Lighter than a handful of snowflakes and more useful than a garage full of money, the ABS Vario 8 Ultralight Avalanche Airbag Backpack isn't technically required in the backcountry, but brakes aren't technically required on cars, either. What's the point? If there's something that's proven to help keep you safe, why wouldn't you use it?
Like all ABS airbag packs, the Vario 8 Ultralight is actually two distinct parts: the zip-on Ultralight 8-liter cover, and the sturdy Vario Base Unit, which houses the nitrogen-filled canister and dual 85L airbags that give the Vario its lifesaving capabilities. There's a height-adjustable handle that mounts to either shoulder strap, and triggering it inflates the airbags in just three seconds, helping you stay on the surface of an avalanche should you be caught. Once you've deployed the airbags, the trigger handle and nitrogen-filled canister must be replaced through a ABS or an authorized refilling station.
Designed for aggressive freeskiers and snowboarders, the Vario's designed to fit your body comfortably, with a padded waist belt, adjustable chest strap, and a padded, water-repellent back panel. The shoulder straps are ergonomically shaped, and, perhaps most importantly, there's a leg strap that's designed to keep the Vario on your back in the turmoil of an avalanche, because it won't do you much good if your airbag's deployed 30 yards uphill from where you're buried.
Not only is the Vario 8 ready to save your life, but it's got a hankering to carry all your gear, too. OK, maybe not all, but enough for an lean day trip or some nearby yo-yo laps in your favorite bowl; stash your shovel and probe in the internal tool mounts, dunk your helmet in the stowable net, and there's still room for a hydration bladder and a layer. If that's not enough, you can quickly switch it out with any of the compatible Vario cover options, letting you boost your pack volume all the way up to 55L, if that's what you're after. No matter the cover you're using, you'll be able to carry your skis, board, or snowshoes as easily as an elephant carries a peanut.
It is pretty awesome, but please remember, 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.
|ABS Vario 8 Ultralight Zip-On Cover||$67.96|
|ABS Vario 8 Ultralight Silver Edition Airbag Backpack||$858.46|
|ABS Vario 8 Ultralight Zip On Avalanche Airbag Ski Pack||$79.95|