Leave it to the Japanese to invent stuff we didn’t think we even needed. A Japanese company called Prop has developed a personal airbag to cushion the elderly or handicapped should they take a spill. The gas-filled airbags deploy just .1 seconds after detecting a fall. I’d go into further technical detail, but it’s much better for you to just see it in action:
Though it was developed to protect grandma and grandpa’s weakening bones, I can see a lot of potential for this kind of tech among outdoor enthusiasts. No longer will skiers look down a particularly committing couloir and worry about eating it on a band of gnarly rocks — they can rely on their personal airbag. Accident-prone backpackers and hikers can rest assured that if they trip and fall over pesky rocks and branches, the People’s Airbag will give them a pillow-soft landing.
Negatives: There’s no frontal protection, so users will need to make sure they always fall backward. They weigh 1.1 kilograms, which might scare off ultralighters (though it could also double as a pretty solid sleeping pad). Finally, it costs $1400, which puts it squarely in the realm of only the spendiest gear freaks.
Maybe I can get Gramps to buy it and borrow it from him. I’ll just make sure he doesn’t get up from the La-Z-Boy until I get back from the backcountry.
— Ted Alvarez