The 150 year old Swiss company Mammut debuted a new product line at the Outdoor Retailers Winter market in Salt Lake City. The R.A.S (removable airbag system) is another step forward in Mammut's dedication to alpine safety. The line of backpacks are modified versions of the popular Nirvana series and are capable of handling the airbag system designed by another Swiss company, Snowpulse. The Snowpulse system can be removed from the pack and replaced into other compatible packs, Mammut will produce 2 packs of different sizes (30L & 22L).
A "ripcord" handle is attached to the shoulder strap, when pulled, it releases the compressed air from a small cylinder which inflates the 150 liter airbag in less than 3 seconds. The idea of avalanche airbags is that of "inverse segregation", which means that the largest particles of a moving fluid make their way to the surface. The bag increases the volume of the user while reducing density and increasing buoyancy. Simply put, it will keep you on top of the avalanche debris, so even when your legs are broken, at least you won't suffocate.
The weight of the airbag and cylinder is approximately 1,500 grams (3.3lbs), roughly the weight of a liter and a half of water. This will soon become standard kit for anyone traveling in avalanche prone terrain. The likelihood of surviving an avalanche increases dramatically if the victim is not buried. I must say that these tools are not a free ticket to get rad and be free of consequence. The whole idea is to use good judgment and not be caught in a slide, but we all know that shit happens and it is best to be prepared for the worst. These packs will retail for nearly $800. Yes, it's pricey but not nearly as expensive as a funeral.
Please consider taking an avalanche education course. It is likely you will learn a lot, and you'll also be putting in that much needed practice time. American Avalanche Institute.