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First Look: Arva Reactor Airbag Packs and AXIO Beacon

Yesterday, Arva kicked off the Outdoor Retailer 2016 show with the surprise announcement of their new Reactor line of avalanche airbag packs, and the addition of another beacon to their line.

Reactor Avalanche Airbags

While Arva has previously offered a complete line of backcountry packs (and has worked as a distributor for ABS airbags), the Reactor series is a completely original development.

Cy Whitling Arva Beacon and Airbag Sneak Peek

Arva Reactor 32 Airbag pack (Arva photo)

The Reactor line uses Arva’s proprietary (and from our initial impressions, very well thought out) trigger system, and will be available in 18, 24, 32, and 40 liter variants.

According to Arva, the packs are very weight competitive, with the 18L model complete with a steel cylinder coming in at a stated 2.45 kg; the 24L model at 2.55 kg; the 32L model at 2.58 kg; and the 40L model at 2.60 kg.

Arva is putting enough stock in these bags that they’ve stepped away from distributing ABS packs to instead focus on their own designs.

The Reactor series uses a two-chamber design, separated by a membrane. This is supposed to allow half of the airbag to stay inflated in the event of a puncture. The Reactor packs are only compatible with single-use cylinders with refills available for around $40.

Worth noting is Arva’s proprietary trigger handle. It can be swapped to either side of the pack to accommodate right and left-handed users, and it folds up to lock the ignition system so that when you are in safe areas, there is no way that the canister can be triggered.

Cy Whitling Arva Beacon and Airbag Sneak Peek

Arva Reactor trigger handle, locked. (Arva photo)

While the Reactor comes in four different volume sizes, the four packs have a single ‘one-size-fits-all’ fit, complete with Arva’s unique shoulder size adjustment, and will start in the neighborhood of $700 USD for the 18L model.

The quickly-growing airbag market is getting increasingly competitive, and it looks like Arva entered with a well-thought-out contender. We’re interested to see how it stacks up to the rest of the field.

Axio Beacon

Arva also announced a new addition to their beacon line, the AXIO. The AXIO joins the current NEO, and budget-friendly EVO4.

Cy Whitling Arva Beacon and Airbag Sneak Peek

Arva Axio Beacon

While it packs handy features like an improved screen, optional analogue functionality, and a joystick for navigation, the real story here is the AXIO’s third antenna.

3 antenna beacons are nothing new, but the AXIO separates its 3rd, Z-axis antenna perpendicularly from the rest of the beacon body in search mode. This means that the AXIO’s 3rd antenna can be full sized, as opposed to other options that embed a shorter Z-axis antenna within the body of the beacon—especially as beacons continue to get smaller and slimmer.

Cy Whitling Arva Beacon and Airbag Sneak Peek

Arva Axio Beacon with 3rd antenna in “search” mode.

According to Arva, this should allow the AXIO to perform much quicker and more accurately during real-world situations in steeper, varied terrain, and awkward burials.

While the AXIO is a touch more bulky than some established options, Arva is making some strong claims about its performance, and anything that genuinely increases the likelihood of a speedy avalanche rescue would be a huge plus.

1 Comment

  1. Jim March 1, 2017 Reply

    I have the 32 liter I agree with this review completely but would also add that it has more usable space for a the size than most other avy packs. The internals of the pack are low profile and take up very little functional space in the pack. Its close to a true 32 liter.

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