might initially come to rest on the surface, but snow sliding above you can bury you deep — if you survive being “strainered” through the forest.
All that said, with diligent monitoring of snow stability, there are still many opportunities to ski long steep, sparsely timbered pitches throughout our ski season. That’s when the airbag comes in to play.