Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Avalanche Airbag Pack
Current Retail: $779.97-$1,079.99
Historic Range: $0.01-$1,449.95
A great evolution on the airbag concept with terrific selection of features.
- Multiple Air Bag deployments
- Simple system
- Lots of cool features
- Comfortable to wear
- Pretty small interior size (28L is accurate)
- Huge exterior size
So I got to take this pack out for a spin the other day on a Ski Mountaineering objective. It was a pretty short day and we didn't get into any terrain that we felt was particularly risky, so I never felt the need for its key feature.
The pack is accurate to the rest of the BD M/L sizing. It's surprising comfortable, and breathable for a winter pack. I certainly found it rather enjoyable to wear. The bag is burly, and feels super durable. The buckle was easier to operate then other avi bags I've seen.
The pack is much smaller than it looks due to the airbag taking up a lot of volume. It appears to be a 35-40 litre bag from the outside, but I can get exactly the same amount of gear into it as my Arc'teryx Quintic 28. But it is advertised as a 28, so I suppose that shouldn't be surprising.
Getting into the pack is easy. Rear opening makes everything accessible. The Air bag coats the side and top, leaving the centre portion to stow your gear. because of this it ends up distributing weight really well making it surprisingly comfortable to ski with.
28L I found a little small for a ski mo day. I had a tiny packable windshell, softshell, hardshell, downjacket, 1L Nalgene, mitts, first aid kit, repair kit, mini bivy, harness, and assorted carabiners and pulleys. On the uptrack when I put all my layers in the pack I really had to force the zip shut. In hindsight I should have left the hardshell at home.
The avi pocket in the front is adequate, just enough room for large shovel, handle, saw and probe. It has its own white zipper.
There is a google/extra pockets that is easily access from the front as well. In the bottom is a sweet storage space for the helmet holder, and diagonal strap/ice axe loop. Both worked very well.
My favourite feature was the tiny pocket on the waist belt that stowed the under leg strap, a necessary, but annoying part of avi bags. It was well stored, and kept it out of the way until you needed it where it was easy to put on in an instant.
The coolest thing about this pack is I got to deploy it without hassle as a test. Turning it on is simple. You press the button on the toggle for 4 seconds. It blinks then you get a green light that gently strobes. Then yank away. We tested it three times. Pretty impressed I must say. Then all you have to do is recharge, which apparently only takes a couple hours.
Now ideally I would never have to deploy this bag, but being able to double check it is a comforting thought. Also a cool party trick...
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer