Man rides avalanche on inflatable backpack

An early birthday present has saved the life of an Australian snowboarder caught up in a terrifying avalanche.

Tom Oye, 29, posted a video to Facebook of the moment the ground cracked beneath his feet and sent him plummeting down a Canadian mountain in a flurry of snow.

Mr Oye moved to Whistler three years ago and will turn 30 later this month. His family chipped in to buy him the inflatable backpack, which works in a similar way to a car airbag, and creates a bubble around him to save him from suffocating in the snow.

"Not how I planned on starting the morning ... stay safe out there kids!" he explained in the video.

As he came to a halt others rushed to his side, panicked, but Mr Oye seemed relatively unfazed.

"I'm fine," he said, before admitting: "That was a little scary."