Powder Guide ABS vest.
Powder Guide ABS vest. (Courtesy of The North Face)

A Case for Avalanche Air Bags

And four options for a piece of gear that could save your life

Powder Guide ABS vest.

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Elyse Saugstad’s survival in the Tunnel Creek slide makes a convincing case for the use of air-bag packs. After all, four skiers were caught, but only Saugstad, who was wearing an ABS packs, made it out alive. The technology is fairly simple. When a toggle is pulled, one or more bags around the wearer’s head and torso inflate, affording protection from trees and rocks. And because larger objects tumbling down a slope tend to rise to the top, regardless of weight or buoyancy, an air bag effectively floats the wearer to the surface. The packs are expensive, but they don’t run more than a pair of skis. Here are four options for a piece of gear that’s sure to become as ubiquitous as the beacon, shovel, and probe.

THE NORTH FACE POWDER GUIDE ABS VEST
$1,199; thenorthface.com

SNOWPULSE LITE 35 PACK
$,1074; snowpulse.com

BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS FLOAT 32 PACK
$725; backcountryaccess.com

DAKINE ALTITUDE ABS 25L PACK
$1,170; dakine.com

From Outside Magazine, Nov 2012 Lead Photo: Courtesy of The North Face

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