Freeriding, ski touring and splitboarding have been booming for years - and even more so in times of pandemic, when nature experiences and individualization play a particularly important role. Due to avalanche hazards, however, these sports are also associated with a high demand for safety equipment. In addition to the "classics" avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel, which should always be present off-piste, more and more winter sports enthusiasts*in the meantime also decide to buy an avalanche backpack with airbag, which should keep them on the snow surface in the event of an avalanche triggering and protect them from burial.
The German mountain sports brand Deuter has recognized this need and is launching a new range of avalanche backpacks with innovative technology in the fall of 2022: the Alproof series, available as Alproof (in sizes 32 liters for men and 30 liters SL for women) and as Alproof Lite (in sizes 22 liters for men and 20 liters SL for women).
The German backpack pioneer and sleeping bag expert Deuter, which has its expertise in the manufacture of high-quality backpacks, brought the know-how of the Swiss company Alpride in-house for the new avalanche backpacks. As a result, the Alproof series combines the high quality and maximum carrying comfort of Deuter backpacks with the Swiss engineering skills of Alpride, which has been producing lightweight and robust avalanche airbags since 2009. The Alproof 32 is GS® certified by TÜV Süd and specially designed to meet the needs of ambitious freeriders*. At its heart is the advanced, fully electronic Alpride E2 avalanche airbag with the latest supercapacitor technology, which ensures high safety in an emergency.
"For us it was clear from the beginning that it should be an electronic system for the Alproof series," explains Johannes Braun, Product Manager Outdoor Backpacks and Sleeping Bags at Deuter, the decision for Alpride. "These systems offer the possibility of multiple releases and the opportunity to practice realistically at any time without additional costs. These are definitely two big advantages over cartridge systems in terms of safety." By using supercapacitors and eliminating the need for built-in rechargeable batteries, he said it is currently the most forward-looking technology that reliably and quickly inflates the airbag at all times. "That's why we very quickly decided to work with Alpride," Braun said.
The Alpride E2 avalanche airbag is considered one of the lightest electronic airbag systems on the market. Even low temperatures cannot harm it because, unlike lithium-ion batteries, the supercapacitors can store electrical energy without chemical reaction. As a result, they deliver the same performance from -30 °C to +40 °C. Another advantage is that they can be recharged in just 40 minutes using two AA batteries or in just 20 minutes via a micro USB port. This means you can inflate the airbag as often as you like for practice without incurring costs for recharging or changing cartridges. "In addition, the performance does not diminish even after repeated recharging, so supercapacitors can be recharged approximately 500,000 times and therefore have a virtually unlimited useful life," says Johannes Braun. "And because the system does not use permanently installed lithium-ion batteries, pressure cartridges or pyrotechnic triggers, there are no restrictions on travel, transport or storage."
The large LCD display of the Deuter Alproof 32 allows you to check the state of charge of the supercapacitors, the capacity of the additional AA batteries and the function of the overpressure valve. Also, it shows at a glance the parameters of the self-test and USB connection. By means of three LEDs can be read from the outside whether the airbag is activated - ideal for a partner check.
With 162 liters, the airbag is larger than the required standard size of 150 liters and thus offers increased safety. Thanks to the height-adjustable and either left or right attachable release handle on the shoulder strap, it is easy to operate as soon as it needs to be released. The air can then be manually released from the inflated airbag via the release function button, which is easily accessible from the outside. After three minutes at the latest, it escapes fully automatically through the electronic opening of the valve.
Thanks to its durable, abrasion-resistant and water-repellent material, the PFC-free Deuter Alproof 32 meets important environmental standards. High-quality workmanship and robust fabrics ensure long-lasting use and thus sustainability. The backpack is equipped with the lightweight Alpine back system. Thanks to ergonomically shaped shoulder straps and the padded hip fins with material loops, it offers a compact, body-hugging fit as well as high wearing comfort. It also ensures pleasant ventilation of the back. In addition to the hip belt and the infinitely adjustable chest strap, a leg loop prevents the backpack from slipping over the head in case of spillage.
In the fully hinged main compartment with a circumferential 3-way zipper, the safety equipment finds its place in a reinforced compartment in addition to the super capacitor. Several compartments and pockets provide for a sensible organization of personal belongings. A three-liter hydration system can also be accommodated. On the outside of the backpack there are two separate, removable straps for attaching skis or snowboards. Thanks to special holders, you can also attach ice axes and poles to the backpack. On the front there is a removable mesh pocket, which can be used as a helmet holder or to store equipment, for example, to stow wet clothes. The Alproof weighs 2,660 grams in the 32-liter version including airbag system.
The functional advantages of the Deuter Alproof 32 at a glance
- Does not require compressed air cartridges
- unlike other airbag systems.
- Large LCD display for checking the most important parameters
- Easy to use
- Sustainability thanks to durable, PFC-free materials
- Lightweight and ergonomic
The jury awarded the Deuter Alproof 32 primarily because it is easy to handle and has a low weight. Also the modern technology, such as the LCD display and the external LED lights, as well as the wearing comfort of the backpack appreciated the Juror*innen. The Deuter Alproof 32 is available from autumn 2022 at a retail price of EUR 1,300 (including electronic airbag system E2) in stores. The Deuter Alproof Lite 22, where you have to do without some features and is rewarded with a 230 grams lighter weight, costs EUR 1,200.