Preventing or minimizing burial depth is the key to reducing avalanche fatalities. That’s because the majority of time in an avalanche rescue is spent on excavating the victim. An airbag is designed to keep you at or near the surface, minimizing excavation time.
Our Float avalanche airbags are the first airbags that are both affordable and easily reusable. A wide network of BCA-authorized refill centers provide unmatched service to Float purchasers. A small 2,700-psi (186 bar) compressed-air cylinder, single-chamber 150-liter airbag, and super efficient venturi system make the Float systems easy to refill, light and affordable.
How do Float airbags reduce burial depth?
Inverse segregation, more commonly referred to as the “Brazil nut effect,” is the science behind why airbags work. The turbulent movement sorts different shaped objects by size (similar to the way large Brazil nuts will rise to the top when a bowl of mixed nuts is shaken). Smaller objects are more likely to fall into the voids created by the turbulence, while larger objects move to the top. In addition to increasing your overall buoyancy, the Float avalanche airbags are designed to make a backcountry user “bigger” than the surrounding pieces of debris in an avalanche. The Floats use compressed air in the cylinder to fill the bag and make the user’s volume larger, reducing or eliminating burial depth and increasing your chances of survival.
How do we refill or exchange the compressed air cylinders?
There are several ways to refill or exchange your cylinder once it has been discharged. BCA has an extensive network of BCA-certified refill centers published on our Refill Center Locator page. These include select dealers, SCUBA and paintball shops, and fire stations. BCA also offers a cylinder exchange program. This enables Float owners to exchange empty cylinders for full cylinders at the dealer’s location or at BCA instead of a certified refill station.
Can I transport a Float on commercial airlines?
While the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has specifically approved avalanche airbags with pressurized cylinders for airline travel, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) does not allow them. If you are traveling in countries outside of North America where refills are not available, contact your airline in advance for permission to check through your pressurized Float cylinder. If permission is granted, then pack the pressurized cylinder in your checked baggage. Make sure it is packed with the following document: IATA_2013_EN.pdf
If you are traveling to or from North America, then TSA will not allow your pressurized cylinder on board. Discharge the compressed air cylinder before entering the airport. Unscrew the cylinder head from the cylinder and put both in re-sealable plastic bags. Carry them through the TSA security checkpoint so they are visible to TSA personnel. Afterward, the cylinder head can be screwed back on the cylinder by hand. When you reach your destination, locate a Float retailer or refill center and exchange or refill your empty cylinder. For a list of Float refill/exchange locations, see our refill centers page.
What BCA probes and shovels is the Float 32 compatible with?
The Float 32 is compatible with all BCA probes.
The Float 32 is compatible with all BCA shovels except for the B-52.
What are the major differences between the Float 32 and the Float 22?
– The Float 32 is 6.5 lbs and the Float 22 is 5.6 lbs.
– The Float 32 has load lifters, ice axe loops, lined goggle pocket and is hydration compatible (designated sleeve for hydration hose).
– Both have designated avalanche tool compartments.
– The Float 32 has 32 liters of packable space.
– The trigger on the Float 32 can be switched to either the right or the left side.
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