Best Avalanche Safety Gear for 2017-2018

Best Avalanche Gear

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Best Avalanche Safety Gear


When you’re heading out to the backcountry, gear becomes paramount to Avalanche Safety.  It’s also recommended that you never, ever go by yourself and that everyone in your group has at least three things: an Avalanche Beacon, a Shovel, and an Avalanche Probe. The backcountry can be a life and death situation, so never let a lack of gear be the reason why something catastrophic like an avalanche be made worse. Here at Powderheadz.com, we review some of the best Avalanche Safety Gear available online so you are prepared for the worst case scenario.

Also, purchasing the gear is just half the battle. The other half requires you to at least take a training course and for you to read up your equipment and practice. If and when an avalanche occurs, minutes can make the difference between life and death. Make sure you’re not ill-equipped nor ill-prepared.


 

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Black Diamond Avalanche Probe

Avalanche Probes

air bags

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Avalanche Airbags


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Avalanche Airbags help increase your survival rate if you ever end up in an Avalanche. The Avalanche Airbag packs contain CO² or compressed air that inflate a large bag (or sometimes two) that is manually deployed by the user by a ripcord. The Airbag’s large volume helps you float to the top during an avalanche and remains inflated for several minutes for maximum visibility and reduce rescue time.  They can often be reused and the compressed-air cartridges can be refilled with an adapter.

Avalanche Airbags are relatively expensive, but they is a life saving measure and worth every penny.


Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce

Black Diamond Halo 20 JetForce Airbag Pack

MaterialCordura | Nylon
Bag Volume26L
Weight3300g
Ski CarryYes
Snowboard CarryNo
Air Bag IncludedYes
Cylinder IncludedYes (Rechargeable)

The Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Backpack is a perfect bag for day trips into the backcountry. It rides really well with an easy ski carrying system and zippered pockets and it’s one of first bags in the market to come with a battery powered fan to inflate the airbag. However, it is on the heavy side and doesn’t have enough room (26 Litres) for you to pack extra gear for colder temperatures.


Powderheadz Rating

5 Stars

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Mammut Pro Protection 35L Airbag

Mammut Pro Protection 35L Airbag Backpack

MaterialNylon
Bag Volume35L
Weight2690g
Ski CarryYes
Snowboard CarryYes
Air Bag IncludedYes
Cartridge Included No

The Mammut Pro Protection Airbag 3.0 is a light, durable, 35L backpack that is great for those who need more space for longer trips into the backcountry or mountain guides who need to carry more equipment. The Mammut’s PAS (Protection Airbag System) is stitched right into the bag and not only helps you float above the snow but also helps protect your head and neck from further trauma.


Powderheadz Rating

4.5 Stars

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BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack

Backcountry Access Float 32 Airbag Pack

MaterialNylon
Bag Volume32L
Weight3090g
Ski CarryYes
Snowboard CarryNo
Air Bag IncludedYes
Cylinder IncludedNo

The BCA Float 32 Airbag Pack Backpack is a well-designed, super lightweight, all-around backpack that won’t destroy your wallet. It comes with dual zippered waist belt pockets, adjustable around the torso, and it gives you the option to wear the trigger on either shoulder.  The U-shaped air bag deploys from the top and inflates above your head and helps you keep afloat.


Powderheadz Rating

5 Stars

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avalanche beacons

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Avalanche Beacons


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Avalanche Transceivers become a necessary and life-saving purchase if you plan on stepping into the world of back-country skiing or back-country snowboarding. These Avalanche Beacons operate at 457 kHz and help find people or equipment that gets buried under snow.  When the user goes on descent, the beacon is activated with a low-powered signal during the trip. If an avalanche were to occur and the owner is safe, they can switch the transceiver from transmit to receive mode, allowing it to search signals coming from other skiers or snowboarders who may be trapped.

These things are no joke. If you plan on doing any sort of backcountry riding, purchasing a solid Avalanche Transceiver is paramount to safety. It can save your life one day.


Arva Neo Avalanche Beacon

Arva Neo Avalanche Transceiver

Range60 meters
Battery Life250 hours
Digital | AnalogDigital
Number of Antennae3
Flagging FeatureYes
Weight230 grams

The Arva Neo Avalanche Beacon is a straight-foward, performance driven transceiver that has excellent range, is user-friendly, and has a bevy of features. Its IosTech technology lengthens the beacon’s search bandwidth by making the second of three antennaes (two for searching, one for receiving) as strong as the first one.


Powderheadz Rating

4 Stars

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Mammut PULSE Barryvox Beacon

Mammut Pulse Barryvox Avalanche Beacon

Range60 meters
Battery Life200 hours
Digital | AnalogBoth
Number of Antennae3
Flagging FeatureYes
Weight210 grams

The Mammut PULSE Barryvox Beacon is a three-antenna transceiver with excellent range that has a 360 degree display that directs you back towards a beacon if you begin moving away. It can also manage up to seven target beacons that can be marked as “found” or “active” in case there are multiple burials.


Powderheadz Rating

3.5 Stars

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Pieps DSP Pro Avalanche Beacon

Pieps DSP Pro Avalanche Beacon

Range60 meters
Battery Life400 hours
Digital | AnalogDigital
Number of Antennae3
Flagging FeatureYes
Weight200 grams

The Pieps DSP Pro Beacon is digital 3 antenna transceiver that has a broad search width that can keep track of up to 4 signals. In transmit mode, the beacon automatically switches to another antenna if one of them experiences interference from another device. It also adjusts its signal if 2 devices are buried close together, allowing you to tell them apart.


Powderheadz Rating

4.5 Stars

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probes

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Avalanche Probes


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Avalanche Probes are usually an afterthought when purchasing Avalanche Safety Equipment. However, Avalanche Probes are mandatory equipment (along with Transceivers and Shovels) and help you pinpoint the exact location of an avalanche victim and his/her burial depth. Without any one of these three pieces of equipment, recovery time during an avalanche rescue goes up exponentially.

There are three things you should consider when picking up an Avalanche probe:

  • Length – The ideal length is around 2 t0 3 meters, with shorter probes being easier to pack.
  • Material – The choice is usually between aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum Avalanche Probes are generally heavier and cheaper, but penetrates snow better than carbon fiber ones. Carbon Fiber Avalanche Probes are lighter and more expensive, but much easier to pack.
  • Functionality – An Avalanche Probe is should be fast and easy to deploy. Most probes can be deployed by pulling on the string that holds the sections together or by snapping them out like a fishing rod.

Below are some of the Best Avalanche Probes in the market today.


Black Diamond Quickdraw Probe Carbon 320

Quickdraw Avalanche Probe

Length320cm
Weight278g
MaterialCarbon

The Black Diamond Quickdraw Probe Carbon 320 deploys extremely fast with quick draw speed and a rapid deployment stuff sack. The non-slip grip provides enough friction, regardless of wet gloves. And the alloy tip creates a larger hole for the 320cm shaft’s probing sensitivity.


Powderheadz Rating

4 Stars

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Mammut Carbon Probe 240 Fast Lock Light

Mammut Carbon Avalanche Probe 240

Length240cm
Weight185g
MaterialCarbon

The Mammut Carbon Probe 240 Fast Lock Light Avalanche Probe is for those who are concerned about extraneous weight in their backcountry gear and measure everything by the gram. The Telescopic Locking Probe offers optimum functionality in a durable, high-quality, carbon-fiber package.


Powderheadz Rating

4 Stars

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Pieps iProbe II 260 Avalanche Probe

PIEPS iProbe Avalanche Probe

Length260cm
Weight390g
MaterialCarbon

The Pieps iProbe II 260 Avalanche Probe pulls out all the stops, and it’s best if you don’t cut corners when it comes to yours or your friend’s life. Unlike most avalanche probes, the Pipes iProbe II comes with an integrated receiver with a range of 2 meters that will pick up any transmitting avalanche beacon.


Powderheadz Rating

4 Stars

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shovels

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Avalanche Shovels


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Avalanche Shovels are necessary pieces of equipment for digging out avalanche victims from under the snow. You’ll need a good shovel and good shoveling technique (chop and remove instead of typical shoveling) to execute a quick rescue. Avalanche Shovels also help in testing snow stability.

There a few things you should consider when choosing a shovel:

Material – 6000 and 7000 Series Aluminum provides the best strength-to-weight ration for avalanche shovels. Plastic Shovels may weigh less than aluminum shovels, but they are also less durable and therefore unreliable.

Blade Size – Smaller blades are easier to handle but less efficient at moving large amounts of snow. Larger blades can move more snow but take more strength to use and can tire you out quicker. Sometimes it’s easier to be be quicker with your rate of shoveling with a smaller shovel than be slower with a larger shovel that isn’t being used at full capacity.

Blade Shape – Many Avalanche Shovels come in multiple shapes: Flat, Curved, or Serrated. Flat Shovels will help you create smoother walls in your snow pits while Serrated Shovels can help you cut through ice.

Handles – If it feels good in your hand, you’re going in the right direction.

Grip – Choose a shovel grip that works best for you. T-Shaped and L-Shaped grips are lighter and more compact, while D-Shaped grips are sometimes more comfortable to hold when you are using mittens.

Shaft – Most shovels have telescoping shafts so they can fit in your backpack. They also give you leverage options, where longer shafts give you more leverage for digging while shorter shafts help you maneuver in tighter spaces. Oblong or Triangular shafts are usually more rigid and stronger than Cylindrical shafts.

Weight/Size – Generally speaking, you want your back-country gear to be as light as possible. However, you shouldn’t try and lighten your backpack by getting a lighter shovel. You’ll need your shovel to be extremely dependable, and that usually means it needs to be heavier. Your Avalanche Shovel should also fit inside your backpack instead of outside your backpack, where there’s a risk it can rip off if you fall.

Below is what we think are the Best Avalanche Shovels on the market today.


Black Diamond Evac Shovel

Black Diamond Evac Avalanche Shovel

MaterialAluminum
Blade Size and ShapeLarge and Flat
ShaftTelescoping
HandleD-Shape
Weight794g

The Black Diamond Evac Avalanche Shovel has a compact telescoping shaft and a durable anodized blade. It also converts easily into a hoe from the same attachment point to assist with excavation. And the flat-bottom profile helps you get a clean face on pit walls.


Powderheadz Rating

5 Stars

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Backcountry Access B52 Shovel

Backcountry Access B52 Avalanche Shovel

MaterialAluminum
Blade Size and ShapeLarge and Flat
ShaftCollapsible
HandleD-Shape
Weight960g

The Backcountry Access B52 Avalanche Shovel has one of the largest blades for avalanche shovels and has a comfortable D-Shape Grip so you won’t have to take your mittens off when you’re shoveling. The collapsible shovel packs nicely in your backpack.


Powderheadz Rating

4 Stars

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Black Diamond Deploy Shovel

Black Diamond Deploy Avalanche Shovel

MaterialAluminum
Blade Size and ShapeLarge and Curved
ShaftTelescoping
HandleT-Shape
Weight885g

The Black Diamond Deploy Avalanche Shovel comes with a curved, trapezoidal shaft that nests nicely into the blade that compacts well to fit into your backpack. It’s rapid deployment design can shave seconds off your response time during any rescue attempt.


Powderheadz Rating

4.5 Stars

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radios

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Two-Way Radios


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Staying in communication is important in the Backcountry. When you and your friends are spread out, you’ll need some form of communication to keep in contact or to warn others. Hand signals won’t work in Blizzard like conditions or during stressful situations. And cellphone reception isn’t always a given when you go further away from a ski resort. That’s why it’s a good idea to pick up a few two-way radios before you head off to the backcountry.


Backcountry Access BC Link Radio

Backcountry Access BC Link

TypeFRS/GMRS
Range20 miles
Weight12oz

  • Radio includes option for pre-set channel selections
  • Glove-friendly controls, optimized for easy handling
  • Smart Mic Unit provides push-to-talk button, volume control, and battery indicator
  • Base unit is waterproof to IP56 standards
  • 22 FRS GMRS channels + 121 sub-channels, ensuring minimal interference

Powderheadz Rating

4.5 Stars

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 Midland GXT1050VP4 Two-Way Radio

Midland GXT1050VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio

TypeFRS/GMRS
Range36miles
Weight8oz

  • 50-Channel Mossy Oak Break Out Camo with Up to 36-Mile Range
  • NOAA/All Hazard Weather Channels with Alert and Weather Scan
  • 142 Privacy Codes
  • Vibrate Alert
  • 9 Levels of VOX for Hands Free Operation

Powderheadz Rating

4 Stars

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This is our current list for the Best Avalanche Safety Gear of the 2017-2018 Season.  However, there are tons more Avalanche Safety Gear out there and we will be updating this list often with the most current information. Think we missed a piece of Avalanche Safety Equipment and that there’s something that deserves a spot on the Best Avalanche Safety Gear List? Let us know!  E-mail us at info (at) powderheadz.com.  

As always, happy riding!

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