By: randosteve|Posted on: January 23, 2009|Posted in: Gear, Gear Reviews | 23 comments

Backcountry Access Sales Representative Steve Christi demonstrates (in real time)
the Float 30 Avalanche Airbag at the 2009 Winter Outdoor Retailer

backcountry-access-float-30-avalanche-airbagThough not the first ones to introduce an ABS (airbag system) in a backpack to the backcountry skiing community, Backcountry Access hopes to make them easily available and user friendly in fall 2009 with the Float 30 Avalanche Airbag. While not a replacement to an avalanche transceiver, ABS packs use the “marble effect” (the theory that if you shake a bowl of marbles, the largest ones will rise to the top) to keep a skier caught in an avalanche at the surface. And since evacuation time can be one of the biggest reasons people die in avalanches, this could be something fantastic for the backcountry community.

bca-float-30-air-intake-areaYes, ABS packs have been available to skiers and snowboarders for a few years now, but in the US, there is a limited supply of them and often hard to find due to limited distribution. This can be troublesome, but the biggest hindrance to buying an ABS pack in the past has been figuring out a way to refill the compressed air cylinder after it has been deployed. The Float 30 differs in that it needs much less pressure to fill the 150L airbag and uses an extremely efficient “venturi effect” to do so.  Since it needs much less pressure to inflate the airbag, it can do it with a smaller air cylinder, which means less weight as well, and fully inflated in approximately 4 seconds during the demonstration…though I think they are shooting for about 2 seconds for the finished product.  Coming in at about 6lbs, and with a retail price of $499, the BCA Float 30 Avalanche Airbag will be refillable at paintball and SCUBA shops…or wherever compressed air is available.