Theres a pretty long and lengthy article here about the rapidly growing world of backcountry skiing, from Outside Magazine. It makes some pretty interesting comparisons about deaths by avalanche vs deaths on the groomers, or even by lightening strikes. It talks about ABS packs as well, which although I think they’re far from a foolproof way to avoid dying in an avalanche, I certainly think that in many situations they can be your difference between staying on top, or being buried alive. Some of the popular brands out there that I’ve seen are the SnowPulse, BCA, and Mammut (Powered by Snowpulse), which still uses a different bag shape than SnowPulse’s “Lifebag” pack. Black Diamond and Arc’Teryx are two more of the many companies that have plans to jump on the bandwagon for the 2012-2013 season with ABS packs. I’ve gotta say I’m a bit partial towards the SnowPulse Lifebag, due to the fact that it will wrap almost your entire top body, and protect the back and sides of your head as well as your ribs while being hurdled down the mountain. It seems the basic trend of the bags right now is to inflate a giant pillow BEHIND your head, and I can just picture that thing slamming me face first into a tree, or rock. It also goes to talk about newer product out such as the Marker Barons, an alpine binding with a free-heel option for touring, which would have never been considered as early as 5 years ago by most skiers. Its just a real good article about how much the curiosity of the backcountry is taking off, and its not necessarily being explored by people that have any experience or know-how about backcountry safety.