Mentioned, but it can’t hurt to repeat: freeride Yes, great and plentiful, but always with the head well planted on the shoulders and with the right equipment, why you don’t mess with the safety in the mountains. And then always avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel in your Pack, a nice helmet on, and lights on even during the day.
But the free riders who want to feel comfortable can also count on another tool. More and more hikers add to their endowment airbag backpack (sometimes known as ABS): a device definitely useful, which can really save your life if you get overwhelmed by an avalanche, but that we must understand how and when to use.
The operation is simple. By pulling the release handle, back seat airbag inflates in an instant by increasing the total volume of the skier. In this way you take advantage of a physical law known as inverse segregation, whereby, in a mass of moving debris, the smallest particles tend to move towards the bottom, while the larger ones go back upwards. The airbag inflated then float the body keeping it in space (or in the proximity) and in many cases they end up buried under the snow.
When things go wrong, and with the right quick reflexes, the airbag can thereby make a difference, as demonstrated by various statistics. But there are at least three precautions to be taken:
– be careful not to succumb to imprudence and lightness, thinking that the airbag can save you always
– never think that abs replace the transceiver, which remains essential
– accurately assess the environment and decide before making the descent (not during) if it will or not use airbags. When you end up in an avalanche, the speed of the drop to the surface is larger, and if you have to cross a forest, for example, the risk is to obtain damages from even more severe trauma than those suffering in burial (and their injuries are the leading cause of death in case of avalanches).
Motorcycle airbags are made by various brands (Mammoth, Ortovox, Ferrino, Salewa, Dakine, Bergans, Haglöfs …); many of them use the system TwinBag developed by Itypejob, which in turn produces even backpacks. Prices start from 500 euros to climb, up to well over 1000 depending on capacity, materials and accessories.