I have three different versions of the Avalung, for different situations (pack version, vest version, sling version). I would not consider skiing the backcountry without one. I often have 'had to' ski terrain so scary that I ski with the Avalung tube in my mouth, though so far I've not been avalanched in such a situation (yes, I have been in an avalanche, but that is another story). Avalungs don't make you invulnerable (25-35% of skiers in a significant avalanche are killed by trauma), but they have saved many lives. Oh, and it my understanding that BD sets the prices of Avalungs at their cost and sells them as a no-profit item.