Practical Field Testing

Usability and practicality in the field has been a key point of focus during the final stages our product development.

Safeback CEO, Tor Berge, out on a backcountry tour in 2022 in his home zone in Western Norway.

Internal Testing

As backcountry skiers and splitboarders ourselves, we have always taken prototypes out touring throughout the product development process. The product had to be something that we would want use in all conditions - from sidecountry missions from the resort to multi-day backcountry expeditions. Using the system ourselves has not only been a source of feedback internally, but also helped us to inform our hypotheses to give to external testers. This has made it easier for us to build larger-scale testing programs where we collect feedback more systematically in order to confirm or deny those hypotheses. Additionally, using the product heavily ourselves has made it easier to relate to product feedback and implement adjustments as needed.

Norwegian soldier testing a very early prototype in the winter of 2019.

Military Personnel

From very early in our prototyping process, we have sent our systems out into the snow in the packs of the Norwegian military to get feedback about their usability and inform the next iteration of the product. The research and development collaboration with the Norwegian Armed Forces allowed us to work directly with their School for Winter Warfare, where soldiers are trained in winter combat techniques and spend long days with skis on their feet and packs on their backs. Their input has contributed to the evolution of the system to something which could be externally mounted onto any pack, to the final design where it is directly integrated into packs in order to be as practical as possible.

IFMGA Guide and Owner of Romsdalen Lodge, Björn Kruse, sets a snow anchor for a rappel in Romsdalen in March, 2022

Backcountry Guides and Instructors

Guides and avalanche instructors are true super-users of touring packs, often putting their equipment through more use in a couple of seasons than a recreational user might in a decade. We have worked directly with IFMGA-certified mountain guides operating in Norwegian and global guiding companies for the last two years to put our product to the test. Practical testing of the Safeback SBX will continue with European and North American IFMGA-certified guides throughout the coming 22/23 winter season. Based on their feedback, we have been able to adjust the placement of the SBX system in order to ensure that the system is as user-friendly as possible, while not disrupting their high packing needs when out with clients or courses. Guide feedback has also contributed to the optimization of the product to be as compact and light as possible without risking performance.

In the field with a Norwegian Rescue Dog team in February, 2022

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue teams spend more time exposed to avalanche danger than most backcountry travelers due to the fact that they are often called into zones where an avalanche has already occurred. This system has been tested by members of the Norwegian Rescue Dog teams for input on the product’s usability, as well as to get input on the discussion of safety in the mountains.

More Product Testing

Independent Medical Trial: Full Burial Testing

Eurac Research has conducted an independent medical trial of Safeback SBX to explore the extent to which the system can extend delay suffocation during burial.

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Snow Burial Simulations

To confirm the findings of our modeled research, we created burial simulations to test iterations of our system and measure the actual airflow it generated in the snow.

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Technical Solutions for Supplying Air Through Snow

Developing the Safeback SBX system has required significant testing of all components, both individually and as an integrated system.

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Backpacks with Safeback SBX

Safeback SBX

Designed to provide breathable air to an avalanche victim under the snow, extending their potential survival window.