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PartnerNews | Interview with avalanche airbag pioneer ABS

Edelrid takes over ABS

by Sebastian Müller • 02/11/2023
Once again, a small, innovative company becomes a brand within a larger one: EDELRID takes over ABS; the inventor of avalanche airbag backpacks that has become synonymous with the brand. Here we present all the background and information on the new developments in an interview with ABS Managing Director Andreas Balk.

Advertising // This post is part of an advertising partnership between ABS and PowderGuide // Advertising 

ABS got the avalanche airbag systems rolling with its patent in 1985. Innovative products, co-operations and systems secured the inventor a place at the top of the mountain for decades and virtually as the market leader. No guide and no avalanche safety camp could do without the twin airbags.

After the collections technical elements where revised and developed in the last three years with a completely new design language, the takeover and cooperation with EDELRID caused a movement in the industry. Customers are excited about the future innovations from ABS.  What is the small, fine product team focusing on now? Will ABS once again be a pioneer in the field of safety equipment for snow sports enthusiasts? Will it become more technical? More diverse? Where is the journey heading?

Andi Balk, Managing Director of ABS, answers our questions.

ABS has been through a few wobbles. Will things calm down again with EDELRID?

Bursting with new ideas, we are using our expertise as a founder of the genre and are now pooling our development and manufacturing skills with our new sister EDELRID. However, ABS remains an independent brand with its own design and development department.

Why was ABS sold in the first place?

The current global economic situation and the two Covid winters showed ABS that a strong partner from the industry is needed to continue to successfully make off-piste winter sports safer.

What does the collaboration with EDELRID look like?

Ever since we launched the first avalanche airbag in 1985, our highest aspiration has been to be a safe partner for responsible mountain adventurers.
As a small, fine team of engineers and designers, we are now continuing our technical expertise under the EDELRID umbrella.

In which direction will ABS develop?

Our vision is to become a full-service provider for avalanche safety with a comprehensive portfolio. We were the market leader, idea generator and pioneer. We have a lot up our sleeve and will realise our potential with EDELRID. This is where we get the understanding on what we need to work on with our technical innovations. EDELRID is itself in the PPE industry and knows all about the complex tests, material research and processes. This is a great advantage!

Will the synergies between the two brands also be recognisable in the product portfolio?

ABS still remains a technical think tank for avalanche safety equipment - but can now draw on the expertise and capabilities of EDELRID's product managers. As a first step, the experts in every department at EDELRID have already been involved in driving ABS even further forward; from mountain guiding to accounting and to in the laboratory. However, the greatest synergy effect will certainly be the joint production and its possibilities at Vaude Vietnam.
What will be the first joint product? Will there be one?

Initial collaboration considerations are already underway, but a decision has not yet been met.

Which target group is being aimed at? EDELRID is the market leader for climbing harnesses and climbing equipment. Is this customer group now being targeted?

ABS customers are mountain sports enthusiasts with an affinity for technology and design. We will continue to build on the trust that ABS has enjoyed for decades with our new products. Small but fine collections are being developed - in close co-operation with professionals in the snow, on the mountain and on the rock face. We are sure to appear on the radar of one or two climbers, helped by EDELRID's remarkable image in terms of expertise and quality.

Where does ABS see itself in 3-5 years?

As the avalanche airbag manufacturer that you can no longer ignore. 100% confidence in 100% products.

What is the highlight of this season?

Our bestseller this winter is the A.Light Go, a lightweight avalanche backpack for beginners that has been reduced to the essentials. Here we have installed our new mechanical EasyTech® release system for the first time. As the safest airbag system on the market, we continue to rely on our unique TwinBag® with two independent airbags.

One of the major advantages of the new mechanical system is the easy and uncomplicated test deployment. For example, you can practise the deployment as often as you like - without inflating the airbags and you get a safe feeling for emergencies. You learn how hard you need to tighten and at what height the handle should best be attached. We are all very enthusiastic about our A.Light Go, because it gives you an incredible amount of freedom of movement and still offers complete safety. Riding with it is really fun.
What's more, the handle does not need to be replaced after each release, which saves costs and energy. At the same time, the mechanical release has many advantages over electronic systems. Above all, it is cheaper to manufacture, which at just 599 euros is also reflected in the costs for the end customer. After triggering in an emergency and inserting a new cartridge, the mechanical system from ABS is immediately ready for use again without any waiting time.
Incidentally, we manufacture the system in Bavaria and also install it in our backpacks here in order to meet our highest quality standards. Every single avalanche backpack is manually tested and inspected to guarantee the safety and functionality that ABS stands for.

And what can we expect next winter?

Our portfolio for the 2022/2023 season offers more individuality and versatility than ever before - for winter or summer. In addition to our specially developed pyrotechnic solid system, we will also be offering a mechanical and electronic version, making us the first provider to have all three release systems in our programme. With EASY.TECH, we have a mechanical release system that gives our customers unprecedented flexibility: a release can be practised an unlimited number of times - this ensures safer handling of avalanche protection equipment.
For the first electronic release system, we have opted for the innovative market leader Alpride. The lightest and best electronic airbag system on the market is the centrepiece of the A.LIGHT E, which is the ticket to exciting powder adventures, especially for winter sports enthusiasts who like to travel.

Why should I opt for ABS?

As already mentioned, experienced mountain guides have been loyal to us for decades - regardless of what's new on the market. Our experience and conscientious work are crucial. But our USP's such as German technology and production facilities, everything from a single source and the fact that we offer a comprehensive service are also major plus points. We are very familiar with all airbag systems and only work with market leaders, so I am sure that we will be able to re-establish ABS as a genre founder and pioneer in the future.

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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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