We have a much increased range of Avalanche Airbag Packs for this winter. To help newcomers to these complex products we have a couple of information pieces that might be worth a read.
How do they work?
All avalanche airbags regardless of brand work on the principle of Inverse Segregation or Inverse Grading. It states that if you shake a selection of shapes, the larger ones will rise to the top, even though they may be heavier. The principle is well proven and also known as the ‘Brazil Nut Effect’. In a bag of mixed nuts, the brazil nuts will always be on top. In an avalanche, it’s best to make yourself like a Brazil nut.
The airbag itself is either packed into the top or shoulder straps (or both) of a pack and connected to a cylinder of compressed gas (air or nitrogen).
All Avalanche Airbag Safety Systems rely on a cylinder of compressed gas (air or nitrogen) to inflate the airbag. Additionally ABS packs require a very small pyrotechnic charge as well. This page contains information about transporting the equipment and having them refilled.
Travelling with an Airbag System
Travelling on airlines with compressed gases is heavily regulated.
For Europe and Asia, Avalanche Rescue backpacks have been passed as safe for transport by IATA (IATADGR. Table. 2.3. A) which means that all airlines should allow you to travel (subject to local law). You will need to declare the Air Bag pack before check-in and in order to smooth the process it can be worth trying to contact your airline’s customer service team to advise them that you will be carrying the sack. As airbags become more common, the airlines are getting more used to dealing with them.
In North America you cannot fly with any compressed gas cylinder unless it is empty and cannot fly with a carbon cyclinder even if it is empty.