Action and adventure in the great outdoors – with the ­lowest possible risk: if you love being active in the mountains, at the beach, on lakes then you want to be able to enjoy this experience without any accidents. Personal protective equipment such as climbing helmets and protectors offer valuable support. TÜV SÜD tests many of these in its laboratories and enables safe recreational fun.

Asunny spring day in the Allgäu Alps: in a popular ski resort, off-piste, a sheet of snow has broken loose. Several hundred tons of snow hurtle down the slope – with two skiers caught up in the middle. A nightmare for every winter sports enthusiast, but one for which you can equip yourself – with, for example, a properly functioning avalanche airbag on your back. It is for this very reason that TÜV SÜD’s Volker Kron has been rolling around in the snow for hours, testing airbag rucksacks from a number of different manufacturers. Do the valves get blocked...does the airbag deploy reliably even in extreme conditions...and does it inflate to the required volume? In a worst-case scenario, these questions can make the difference between life and death, because in an avalanche you see what is referred to as the brazil nut effect where the bigger particles rise to the surface.

Accurate to one hundredth of a second – not only when testing avalanche airbags: Volker Kron, product specialist at TÜV SÜD.

European standard developed

Snow is not simply snow: temperature, age and surrounding conditions make every snow cover unique. As a result, even though it is possible to simulate many conditions in laboratories for testing – if you want reliable results, the examiner must test in the terrain as well. The effort expended by Volker Kron for the safety of winter sports enthusiasts is worth it. About one year ago, the European standard DIN EN 16716 for avalanche airbags came into force – expedited by Volker Kron and his colleagues at TÜV SÜD who were instrumental in its development. Every single one of these potential life-savers sold in Europe must now fulfill the requirements of the standard. TÜV SÜD is the only examining body authorized to award the certification mark.

However, the certification of avalanche airbags is a very small part of the broad spectrum of tests carried out by TÜV SÜD, which range from other safety and protection products in the field of sports, such as bicycle helmets, ski bindings and climbing harnesses, to all types of consumer goods and toys as well as medical products. Volker Kron already has his next challenge cut out for him: a new EU regulation on personal protective equipment comes into force at the end of April 2018.

Video with Volker Kron: From avalanche airbags to climbing harness – safety first

Testing is best done on site

Approximately 5,000 employees work in the Product Service Division of TÜV SÜD, most of them based in China. This is because most consumer products – from microwave ovens, clothes and shoes to children’s buggies – are tested for safety directly on the production site. TÜV SÜD operates a global network of laboratories for this very purpose. The products are generally tested according to international standards, which are on the whole EU regulations and directives for products being exported to Europe. If a product group is, for example, relatively new to the market and the relevant regulations have not yet been drawn up, the experts will then develop the necessary testing scenarios based on existing standards.


  • Fitness and sports equipment
  • leisure equiment
  • outdoor equiment
  • Bicycles and bicycle equipment
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  • Wearables