The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Avalanche Airbags

By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor
Saturday April 8, 2017
Ian Nicholson hard at work on the airbag pack review around Thompson Pass  near Valdez  Alaska.
Ian Nicholson hard at work on the airbag pack review around Thompson Pass, near Valdez, Alaska.

We tested these airbags on half-day tours as well as multi-day hut trips. We got tons of user feedback from friends, trusted guides, and avalanche educators. We read hundreds of studies on airbag packs in general and their statistics, as well as details on specific models.

Ryan O'Connell and Eric Dalzell testing avalanche airbag packs while skiing the Catchers Mitt on 27 Mile peak near VAldez  AK.
Ryan O'Connell and Eric Dalzell testing avalanche airbag packs while skiing the Catchers Mitt on 27 Mile peak near VAldez, AK.

These studies came from both manufacturers and third parties at universities and safety organizations. As always, we at OutdoorGearLab did mounds of side-by-side testing in our lab to assess comfort and pack usability.

Some side-by-side airbag testing at Thompson Pass Alaska.
Some side-by-side airbag testing at Thompson Pass Alaska.