Last year, we were introduced to the Black Diamond Saga 40 Jetforce airbag pack. They’ve been so popular that we had trouble getting a hold of one. But, we did. And, we’ve been pulling it in every inappropriate situation imaginable. If nothing else, that’s what makes Black Diamond’s Jetforce technology so awesome – you can pull and repack over and over without waiting for a gas refill. Check out the review and be sure to scroll all the way down for our video
The Jetforce line of backpacks is a very interesting alternative to the ABS backpacks that have been on the market the last few years. Instead of relying on compressed air (and only being good for one deployment at a time) they have an ingenious lithium battery powered jet fan that inflates the airbag balloon to 200 liters in a matter of seconds. Not only does the Jetforce inflate the Cordura bag quickly – it can be stuffed back into the backpack and deployed several times on one charge. Game changer! No longer are you limited to one deployment before having to take it back to a scuba shop (or another shop) before you can use it again. This means that you can safely deploy the bag several times in the backcountry. Think about a multi-day trip where you might find yourself using the bag more than once. Very handy.
The Black Diamond Saga 40 is the largest of 3 Jetforce backpacks offered by BD. Don’t let the 40 liters fool you into thinking this a large backpack- the Jetforce balloon takes up several liters (maybe 15?) so space is reduced. With this in mind, it is still an excellent backpack for several reasons. It carries the load very well thanks to a combination of technologies. First the Reactive suspension system responses to your moment very fluidly. Add in the Swingarm shoulder straps and you have an excellent backpack the hardly feels like it is on your back. We were able to tour for hours without having to adjust it.
The backpack has several nice organizational pockets. The main compartment accommodates all the major stuff – extra layers, gloves, food, etc. The next main pocket has a nice central zipper that opens up to hold your shovel, probe, saw, snow study kit and skins. The top pocket is generous and holds goggles, shades, tools and more. There is another internal pocket that is great for keys and such. There is one waist pocket on the right side as well as a very useful small pocket on the outside of the bottom right the this great for little items like knife and sunscreen.
The only gripe we have is that there is no hydration sleeve. Though we rigged up a little system that works ok – plus we like to carry an insulated water bottle anyway. So it’s not too big of a deal. All in all, this is not only a great airbag but an excellent ski/splitboard backpack. For the price ($1500) you actually get a lot for your money. We think that the ability for multiple deployments (up to 4 on one charge!) and the time saving of not having to go to someplace to refill anything (firehouse, scuba shop, etc) makes it well worth it. Though in the fact that is such a great backpack and you have a real winner.