After years of research and development and much pre-show buzz, Black Diamond finally officially debuted the Halo JetForce avalanche airbag pack here in Salt Lake City. One of the most talked about products on the floor, the Halo is the first pack to use an electronically controlled jet fan for inflation—the battery-powered fan sucks air from the surrounding atmosphere.
This is a major innovation. Over the past two years, avalanche airbag-equipped packs have quickly become an important and increasingly common piece of safety equipment. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been easy to use and travel with. Currently, all available avalanche airbags rely on compressed gas canisters, which are expensive to refill, and, due to their combustible nature, not allowed on airplanes. Plus, each canister can only be activated once.
The Halo, however, is TSA-friendly and can be activated at least four times before you need to recharge the battery. There’s also no room for user error—you turn the pack on with a push button and diagnostic lights confirm your pack is armed and ready. Pull the handle in a slide, and a 200-liter balloon inflates in seconds—33 percent more air than in other systems. The fan continues to pulse to 100 percent for the first minute, enough air to keep you on top of the snow even if your balloon somehow gets punctured by a rock or tree branch during the slide. Look for a full review later this winter. Available in two colors and two torso sizes.