Avalanche airbags have risen to prominence in the last few years, and have become nearly ubiquitous amongst skiers skiing steep, backcountry terrain. Studies suggest that airbags will increase float capacity, and therefore survival rates, in the case of an avalanche.
However, one thing is certain; if the bag is not activated during a slide, it will not help you. According to ABS, this happens in about 20% of slides, whether it is due to human error, such as a lapse of memory or the physical inability to pull the trigger as you tomahawk down a mountain in a raging whitewater of snow. Either way, the central feature of the next generation of ABS airbags is that a partner can also activate your bag in the event that you are unable to.
Lest we forget, there is another certainty in life; no amount of gear will replace proper knowledge of avalanche terrain and hazards. Start by checking out the AAA (American Avalanche Association), here.
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM ABS:
Munich, December 2015 – Heralding the dawn of a new era. With its new P.RIDE, the first product equipped with wireless partner activation as standard, the avalanche airbag market leader ABS is addressing a functional gap affecting avalanche airbags: studies show that 20 percent of airbags are not activated in an avalanche, mainly as a result of failure to pull the handle. The ABS P.RIDE is the first avalanche airbag to address this safety issue by actively helping prevent the user’s own burial as well as that of his or her companions. The TwinBag system also makes ABS the only manufacturer to offer double safety – the failure of the one airbag in an avalanche has no effect on the functionality of the second one. The TwinBags’ location at the sides of the body is designed to place the wearer in a flat position in the avalanche and significantly reduce the anchor effect. The 30% larger bearing surface of the P.RIDE TwinBags further increases the probability of staying on the surface of the avalanche rather than sinking into the masses of snow. Avalanche airbags can save lives only if they are activated, operating reliably and undamaged.
Activation is critical
Statistics show that around one in five people caught up in an avalanche do not activate their airbag or do so too late. This can be because they fail to recognize the situation, underestimate its severity or are unable to reach their activation handle in the momentum of the fall. The wireless partner activation feature offered by the new ABS P.RIDE system significantly reduces this uncertainty. A single pull on the activation handle allows you to activate your own airbag, your entire group’s airbags or the TwinBags of a specific skier or rider. Flipping the handle to the ON position triggers a check of the operational readiness, battery charge and correct positioning of the cartridge. A wireless connection is created automatically with all partners standing within a 10 meter radius, resulting in the formation of a group. LED displays on the activation handle provide clear information on the status of the features. The height-adjustable handle can also be positioned on the right-hand shoulder strap for left-handed users. In the “off” position, it can be easily stowed in the shoulder strap.
The battery uses cutting-edge technology: a single charge is sufficient for 30 days of skiing with eight hours in standby mode in each case, even at low temperatures. It can be charged quickly and easily at any time using an integrated USB cable.
P.RIDE allows users to conduct regular training activations without screwing in the carbon cylinder, to make sure they are prepared for any real-life emergency.
30% more surface area to help you stay on top
A new 3D webbing technology used for the P.RIDE airbags increases the effective area by 30 percent in comparison with previous models, combining with the body to create an even larger bearing surface. In the event of an avalanche, the positioning of the airbags at the user’s sides places him or her in a more favorable horizontal position that alleviates the anchor effect, reduces the risk of injury and significantly increases the probability of remaining on the surface. The new TwinBags are attached to the honeycomb back plate in a manner designed to stop them folding backwards, even with an empty pack. The aim is to keep them firmly in place at the sides of the backpack to create the largest possible surface area in the avalanche.
Two airbags are better than one
As well as the optimal effective area created by the double airbags and the wearer’s body, the TwinBag technology offers another important benefit. Although the TwinBags are filled simultaneously, they remain independent from each other. If one airbag is destroyed by the volume of snow in a fall, the second is completely unaffected. The avalanche airbag can then still be deployed to help to reduce the probability of burial.
New and more comfortable base unit
The Base Unit of the P.RIDE system has also been redesigned: a robust back plate with comfortable padding and a height-adjustable and adaptable hip belt ensure perfect carrying comfort. The P.RIDE Base Unit and matching P.RIDE Zip-ons with 18 liter, 32 liter or 45+5 liter packing volumes are available in the colors of white, deep blue and ocean blue. The Base Unit is also compatible with all other existing ABS Vario Zip-ons. It is supplied with a color-coordinating 18 liter Zip-on and fitted as standard with an ultra-light carbon cylinder.