Gear Review: Black Diamond Covert AvaLung Backpack

A pack that holds your gear and could save your life thanks to BD's AvaLung breathing device.

[avalanche-ready]

The Covert holds your gear and could save your life. In a worst-case scenario—buried by an avalanche—a built-in AvaLung (a breathing device) extends your air supply from an estimated 15 minutes to 58 minutes, nearly quadrupling the time rescuers have to search, find, and dig. How does it work? The AvaLung draws oxygen from the snowpack and funnels CO2 away through an exhaust port at the bottom of the pack.

The 2012 model is updated with a more durable, lower-bulk breathing tube that snakes through a mesh sleeve in the shoulder strap, making it easier to stay prepared on sketchy slopes (you need to have the tube in your mouth when a slide occurs). Features you’ll use more often: A bladder pocket and insulated hydration sleeve keep water flowing (at 5°F for testers). A sling keeps a helmet from bouncing around. The suspension handled 30 pounds. Icing: 800-denier ballistic pack cloth laughs at ski edges. Tradeoff? Weight. $250; 4 lbs. 6 oz.; 24 liters; blackdiamondequipment.com