Ever since we saw a picture in a catalog of a backpack with an enormous balloon attached, we knew we needed to get our hands on one. Immediately.
And earlier this year, everything fell into place. Ortovox, one of the leading ABS Avalanche Pack manufacturers, delighted us when it said it would lend us its Base 20 ABS system. Our gift is now yours to enjoy, too.
Wait, what is an avalanche pack, you ask? Well in short, it's a device to keep you from dying. Avalanches, as they're wont to do, explode out of nowhere and often within minutes if not seconds, with no warning. What happens during an avalanche is something called granular convection, the same phenomenon that makes the cereal crumbs sink to the bottom of the box and puts the larger pieces on top.
Without an avalanche pack, your chances of surviving are around 90 percent. Not bad, but hey, that's a 1/10 chance of eternal nothingness. While wearing a pack, though, your chances jump to 97 percent. May not seem like much, but that's a 10 percent chance of dying versus a three percent chance of dying—insurance that's worth the cost, one could argue.
Though there wasn't any snow in New York City last week, we decided to blow one of these avalanche packs up on Broadway outside the Supercompressor HQ to see it in action. No snow, but if you've ever walked through Soho on a weekday, you know that the crowd itself can be something of an avalanche. (Don't worry: no one was even mildly hurt in our experiment.)
For maximum effect, and the collective peace of mind of passersby, we decided to have one of our shorter employees be the guinea pig. Molly McGlew, our dear social media editor, agreed. She then regretted her decision when I told her the compressed nitrogen canister had something north of 4,000 PSI.
Molly called her mom and told her she loved her. We went downstairs.
Lift-off went well. No one called the cops, or thought she had a bomb. This is the advantage of using a disarmingly pretty blond woman with a striped shirt instead of this guy.