Avalanche Airbag Safety System

Picture being caught in an avalanche. The North Face hopes to change all that by integrating an Avalanche Airbag Safety System (ABS) into its tried and true backpacks with the launch of its ABS Patrol 24 Pack and ABS Vest, two new body-worn fixtures that inflate to protect your from falling snow much like the airbags in your car.

Add two new fabrics into the mix, FlashDry and Thermoball, and it seems like we’ve come a long way since the days of working out in our college sweats. We go hands-on with pro snowboarder Xavier de Le Rue after the break to see how it works.

Avalanche Airbag Safety System

North Face’s Avalanche Airbag Safety System

The request for this safety system came from pro snowboarder and The North Face team member Xavier de Le Rue, the free rider who found himself caught in an avalanche four years ago. After facing death, de Le Rue demanded the ABS be built into his pack — pushing the safety trend forward into the mainstream.

It works like this: if a skier or snowboarder finds themselves trapped under heavy snow, the system will inflate to give pinned athletes 150 liters more body volume, equalizing some of the extreme density and helping to bring the body towards the surface as the snow gains speed. Compared to airbags in your car, this body-worn variety utilizes nitrogen canisters rather than CO2, a gas that’s safe to carry around or travel with as long as TSA gives you the go-ahead.

read more: engadget