Frequently Asked Questions

An avalanche airbag can help to prevent complete burial, with possibly fatal consequences. However, to make sure that the airbag operates correctly a few points must be observed. All the most important information about assembly, refilling, maintenance and much more can be found here.

BASICS

Is it still necessary to use a transceiver if I’m wearing an Avalanche Airbag?

Absolutely. Though an avalanche airbag is effective, it is not a guarantee of survival. You should always wear an avalanche transceiver and know how to use it when in the backcountry.

How is the airbag deployed? Do you think everyone is capable of doing so in an avalanche situation?

The Snowpulse Lifebag is a mechanical system which requires the wearer to pull the rip cord in order to deploy the airbag. Theripcord handle sits on the right shoulder strap. During transport it is tucked away to avoid accidental deployment. When in avalanche terrain the ripcord handle must be exposed from its protective pocket. The ripcord should be pulled as soon as the wearer is caught in an avalanche, or suspects he will be caught. To pull it requires 10 pounds of force in a downward motion. A 10 year old child would still be able to pull on it hard enough to deploy the airbag.

There may be situations where an individual wearing an airbag would be unable to pull the trigger and initiate the airbag deployment. Such as: the handle was not exposed, or the wearer waited too long (trying to ride out the slide) before getting to the handle.

Does the airbag work in wet and heavy snow conditions?

Yes.

How does the airbag work?

The Snowpulse system contains a compressed air cylinder which, when deployed by the wearer, inflates a large airbag contained within the backpack. This airbag essentially acts like a massive lifejacket in a sea of snow. There are two reasons this works.

First, the inflated airbag makes you bigger. In an avalanche, bigger particles end up on the surface and smaller particles on the bottom. The second reason is because an airbag greatly reduces your overall density making you lighter than the surrounding snow mass; therefore, you essentially float to the surface.

Does the Snowpulse system work? Is there any proof?

Yes. ICAR (International Commission of Alpine Rescue) has called an avalanche airbag “the device of choice”. The following information is provided from Time is Life DVD, edited and approved by the International Commission of Alpine Rescue. ICAR – MEDCOM, CISA-IKAR Avalanche Commission (SWISS Stats) 2005. They examined 2000 Avalanche incidents and found the following:

  • Overall 22% mortality rate.
  • Only 4.4% of people who were not buried, or only partially buried died!
  • 51.3% chance of death for people who were completely buried.
  • Likely that partial burials go unreported lowering the 4.4%.

Now for the Airbag statistics:

  • 1991-2004: 77 reports of airbag inflation.
  • 76 Survived, 1 Died
  • 10 completely buried but airbags were visible on the surface.

The same avalanches caught 25 people who were not wearing airbags. Of these 12 were completely buried, 9 were found dead. Airbags lowered the probability of a complete burial from 47.1% to 13% and the mortality rate 35.3% to 1.3%!

ICAR conclusion: Statistical evidence for airbags is good to very good. “It is the device of choice”.

Point of Interest: Same study revealed transceivers reduced the median burial time 170-20 minutes, but the mortality rate only 79% to 50%!

Avalanche airbags are the only way to help reduce the chance of being buried and greatly increase an avalanche victim’s chance of survival.

Can I use a Mammut airbag and cylinder in my Highmark by Snowpulse Pack?

No and Yes. The Airbag is not interchangeable, as the pull cord is on the opposite side. On Mammut and other airbag packs, the handle is on the left-hand side. On Highmark by Snowpulse packs, it is on the Right. A Mammut RAS or PAS is not compatible. However, the cylinder 100% is.

Why can’t I buy the airbag and cylinder together as a package?

You can if you like – please just “Add Cylinder” at the bottom of the product page. Highmark by Snowpulse does sell the canisters as a separate product as it is quite frequent for customers to buy just one or the other.

What’s a “READY” pack?

If you wanted to buy just the pack (i.e. not airbag included), this is the pack for you.

What kind of maintenance should I do on the pack?

Every time you take your pack out, you should check the gauge on you air cylinder and make sure it’s full or at the correct pressure. Once a year it is recommended that you deploy the pack.

AIR CYLINDERS

Do I need more than one cylinder?

Whether you need an extra cylinder depends on the length of your trip and the accessibility of refilling the cylinder in your region. A full cylinder is only good for one deployment, having a second on hand in case the airbag is deployed by accident or on purpose is a good idea.

What is the airbag and cylinder filled with?

All Highmark by Snowpulse airbags fill with air when deployed. The cylinder is filled with dry, compressed air.

Is the Airbag and cylinder reusable once the airbag has been deployed?

Yes the airbag is reusable. The airbag takes 5-15 minutes to repack and the cylinder then needs to be refilled before the airbag can be reused.

Where can I get a cylinder refilled?

The cylinders can be refilled at any of the Refill Locations from our Dealer Locator Page, or any Paintball or SCUBA shop. Be sure to bring a replacement burst disc to the shop.

Can I refill the cylinder myself?

If you have the equipment, sure. You’d need a compressed air tank that can fill up to 3300 psi and the correct adapter to do it. However, most air tanks only offer a few fills before they aren’t able to provide enough pressure. It’s recommended to take it to a shop.

Are there carbon cylinders for the Snowpulse Technology Airbag Sytem?

At this time, no. Carbon Cylinders are not available for sale or usage in North America

AIRBAGS

What is the difference between the Protection Airbag System and the Removable Airbag System?

Actually, both systems are removable, but we don’t recommend removing the PAS if you don’t have to. The Protection Airbag System (PAS) deploys in a u-shape, coming around your neck, shoulders and chest, much like a life jacket. The Removable Airbag System (RAS) deploys like a pillow behind your head.

The PAS is the only airbag system to offer Trauma Protection to your neck and chest that may occur during an avalanche.

My airbag starts to deflate after 15-20 minutes. Is this okay?

Yes – this is purposeful. In an avalanche situation, this air deflation would provide you with breathable air around your face and is not a defect. If it deflates in a matter of 2 minutes, you may have a warranty issue.

TRAVEL

Can I fly with the airbag?

Yes. However, the big question is, can you fly with the cylinder? As of Fall, 2013, here are the rules:

  • Canada | You can fly domestically with a full cylinder. Internationally, it must be empty.
  • USA | You can fly domestically and internationally with an empty cylinder. You will need to deploy your airbag and remove the lid of the cylinder so that a TSA Agent can check inside.