‘Best In Show’ Gear Awards (part I) From Outdoor Retailer Trade Show

New Kind Of Avalanche Pack — A hyper-strong fan in a module on the side of the Halo 28 Jetforce from Black Diamond Equipment can suck in air to inflate 200-liter lift balloons in an avalanche. The big red bags can protect a skier in a slide and help him or her float near the top of the snow.

While most avalanche packs require a compressed-gas cylinder, this one runs on a rechargeable module. The fan mechanism spins at 60,000 RPM . We tried it out indoors (not in an avalanche) and were impressed with the system — you can pre-check that it is powered up and ready, and at the initiation of the inflation process the bags blow up fast and stay filled for a few minutes.

They then deflate after three minutes to ostensibly create an air pocket for a buried skier awaiting rescue. $1,100; available in fall 2014

Stephen Regenold
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Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.