Arc’teryx Voltair Avalanche Airbag Review

Text by: Mark Smith

Arc’teryx, Ski & Snowboard. Arc’teryx Voltair Avalanche Airbag Review

With the increased interest in the burgeoning sport of backcountry skiing, certain brands such as Arc’teryx are stepping up their safety game and coming out with new products to ensure the safety of skiers and boarders who find themselves spending more time out of bounds in terrain more susceptible to avalanches. I had the pleasure of trying their new Voltair out in the sidecountry of Whistler.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-2

Earlier this year, Arc’teryx debuted its Voltair avalanche airbag (available in a 20L as well as a 30L). The backpack is designed for backcountry travel and features an advanced airbag technology which when deployed, will allow the skier or snowboarder to float on the surface of the snow during an avalanche. By keeping the skier or snowboarder at the snow’s surface, they have a less chance of being buried which then increases their chance of survival.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-1

The Voltair is powered by a heavy-duty 22.2V Lithium-Ion Polymer rechargeable battery which allows the bag to be deployed multiple times. Most other avalanche airbags are designed using the traditional compressed air cylinder system which are limited to one deployment.

Being capable of having multiple deployments allows skiers and snowboarders to test the Voltair at home in the backyard or in a park before actually needing to use it in a real life situation. It is also good to note that they made the pack AND battery TSA compliant so you can bring both on board with you (nothing like arriving at your ski destination while your luggage arrives in Zanzibar).

The charger for the battery to the Voltair pack comes organized in a box like you see here.
The charger for the battery to the Voltair pack comes organized in a box like you see here.

It is important to note that the battery as well as the charger are sold separately from the backpack. Ensure that you have all the right equipment and that all parts are installed correctly before venturing into avalanche terrain.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-8

To deploy the airbag, pull the mechanical trigger found on the shoulder strap. It can be easily locked in the off position (a red “X” will be visible visible) for travelling or riding the chairlift or in the gondola. When the trigger is turned the other way and ready for deployment, there will be a small, green circle visible. When skiing with friends who find themselves hilarious make sure it is locked in the off position when on the chairlift.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-9

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-10

Once the airbag is deployed, it continues bursting rapidly, continuously filling the airbag with air. This allows the airbag a chance to inflate even if it has received a small tear or puncture from hard or sharp objects nearby. The bag will continue to pulse but can be stopped at anytime by turning the battery off. Once the airbag is inflated, it can remain inflated for several hours until you deflate it using the provided deflation tool (pen-like tool).

This is the airbag deployed and inflated.
This is the airbag deployed and inflated.
Manually deflating the airbag
Manually deflating the airbag
Packing airbag back into the backpack
Packing airbag back into the backpack

The Voltair also boasts an organizational pocket found on the front of the backpack which is ideal for safety gear like a shovel and a probe. It’s also a great place to stash your skins and keep any wet gear or equipment from away from the main compartment.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-4

The zippers are WaterTight™ and will keep any items inside dry and protected from any elements that may be experienced. The backpack is manufactured with Advanced Composite Construction (AC²) making it seam taped and highly water resistant. Other features include front lash ladders and diagonal straps so if you are hiking you can easily attach your skis or snowboard to the backpack. There are also tool loops which can be used to keep everything in place so you don’t have any loose flying gear.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-16

After two days of use I found myself not realizing it was on my back. In no way does it impinge your ski movements and even with a heavy load, it is comfortable.

Whether you choose the Voltair 20L weighing 3235g/7.1lbs or the Voltair 30L weighing 3465g/7.6lbs, the Arc’teryx Voltair is leading the way in advanced avalanche safety equipment and is the backcountry pack to recon with to ensure your safety in avalanche terrain.

altitude-blog-arcteryx-avalanche-bag-review-picture-11

There is 8 thoughts on this article titled “Arc’teryx Voltair Avalanche Airbag Review”.

  1. “The Voltair also boasts an organizational pocket found on the front of the backpack which is ideal for safety gear like a shovel, probe and a beacon. ”

    The beacon does not belong in your bag; it belongs on your body.

    1. Hey Amit, Some avalanche backpacks will have hidden helmet pockets that can be pulled out and attached on the outside by clips or straps. The Voltair is available in a 20L as well as a 30L. As for which size is more practical, it depends what types of touring trips you plan to do and how much gear you are bringing along with you.

  2. Hi Mark. Thank you for a review. Is it really possible to attach a snowboard on the backside? The place between the straps is looking too narrow on the picture. Could you share a photo with an attached snowboard, please.

  3. Thanks for the great review. I’m looking at this and the Jetforce. With respect to your comment about once it is deployed, it will deflate eventually and leave an air pocket, are you sure about that? I get the impression that unless you manually deflated using the tube they provide, it will remain airtight. Unlike the Jetforce, which automatically deflate after a few minutes.

    1. Hello Amir, thanks for the comment. After further research, I have learned that the airbag will remain inflated up to several hours. The pulsing can be stopped at any time by turning off the battery itself but you will be left with the airbag inflated. I will make ad adjustment to the review, thanks for pointing out that detail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *