2015 Highmark by Snowpulse PRO
There’s not that much new about the Highmark PRO for 14/15, but it does come in a shiny new colour (black), so I thought I’d tell you what I thought of the pack since I wore it all season and recently saw the shiny new version. I hope they send me the black one next year. It looks good.
There’s lot’s of good avalanche airbags out there – and any good salesperson will tell you that they’re all good packs (at least those made by big brands), made by good companies and the one that works the best is the one you wear. However, the Highmark PRO has a couple extra features that sold me, so here’s the deal.
The PRO has what they call the Protection Airbag System, which means that when it explodes, it explodes behind your head and over your shoulders, like a giant 70’s-style lifejacket. I’m told that if an avalanche takes me hurdling down a mountain through rocks and trees, my neck and chest will be provided with ‘trauma protection.’ I’m yet to test this theory, but I choose to trust science. One weird thing about this system is that the airbag itself is stored in the shoulder straps – it means they’re a bit bulker than every other pack out there. After I wore the pack for a month the straps got a bit more flexible, and I’ve always been attached to my neck and chest, so I’ll sacrifice a bit to protect them.
The packs has lots of other things any sledder would want…outside shovel blade pocket to keep the snow out of your pack, enough room to store the essentials you need to keep on ya, a big fuzzy goggle pocket and a belt that stays done up. There’s a big main pocket for stuffing gear and then a compartmentalized one for avy gear and first aid stuff. The pack is a one-size fits (most?) all, but it seemed to fit right out of the box, so there ya go. I was a little nervous when I put it on for the first time because the belt wasn’t even close to fitting, but the belt expands out on the sides and synches in real easy (I tried to show a picture here).
I’ve never blown it off in a real situation, but have heard enough (two) stories of people who have to not consider going out without one. I know it’s a big price tag (this one clocks in at about a grand plus the $200 cylinder), but I once spent that in a day in Vegas and I hope to be able to be that reckless again.