They work by pulling on a handle, rather like a parachute cord, in and during the event of being caught in an avalanche. Once the cord is pulled, a large bag powered by a compressed air canister inside the backpack, inflates and keeps you floating above the snow when it's sliding down the mountain.
It's by no means a guarantee that you'll be safe in an avalanche and not being caught in the first place is the best tactic, but for off-piste skiing and as an addition to the essential items that include shovel, probe and transceiver, an airbag just might provide an extra element of safety required to save you.
This model from Scott Sports looks snazzy, feels extremely comfortable to wear and doesn’t feel too heavy either. The clever ski carrying system is easy to use as I discovered when hiking up when off-piste skiing in Kuhtai, Austria. Strap your skis on the pack and you forget they are there entirely.
There's plenty of room to include your probe and shovel along with any other daily essentials that you need, like a spare fleece, food and water.
It's a serious piece of kit for serious skiing and it's also available as a 30 litre version.