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Winter Lab: Avalanche Airbags Explained

Winter Lab: Avalanche Airbags Explained

Skiing Winter Lab Bro-tologist Ryan Dionne talks about the different avalanche airbag systems including what's used to inflate the bags, how easily they are to refill after deployment, and more.

When the snow melts, you don’t quit playing outside, and neither should your pack. Ski straps and glove-friendly zippers make the Direttissima a true winter warrior. But when summer rolls around, unobtrusive ski features mean it’s hike- and climb-friendly. The TopFlap design lets you remove an entire compartment to shed weight. Two built-in toggle bottle openers on the tool loops bring a whole new meaning to double-fisting. 42-, 46-, and 50-liter models; 55, 58, and 61 ounces, respectively.  [$200; mountainhardware.com]

Backcountry Packs

Why endure an ill-suited pack? Get organized and stay safe, comfortably. haul these packs up the hill; they’ll carry you through the day.

The Element has all the “basic” functions available on the more advanced, dual-platform Pulse (see sidebar), including a handy group test and a mark function that blocks located beacons. The large LCD display is easy to read and understand, and the software is upgradable, which means you don’t have to buy a new unit every few years to keep up with improving technology. [$350; mammut.ch]

Find a Beacon

A breakdown of new transceivers. Just be sure your rescue skills are as up-to-date.

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Life-Saving Gear

Skis and boots will only get you so far in the backcountry. Don’t forget all the other stuff you’ll need to get you in and out safely.