The Safeback SBX Avalanche Survival System: A New Approach to Survive

The Safeback SBX avalanche survival system hasn’t even formally hit the market, and it’s already received an ISPO innovation award and is up for an additional innovation award on the Outside Retailer Snow Present. We received our arms on the system to take a detailed first have a look at the brand new know-how.

When an individual is buried in an avalanche, a countdown begins. They solely have 10 minutes earlier than they begin to run out of air. A examine from Canada discovered that after 35 minutes, they solely have a ten% probability of survival, with nearly sure mind harm.

It’s why you’re presupposed to cup your arms over your nostril and mouth if you end up in that terrifying scenario. It creates a small pocket of air you can breathe from. And hopefully, that would prolong your possibilities of survival — and whenever you’re underneath snow, each second counts.

Safeback is taking that idea to the following stage. After years of innovation and design, Safeback has developed a system that may prolong a buried particular person’s survival time underneath snow as much as 90-160 minutes. It’s a system that primarily turns your total backpack into an air pocket to breathe from.

“5 years of superior analysis and improvement ended up with a chic and easy answer,” William Sherman, the CMO of Safeback, informed GearJunkie. “[It’s] an air pump in your backpack that’s supplying your breathable air.”

We related with Sherman to get our arms on the Safeback SBX system and see the brand new know-how for ourselves. And from what we discovered, this might be a severely disruptive system on this planet of backcountry snowboarding.

It’s not hyperbole to say that this technique may save a whole bunch, possibly even 1000’s, of lives.

Arms-on with Safeback SBX

The Safeback SBX system in entirety.
The Safeback SBX system in its entirety; (photograph/Will Brendza)

GearJunkie coated Safeback’s 2022 ISPO innovation award and its current partnerships with Db and Bergans. It’s linking up with these manufacturers to design backpacks and vests that incorporate the Safeback SBX system.

However this was the primary time we’d interacted with the system in particular person. And when Sherman opened the field and pulled the Safeback SBX out, we have been instantly shocked by its dimension and weight. It’s small. And in complete, with the batteries, it weighs simply 513 grams, or 18 ounces.

Two hoses prolong from the battery pack and air consumption. These will run up by means of the shoulder straps of one among Bergens’ luggage or DB’s vests. The consumption stays within the bag on the wearer’s again. It pumps air in from the encompassing snow to your backpack, up the tubes, and out of the vents on the shoulder straps.

“In open air, it’s delivering over 100L [of air] a minute. And so underneath snow, we will ship 17L per minute,Sherman defined.

Based on Discovery Well being, the typical grownup breathes about 7 or 8L of air per minute. So the Safeback SBX will present a more-than-adequate provide of air to a buried sufferer.

Safeback SBX battery pack with Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries
The Energizer Final Lithium batteries have been chosen for his or her longevity and chilly resistance; (photograph/Will Brendza)

Safeback SBX Battery Life

Nevertheless it isn’t sufficient to pump air from the snow round a consumer’s physique to their face to allow them to breathe it. The system additionally had to have the ability to operate for so long as doable.

That’s why Safeback SBX makes use of Energizer Final Lithium batteries. Sherman defined that these particular batteries function very properly in chilly temperatures. He stated Safeback examined a number of different lithium batteries, however the Energizer’s lasted the longest. And that’s actually what they wished.

“At -22 levels Fahrenheit, we will ship air for 90 minutes,” Sherman stated. “So at a daily temperature like 15 levels, we’re delivering [air] for two hours. After which at 30 [degrees], it’s 160 minutes. So it’s an enormous, enormous period of time because of these batteries.”

Safeback SBX system check light glowing green
The inexperienced gentle signifies the system examine is in progress; (photograph/Will Brendza)

Once you flip the Safeback SBX on, it all the time runs a system examine. You’ll hear the followers buzzing, and a blinking inexperienced gentle flashes on prime. The system begins checking its voltage, checking the software program and the electronics, and ensuring the airways aren’t blocked. You’ll be able to manually run the identical check by merely holding down the system’s button, Sherman demonstrated.

Then, you’re able to hit the backcountry slopes.

The Db vest was designed specifically for the Safeback SBX system
The Db vest was designed particularly for the Safeback SBX system; (photograph/Will Brendza)

The Db Vest and Sage Kotsenburg

Whereas Safeback partnered with each Bergan and Db to design luggage and vests that accommodate the Safeback SBX system, solely Db’s vest shall be accessible within the U.S. It’s a cool piece of backcountry gear, with 8L of storage within the again and two monster entrance panel pockets.

The vest has a compartment for the Safeback SBX. And the shoulder straps have a mesh prime in order that the hoses can simply pump air out of them. An orange activation deal with extends from the left shoulder strap, and when pulled, the Safeback SBX system activates.

Safeback SBX activation trigger in the Db vest
Safebacl SBX activation set off within the Db vest; (photograph/Will Brendza)

Sherman says they future-proofed these activation handles, so they may simply be built-in with an avalanche airbag. Then, you’d solely have to drag one wire, and two avalanche rescue programs would interact. Sherman wouldn’t reveal particulars, however he did say that Safeback is already in discussions with airbag manufacturers who need to be a part of forces.

“It [will be] the world’s most superior avalanche backpack,” he stated. “That’s completely coming.”

Till then, the Db vest must suffice for US backcountry skiers. That’s okay as a result of collectively, this vest and the built-in Safeback SBX system are making a leap ahead in avalanche rescue innovation on their very own. Even with out an airbag, it’s nonetheless secure to name Db’s Safeback avi vest probably the most superior avalanche backpacks ever designed.

Safeback SBX avi system in its compartment in the Db vest.
The compartment within the Db vest that homes the Safeback SBX; (photograph/Will Brendza)

It’s why Sage Kotsenburg has signed on with the mission. He’ll be carrying the Db vest this season — he trusts the system. And if there’s something that Safeback SBX needs to determine proper out of the gate, it’s belief.

“We’re going to be doing all we will to get this within the arms of the correct individuals this season so that there’s a base stage of belief for the work that we put into the merchandise to this point,” stated Sherman. “Belief is an important factor on this product.”

Safeback SBX air hoses and activation trigger
The air vents and activation deal with of the Safeback system; (photograph/Will Brendza)

A Completely different Promise From Avi Airbags

The thought behind an avi airbag is easy and efficient — however removed from good. You pull an activation deal with in your backpack, and an enormous balloon erupts out of it. As a result of snow is water, and air floats in water, the hope is that the airbag makes a skier or rider float to the highest as an alternative of getting buried underneath snow.

Airbag programs like ABS have been round because the ’90s. They usually’ve saved numerous lives. Based on a 2014 examine revealed within the journal Resuscitation, the chance of being critically buried is 47% with out an airbag and decreased to twenty% with an airbag.

However the of us at Safeback are fast to differentiate a notable distinction in what they promise customers. Avi luggage provide confidence that the consumer received’t get buried, received’t must be saved, and received’t actually even want their beacon as a result of they received’t go underneath. Hopefully.

Safeback SBX, against this, is in alignment with conserving your beacon on “ship” mode all the time. It will possibly’t promise to cease you from being buried (and realistically, neither can an airbag system). However it may present 90-160 minutes of respiration time. And generally, that may prolong survival exponentially.

Safeback SBX front view laid out on table.
(Picture/Will Brendza)

Safeback SBX: A 2023/24 Product

Sadly for backcountry skiers and riders, Sherman says the pre-sale for Safeback’s Db vest received’t be till the spring of 2023 (March or April). So individuals received’t actually get to strive the system out till subsequent season.

Each the Safeback SBX system and the Safeback vest are up for innovation awards on the Outside Retailer present subsequent week. And Sherman has his fingers crossed that they may additionally win Product of the 12 months.

No matter awards, Safeback SBX has lots within the works. It’s already trying to broaden, placing its survival system into extra luggage made by extra manufacturers. The model can also be partaking in quite a lot of analysis that he wouldn’t go on file with.

There’s a cause why the Safeback SBX system is already making waves and hasn’t even hit the market but. This know-how has quite a lot of potential to save lots of individuals’s lives. And with the exploding recognition of backcountry snowboarding, gadgets like this are going to be more and more necessary.

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