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Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26L Review

This tour-friendly pack features supercapacitors to power an electric fan, making it lighter than most battery-powered options
black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review
Credit: Black Diamond
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $1,200 List | $1,199.95 at REI
Pros:  Easy to manage, huge snow safety tools pocket, lightweight, easy to travel with, multiple deployments if you carry extra AA batteries, trigger can be worn at either shoulder
Cons:  Wide shoulder straps, frame lengths geared toward taller folks, few organizational options
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 20, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 8
  • Backcountry Utility - 22% 8.0
  • Airbag System - 20% 9.0
  • Weight - 18% 9.0
  • Features - 15% 8.0
  • Downhill Performance - 13% 8.0
  • Comfort - 12% 8.0

Our Verdict

Black Diamond's JetForce Tour 26L takes a sharp turn from their previous models, which used lithium-ion batteries. This pack utilizes Alpride's E1 superconductor-powered fan to inflate its airbag. The advantage here is the supercapacitor can deliver a large amount of energy in a relatively short period and is only minimally affected by temperature. It's also much more lightweight than the heavy lithium-ion batteries (nearly two pounds lighter!), charges quicker, and can even be charged up in under an hour with a pair of AA batteries.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $1,200 List
$1,200 at REI
$1,200 List
Check Price at REI
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Compare at 2 sellers
$770 List
$769.95 at Amazon
$750 List
$649.95 at Amazon
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Pros Easy to manage, huge snow safety tools pocket, lightweight, easy to travel with, multiple deployments if you carry extra AA batteries, trigger can be worn at either shoulderBest airbag system on the market, utilitarian design, huge avy tools pocket, spacious main compartment, ability to carry skis diagonally and A-Frame, comfortable, durable, airbag zipper pops open way less than other modelsGreat overall pack design, affordable, good snow safety gear pocket, plethora of organizational pockets, canister doesn't take up extra space in the main compartmentBest-fitting pack for smaller users, awesome pack design, super comfortable, big snow safety tools pocket, great goggle pocket, well-executed back panel accessTons of useful features, huge snow safety gear pocket, affordable, rides well for a large pack, half back-panel access, lots of pockets
Cons Wide shoulder straps, frame lengths geared toward taller folks, few organizational optionsOnly one frame size, compression straps must be unbuckled to unzip the pack all the way, one-way zipper, no goggle pocket, "stash pocket" isn't user-friendly, mediocre diagonal ski carryOne size, average weightMediocre helmet sling, no internal zippered pocket for keys, must access back panel to get to most of the pack, hard to maximize volume, waist buckle difficult to threadHeavy, not great for smaller users
Bottom Line This tour-friendly pack features supercapacitors to power an electric fan, making it lighter than most battery-powered optionsThis comfortable pack features a functional design and our favorite airbag systemA great pack design with a basic but functional and reliable airbag, all at a respectable weight and a good priceThis pack is designed for those with a short torso, narrow shoulders, or those under 5'4", and you'll be pleased with its well-thought-out designA well-designed larger volume airbag pack that excels for patrollers, backcountry pros, or extended missions
Rating Categories Black Diamond JetFo... Osprey Soelden Pro 32 Backcountry Access... Mammut Pro X Remova... Backcountry Access...
Backcountry Utility (22%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.5
Airbag System (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (18%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Features (15%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
10.0
Downhill Performance (13%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort (12%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Specs Black Diamond JetFo... Osprey Soelden Pro 32 Backcountry Access... Mammut Pro X Remova... Backcountry Access...
Volume (liters) 26L 32L 32L 35L, 33L with system 42L
Weight with Cartridge (pounds) 5.7 lbs 6.5 lbs 6.4 lbs 6.5 lbs 7.1 lbs
Airbag unit or packs can be purchased separately/independently No No Yes Yes Yes
Cartridge type Electric fan Electric fan Compressed Air Compressed Air Compressed Air
Approximate cost to Refill Not Applicable Not Applicable $5-20 $5-20 $5-20
Volume of Bag(s) 150L 150L 150L 150L 150L
Frame sizes SM/ML One size One size One size One size
Can you fly with it? Yes, no cartridge Yes, no cartridge Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full Yes, domestically in the US when cartridge is empty; internationally when full
Helmet carrier Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Carry Snowboard No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Carry skis A-frame or Diagonal Diagonal A-Frame and Diagonal A-Frame and Diagonal A-Frame and Diagonal A-Frame and Diagonal

Our Analysis and Test Results

The JetForce Tour 26L is a solid all-around touring pack that takes a step away from BD's previous lithium-ion powered fan packs. With the switch to the supercapacitor-powered Alpride E1 technology, this model is nearly two pounds lighter than the prior JetForce packs, and all of our testers felt its design was significantly more user-friendly.

Performance Comparison


black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - the jetforce tour 26l incorporates alpride's supercapacitor-powered...
The JetForce Tour 26L incorporates Alpride's supercapacitor-powered fan design, shaving weight. This pack's design was among our overall favorites.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Backcountry Utility


Featuring a unique zipper shape on what is otherwise a pretty classic panel-loading backcountry touring pack, it offers decent backcountry utility. The zipper that accesses the main compartment wraps around in a "C" shape, which means you can open it up like a piece of luggage. The fact that it doesn't zip down very far on both sides means packing it and accessing certain items can be challenging when full. Still, the JetForce is pretty roomy considering its 26L volume, and while it doesn't feel huge, it was large enough for most people for all-day touring.


The snow safety gear pocket is gigantic and fits most shovels and probes, including most 300cm lengths. It is just big enough that we could fit our skins inside the pocket, using it as a wet pocket, helping to keep our insulating layers (or extra gloves in the main compartment) dry.

We loved this model's huge snow safety gear pocket that accommodated...
We loved this model's huge snow safety gear pocket that accommodated larger probes and shovels.
While out in the field, each member of our testing team appreciated...
While out in the field, each member of our testing team appreciated the small zippered pocket just inside the snow safety gear pocket. It was great for stashing small, easily lost items, and helped us stay a little more organized.

There is an internal zippered pocket inside the snow safety gear pocket, which can be a great place to store your keys, sunblock, or other small, easily lost items. This is the only option as far as organization goes.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - this model had one of the easiest and quickest to deploy helmet...
This model had one of the easiest and quickest to deploy helmet carriers. It tucked nicely away in a small zippered compartment when not in use, and we liked that it was permanently attached.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

It features a slick stow-away helmet carrier that is stored in a low-profile zippered pouch on the bottom of the pack. It is worth noting that the built-in helmet carrier isn't removable, but this did not bother our testers, as it's one less thing to lose.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - the straps used for the diagonal ski carry tuck away into a small...
The straps used for the diagonal ski carry tuck away into a small zippered compartment. This pack offered one of the most secure and quickest to attach diagonal ski carry systems we tested.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Carrying Skis or a Snowboard

Like many airbag packs, the JetForce Tour has no A-frame style carry (as it might interfere with airbag deployment) but does have a stow-away diagonal carry system. The simple system works well, but it is a little on the tight side with wider skis, especially if they have rockered tails. It will take more effort to get them into the lower loop. While this was a slight annoyance, we were always able to put them in, and at most, it was only 10-15 seconds longer than other models.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - pulling the helmet holder/sling out of its small zippered stash...
Pulling the helmet holder/sling out of its small zippered stash pocket.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Airbag System


The JetForce Tour 26L uses Alpride's groundbreaking E1 electronic airbag system. This is the first system to utilize a supercapacitor to power its fan (versus compressed air or a large lithium-ion battery).

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - alpride's battery-powered supercapacitor design is significantly...
Alpride's battery-powered supercapacitor design is significantly lighter than other electric models using large lithium-ion batteries.
Credit: Alpride

Packs that use a fan powered via a lithium-ion battery need their batteries to be ultra powerful, as the energy required to power a fan (to inflate a 150-liter bag) in 3-5 seconds is immense.


The Alpride's supercapacitor is far better than a traditional battery at providing loads of power in a short period and is only minimally affected by the cold, meaning the batteries that power the supercapacitor can be much smaller.

Black Diamond is one of only two companies that is currently allowed...
Black Diamond is one of only two companies that is currently allowed to license Alpride's supercapacitor technology. Their design is easily among our favorites for its relatively low weight and ease of use.
The Alpride battery and venturi valve (seen here in a zip-to-close...
The Alpride battery and venturi valve (seen here in a zip-to-close black case) do take up slightly more room in our pack than some compressed air models, but our entire review team commented on how this pack felt more in line with most 30L models rather than 25L ones.

The JetForce Tour 26 comes with a micro USB cable that can be plugged into a wall outlet, charging it completely in around 20 minutes. You can also charge the system with two AA batteries in just 40 minutes. It uses three colored LED indicator lights (red, yellow, and green) to indicate charge level. When you power it up, it emits an audible sound to let you know that it is running a self-check on the function and components of the E1 and that everything is working properly. Once fully charged, Alpride states the charge lasts three months (when stored in the OFF position).

The Alpride system's battery plugs in via a micro USB. When plugged...
The Alpride system's battery plugs in via a micro USB. When plugged into a wall, it charges in around 20 minutes. It can also be plugged into most auxiliary batteries and will charge in around 40 minutes (depending on the unit).
The Alpride's internal battery can also charge off a pair of AA...
The Alpride's internal battery can also charge off a pair of AA batteries. While it doesn't technically run off of these batteries, they can charge up the unit's primary battery in around 40 minutes.

Trigger Mechanism

The trigger is interchangeable; it can be moved between the right and the left shoulders. This way, right-handed users can wear it on their left shoulder so they can grab it with their dominant right hand, and left-handed folks or snowmobilers (who will need to keep their hand on the throttle) will appreciate being able to wear the trigger on the right side. For those interested, the Alpride E1 system uses a mechanical trigger versus an electronic one, which we feel is more reliable over the long term.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - this model's mechanical trigger can be worn on either shoulder.
This model's mechanical trigger can be worn on either shoulder.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Travel Considerations

No other model has as few travel restrictions as the Alpride E1 airbag system. Large, powerful lithium-ion batteries that can be a hassle for international flights. Avalanche airbag packs do have a large battery exception, but it is technically too big to fly with internationally, and TSA agents may attempt to confiscate it (this has happened to us).

Refilling Options

The BD JetForce Tour uses a battery that can be recharged in less than 30 minutes via micro USB or two AA batteries. It is worth noting that it doesn't run off these two batteries but instead charges the primary internal battery, which takes around 40 minutes with the two AAs. Each charge is only good for one airbag deployment, but on long trips (or pretty much anytime), you can carry extra sets of double AA batteries and get one deployment per set of AAs; this means practicing and becoming familiar with your bag is easy. We think another considerable advantage is that it's so easy to recharge that people won't hesitate to pull the trigger in the event of an avalanche.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - our entire review team loved this model's streamlined design...
Our entire review team loved this model's streamlined design. Despite its low weight and minimalistic appearance, it contained most of the features that backcountry travelers want.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Weight


The Tour weighs 5 pounds, 13 oz, or 2630g for the M/L size, which is a touch higher when compared to packs of comparable volume sizes.


Features


The Jetforce features a single small zippered waist-belt pocket that is an excellent place for a clinometer or cliff bar but isn't large enough for most modern smartphones. While small, we appreciate the gear loop on one side for racking gear for glacier travel or ski mountaineering.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - this model features one zippered waist belt pocket (the other side...
This model features one zippered waist belt pocket (the other side features a single gear loop) that will only fit smaller smartphones. However, the pocket is great for a collection of other small items such as chapstick, a couple of ski straps, or snack.
Credit: Ian Nicholson


Downhill Performance


Our review team felt this model performed on the downhill pretty average, or slightly above average amongst packs of similar volume, skiing similarly to other top performers.


black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - we felt the back panel struck a nice balance between comfort and...
We felt the back panel struck a nice balance between comfort and support while remaining flexible enough for unrestricted movement.
Credit: Tino Villaneuva


Comfort


This pack is quite comfortable and handles weight well — at least as much as you can cram into its 26L volume. Its thick foam back panel meant it was unlikely you'd feel oddly shaped items pushing into your back. Its shoulder straps are amongst the widest in our review, which was nice for spreading out weight, but some of our smaller framed testers didn't find they wrapped their shoulders as well.


Fit

The Tour comes in two sizes — S/M and M/L. While it is offered in a smaller size, our testers found that both sizes seemed geared toward taller users rather than smaller. The same could be said with the wide shoulder straps, which, while comfortable, wouldn't be our first choice for many ladies or narrow-shouldered men.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - this pack is available in two frame sizes, thus fitting a wider...
This pack is available in two frame sizes, thus fitting a wider ranger of users.
Credit: Tino Villaneuva

Should You Buy the BD JetForce Tour 26L?


The Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26 is an awesome all-around touring pack that is an excellent choice for backcountry touring. We love the ability to recharge the airbag system with a USB wall plug or AA batteries. Note that the pack will carry a splitboard but not a snowboard, which could be a dealbreaker for a small percentage of non-splitboard backcountry riders. Its capacity is a bit small for exceptionally cold or complex missions, but it will perform well for most backcountry tours. For folks that travel to ski or snowboard, there is no easier pack to travel with.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - the jetforce is one of the better downhill performers overall, and...
The JetForce is one of the better downhill performers overall, and certainly one of the best for its volume.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

What Other Avalanche Airbags Should You Consider?


The JetForce Tour is easily one of the best all-around airbag packs on the market. Our current favorite pack is the Osprey Soelden Pro 32, which also uses Alpride's supercapacitor system. We also really like the Black Diamond JetForce UL for its incredible light weight.

black diamond jetforce tour 26l avalanche airbag review - the jetforce offers a great blend of weight, functionality, and...
The JetForce offers a great blend of weight, functionality, and downhill performance in a satisfactory volume for the majority of backcountry day trips.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Ian Nicholson
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