There’s an English proverb that says “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That tends to explain a progression of events that started a little over 20 years ago and has led to the creation of high quality winter survival and safety products.
Backcountry Access came about in 1994 after an avalanche buried Bruce Edgerly and an avalanche beacon was invented by Bruce McGowen. Edgerly’s near-death experience made him realize that McGowen’s new invention was a necessity for extreme winter enthusiasts. This connection led to a business, which led to more products. Twenty years later what started as a shared interest and business venture, is now a multi-million dollar business designed to save lives.
The progression of BCA and its products continues on today.
At SnoWest Magazine, we have been quite aware of the products available at BCA. Over the years we have not only carried BCA products (Trekker beacon, shovel and probe) with us when we go out on snow, but we usually carry them in a BCA backpack. And we’ve tried to stay abreast of new products BCA introduces.
Several years ago BCA incorporated an avalanche air bag in its backpack, introducing the Float series. Last year it introduced a lightweight breathable protective vest. Then late in the season, we got wind of a new product being designed by BCA that incorporated a backpack and avi bag with a protective vest. After a couple of quick phone calls and emails, we had an early version of the Float MtnPro Vest to try out on the snow.
Keep in mind, this is a product that you must have … but never want to use. Like owning a gun for personal protection, or a life insurance policy, you want to have the peace of mind that you’re protected from the worst, but not be hampered from doing day-to-day activities.
The Float MtnPro Vest is a piece of equipment that you can wear without having it interfere with your normal movement. It is light; it is comfortable. And it’s not intrusive. Yet, if you find yourself caught in a situation where the mountain starts moving, you know you have a fighting chance of getting out of that predicament alive.
When it comes to a product review, well, try as we might, no mountains started moving. Even with the shortened snow season we found the Float MtnPro Vest to be just the kind of product that incorporated everything we needed for protection in one package.
For years we have used the Float backpacks. But we found that wearing them over chest protectors created a layer of bulk that restricted our movement, which led to restricting our ability to have full control over our snowmobile. We were forced to choose either protection of a moving mountain or protection from a moving tree.
Now we can have protection from both without compromising mobility.
The Float MtnPro Vest is designed to accommodate other great BCA products, including an avi beacon and BC Link radio, along with a few other essentials. It provides full front, side and back protection through a combination of hard shell and polyethylene foam.
The airbag part of the vest utilizes a small compressed-air refillable cylinder that fills a 150-liter bag at the pull of a cord. Overall weight with a full cylinder is 7.5 pounds. The price of this system is $799 and should be available this fall.
BCA stands behind its products and feature a 30-day return policy and 3-year warranty. For more information contact BCA at http://www.backcountryaccess.com/products/avalanche-safety/float-airbags/.