Arc’teryx is clearly going full force into the ski touring sector with the release of their ski mountaineering boots. Alongside the launch of the Procline ski boots, they are launching the Voltaire avalanche airbag. Safety first, folks.
Black Diamond released the JetForce airbags a few seasons ago. Let’s see what Arc’teryx brings to the party.
First thing about the pack you notice is the fabric used. It’s their rugged and waterproof AC2. Considering I tested it with my DSLR on a day that fluctuated from -10 Celsius to 10 degrees, I was happy with the fabric choice, and that no water infiltrated the pack.
Forget about compressed air canisters, Arc’teryx has gone with a built-in fan which is powered by a rechargeable battery. BONUS: this battery can come onboard with you on your ski trips. TSA pulled us aside, but after inspection we were given the okay.
The benefit of using a battery and not compressed air is that you can deploy it numerous times prior to using it in a real avalanche. Practice as much as you want.
The fan fills the bag incredibly fast, and continues to do so in bursts ensuring that even if tears occur in the slide it will stay inflated.
Once deployed the bag is rock hard and is emptied using a small tool which releases the air. Pushing the deflated bag back into the pack is not rocket science and you can easily continue on your way after a launch, ready for use immediately . Follow the instructions.
Activate it by pulling on the huge trigger on the shoulder strap. The trigger has a lock so no need to worry about deploying in the gondola. An easy to use strap runs under your legs and buckles at the hip, making sure the pack and your body do not get separated in an avalanche.
It comes in 20L and 30L options, both with a similar shape. The pockets are all made using watertight zips. There is a main compartment for all your equipment with a zipper offering great access from above and one side. A section specifically for avalanche rescue gear can be found in the main compartment. Installing and accessing the battery is simple, and you can turn the battery on and off easily at any time with a small side zip.
Strap on your skis or snowboard using the straps and off you go into the backcountry. With the help of the comfortable hip belt the weight (3235g for the 20L and 3465g for the 30L) will be well partitioned.
Hopefully you will never have to pull it, but if it’s not on our back you are statistically less safe in avalanche terrain. Ski safe.