Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling

10 Best Avalanche Probes 2019

Best Avalanche Probes

The avalanche probe is a device used to locate the exact position where a skier may have been buried. Once the skier is located using a transceiver, an avalanche probe will lead you to where you should start digging. These probes are usually stored when folded for easy transportation as they feature different sections measuring the same length and joined together by a cable when being deployed, the cord that passes through these sections is yanked to join these sections together in a straight line.

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Backcountry Access Stealth 240 Probe 4.3
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Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Probe  4.3
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Black Diamond Quickdraw 280 Probe 4.5
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Voile Tourlight 260 Probe 4.2
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KLIM Back Country 300 Probe 4.1
Ortovox Unisex Alu 240 Probe 4.3
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Voile Guide 320 Probe 4.4
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Black Diamond Pieps iProbe One Avalanche 220-260 Probe 4.2
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Arva Light Compact 240 Probe 4.2
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Mammut Fast Lock 320 Probe 4.9

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What to consider when looking for an avalanche probe?

  • Method of assembly. Probes are either purely probes or the versatile types that will also double up as a ski pole. All the same, when time is of the essence, you need an easily deployable probe. While multifunctional probes can be advantageous, they may take time to assemble.
  • Ski pole probes. The assembly, in this case, may involve spending more time during assembly which eats into the time required to rescue a buried victim ultimately reducing their chances of survival
  • Dedicated avalanche probes. When choosing an avalanche probe that is collapsible, it means having many parts that need to be attached to a cord. The best avalanche probe assembly should only take a few seconds when it is a matter of life and death.
  • Length. The length determines the distance an avalanche beacon can reach when looking for buried subjects. Most people will be located no more than 80 inches under snow which forms the standard length of most probes. An avalanche probe that ranges between 95 inches and 118 inches in length will be good enough.
  • Weight. Weight affects portability. The heavier the probe the harder it will be for you to move around with it. A lighter probe is recommended but this should not compromise its toughness.
  • Material. Probes are made of different materials, the most popular being carbon, stainless steel, or aluminum. Get one that is durable and one that will not break easily when stuck into packs of snow. Of these three materials, carbon happens to be the lightest, followed by aluminum and then stainless steel. This makes carbon the most ideal material for beginners since it is easier to practice how to deploy with a lightweight probe. Aluminum probes, on the other hand, are sturdier, hardwearing and more durable. Stainless steel is the heaviest but also the most durable of the three.
  • What is the purpose of the probe. The misconception that the longer the probe, the better it is for you may not entirely be true. Expert skiers and snowboarders and professional rescuers prefer working with sturdy poles rather than longer ones. However, if touring an area with heavy snowfall, have longer poles on the side.
  • Probe design. The design is determined by several factors which you have to look at when choosing the best probe for your needs. These include:
  • Depth markings on the shaft of the probe. These markings indicate the exact depth of a buried victim. Because they will also measure how packed the snow is, it will be possible to determine whether to pursue or abort the rescue mission. These markers are also excellent indicators of multiple burials.
  • The tip of the probe. A sharp tip will penetrate snow more easily than a blunt-tipped one.
  • Diameter. A thicker diameter is strong but heavy while a slim diameter will be lightweight but not strong. Select a diameter that matches the expected condition of snow in the destination you intend to visit.
  • Storage. Some avalanche probes come with a stuff sack for storage others do not. Quite frankly, this will depend on how important the user feels the storage is.

 


 

The Best Avalanche Probes

Below we review 10 of the best avalanche probes in the industry. Check out what makes them tick.

 

1. Backcountry Access Stealth 240 Probe

This avalanche probe by Backcountry Access features a sharp strong tip and a standard 18-inch length which does not just penetrate easily into the ground but also penetrates deep enough. Along with visible laser-etched depth marks, saving a buried victim should not be difficult. The Backcountry Stealth 240 locks fast and easily. It is also pretty easy to assemble it after purchase.

Its quick-lock mechanism allows for fast deployment which gives it an advantage over the others in an emergency situation and will pack fast and compact for easy storage and travel. when packing, the segment that is on top slides into the next to reduce the number of segments as well as the size of the probe.

Overall, The Stealth 240 is light in weight for convenient transportation and durable enough to last you several years of useful service.

 

2. Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Probe

The Stealth 270 model by Backcountry Access may have more or less the same features as others in the Stealth series but is definitely the most suitable for deeper snow packs. It assembles and collapses fast and easy, it has visible laser-etched depth marks and is built to last. It also features a quick deployment mechanism to save you precious time during an emergency. The stealth 270 is a little longer in length at 19.7 inches and this together with its weight at are perhaps the only distinguishing features between it and others in this series.

 

3. Black Diamond Quickdraw 280 Probe

Black Diamond’s Quickdraw Tour is made of tough but lightweight aluminum at only 303 g and extends to 110 inches when fully expanded. A tough large-size alloy tip gives it a good sensitivity during a search as well as excellent penetration in packed snow. Together with a non-slip grip, using this probe with or without gloves should be easy.

It features a quickdraw deployment mechanism which unpacks the probe from the stuff sack in a matter of seconds with just one pull and the visible 1 cm apart markings are definitely an advantage especially because avalanche conditions are typically poor lit situations. The stuff sack is included in its package.

 

4. Voile Tourlight 260 Probe

Voile Tourlight Probe 260cm


New From: $48.95 – $49.00

The Voile Tourlight probe is made from tempered aluminum and measures 102.4 inches in full length. Weighing just 266 g, this probe is considered lightweight. Secondly, it is quite a functional piece featuring an integrated pop-up button for locking it in place and a simple deployment by simply pulling the lead tube attached to a stainless steel cable inside it.

Quite uniquely, this probe is designed with a fastening mechanism which includes a knob that loosens or tightens the tension of the stainless steel cable as needed. Its visible markings are 5 cm apart to deliver precise depth readings.

 

5. KLIM Back Country 300 Probe

KLIM Back Country Probe


New From: $69.99 USD In Stock

KLIM Back Country Probe is a 118-inch aluminum probe designed with a 2-in-1 deployment and lock system that’s functional for both deployment and collapsing the probe into a small size. This pull/lock cable runs through the entire length of the pole for the most effective operation. In addition, it comes with visible laser-etched markings that are 5 cm-apart for accurate investigation. It is rugged and quite durable meaning that you can count on through years of rough handling. Its package includes a stuff sack.

 

6. Ortovox Unisex Alu 240 Probe

Ortovox Alu 240 probe unit uses an efficient assembly system that’s both easy and fast to set up and collapse. This aluminum probe is built with a large tip to enhance its sensitivity and a large 11-mm diameter which makes it a stronger and better penetrator into packs of snow compared with others. The visible depth marking are have been made at 1 m increments while the orange bottom section

The Alu 240 probe also features an Aramid tensioning system to take care of the stretching or shrinking of the internal cable which usually happens after a probe has been used several times. This is done by simply turning the screw at the end of the probe until the desired tension is achieved.

Overall, this probe is lightweight at just 200 g and pretty portable thanks to the fact that its sections can be collapsed to a smaller size.

 

7. Voile Guide 320 Probe

Voile Guide Probe 320Cm


New From: $58.95 USD In Stock

When you need a professional-grade avalanche probe that is quick to assemble and sends signals almost immediately, Voile Guide Probe 320 makes a good option. This probe is built with speed cones on either end to facilitate fast assembly. Simply yank the inner lead tube that’s attached to the coated stainless steel cable, and the probe assemblies in an instant. Once done lock it in place by a single press on the pop-button. Further, the adjustment knob attached to it will help you adjust the tension of the cable accordingly.

This probe features increment markings of 5 cm which have been laser-etched to make them more visible. While it weighs a little heavier than others at 308 g, it is still among the best avalanche probes with a longer extended length of 126 inches. Its package includes a nylon stuff sack attached with loops that attach to a shovel handle for easy transportation.

 

8. Black Diamond Pieps iProbe One Avalanche 220-260 Probe

Pieps iProbe One is first and foremost an Electronic Probe powered by an alkaline AA 1.5V battery. It is designed with an audio-visual target indicator on its probe tip to detect standard transceivers within a 19.7-inch range. With an ability to detect multiple burials and automatic deactivating element, this probe comes in handy in a multiple burials situation. Once it positively detects the signal of a buried transceiver, its indicator goes off within 8 seconds to allow the probe to detect other burials in the area.

This probe comes with several other advantages. It is easy to operate with the press of a button for the on and off functions. However, it is important to practice and master how to use it before heading out with it. Activation is as simple as pressing the on/off button 3 times. Another advantage is that this probe is made of tough aluminum metal to offer you some years of useful service. Finally, a quick closing latch locks it in place when extended to its 86.6 inches full length. On the con, this probe is slightly heavier than others at 350 g battery included. If you are keen on technology and digital handling, iProbe One will make a good option.

 

9. Arva Light Compact 240 Probe

The Avra Light 240 is a great lightweight probe weighing just 198 g. This 94.5- inch probe is designed with 8 foldable sections which collapse easily for easy storage and transportation. The Light 240 probe is made of tough but lightweight 7075 aluminum and Kevlar tensioning system.

With an easy to deploy shaft locking system, this probe is one of the durable and convenient to use avalanche probes.

 

10. Mammut Fast Lock 320 Probe

The Mammut 320 probe is one of the most dependable avalanche probes comes with a remarkably long extended aluminum shaft length at 126 inches letting it penetrate deeper into packed snow for more sensitive detection of a buried victim. A 13 mm diameter makes it thick enough to withstand deep penetration into the snow without getting damaged. When folded, it will collapse to 17.7 inches making it easy to transport and store in the available storage sack.

It is outfitted with a snap-lock system for fast and easy deployment which is important when there is no luxury of time when saving victims. This system can be operated well with gloves on thanks to the excellent grip that it has. It also has a tension cord useful for adjusting the tension cable of the probe accordingly. Quite uniquely, it comes with markings on both sides of the shaft for easy depth reading.

 

Conclusion

It is advisable to carry an avalanche probe along with a shovel and a transceiver. These three work together and missing any of them is bound to compromise the rescue mission. The probe plays a significant role in detecting the vertical position of the victim after the transmitting and receiving transceiver signals have paired. The fact remains that even with the best avalanche probes, transceivers and shovels, unfortunately, there are instances that may be too risky to save a buried victim. You need to learn how to use the avalanche probe and carry it in a way that it is easily accessible for easy retrieval in the event of an emergency.

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