Avalanche Airbag

Early on in avalanche safety classes, students are told they should try to “swim” (to stay on top of the heavy snow) if they are caught in an avi. Backcountry Access’ Float 30 acts like a life preserver, helping the skier/rider/snowmobiler stay near the top of the snow in an avalanche.

The Float 30 is a hydration-bladder-compatible pack with 30 liters of capacity to stow a day’s worth of ski gear. Bonus: It comes complete with a compressed 150-liter airbag.

Caught in an avalanche? Pull the trigger on the right shoulder strap and the airbag is deployed behind the user’s head and shoulders. The result: Buoyancy is increased and the victim stays closer to the top of the snow, according to the manufacturer.

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Backcountry Access Float 30

Staying close to the top of the snow is important for rescue efforts, as well. More than 75 percent of avalanche fatalities are caused by asphyxiation (as opposed to trauma), and a buried victim must be excavated within 15 minutes to stand a chance of surviving, says the company.

Since avalanche snow is so heavy, reducing snow burial depths can mean the difference between getting pulled out in a few minutes instead of 30 minutes, increasing your chance of being pulled out alive.

Although the Float 30 doesn’t replace prudent backcountry behavior or avi training, it’s worth considering for those who venture into avalanche prone areas — in bounds or out of bounds.

The $499 pack will be available before you put your rock skis away this season — in late November or early December. www.backcountryaccess.com

—Stephen Krcmar

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