Watch video: How to install an avalanche airbag trigger, radio cord and hydration hose

By Dane Olson, BCA technical service manager

In this video, BCA technical service manager Dane Olson shows step-by-step how to install and thread BC Link two-way radios, airbag trigger and hydration hoses into a BCA Float avalanche airbag pack and shoulder sleeve.

Float Accessory Installation Video – Follow these steps to install accessories such as hydration or the BC Link radio into the shoulder strap of your Float avalanche airbag.

  • Prepare the thin parts to thread.
  • Route cable/hose into shoulder sleeve.
  • Open airbag compartment.
  • Pull cable/hose into the pack.
  • Route down and into main compartment.
  • Connect cable/hose to base unit/bladder.
  • Repack airbag.

Here we are going to walk through these steps to route accessories through the shoulder sleeve of your avalanche airbag pack. I may seem like a daunting task at first, but in five minutes, you can complete these steps. Whether it’s your BC Link radio, you are reinstalling an airbag trigger or swapping the trigger from one side to another, or you are installing a hydration hose – it’s basically all done the same way.

All these steps are applicable and you just want to make sure you are not getting the airbag involved with these items – as was reported recently by BCA community member Joel Tingey on Facebook.

AVOID THIS: Incorrect installation of BC Link radio cord over deployed avalanche airbag.


Joel Tingey reports on Facebook: I saw someone ask the other day if you could run the Backcountry Access, Inc. link radio over your airbag and have it deploy. Well after my backpack jumped in front of a climbing turbo sled and it deployed without hesitation perfectly. So yes you can safely run your link radio over your airbag.

BCA’s Edge replies: It’s cleaner to run it right through the airbag compartment. This requires unfolding the airbag and putting the cord through one of the two holes opposite of where the airbag trigger cable is routed. Just put it through the hole (and shoulder sleeve) opposite the trigger cable.‬‬

Proper avalanche airbag accessory installation will ensure that if you do deploy your airbag, nothing will be in the way, and you will not break or lose anything upon that airbag deployment. These steps show how to route Float accessories from the airbag pack shoulder sleeve, to the airbag compartment and the main compartment of t he pack.

Step 1 – Prepare the thin parts to thread.
Your first step in installing a BC Link radio is to disconnect the base radio unit from the cord. Or in the case of a hydration unit, remove the hose from the bladder. In each case, you will have a thin piece of cord, tubing or trigger cable to thread through.


Step 2 – Route cable/hose into shoulder sleeve.
To install radio cord, unzip the shoulder sleeve opposite the sleeve that currently has the airbag trigger. Loosen up the load lifter strap so the shoulder strap can bend freely. Route the end part of your radio cord Mic up into top of shoulder strap, and leave there.


Step 3 – Open airbag compartment.
Next, turn the pack around, and open the airbag breakaway zipper at the top of the pack by pulling it apart. You do not want to use the regular zipper, it’s much easier to use the breakaway zipper to open the compartment and unfold/expose the airbag. Then fold back the flap that covers the zipper back away from the compartment. This will make it much easier for you to grab the end of the Mic cord into from the inside of the shoulder sleeve.


Step 4 – Pull cable/hose into the pack.
Looking into the top corner of the pack, you should be able to see the Mic cord start to poke through the hole from the shoulder strap into the airbag compartment. Guide the Mic through and pull the excess cord all the way into the pack (or the hydration hose if that’s what you are installing). Your radio Mic should now be dangling just outside your shoulder strap.


Step 5 – Route down and into main compartment.
At this point, you can decide which side to route the cord down the interior of the main compartment of the pack. The important thing is to NOT route any cord/hose over the airbag itself in the pack. Make sure everything it routed around the airbag, so if it were to deploy, nothing would be in the way.


You can now route the radio Mic cord down through the side webbing loops into the corner by the airbag cylinder. The webbing loops keep the cord secure and not loose inside the airbag compartment. Then pop the cord or hose through the interior hole into the main compartment of the pack.


Step 6 – Connect cable/hose to base unit/bladder.
You can now connect the radio Mic cord back to the radio base unit, or the hydration hose to the bladder. Lock in the connection and attached the radio base unit or hydration bladder to the webbing loop inside the main compartment. Leave a little bit of slack on the cord above the radio base unit in the pack, so you will not put unnecessary stress on the cord/base unit connection. But you do not want to put too much slack on your cord/hose, as you will be putting other gear in the main compartment, and you do not want anything to get snagged on the cord or hose.

Now check back on the cord routing in the airbag compartment to leave a little slack, so when you go back to measure on your shoulder sleeve where you want your cord or hose to be, you have a little wiggle room.  You can now zip up the shoulder strap and feel confident everything is routed properly.

Step 7 – Repack airbag.
Before repacking, completely open your airbag and look behind and double check that the trigger cable, radio cord and hydration hose are installed correctly in the back of the airbag. Note that nothing is wrapped over the airbag. Now you can finish by folding and repacking the airbag and closing up all the zippers.



If you have any other questions or concerns, please reference our Float resources page for more information and avalanche airbag instructional videos.  Smooth turns and safe travels!