If you've ever felt the the carpet pulled out from under you while you're in the backcountry, or experienced the whumph of the snowpack collapsing under your feet, you know just how terrifying snow can suddenly become. There are no guarantees of safety in the mountains, which is why it's a good idea to wear the ABS Vario 15 Silver Edition Avalanche Airbag Backpack when you're heading into avalanche terrain. It's not a guarantee of safety, but avalanche airbags have been proven to help you stay on top, keeping you alive to shred another day.Like all ABS airbag packs, the Vario 15 consists of two parts: a Vario base unit that houses the ABS Twinbags, and a zip-on pack cover that holds your gear. The Silver Edition base unit is narrower and more form-fitting than the standard base unit, with an neoprene waist belt that's light and flexible to move with you when you're freeriding. It's designed with lighter loads in mind, so if you want to pack serious pounds the standard base unit is probably a better option, but if you want to move quickly and send hard, the Silver Edition is unquestionably where it's at. The 15L Vario zip-on cover holds plenty of gear for a day tour or cat skiing trip, and can easily be swapped out for any other Vario cover, ranging in size from eight to 55 liters. There's a snow tool pocket, an ice axe loop, and a hideaway helmet net so you can protect your dome, not to mention ski and snowboard carry options and a hydration-compatible sleeve to keep your insides lubed up.
Of course, the most important feature of the Vario 15 is its life-saving capability. Packed inside the base unit are two 85L airbags that inflate within three seconds with the push of an activation trigger, which can be mounted on either shoulder strap for quick and easy access. The airbags help you stay on the surface of a slide, orient your body to increase the likelihood of a clear airway, and make you easy to spot from a distance.
Once the system's been deployed, you need to replace the large canister which inflates the airbags, as well as the trigger handle (replacement is done through ABS or an authorized dealer), but you can reuse the airbags―simply fold them up according to instructions, pack them back in the side panel compartments, and you're ready to ride. The base unit has an integrated leg strap that's designed to keep the pack securely attached to you during a rough ride, and the carrying system is padded and water-repellent.
Please remember, an 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.
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