Backcountry travelers are adding another piece of avalanche safety gear to the essential three (shovel, probe, transceiver) when they play in the mountains. If everything else goes wrong and you find yourself caught in an avalanche, an airbag is designed to keep you at the surface of the snow and visible to rescuers. I’ve been using the ABS Vario airbag system for several seasons now on my backcountry ski tours. While I often cringe at the weight, ABS does have some unique features that make it well worth the extra pounds. The ABS Vario uses a twin airbag system that provides the added safety of redundancy in case one side is damaged during a slide. Fast, reliable activation of the airbag is another critical feature. ABS activates with an explosive charge that travels from the deployment handle to the hydrogen canister, quickly inflating the airbags in the coldest weather. My ABS pack goes with me every trip; the versatility of the Vario system allows for a variety of zip-ons from partners like Dakine or Osprey to attach to the base unit customizing the pack’s size for the scope of the adventure. Abs-airbag.com/us. //(Mike Brede)