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.

From testing components for their functionality at cold temperatures, to ensuring that the device stays correctly in place through the violence of an avalanche, the current Safeback SBX has been through many iterations to get to its current state.

Battery Testing

Safeback SBX is powered by 6x Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries.

Having a reliable power source in backcountry conditions was a critical point in our product design. Our key performance criteria were power-to-weight ratio, performance in cold temperatures, and practicality of use in the backcountry. After testing many solutions, from rechargeable battery units, to standard alkaline battery systems, to single-use Lithium batteries, we observed that Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries were the clear top performer in terms of performance in cold weather, and weigh significantly less than an equally powerful rechargeable unit. Additionally, our field tests showed that it was much lighter and more convenient to pack a spare set of batteries for a multi-day trip then to bring a power bank large enough to recharge this system.

Safeback SBX, buried under the snow during field testing for airflow and electronic performance in cold environments.

Low Temperature Testing

In order to see how the product would respond to cold environments, we have placed it out in the field for extended tests both above and below the snow. Many of these tests, especially those under the snow, have been performed together with FFI (Norwegian Defence Research Establishment). The system’s performance has also been tested in controlled environments together with Gylling Teknikk AS - an engineering and manufacturing consultant in Norway. They have tested the battery and system performance in temperatures of 0°C, -10°, -20°, -30°.

Product Reinforcement

Avalanches generate an extremely high force on the victim and their equipment. Given the importance of the outlet placement after burial, we have conducted thorough tests of both individual components and the integrated system to ensure that it stays intact and in place for when you need it most. The product consists of relatively few components, meaning fewer things can break. In addition to being built to perform in all conditions, the product will be integrated into certified and approved backpacks/vests, further protecting the unit during avalanche burial.

Certification of SBX and Partner Backpacks

Safeback has collaborated directly with DEKRA, a German certification company to design a testing and certification process for the Safeback product and its backpack partners. DEKRA has designed a test plan for the Safeback SBX and has had it approved by the European authorities. All backpacks and products integrating the Safeback SBX must be pre-approved by Safeback and meet the certification requirements from DEKRA before the products can be sold in the market. The certification process has started with DEKRA and is expected to be completed in October 2022.

More Research

Medical Needs of Snow Burial Victims

Based on the problem set of oxygen deprivation during avalanche burial, independent medical trials were conducted by the Mountain Medical Research Group at the University of Bergen.

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Gas Mechanics in Snow

In order to make a product to improve the air quality of the snow, we had to model, understand, and predict how gas travels through the pores within the snowpack.

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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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Backpacks with Safeback SBX

Safeback SBX

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