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New Era For Avalanche Packs? Black Diamond ‘Hyper-Fan’ Inflates Airbag In Instant

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GearJunkie did not get the scoop. But the news this week — reported in the October edition of Popular Science magazine — is that Black Diamond has a new technology in the avalanche airbag space.

It involves a never-before-seen fan technology. The brand’s Halo 28 Jetforce system will use a fan spinning at 60,000 RPM to fill 200-liter lift balloons on the pack, according to the Pop Sci story.

Editor’s Note: Black Diamond has released a full line of Jet Force bags. See them here.

This is a major departure from the technology employed by most avalanche airbags, which use pressurized gas cartridge to inflate airbags.

Popular Science reports on the new avalanche bag

The advantage of a fan-driven, battery-operated system are apparent — there should be no issues with air travel (filled CO2 cartridges are an airplane no-no), and the bag can be reloaded and redeployed up to four times without a charge.

It will not come to market for a year still. The technology isn’t cheap, either. It will reportedly retail for $960.

According to Popular Science, the bag will be turned on with a button and deployed with a yank to a handle. It will stay inflated for three minutes before the fan reverses to deflate the bag, presumably leaving an air pocket for a victim under snow.

Our thought: Can we get that air channeled to the mouth and nose instead? That could be a great use of the air if the unit had a snorkel-type mouthpiece like Black Diamond’s current Avalung line.

For the answers to that and many other questions, we will just have to wait and see. Black Diamond is pretty much mum on the subject for now beyond acknowledging that the product does indeed exist and is currently getting worked up for release at Outdoor Retailer and other winter trade shows.

An interesting development to be sure. We’re excited to hear more about the tech as well as the sound of a 60,000 RPM fan sucking air faster than we can imagine. Stay tuned as we dig in on this technology over the coming months.

—Sean McCoy

Full scoop from Popular Science magazine, Oct. 2013 edition

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