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  • Avi Airbag Cylinder refilling

    Has anyone tried self refilling a steel cylinder? This could solve the flying issue, and allow testing.
    I see you can get a 300 bar hand pump for paintball air guns. The ideal would be one with a small electric motor, speed not being critical, so it would not have to be the heavy kit used in shops.
    Last edited by Dostie; 6th October 2019, 08:28 AM.

  • #2
    Yikes. I think it's a dangerous thing if you don't know what you are doing. Of course, you might very well know what you are doing and can make it safe. But if you don't.....

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    • #3
      Talk to a Scuba dive shop, they have knowledge of refilling cylinders, although I am a little sceptic if they do 300 bar. Mammut sell only refillable cylinders for 200 bar. I think that 300 bar require special couplings/gear.

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      • #4
        I think all these Airbags are sold in the US, with fine print "cylinder not included"; a bit of a scam. So you pay $400 or $500 for a so-called "airbag" , then you spend $160 or more on a cylinder, only to discover the cylinder you were sent is empty, and no-one near you can fill it...and you have to buy a special set of "discs" before it can be filled.

        Not to mention, you can get much lighter, smaller (but non-refillable ) carbon cylinders in Europe, but not over here. As for airline travel, unless you are flying in Europe, or back to Canada, you can't take a charged cylinder with you, in your airbag, even in your checked baggage.
        So you buy your airbag, buy the cylinder, get it filled, then discover you can't take it on an airplane, out West (in the US anyway) on a hut trip..and no one at your destination can fill it.

        End of my rant.
        Last edited by chamonix; 7th October 2019, 07:14 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by chamonix View Post
          I think all these Airbags are sold in the US, with fine print "cylinder not included"; a bit of a scam. So you pay $400 or $500 for a so-called "airbag" , then you spend $160 or more on a cylinder, only to discover the cylinder you were sent is empty, and no-one near you can fill it...

          Not to mention, you can get much lighter (but non-refillable ) carbon cylinders in Europe, but not over here. As for airline travel, unless you are flying in Europe, or back to Canada, you can't take a charged cylinder with you, in your airbag, even in your checked baggage.
          So you buy your airbag, buy the cylinder, get it filled, then discover you can't take it on an airplane, out West (in the US anyway) on a hut trip..and no one at your destination can fill it.

          End of my rant.
          Thanks, you saved me the trouble of being the designated forum ranter on this one..

          I have a big compressor, and pressurizing it doesn't seem like it would be a problem. The air doesn't have to be "breathable air" for the airbag, so any compressor should work. How do the canisters seal? Are the seals reusable? Are they internal or external to the cylinder??

          Edited to add... The canister pressure is 2500 psi.... Wow! I can't see any normal "construction usage" compressor filling a canister now that I've researched it.... It seems there are high pressure hand pumps that can do it, and they cost ~ $150.
          Last edited by tele.skier; 7th October 2019, 06:46 PM.
          the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile

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          • #6
            My $0.02 based on experience with a Mammut Nirvana 35L RAS system. Purchased it 7 yrs ago and used it on a couple of Canada hut trips. This was a group decision to use airbags on the trip and I chose to buy one as I figured 2-3 week long rentals would equal the cost of a new pack. I sweated the TSA check at SFO, but got through. The cylinder was empty and the pressure gauge read zero. This was the key for me when the TSA inspector did his check and then loudly announced to his buddies,"look the pressure is zero." I filled it at a gear shop in Golden before I took the heli to the hut. Flying back I decided to remove the gauge and valve from the cylinder for easier inspection. There were no issues on the inspection for the return flight. Here in Northern California, I am able to get it filled at some ski resorts - Kirkwood, and ski shops in South Lake Tahoe.
            Sealing - the Mammut that I have "seals" via a shut off nipple valve. The bag activates the cylinder by puncturing a single use disc that is in-line between the cylinder and the airbag. The disc must be replaced after each use.
            Rants - agree with the previous poster(s). Further rants - the Mammut that I have is heavy for a 35 L pack and even without the cylinder. Ideally, practicing or checking with the pack should be a regular part of owning one, but this necessitates refilling. Sadly, I leave the cylinder at home most times and rely on the assessments we do for any backcountry trip.

            Gear whore but related question- anyone here have experience with the Patagonia Descensionist Pack? I like the weight and it has the features that one would need.
            TIA
            Originally posted by riser3
            I heart filthy, stinky "hippies", although isn't mchin a Doctor or something like that? Hardly qualifies as a "hippie" IMHO...

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            • #7
              the snow is waiting...I would like a light weight, Airline Travel ready, re-usable airbag that doesn't cost $1200.00
              Last edited by chamonix; 7th October 2019, 07:06 PM.

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              • #8
                Considering the cost and inconvenience of refilling a cylinder, seems a worthy side job IFF you practice as much as you/we should. I think this basic conundrum is why the leaf-blower fan packs are appealing.

                Personally I've switched to the sealed canister concept promoted by ABS, Arva and Alpride (BD/G3/Scott). Though marginal, refillable canisters can and sometimes do leak. If you practice as you should, at least once a season, then the leakage is negligible. If you let it go for a few years, it probably still has no effect but it might. But refilling is a PITA and not really that cheap when you consider your time, thus I understand TMM's motivation. The sealed canister concept has been accepted by companies world wide so it is "easy" to find canisters you can "rent" near your destination when going international. Depends on your destination though.

                It does come down to cost, right? What's the cost of refilling a canister at a shop? Or buying a new sealed canister? Or buying a more expensive battery powered fan. And which one to you prefer?

                As ever, avoidance is key. Airbag packs, like beacons, are insurance. How much are you willing to pay for insurance? I like the concept of refilling your own. I am definitely not willing to invest that much energy in it. Let us know what you figure out. I'm sure something exists but the cost???

                Hint: The shops I've seen doing it don't use a compressor, they gang scuba tanks together with appropriate plumbing and use one to fill the cylinder. The second tank is either used as backup, or as a booster to refill the first one. When one gets too low, they refill it at the scuba shop. One tank probably fills, what?, 20 cylinders? Ten? How many times do you plan to refill in the course of a few years?

                ain't no turn like tele!

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                • #9
                  The G3 Cabrio Airbag looks interesting...for $849 US, and this price includes the 2, charged cartridges.

                  https://www.backcountry.com/g3-cabri...stem-backpack?

                  You can buy the replacement dual cartridges, from Backcountry.com, so it seems they can be shipped to a customer, without a lot of Hazmat paper work.
                  https://www.backcountry.com/g3-alpri...ExOmFpcmJhZyA=

                  but can you just carry the airbag with the 2 charged CO2 cartridges on a plane? Who knows if the TSA will let you bring it on board? G3 say you can.
                  G3 uses a gas cylinder (included in purchase) system due to its reliable deployment, compared to other deployment methods, and the canisters are easily replaceable (one time use only) and meet TSA and IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations for travel.
                  https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/...60-EN-2.3a.pdf
                  Last edited by chamonix; 8th October 2019, 06:46 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I used to refill our scuba tanks at Wildy after ten canister refills. We charged $15 to fill a canister five years ago.

                    I would prefer--actually would only be interested in--a battery-powered fan airbag but sorry, I am not going to spend $1200 on a 26 liter pack no matter what else it does. My 35 liter pack is barely big enough for most days. I'll keep using my wits, recognizing that I am an imperfect human skiing with other imperfect humans and there are no guarantees of safety ever, no matter what kit I might be carrying.
                    Last edited by cesare; 8th October 2019, 08:11 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chamonix View Post
                      The G3 Cabrio Airbag looks interesting...for $849 US, and this price includes the 2, charged cartridges...
                      ...can you just carry the airbag with the 2 charged CO2 cartridges on a plane? Who knows if the TSA will let you bring it on board? G3 say you can.
                      You can. The reason this dual cartridge system, and the actual gasses used was chosen by Alpride was because this is the exact same system used on planes for their life vest systems. IOW - it is approved by default. THEY are using it themselves, so it is automatically approved. The only difference is the size of the cartridges on planes VS in your airbag pack.

                      BD is now offering a similar pack to the Cabrio, for the same price. They offer the cartridge pair for $50.

                      Cesare,

                      re: Fan-based systems. I like the concept of multiple deployments for practice. I do NOT like dependency on software. Admittedly it is a far less complex code package than the confuser I'm typing on, or my dumb-phone, but it's software. It makes me nervous. I like the simplicity of a mechanical system with compressed gas. We can agree to disagree. I agree wholeheartedly with the importance of the s/w between our ears being the first line of defense.




                      ain't no turn like tele!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dostie View Post
                        You can. The reason this dual cartridge system, and the actual gasses used was chosen by Alpride was because this is the exact same system used on planes for their life vest systems. IOW - it is approved by default. THEY are using it themselves, so it is automatically approved. The only difference is the size of the cartridges on planes VS in your airbag pack.
                        Just because something is being used in an aircraft, say CO2 cartridges for the door slides, doesn't mean you can carry the same cartridge on board..the folks screening passengers have their own rules, or do whatever they want.

                        For example, there is a very large fire axe in the cockpit of all commercial airliners; think Jack Nicholson in the "Shinning".. A Captain friend I know, (in uniform) was upset when screening took away his nail clippers. He returned to the screening area with the fire axe he had "retrieved" from his cockpit, just to show them what he could use in the event of a fire.
                        I think he got his nail clippers back.
                        Last edited by chamonix; 8th October 2019, 04:11 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by chamonix View Post
                          Just because something is being used in an aircraft, say CO2 cartridges for the door slides, doesn't mean you can carry the same cartridge on board..the folks screening passengers have their own rules, or do whatever they want.
                          Look Cham, you're right that the Tyrannical Security Asswipes can do whatever they want. But those cartridges are approved by the IATA which controls, theoretically anyway, what is okay to put on a plane and what is not. As for it being a carry-on, I'll have to do some double-checking.

                          Double-check below - based on the IATA document you referenced above.

                          Click image for larger version

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                          In the end, it depends on whether the airline you're flying is okay with your airbag and its owner. That also depends on how you interact with TSA. If you make it an issue sans diplomacy, they probably will too.
                          Last edited by Dostie; 8th October 2019, 04:50 PM.

                          ain't no turn like tele!

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