Snowbusters Blog Post

16/01/2021

Avalanche equipement

FEATURED ARTICLE

Compiling a proper avalanche kit is a necessary step for anyone entering backcountry terrain during the winter. Three key elements make up an essential kit: a beacon, a probe, and a shovel, and there is no excuse to not have these items while in the backcountry.
 

Avalanche transceivers, also called beacons, are electronic devices slightly bigger than mobile phones. Depending on the mode you put it in, it sends or receives a 457khz radio signal. In the event of someone being overtaken by an avalanche, you can locate them by switching your beacon to search, or receive, mode. When the buried individual’s signal is picked up a beep sounds, and the screen indicates their direction and distance from you.

 

We recommend putting your beacon on first thing in the morning, before even sitting down for breakfast. Check the battery level when you turn it on, and make sure that the battery is at least ¾ full before heading out for the day. Don’t worry about trying to save the batteries; the beacon does not consume much energy when on send mode, and a new battery will only set you back a couple bucks.

 

There are quite a few beacon options on the market. The technology is evolving quite quickly, but upgrading to a modern beacon is a worthwhile life-saving investment. A new beacon will last you a few years before but it is highly recommended to keep updated and replace it with more advanced technology. When you’re in an emergency situation, every second counts, and old 2 antenna systems just don’t cut it anymore. 

 

Avalanche beacon comparison table:

 

BEACON

PRICE

WEIGHT

RANGE

BATTERY

BATTERY LIFE

BLUETOOTH

Backcountry Access Tracker3

$350.00

7.6 oz.

55m

3 AAA

250 hours

No

Ortovox Zoom+

$260.00

7.1 oz.

40m

1 AA

250 hours

No

Mammut Barryvox S

$500.00

7.4 oz.

70m

3 AAA

300 hours

No

PIEPS Powder BT

$340.00

7.8 oz.

60m

3 AAA

300 hours

Yes

Ortovox 3+

$310.00

7.4 oz.

40m

1 AA

250 hours

No

Arva EVO5

$320.00

6 oz.

50m

1 AA

200 hours

No

Mammut Barryvox

$350.00

7.4 oz.

70m

3 AAA

300 hours

No

Black Diamond Guide BT

$450.00

7.9 oz.

60m

3 AAA

400 hours

Yes

Backcountry Access Tracker4

$390.00

7.6 oz.

55m

3 AAA

250 hours

No

Pieps Micro BT Button

$390.00

5.2 oz.

50m

1 AA

200 hours

Yes

Arva Axio

$470.00

8.1 oz.

60m

3 AAA

250 hours

No


 

The Snowbusters team can personally vouch for the PIEPS Powder BT, Mammut Barryvox and Mammut Barryvox S. They all function very well and are quite intuitive and easy to use. The rest of the list was compiled from the recommendations of other Ski & Snowboard guiding professionals.

 

There isn’t much to say about the shovel and probe, except that they should fit easily into your pack of choice. Just make sure the shovel is made out of steel/aluminium. DO NOT BUY A PLASTIC SHOVEL. You need something you can rely on to dig your buddy out, not something that breaks easily. 

 

There are a few other items you might choose to bring to keep yourself safe in the mountains, such as a first aid kid, charged cell phone, or radio. But, you should always remember, the three essentials for any backcountry adventure are the beacon, shovel, and probe. Stay safe out there!



 

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