Back Protector Airbag – read this before you buy one

A back injury is arguably one of the worst things that could ever happen to you. While the back is a part of the body that is highly sensitive to injury, it is also one of the parts that you could easily add some serious protection to. And whether you like skiing, biking or skating, you will obviously benefit from wearing a back protector airbag. In fact, back protector airbags are now becoming a must-have piece of gear for backcountry travelers who like skiing or skateboarding in the avalanche. If you’re caught in a slide, you could quickly pull the handle attached to the shoulder strap of the airbag and an electric fan or pressurized cartridge will immediately inflate your airbag, which helps protect your back from injuries since it will act as a shock absorber.

Most back protectors are designed to protect your spine and the nervous system housed within it. The body’s nervous system connects your brain to all other parts of the body and controls essential functions such as the lungs and heart all the way to moving your feet. The spine is divided into four sections:

The Cervical – This is the upper part of the spine, and it controls the upper body limbs, the heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

Thoracic Section – This is the central section of the spine, and it controls all activity in the torso.

Lumbar and Sacral Section – This is the lowest part of the spine, and it controls sexual functions, the bladder, bowel and lower limbs.
This implies that an injury to any section of your spine or nervous system housed in it could lead to a lengthy recovery period and could affect other parts of the body temporarily or permanently. Back protectors are designed to offer impact protection for the back and spine. It is crucial that a back protector absorbs as much shock as possible therefore reducing the impact transferred to your back in the event of an accident, whether it is hitting a tree, bollard or landing on tarmac.

Back protectors are also designed to support movement and not restrict it. If a back protector is made with a rigid structure, it will not absorb the shock developed in a crash situation, and this energy could be passed onto the closest weak point, potentially leading to further injury.

Types Of Back Protection Airbags

Back protection airbags come in different types, and one can choose the best for their protection needs. Here are the three main types of airbag products.

1. Airbag Vests: These airbag types are usually designed to fit over your current clothing. This means that you just have to wear it over your attire and you will be good to go. The main advantage of this airbag type is that you can use it with whatever attire you want, so whether it is summer or winter, you can still go skating or biking with a protected back. The only downside with airbag vests is that you will have to put on another gear.

2. Airbag Jackets: These are often similar to the conventional motorcycle jackets, with the only difference being that they have built-in airbags. The benefit of these is that the airbags are wholly concealed so the styling of your jacket will not be affected. When you go for this option, you will only need a single item of gear instead of wearing a separate vest and jacket.

3. Airbag Suits: Complete race-suits with integral airbags offer the best level of protection, but it comes at a price. Mainly designed for track-day riders and racers, they are the most expensive option but guarantee you the greatest chances of surviving after a high-speed crash.

Attributes To Consider When Buying A Back Protector Airbag

With many back protection airbags available on the market, it would be difficult for one to find the best airbag for them. Shopping for a back protection airbag doesn’t have to be difficult if you know what to look for. And if you’re looking to buy an airbag, here are the various attributes you need to consider.

1. Coverage

When it comes protecting your back from injuries, the rule of thumb is to have all your back adequately covered to prevent injury in parts that are not covered. In this case, it is important that you go for an airbag that provides maximum coverage without causing any interference with the fit of your helmet or clothing. So, if you want to guarantee back protection, be sure to go for an airbag that provides complete back coverage. Some back protector variations like insert back protectors are known to be small in their coverage and could leave your lumbar section exposed.

2. Safety Standards

Most back protectors are often certified to one of the two popular safety standards: CE1 and CE2. While both safety standards are suitable for your needs, a backpack certified with the CE2 standard just halves the amount of energy that can be transferred to your body when you land or tarmac or hit a hard surface. Most CE2 certified back protectors come at the expense of bulk and weight.

3. Correct Fitting

For optimal back protection, it is important that you go for an airbag that fits correctly. While a correctly fitting airbag makes you look good, this feature is equally important when it comes to reducing the likelihood of spinal injuries when you’re involved in an accident. When buying your back protection airbag, be sure to have your seller measure your torso so that you can be in a better position to buy the right airbag for you.

4. Weight and Volume

The additional weight of your airbag and the usable storage volume play an essential role in the choice of your back protector pack. While most manufacturers will offer small and light airbags, it is also important to consider the volume of your airbag, if you will need to carry a lot of stuff. For instance, if you will be going on a multi-day skiing tour, you will need an airbag that can accommodate all the items you will need to carry. More so, the weight of your back protection airbag can also affect your flexibility and comfort so be sure to go for something lightweight.

5. Activation Types

When you want to pump in air into your airbag, there are two main types of activation types you can use.

Cartridge/Canister Activation: This technique of airbag activation often relies on carbon or metal cylinder that holds a highly-pressurized gas usually in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 PSI, and which is used to inflate your bag. Most of these canisters are typically filled with regular air and as such can be refilled at your local airbag store. Some other cartridges are nitrogen-filled and are not refillable. Once the gas runs out, you will need to buy a new cylinder.

Electric fan activation: Some back protection airbag variations rely on a battery-operated fan system to inflate your airbag and do not need cartridges. Such airbags are inflated by a high-speed fan and could be used severally on a single charge. This activation system makes traveling with your airbag easier, especially if cartridges are not allowed on airlines. Moreover, this activation mechanism lets you practice inflating your airbag while at home knowing that you could perform more than one activation per battery charge.

6. Nitrogen vs. Compressed Air

When buying a back protector airbag, it is equally important that you consider the type of gas in the cartridge or canister, with the most common options being nitrogen and compressed air. Compressed nitrogen is often not affected by temperature, and it performs better in colder temperatures than compressed air. Another advantage of choosing compressed nitrogen is that it can be stored in a small canister thus helping save space in your pack. The greatest disadvantage with compressed nitrogen is that it is often expensive and not easier to obtain a refill. A cartridge swap will usually cost you between $40 and $70. On the other hand, compressed air canisters are easier to refill since most paintball or scuba shops offer this service.

Top Picks For Back Protector Airbags

1. The Helite Turtle Airbag Vest

If you’re looking for an airbag that provides the highest level of back safety, this is an airbag you should buy. This lightweight vest will protect a rider’s spine and other body parts all thanks to its revolutionary design. Better yet, the Helite Turtle is a vest that incorporates a back protector at the top which disperses impact forces across the upper body rather than concentrating it on a single spot. This airbag vest has a lead system and mechanical trigger hence you will not have to replace batteries or worry about failed sensors. All you have to do it connect the lead to your vest and get onto your bike or skate. In the event of an accident, one is obviously thrown out of their motorcycle or skateboard, and the trigger is pulled thus inflating the vest. The inflated jacket creates a rigid neck and a firm support on the back, chest, and ribs.


• Adjustable side straps

• An interior 3D mesh for optimal comfort

• Comes with a retro-reflective tape for night vision

• Uses a 60cc, carbon dioxide cartridge

• Made of textile 600D for effective abrasion resistance

• This is a CE approved airbag that inflates in less than a second.

While this type of vest is made to be long enough for one to sit on, no one wants the rib protection to be so low that it goes below the waist. Another aspect to avoid is wearing a vest that is too small that it goes high under your arms. The jacket you go for must be loose fitting and long enough to cover the pelvic and hip areas in case an accident occurs.

2. Hit-Air Airbag Jacket

Hit-Air is arguably one of the best-known airbag jacket manufacturers in the world. The design idea behind this jacket is simple: there is a series of strategically placed airbags that will immediately inflate when the rider is thrown off their bike or suffers an accident. What’s more impressive about this jacket is that this airbag will fully inflate in less than a second after the impact, creating an air cushion that covers your neck, chest, upper and lower spine, and hips.

Besides the airbag, the jacket also comes with a conventional padded armor for the elbows and shoulders, in addition to a high visibility reflective strap. This jacket has a specially coiled wire that is attached to a motorcycle and will activate your airbag if you are thrown from your bike. This coiled wire will not accidentally set off your airbag if you forget to detach the cord as you jump off your bike.

This airbag is also reusable, can be easily repacked and replacement cartridges are always available at a lower cost. This means that if you are involved in a low-speed crash, and your jacket isn’t damaged, you will not have to throw it away.

3. Spidi Neck DPS Airbag Vest

This is an extremely comfortable and light vest incorporating an inflatable neck airbag. This airbag vest also comes with a double cushion that wraps around the victim’s neck area and inflates upon high-speed impact through a tether cord; which increases your level of safety in the event of a crash. This airbag’s system works with a rider’s helmet to minimize potential neck damaging movements and increase your chances of rolling on the ground to reduce impact levels.


• This airbag vest inflates in less than 0.2 seconds

• This vest is designed to be worn over jackets or tracksuits

• The airbag’s trigger comes with new generation buckles mounted on wires that can resist a 440-pound pull to prevent accidental activation.

• It includes a 30cc carbon dioxide cartridge

• If the airbag vest is not damaged in an accident, it could be reset by having a new carbon dioxide cartridge installed

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