The past trips I have been on the road with a JetForce Tour avalanche airbag from Black Diamond. I have been riding with an ABS airbag for years, but my cartridge was removed from my luggage at the airport on my last trip to Canada. With the JetForce system from Black Diamond, that problem is gone. And so the Black Diamond JetForce Tour went on a trip to Canada.
The Black Diamond JetForce Tour works with the Alpride E1 system. It is a fully electronic fan driven by super capacitors. So there is no cartridge in the JetForce Tour. The system can be charged using a micro USB and two AA batteries. That process pretty smoothly. I charged the pack at the end of the day and a few hours later the light blinked green again so that the pack could work again for a day in the backcountry. The disadvantage is that the pack must lie open on the floor and that you cannot remove the system to charge.
The trigger is mechanical. That simply means that there are no electronics involved and the activation is very simple and reliable. When you have pulled the airbag, the system is recharged by the two AA batteries and the airbag is completely good-to-go again within an hour. You can of course install the trigger on the left or right.
The system indicates the status with a number of flashing lights. The lights are visible from the outside of the bag. You can easily switch it on and off. There are actually three options. When the light flashes green, the airbag is completely ready for use, with an orange light flashing the airbag can still be used, but needs to be charged soon and with a red light flashing the bag must be charged. Easy as that. My experience is that the charge easily lasts a day.
Apart from the system, it is of course also important that the pack itself fits properly. I am about 185 cm tall and had the M/L. This fitted well and is better than my first generation ABS pack, but well, that might not be a fair comparison. The total weight of the bag is 2.63 kilos (relatively light). There is also a separate compartment at the front for your shovel and probe. With a 3/4 zipper you also have access to the large compartment (where the system is located) and where you have enough space to store other things. It is not optimal that the system is in the middle of that compartment, but okay, you have to pack around it. Skis can be strapped on (diagonally), A-frame is not possible.
Where I can usually tell a lot of stories about problems with my ABS at customs, this doesn't cause any problems with the Black Diamond JetForce Tour. You don't have to put anything in your checked baggage and the pack can just be taken as hand luggage. It couldn't be much easier.
Quite a significant disadvantage that you do not expect with a bag of € 1000, is that it gives stains. In humid conditions, the dye of the bag (in this case black) influences your jacket. Since many riders will wear an expensive technical jacket, this is a particularly big disadvantage. Black stains also appeared on my The North Face jacket after a few days. This is something that Black Diamond will have to solve.
The Black Diamond JetForce Tour is a high-quality airbag. No more hassle at airport security and you can pull the airbag a few times to practice. Charging also works very easily. The disadvantage is that the black dye in the pack stains and therefore your jacket will have to endure quite a bit.