Friday, October 16, 2009

Avalanche-pack face-off! ABS System (1 of 3)

Today I am introducing the ABS Avalanche Packs, next post will be on the Lifebag by Snowpulse. I just found out that BCA is re-entering this market with their very own Float 30 air bag. This is supposed to happen right around now so I have contacted them and hope to hear back from them before I conclude these presentations.

The ABS Avalanche Packs are the pioneers and founders of this industry. They have been around since 1985. They used to have one bag deploying (the ABS Mono System), now they have two (the ABS Dual System), one on each side of the backpack. The ABS packs are manufactured and sold by ABS Peter Aschauer GmbH out of M√ľnchen, Germany.


The two airbags of an ABS backpack are located at the sides of the pack (see picture to the left). This design concept is aimed at facilitating the maintenance of the center of gravity and the buoyancy of the entire body. The avalanche victim is thus able to float horizontally on top of the moving avalanche. The idea is that the flatter the body position on top of the avalanche is, the less impact and torsion the body has to endure due to the enormous dynamic forces within the avalanche which in turn is supposed to greatly reduce the risks of injury. As you will see in my next post this thought process is radically different to the one applied by Snowpulse.

You pull a handle that you first must attach to the shoulder strap of your system (just don’t leave home without it!). A new and cool feature that ABS Systems have just launched is the remote release handle. Simply give one to your ski buddy and he will be able to get your bags inflated as he sees you go down the tube (just make sure he is not the named beneficiary on your life insurance policy...).

The cartridges are refillable but only by an ABS retailer. The standard cartridge for ABS (and the rest of the industry) is made of steel and ABS’ weighs 515 g (1.1 Lbs). Yet another cool innovation by ABS is the carbon cartridge that comes in at 260 g (just a bit over half a pound!).

These are the specs of the Escape Line (the legacy or classic line-up) to see these packs click here.

The total airbag volume: 170 L (about 44 gallons) this will in most cases more than double your body volume.

The Prorider 10 L pack: 2500 g (5.5 Lbs) +/- 50 g steel cylinder included
The 15 L pack: 2825 g (6.2 Lbs) +/- 50 g steel cylinder included
The 30 L pack: 2925 g (6.4 Lbs) +/- 50 g steel cylinder included

Below are the specs for the for 2009 all new Vario Line. This line comes with the ability to use the airbag system on all the bags of the line up. This is very usefull if you want a day pack and an overnight pack but still not fork out $2,000. To take a peek at the packs click here.

The total airbag volume is the same as the Escape Line at 170 L (about 44 gallons).

The Base Unit: 2100 g (4.6 Lbs) cylinder NOT included
The 15 L pack: 2700 g (6.0 Lbs) cylinder NOT included
The 18 L pack: 2380 g (5.2 Lbs) cylinder NOT included
The 30 L pack: 3000 g (6.6 Lbs) cylinder NOT included
The 50 L pack: 3200 g (7.0 Lbs) cylinder NOT included

In a statement by the company on 10/15/09 we learn that “with an activated ABS Avalanche Airbag 98 % of all avalanche victims have survived – 90 % completely unharmed. This is supported by the documentation of the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos (SLF).”According to Julia Schmideder (Public Relations, ABS Peter Aschauer GmbH); "to date we know of more than 220 people who have survived an avalanche. The most famous one is for sure Xavier de le Rue the freeride snowboard world champion 2008 and 2009". To see his statement click here.

To get pricing is like pulling teeth, so I will do a comparative table of both or all three (if BCA gets back to me) once I have them all in (count next week end). As an approximate indication the price range is $950 - $1,200, but again, look for a complete detailed table of all the vendors by next week-end.

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