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A game-changing avalanche airbag for professionals and dedicated backcountry riders.
Made through a collaboration between Black Diamond and PIEPS, the Saga 40 JetForce Backpack marks a departure in traditional airbag design. As the largest bag in Black Diamond's JetForce line, the Saga is ideal for working avalanche professionals, ski patrollers, and backcountry enthusiasts who prefer to escape the crowds in those far-flung zones.
JetForce technology is unique in the sense that it abandons traditional canister deployment systems by utilizing a lithium ion battery-powered jet fan. Since the system is rechargeable, it eliminates the cost of expensive canisters and refills. It also eliminates added travel hassle, since the system doesn't require compressed air or nitrogen. Not only that, but the battery will support at least four deployments on a single charge. The bag itself is made of a puncture-resistant Cordura fabric and is designed to automatically deflate after three minutes in order to potentially create an air pocket in the off-chance of a full burial.
The backpack itself maintains Black Diamond's popular backpack design by utilizing the skiing-friendly ReActive suspension system and SwingArm shoulder straps, designed to maintain a high level of comfort on the descent. A dedicated avy tool pocket keeps your shovel and probe close at hand, while the tuck-away diagonal ski carry system allows the bag to deploy while your skis are attached. A zippered back panel allows for quick access to your snow study tools and down jacket, and the Hilo helmet holder keeps your brain bucket on board for technical ascents and well-earned descents.
- Puncture-resistant cordura single airbag
- JetForce inflation technology
- PIEPS electronic activation
- Lithium Ion battery powered
- ReActive suspension with SwingArm shoulder straps
- 840D ballistic nylon fabric
- Dedicated avy tools pocket
- Zippered back panel
- Tuck-away diagonal ski carry (allows for deployment with skis attached)
- Vertical snowboard carry
- Ice-tool Pickpockets
- HiLo helmet holder
- This airbag system is NOT a guarantee that you will survive an avalanche; get educated, get the right tools, travel with partners, and be smart out there
- Item #BLD007V
- Q & A
Would be Awesome if it Worked
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
I'm very disappointed to write this review. First, let me preface this by saying that I'm very impressed with the elegant design of this pack and how the airbag system is integrated within it. Lots of access to the components, separate zippered pouches for the battery pack, the charging cord, and the fan. And the way it combines the releasable zipper to hold most of the airbag and the mechanical pull release section just on a small side is quite clever, and makes the airbag easy to re-pack. The LED light indicators on the end of the release handle are great too.
So close! Dang, but it just wouldn't work for me. Upon receiving the pack I tested it out and it worked perfectly the first time. Then I packed it back up, charged the battery overnight, turned it on... and instead of the initial 4 seconds of fan whirring as part of the test to make sure all systems are go, it made a brief sputtering noise and the red light started flashing on the handle (which indicates the pack is not armed / working properly). Went through the user guide and followed all of the steps, including a 2 minute reset charge, removing the battery and putting it back and making sure it was tight. Still no dice. At that point it says I'm supposed to contact the customer service center for assistance (no number or info is provided).
At this point here's the problem: when paying around $1200 for a backpack, it's one thing to have to maybe adjust something that's loose, but beyond that it's kind of ridiculous. More importantly, no matter what magical fix there may be that isn't included in the manual (seems unlikely) I already have trust issues with the airbag actually working properly and that's a deal-breaker for me. Maybe some part of the internal fan came loose? Well, what might happen when you're out in the backcountry skiing with it on your back? It needs to be damn close to 100% reliable.
So disappointed, as the design of this pack is awesome (which is why I still gave it 2 stars) but the final execution is clearly lacking when it comes to a safety device.
Really solid Avy Airbag Pack
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
A few day tours and one multi day hut trip later, this first impressions review is taking place. To start off, I am 5'11 and about 180lbs and have the M/L size. I have been searching around and finally decided on this as close to my perfect avalanche airbag pack. Initially I had been more interested in the Black Diamond Halo 28L, though it felt smaller than a 28L. This too feels smaller than 40L, but was A-OK with me as I was looking for one around 30L. I also can be a notorious over packer, so this has worked great for me.
-I like the main compartment access as it can be accessed from the rear back panel or the top. This makes it easy to get to a layer buried deep. It also allows packing to be a cinch. I do like the top pocket for camera, tools, shades, etc. The side and waist pockets allow for nice snack storage.
-Doing a separate note about the dedicated avy tools pocket on the back. Makes for easy storage and access. I'll throw my first aid kit as well as skins on the way down.
-Being able to have multiple airbag deployments on a single charge is definitely nice and provides a bit of peace of mind. Its also nice to be able to try inflating the airbag and not having to refill a canister before any dire situations. Make sure to read up on how to activate/prep the airbag to be deployment ready. Also almost doesn't need to be said, but with that make sure to keep an eye on where the battery charge is currently at.
-It fits pretty comfortably, even with a beacon strap on.
-It is pricey, potentially two to three times as expensive as some other airbag packs out there.
-For as much as I love the other pockets, I can't believe they don't have a hydration bladder pocket. I've worked around it with putting it on the inside top pocket and works well enough, but could have been an easy addition.
-As much as I'm not really a weight weenie, it is a bit of the heavier side of things. I don't mind it, but when fully loaded, its definitely noticable.
- I did break one of the clips for the helmet carry feature. Not a huge deal and really mostly my fault, but wouldnt have weighed much more to use metal clips instead.
If you don't mine spending it bit more for a fantastic product, this pack is for you. Its definitely a bit smaller than the advertised 40L and a touch heavy, but the reasons behind that for multiple deployments powered by a battery definitely make up for it.
Engearment tests the Saga 40
Black Diamond flips the avalanche airbag pack market upside down with Jetforce. The Saga 40 is the largest of their battery-powered Jetforce packs. Check out the video and stop by Engearment.com for a full review. It's electric!
Another Great Bag from BD
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
The BD Saga 40 takes all the great features of their other backpacks and adds the jet force. I opted for the 40 for the extra space over the 28L. The pointy shape of the 40 is due to the storage of the airbag. Storage space is good but feels a little tighter than 40L.
The Saga 40 is comfortable when skinning up and skiing down. The bag fits well and the extra weight of the jet force over a non airbag backpack is not noticeable.
My only gripes about the bag is there is no hydration sleeve or the slick hose port through the shoulder strap like the old Covert I have. The other is that it would be great to have another zip pouch on the left waist strap. Neither of these are deal breakers though.
My favorite thing about BD bags is the dedicated tool compartment. Itâs nice to have a spot for your shovel and probe. I also appreciate they put a different color zipper pull on so you know exactly where to go when you need to.
I previously had an ABS bag but prefer the BD Saga. I like that I can practice deploying the airbag without having to purchase a new canister. Being able to practice lets me be familiar with this tool so if in the unfortunate situation of getting caught in an avalanche arises I will know what to do. The ability to repack and have additional deploys without having to change canisters is another benefit over the ABS.
I have one of the first versions of this backpack and had to send it back twice for firmware update. I had a problem with the bag not turning on after fully charging it. It was not an issue for me since I sent it back during late spring/summer. BD was good about the second time and gave customers a sweet headlamp for the inconvenience.