The latest addition to our avalanche store are airbag or flotation packs. We have actually been carrying these, at least in theory, since last summer. However, they never made it into the web store. (So we haven't actually sold many yet!)

These packs have airbags ("balloons") that inflate upon activation. This increases the combined volume of the skier/pack/airbag. The larger volume means that you end up on the surface, easy to find. Even if you are partially buried your partners will be able to go immediately to your location and free your airway.

This technology has been in use in some time now and has proven highly successful. However, it is not perfect. If the person is at the bottom of the slope and an avalanche comes down from above there will be no flotation and no advantage. Also the user needs to be able to deploy the airbag. And there is a chance of malfunction with anything, although this is very low with all avalanche safety gear. All of these problems have occurred, but even combining all instances of each of them problems have been very rare.

While the technology has been used in some capacity long enough to collect data on its effectiveness the finer points have evolved and continue to do so. ABS has probably been in the business the longest. Their newest innovation is a base unit containing all of the technical apparatus which can be used with packs of different sizes for different trips. This offers great flexibility since the pack costs are small compared to the base unit, which you only need one of.

Backcountry Access has been in the business a few years now and their products are also evolving. They are still offering a lower cost product, although this is increasing each season. One of their other advantages is that the canister for inflating the airbags uses compressed air and can be refilled easily. This allows it to be shipped and transported empty, bypassing various regulations that apply to pressurized canisters.

While we carry these two lines at this time there are others. SnowPulse is expanding each year with their version of the technology. Others are beginning to come onto the market now. It's hard to comment on their key selling points yet, but we will be adding these additional product lines over time.

As with all products we sell we will match anyones price. Our posted prices in the store are suggested retail but if you see a lower price let us know. We also auction some items off on ebay starting at a low price. We only do this with one item at a time, auction style. So far we have not auctioned any flotation packs but we will probably do so before long.