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DO your best to avoid avalanches, but bring an airbag as an insurance policy.
As snowmobiles become better, more and more people are riding into serious avalanche terrain, and accidents are correspondingly on the rise. A heavy sled is more likely to stress deeply-buried weak layers in the snowpack, setting off large avalanches that can have serious consequences, making training, experience, and proper decision-making the most important tools a rider can bring into the backcountry. It also doesn't hurt to have an insurance policy like the Highmark Prime RAS Avalanche Airbag Pack, which is designed to keep you on the surface of a slide if you do get caught.
While airbag packs are by no means a guarantee of avalanche safety, they do offer the proven ability to help prevent burials. The Prime has a Snowpulse RAS (Removable Airbag System) airbag, which, as the name suggests, is removable, and transferable between all RAS-compatible packs from Mammut, Snowpulse, and Highmark. When you pull the shoulder-strap-mounted deployment handle, the bag inflates above and behind your head, in an attempt to keep your airway free and your head above the snow. It also acts as a bright-red locator, making it easier for searchers to spot you, and the whole package weighs in at just over 7 pounds, so you won't feel like you're riding with a gorilla clinging to your back. (Please note that the Refillable Compressed Air Cartridge necessary for deployment is sold separately and must be filled before use.)
You won't need to sacrifice any of your favorite gear, either, as the Prime has a customizable aluminum frame and thermo-molded back panel, and checks in with 22L of volume, so you can comfortably carry food, water, layers, and all your backcountry essentials. It also has an external pocket for your shovel blade, a shovel handle carrying system, and an internal probe sleeve for easy access to all your avy tools, should you need them. There's an even a fleece-lined goggle pocket to keep your eyewear safe, and a height-adjustable hip belt that keeps the Prime securely attached to your body, because there's no use in an airbag pack that ends up 50 yards uphill from the wearer.
Please remember, an airbag is NOT a promise of backcountry safety. Avalanches are dangerous, and should be avoided altogether. Get educated, get the proper tools and training, ride with trustworthy friends, and make smart decisions out there.
- Removable and transferable between all RAS-compatible packs
- External shovel pocket and shovel handle carry system
- Customizable aluminum frame and padded back panel
- Internal probe sleeve
- Heavy-duty adjustable waist and chest straps
- Easy-access emergency pocket
- Fleece-lined goggle pocket
- Refillable compressed-air cartridge sold separately and must be filled before use
- Item #SNP0017