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Jetforce Tour 26L
Black Diamond's Jetforce Tour 26L features the new Alpride E1 airbag system, which is one of the lightest electrical airbag systems that's offered on the market. The system runs using supercapacitator technology, which replaces the traditional lithium ion battery to save weight and be less susceptible to changes in performance in very cold temperatures—a huge bonus when you're out in extremely cold conditions. No cartridges are necessary, making this system extremely travel-friendly, and you can also practice with it without having to worry about refilling cartridges, meaning you'll be better prepared in the event of an emergency. The Alpride E1 system easily charges in an hour with a micro USB, and can also be charged in about 40 minutes with two AA batteries while you're out in the backcountry. To make it more second-nature if you do ever need to deploy the system, Alpride designed the trigger so it can sit on whatever side you prefer.
With a generous 26-liter capacity, the pack itself has all the bells and whistles for a day in the backcountry. The main compartment accommodates your food, water, layers, and first aid kit, and the separate compartment for your shovel and probe keeps them quickly accessible. An adjustable hip belt with a stash pocket keeps your inclinometer or sunscreen close at hand, and the included leg loop prevents the pack from being pulled over your head if you deploy it during a slide.
- Airbag pack for backcountry skiing and snowboarding
- Fan-based airbag is fully electronic for easy travel
- Supercapacitator technology functions reliably in the cold
- System charges easily with a micro USB or two AA batteries
- Deploy trigger sits on either shoulder for efficient deployment
- Avalanche safety compartment for quick access in an emergency
- Spacious main compartment accommodates all your essentials
- Item #BLD00ZV
- Q & A
Part fantastic, part flawed.
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
This is my third airbag. The first two were canister packs. I've skied with this pack about 20 days including a recent trip to AK, multiple boot packs with ski carrying, very full loads, ice axe carrying, long days and glacier travel. Three members of my AK group were carrying the jetforce tour and we shared a similar sentiment regarding its performance.
BD is getting close with this pack, but there are some disappointing aspects.
Here's what I love: Confirmation of deployment. In Salt Lake this year we had several skiers caught in slides whose airbags didn't deploy. What?! Its obviously annoying to test your canister pack because you have to return to the shop and get it refilled. I'd like to know that the heavy, complicated piece of machinery on my back will do its job. This pack checks that box. It is lightweight compared to many other airbags. Don't have to find a scuba/ski shop to refill when travelling. The main compartment zipper allows for hinge opening of the pack, which makes digging around to find deeper items a thing of the past. It has plenty of space for long days. The diagonal ski carrier allows for loading up skis without removing the pack and seems to be "skimo" inspired. Its comfortable to carry even fully stuffed. Helmet carrier is fantastic. Separate avy tool compartment. Two AA batteries keep the supercap charged for many days in a row, which is useful for yurt-type trips. LED indicator is nice to monitor battery status without removing pack.
Features that need work: The waist belt is way too small and the buckle is comically diminutive, which makes it annoying to take the pack on and off. The zipper containing the airbag is prone to failure, especially when the pack is fully loaded or when carrying skis. This is hard to overstate. Two of the three members of a recent trip were constantly dealing with airbag zipper failure. My pack eventually required a mod which reinforced the ends of the zipper. This helped but the velcro zipper retainer at the top of the pack was also prone to failure. This needs to be addressed on future models. Older models with an LIB allowed system activation from the deployment handle. This pack requires completely opening the pack, opening a second zipper and exposing the innards in order to turn the pack on and off. There is a fairly high fidget factor in general with the jetforce and especially when derigging this pack given the need to remove everything from the main compartment and open the inner zipper in order to plug it in. The lower ski carry loop is pretty small for skis over 100mm width. Its works, but just takes some extra maneuvering during transitions.
One of the main reasons I bought the jetforce was to avoid refilling an airbag chamber when travelling. What I found was this pack required so much extra fidgeting because of the zipper failures and small buckles that it would have been less of a hassle to fill the canister on either end of the flight. Additionally, you'll probably end up having to go to fill canisters with everyone else in your group that has a canister. All of that is offset by its airbag reliability and ability for multiple deployments.
My plan is to live with the annoyances to retain perceived reliability.
Too small, had to return
- Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
I use a canister airbag, wanted to try this out so I could practice deploying without having to deal with refilling the canister at a shop. For me, it’s too small (I bring a good sized first aid kit and a rescue bivy), and the location of the fan/battery inside the pack makes it even harder to pack well. The helmet carry is poorly designed- you can’t fully access the main compartment without removing the helmet.
3 stars because if you can deal with those issues (don’t use a helmet and don’t carry much extra gear), it would be a great pack. Looking forward to buying this pack once it comes in a larger size and they fix the helmet carry design.
Never Looking Back
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I am super into the whole idea of electric airbags instead of canisters. Easy to travel with, easy to use, and I love that I can test it out as frequently as I like to ensure that I know it's working properly and so I can practice using it.
When I found out they were able to take all the great things about electric bags, and make them way lighter with this supercapacitor business, I was stoked. Oh and it's a good looking black bag not dorky colors or weird shape?? Sold.
One important tip, and this is just one guy's opinion, but if you will use this for sledding or any activity where you'll use a full face helmet, I'd go with the S/M size unless you have a massive torso. I'm 6' tall, and the M/L just cramps my mobility a little bit with my full face on, and a couple layers of hoods bunching up in between. The S/M is just a little bit shorter and fixes the problem completely. You do give up 2L of storage space though, so if you don't wear a full face helmet at all then just stick with your normal size.
Storage is minimal, but sufficient. Dedicated avy gear pocket holds my shovel and probe, and has a smaller zip pocket that I keep a headlamp, tool, and other little emergency goodies. Main compartment is just one big thing, personally I'd like more organization in there, but I'm guessing they have to make some concessions to keep the weight and cost down.
Turning on and off is a bit more annoying than with BD's first air bags. You used to turn it on with the handle, but now you have to go in and turn it on at the fan itself inside your bag. A nuisance for sure, but again since this is a concession made to keep the weight down I am not upset. And it does also mean less vulnerable parts out in the elements to break/freeze up.
- Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Overall the backpack is fantastic! Haven’t had time to put it through the wringer yet, but initial impressions are high!
Took it out for a long day in the Wasatch Backcountry and never felt like I needed more room. With the dedicated shovel/probe pocket, and the helmet cradle, I had plenty of room in the main compartment for my shell, a midlayer, some water, and my skins.
As for the airbag itself, luckily the only time I’ve deployed it has been at dinner parties as a fun distraction! That’s another great reason to get this pack, since it’s a fan powered by supercapacitors, it’s easily recharged by batteries or the charging cable, so no need to refill a cartridge or anything! You can deploy it as much as you want!
When it’s my life on the line I feel much more comfortable traveling in the backcountry with this sucker on my back!
Few downsides though, your friends that don’t have an airbag will poke fun at you and constantly ask why you don’t just have the airbag deployed at all times, even on the skinner up! Ok ok all jokes aside, the only thing that I’ve seen that might be a problem is with the ski carry. This pack does not have straps to carry your skis in an a-frame, so you have to use the cross carry (which makes sense though a-frame would interfere with the air bag deployment). If you have your helmet in the cradle it seems like there might be some interference between the skis and the helmet/cradle. Haven’t tried it yet, so there may be a workaround!
Overall 5/5 for this pack because BD build quality, peace of mind, and it being an awesome pack!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I have been closely watching the development and testing of the Alpride E1 system for the last couple of seasons and eagerly awaiting its arrival in the US. I've always loved the fit and function of Black Diamond's ski packs, so I was stoked to hear that they had partnered with Alpride this season to get the E1 system into their lineup.
The E1 system is nothing short of an engineering marvel in my opinion. The initial charge of the fully discharged capacitors takes about 45 minutes, after which a pair of regular AA batteries maintains the charge level for several weeks. The engine for the system is quite small - about the size of a 28oz can of tomatoes - and contained in a tidy little hard-sided zippered pouch in the main compartment of the pack. This means that this 26L pack has almost as much usable space as my old 32L cannister-based system.
The user interface is reassuringly straightforward. A dual action (pull and twist) switch arms the pack, it beeps at you a couple times to indicate you're ready to rip, and a strip of LEDs that is visible from the outside of the pack continuously blinks to indicate you're still fully charged. Basically - it just works. Turn it on at the car and forget about it all day just like a compressed air bag.
The one test deployment I have done went as expected, with the airbag inflating in a similar amount of time to my compressed air pack. Note that this system does not have an automatic deflation feature like BD's in-house designed Li-Ion powered JetForce system. Not a huge concern for me as my compressed air pack didn't do that either, but some folks really like the idea of having the bag deflate in a full burial situation to have a little more of a breathing pocket - I'll let you do your own research and decide how important this is to you.
The fit and design of the pack will be familiar to anyone that has used any of Black Diamond's ski packs in the last decade. Pleasingly minimalist yet fully featured. You get an avy gear pocket, a large main pouch, a top pouch, an internal pouch, the ever-useful snack pouch on the hip belt, a stow-away helmet carry bra, as well as horizontal ski carry and ice-axe carry. The suspension design carries weight well and does a good job virtually eliminating any bouncing or movement of the pack while skiing.
If you are a believer in the life-saving potential of airbag packs, want a lightweight and streamlined pack that won't slow you down on big days, and want to ditch compressed air and move to an electric airbag for hassle-free practice deployments and travel, this is the bag you need!
Would it be possible to run a camelback hose through one of the shoulder sleeves and into the storage area of the pack? I know there's no dedicated bladder sleeve inside the pack, just not sure if the zippered sleeve on the shoulder only feeds into the airbag area, or if it could run into the main storage part of the pack?
Hey Adrian, This is possible through either of the shoulder sleeves. It runs into the main area of the pack.