How to choose your avalanche bag?

Off-piste activities in the mountains present avalanche risks, the importance of which should never be underestimated. It's essential to be well-equipped to maximize your safety during snowboarding and skiing adventures. The essentials include an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe - but also an avalanche bag. The latter offers many advantages to increase your chances of survival in the face of this ever-present danger. Here's a guide to help you choose the right backpack.

Understanding how a snow bag works

The principle of the anti-avalanche rucksack is based on the mixing effect: a larger, lighter object is more likely to rise to the surface in an avalanche than smaller snow particles. A backpack equipped with an inflatable system will create a large enough "bubble" to help the object rise to the surface, reduce the risk of burial and thus increase the chances of survival. In the event of burial, the avalanche bag also creates a space around the face, facilitating breathing.

Different types of inflatable systems

There are two main types of inflatable systems:

  • Mono-airbag system: A single U-shaped airbag, extending from the shoulders to the waist on the sides. This system optimizes the skier's flotation while offering lateral protection.
  • Double-airbag system: This solution is based on two separate airbags that surround the skier on each side. The product inflates simultaneously, providing greater protection than the single-airbag system.

Choosing your bag

There are several criteria to take into account when choosing your avalanche bag:

  • Volume: Choose a bag with sufficient capacity to carry the equipment required for your activity (ski touring, downhill skiing...). Volumes generally vary between 20 and 50 liters.
  • Weight: In the mountains, every gram counts. Opt for a lightweight bag without neglecting the quality of the materials, which must be robust enough to withstand extreme conditions.
  • Compatibility with other equipment: Your bag must be able to accommodate your avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe, as well as your personal belongings (change of clothes, food, water...).
  • Comfort: Try out different models to see which is the most comfortable to wear on your back. Good padding and a waist belt are essential.
  • Ease of use: Make sure the avalanche bag is easy to use, even under stress. The inflation system must be quick and easy to operate.
  • The budget: Prices of avalanche bags vary according to features and brands. It's advisable not to skimp on quality to guarantee your safety.

Learn how to release the bag

It's important to know how to activate your bag in a critical situation. Training enables you to acquire the reflexes needed to activate the inflation system in the face of danger.

  • Read the instructions carefully: Read the operating instructions and advice specific to your model of avalanche transceiver bag.
  • Test: Practice triggering the bag at home or in a secure environment.
  • Take part in training courses: A number of organizations offer training courses in avalanche rescue techniques, including the proper use of avalanche transceivers.

In conclusion, buying an avalanche transceiver bag is a serious investment, requiring careful thought, comparison and testing. Don't forget that your safety in the mountains depends above all on your behavior, experience and respect for basic rules. Prevention remains the best protection against avalanches.