There’s a new avalanche safety airbag safety system that is just coming out where they have teamed up with The North Face to embed their amazing and lifesaving avalanche safety gear into backpacks made by one of the leading brands in outdoor equipment.
Now I’ve been a huge fan of the Avalanche Airbag for a while now. You can read a long post I looked at comparing the Avalanche airbag vs Avalung and saw that there is some pretty good research showing that the airbag can be a real lifesaver (don’t get me wrong, the Avalung can be a lifesaver too).
There’s also nothing especially new about the avalanche airbag being in a backpack. Its been in backpacks for years (see pictures below). I guess the big deal here is simply that in teaming up with one of the biggest names in outdoor gear and clothing is that the ABS will now be far more readily available around the world. And although this technology has been around for years, it is now suddenly being presented as the newest biggest thing.
I find it a bit funny that just because TNF puts its name on something it is suddenly “invented” even if its been around and saving lives for years. The earliest documented avalanche survivor who was wearing an airbag was in February 1991 in Guduari in the Caucasus (speaking of which, you can find an awesome list of incidents involving the ABS here – and it is not a whitewash, they also include incidents where people have not survived). But I’m not going to complain because if it gets more publicity because of this and if it leads to more lives being saved, then its great.
Anyhow, if you want to learn a bit more, there’s been a huge number of press on the new product launch. Engadget has gotten wildly excited and written a huge piece on this and has played with one in their office. They’ve got some great photos showing the detail of the product, so check it out here. It also has some cool video footage showing how it inflates. They also talk about where the drive came from for TNF to include this in their lineup:
The North Face is moving beyond basic cold weather clothing and backpacks to integrate Avalanche Airbag Safety System technology into its ABS Vest and ABS Patrol 24 pack. The request 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.
Among the other media outlets that got very excited by this new association was Discovery, which also has some cool images on their site.