Editors' Choice Snow 2014: Black Diamond JetForce Technology Airbag

A backcountry airbag that you can actually practice using.

Brand: Black Diamond Gear Reviews

Model: JetForce Technology Airbag

UPDATE: 7/10/15; Black Diamond Recalls JetForce Packs for Repair

The brainchild of a partnership between Black Diamond and PIEPS, this new battery-operated, fan-powered airbag system takes the hassle and uncertainty out of a piece of critical safety gear. JetForce runs on a rechargeable battery (as opposed to refillable canisters, which can be a big expense and, because you can’t fly with them, a travel headache). The battery powers a fan—about the size of a can of tennis balls—which inflates an airbag (pictured inflated). In a slide, you just deploy the trigger on your shoulder strap and within four seconds the air bag is fully formed. For 2.5 minutes, intermittent bursts of air will keep the bag inflated, even if there’s a puncture. After three more minutes, the bag deflates, so if you were buried, it’d leave a large pocket of breathing room to buy you time until rescuers arrive. Aside from being airline friendly, JetForce allows you to practice. “There’s great peace of mind that comes from knowing what it feels like to deploy my airbag,” says one tester. On one charge, the system works for up to four deployments. Only downside: price. JetForce Technology is available in a range of pack styles from Black Diamond (shown: Halo 28, $1,275), POC, and PIEPS. Starting at $1,250; 7 lbs. 3 oz.; blackdiamondequipment.com

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