Was thinking today that the BCA Float 30 pack was supposed to be in retailers hands in December (as was the Tracker 2, though I think that one was originally December 08…) and that I hadn’t seen or heard anything about anybody carrying them in the flesh yet – though I have heard whispers they’ve started shipping. Anyways, found yet another Float inflation vid, testing it’s ability to deploy in temps of -22 below (apparently some Euro standard requirement).
We went into the Sun Microsystems cold lab last week to test the first production Float 30 packs coming off the production line. The temp in this room was -30 degrees C (-22 F). This is the coldest temp at which avalanche airbags must be able to inflate (within five seconds), according to European standards. As you can see, the Float 30 deploys quite effectively at this temp.
It’s not just the air that was -30 C. We let the entire system reach -30 before deploying it. It’s amazing how stiff everything gets when it’s this cold (including BCA technician Jerry Helbak, shown in video). The system has to be very robust to be able to push all this stiff material out through the stiff pack material and Velcro closure. Then, at warm temperatures, you need to make sure it doesn’t make the bag explode. That’s quite a challenge getting the product to work over such a wide temperature range. This has probably been the most challenging part of the project.