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The 7 Best Avalanche Airbags of 2022-2023

By: Jordan Berde: Assistant Ski Buyer | October 26, 2022
 

Just a few years ago, avalanche airbag backpacks were a rare sight in the mountains. They were used by pro skiers and snowboarders but were somewhat inaccessible to the general public. But, since then, technology has advanced to the point where airbags are available to even novice backcountry skiers. It’s exciting to see this potentially life-saving technology become more mainstream. But, with more availability comes more challenges when you’re shopping for an airbag pack. There are more options than ever, and it can be hard to choose the best avalanche airbag.

New This Year:

Luckily, this year’s crop of avalanche safety airbags is better than ever before, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses that we’ve laid out in this list. Notably, most of the packs on this list use a supercapacitor to fill the airbag, instead of a canister. This means that they’re easier to practice with, you don’t need to find expensive canister refills, and most importantly, you can fly with them. They’re also more modular than before, as brands design airbag systems that can be moved from pack to pack depending on what sort of tour you’re going on. So there’s never been a better time to shop for an airbag pack, and there’s never been a better place to find that new pack than this list of the best avalanche airbags.

Black Diamond Jetforce 35L Pro Pack

Black Diamond Jetforce 35L Pro

The Black Diamond JetForce 35L Pro Pack is the latest rendition of Black Diamond's excellent line of battery-powered airbag avalanche packs. Unlike traditional canister-powered packs, the JetForce system is rechargeable and allows for multiple deployments, giving you no drawback practice sessions and eliminating any moment of doubt that might prevent you from deploying the bag in a 50/50 scenario. Additionally, the battery-powered system is easy to travel with, and lighter and more durable than ever. The pack itself is streamlined and perfected for backcountry use and has a modular design to allow you to swap out for different volume pack faces depending on the needs of the day. The JetForce Pro has led the market for a few years for good reason, it’s a great pack that’s practical and easy to use.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
35LRechargeable$1,499.95

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Arva Switch Tour (25L​+40L) Backpack Bundle

Arva Switch Tour (25L​+40L) Bundle

Cause baby, two is better than one, and the Arva Switch Tour (25L+40L) Backpack Bundle is a bang for your buck especially when it has all the potential to save lives. Both are equipped with the ARVA REACTOR avalanche airbag system meaning you've got two packs that have the more powerful inflation systems currently on the market. That takes a load off, eh? The compression system explodes with convenience for days when you can pack a little lighter but still prefer everything to be compact. Additionally, the trigger handle on these packs can be stowed in its own little pouch to ensure you don't have an airbag accidentally deploy. And that's not even half of it! Dive into the forms and features of these packs and you'll be set for endless adventures and hopefully no close calls. If you’re looking for one system that covers any size day in avalanche terrain, the Switch Tour bundle is your answer.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
25L/40LCannister$789.95

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BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack

BCA Float 32

The BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack is a fully-featured airbag for dedicated backcountry enthusiasts carrying all the essentials for a long day in the mountains. An updated Float 2.0 system frees up space in the main compartment compared to previous versions, allowing you to carry a little more food and water along with layers, tools, and goggles. Trusted since the beginning, the Float 32 is the ultimate backcountry companion. This is an affordable, versatile airbag that works well for most skiers in most terrain.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
32LCanister$599.95

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Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack

Scott Patrol E1 40

The Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack Kit is the largest volume model in the Patrol E1 line, suitable for extended day trips and hut touring. Powered by the state-of-the-art Alpride E1 Supercapacitor System rather than a Lithium-Ion battery pack, the E1 is substantially lighter than previous fan airbags and can be recharged in the field in 40 minutes using a fresh set of AA batteries. No canister also means no hassles for air travel and no finding somewhere to fill it at your destination. If that's not awesome, we don't know what is. The Patrol E1 is so lightweight that you’ll forget you’re even wearing an airbag until you need it.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
40LCapacitor$1,200

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Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour Pack

Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour

The Black Diamond JetForce 26L Tour Pack is a lightweight, rechargeable way to add the safety of an avalanche airbag to your backcountry kit. The JetForce Tour uses the innovative Alpride E1 airbag system, which swaps out the lithium-ion battery found in the standard JetForce in favor of a lightweight supercapacitor, which gives you more consistent performance at extreme temperatures in addition to cutting weight. The pack is fully featured for backcountry touring, and the no-cost deployment system recharges in the field via two AA batteries for dependability, increased safety in critical situations, and multiple uses in one practice session. It’s perfect for shorter tours in avalanche terrain.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
35LCapacitor$1,199.95

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BCA Float 22 Airbag Pack

BCA Float 22

The BCA Float 22 Airbag Pack is a mid-sized pack designed for day tours or machine-assisted riding. Featuring the updated Float 2.0 system, it frees up more room for layers, food, and water, with a dedicated snow safety pocket for your shovel and probe. Technical, rugged, and comfortable when laden with gear, the Float 22 is ideal for the backcountry enthusiast who won't compromise on safety, but doesn't want an oversized pack weighing them down. This is a great pack for folks who aren’t going on huge tours, or are snowmobiling, but still want the insurance an airbag offers.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
22LCanister$549.95

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BCA Float 12 Airbag Pack

BCA Float 12

The low-profile BCA Float 12 Airbag Pack is the ideal safety pack for heli and cat operations or sidecountry laps just out of the resort. Big enough for snow safety gear, a hydration system, and a few snacks, this bare minimum capacity pack will save weight, energy, and possibly your life. This is the ideal pack for short sidecountry tours, or cat and heli skiing.

SizeAirbag StyleOriginal Price
12LCanister$499.95

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The Selection Process:

Our ski buyers have an endless amount of knowledge on all things skiing stemming from years of experience in the ski industry in tandem with their countless hours spent on slopes everywhere from groomers to the remote backcountry around the world. evo's buyers assess all products coming to market, lean into this knowledge, and put together this selection of the best products. They have a unique perspective as they truly see everything offered across the category.

Jordan Berde

Jordan (she/her) is the Assistant Ski Buyer at evo. Before working in this role, she worked at the evo Denver store for two years, where she began as a bootfitter and quickly moved into Store Lead and then Store Supervisor roles. Prior to evo, Jordan worked as a bootfitter at other shops, a mountain bike instructor for kiddos in Colorado, a ski patroller in Alaska, and a liftie in Taos. She's an avid backcountry skier and ski mountaineer and recently summited Mt. Baker as a fundraiser for SheJumps, a non-profit committed to getting more women involved in the outdoors.

She started sliding on snow later than most (in her late 20s), but now she’s the friend getting up at 4 am to make sure she can get a dawn patrol lap in before work! Jordan is passionate about diversity and inclusion and making outdoor activities more inclusive to all genders, races, and ability levels. When she's not skiing, Jordan is likely on her mountain bike exploring all that Colorado and Washington have to offer with her wife. Some say she never stops moving…