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Novelties 2022/23 | Safety Equipment

LVS: Little new. Airbags: trend towards electronic systems

by Lea Hartl 02/21/2022
ISPO, an interesting but also very exhausting trade fair, has been moved from its usual date in January to the autumn. Nevertheless, we endeavour to provide an overview of market innovations at the usual time! As we were unable to scrutinise the material ourselves at ISPO, the information is based on press releases from the manufacturers, not all of which are sent out by any means. So: No guarantee for completeness!

Summary of safety equipment: There are hardly any changes to avalanche transceivers, with manufacturers maintaining their existing ranges and making small improvements here and there. Ortovox and Arc'teryx are jointly presenting a new, electric airbag system.

Airbags: lighter, electric

When it comes to airbags, the trend towards electric systems is increasing. Ortovox and Arc'teryx present the new LiTRIC (Light+ Electric) system, a revised electric airbag system based on Arc'teryx Voltair technology with supercapacitors and battery operation. At the press presentation held for this purpose with representatives from both companies, the impression was created that Ortovox and Arc'teryx have fallen a little in love with each other. Ortovox is convinced that the future of airbags lies in electrical systems and, it was explained, approached Arc'teryx to explore the possibility of co-operation. As is well known, the Voltair system never made it onto the European market and, apart from that, an external impetus was evidently needed to drive product development forward at Arc'teryx. In any case, the joint efforts seem to have paid off: The LiTRIC airbag system weighs 1100g and is therefore still noticeably heavier than current mechanical systems, but is in the top class when it comes to electronic systems. The lithium-ion battery and the cold-resistant supercapacitor allow an operating time of 60 hours and at least 2 releases during this period. Charging is done with a USB-C cable.

The LiTRIC system is produced in Germany and will be available in North America and Europe in both Ortovox and Arc'teryx versions. The Ortovox backpack design is similar to the previous Avabags. There will be three Avabag LiTRIC models: Tour, Freeride and Zero. The latter is the lightest backpack in the series, weighing a total of 1970g and 27 litres. Arc'teryx will also be offering three models. Here the design matches the company's usual reduced style. The prices for the LiTRIC airbags are around 1100€ - 1200€.

Ortovox will continue to offer the well-known, mechanical Avabags in the 22/23 season, but will discontinue them after that and thus rely completely on the electric system for the future.

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Scott has been offering electric airbags based on the Alpride E1 system, which also feature supercapacitors, for some time now. The Patrol E1 backpack has been revised for the coming season, is now called Patrol E2 and is also equipped with the updated Alpride E2 system. According to the manufacturer, the airbag system weighs 1140g in this case. It remains to be seen whether other manufacturers who have so far installed the Alpride E1 system will also switch to E2, or whether it was possible to find out the details.

Both the Scott Patrol E2 and the LiTRIC system have won ISPO Awards. How and whether the award is currently connected to the new measurement date in autumn is not clear to me.

The Jetforce airbag system based on a battery-powered blower (Pieps, Black Diamond) remains unchanged for the new season.

Arva has redesigned the Reactor Calgary R 18 airbag backpack. The airbag system appears unchanged from the familiar Reactor series, but the backpack now features a lateral "A-frame" attachment in addition to the transverse ski holder, is more comfortable to wear according to the manufacturer and is more sustainable in production as recycled materials are used.

Avalanche transceivers

Ortovox is still focussing communication on the Diract Voice, an avalanche transceiver with voice commands (PG test), which was presented last year. To summarise, voice support appears to be particularly useful for beginners, but even experienced users can benefit from the additional support in stressful situations.

Pieps will retain the existing fleet. Black Diamond - the parent company - is also keeping the existing devices with the Pieps interior and BD label. In addition, there is the BD LT Recon, which was also introduced last year and has the same interior as the Pieps Micro, but with a different housing and a redesigned switch. The previous Black Diamond Recon BT becomes the "Recon X", whereby apart from the name it is primarily the colour of the switch that seems to have changed.

Mammut, Arva and BCA (Tracker) are sticking with the familiar line-up.


Black Diamond has a new, relatively light ice axe called "Venom" on offer, which is compatible with the shovel blade of the "Transfer" shovel.

The company "pe-SOS" advertises a kind of emergency button for outdoor use. The button notifies contacts that you set yourself, so not necessarily the emergency services. The whole thing works via Bluetooth pairing with the smartphone. The button also functions as an optional "high-pitched alert siren".

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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