6 avalanche tools for the backcountry skier
When you’re in the backcountry, having the right tools can be the difference between life and death for you and your companions. Make sure you’re prepared when you head out there by always taking a beacon, probe and shovel with you at the very least. Here are some of our favorite options, below.
Micro — Pieps
The new PIEPS Micro is packed with the traditional beacon features: Big display, maximum search range of 40 meters, auto-search-to-send function after a period of inactivity, etc. Its selling point, though, is that it’s the smallest, lightest three-antenna avalanche beacon on the market, weighing 150 grams with batteries. Skinny is sexy… when it comes to transceivers.
Axio — Arva
The big feature of the Axio, is that its third antenna (which operates on the “z-axis”) is able to swing perpendicular from the transceiver body in search mode. This allows it to operate at “full-size,” which Arva says will increase coupling strength and yield faster pinpointing of signals. On top of that, it boasts a five-plus-victim marking function (great for guides) and a joystick for navigation.
T-Wood Mini Avalanche Shovel — Voilé
The T-Wood Mini is more compact than the full-length version, for those really coveting a minimalist setup. It also comes complete with a seven-inch saw that can be used when digging snow pits, cutting branches or collecting fire wood, in the event that you find yourself camping in the snow.
Shaxe Speed Avalanche Shovel — Backcountry Access
If you’re looking to shed weight when tackling spring ski mountaineering objectives, take a look at the Shaxe Speed. The shovel’s handle is interchangeable with an included ice axe head, which comes in a nifty carry case with bolts and wing nuts for attachment. Leave the extra shaft at home and lighten the load.
Kodiak Shovel — Ortovox
Whether in a rescue scenario or digging a pit, the Kodiak is truly reliable. The aluminum, oval-shaped blade is strong and sharp enough to cut through any frozen debris; it converts into “hoe-mode” for efficient snow excavation; and rubberized zones on the handle and shaft dispel worries of slippage during use.
Stealth 300 Carbon Avalanche Probe — Backcountry Access
The Stealth 300 Carbon is lightweight and compact—its top segment is stored inside the next probe section when not in-use, yielding a probe you won’t even notice until you have to use it. A redesign for 2016-17 produced a longer tip for better snow penetration and easier-to-read, laser-etched measurement markings.
Bonus Product: Poleclinometer — Snowander
The PoleClinometer™ kit turns your ski pole into the world’s lightest and fastest slope meter. It works quicker than any phone app or pocket inclinometer for measuring slope angles “on the fly” by sighting up, down or across a slope. In addition, color coding on the sticker helps you instantly identify the angles which are most prone to avalanches. The installation kit includes three stickers to fit all standard pole shaft diameters, plus a burly clear protective sleeve that’ll shield your sticker from all the abuse you throw at it. Get one. Ski safe. Have fun.