Whether tearing up powder snow, alpine skiing or long descents exploring the backcountry gives you a feeling of freedom and thrill. Nonetheless, you are responsible for your safety and must be prepared for unanticipated scenarios. Avalanches are some of the deadliest events to occur. It becomes even more perilous if you don't have the proper avalanche protective gear. And that is the crux of this review.
Avalanche probes are used to search for victims in the snow, gauge snow level, and plan where to probe. Since a speedy response is critical in these situations, the best avalanche probes are quick to deploy and simple to operate. You want a probe that is well-made and compact when packed. Without further ado, check out some of the most amazing probes we selected for you and find out which one suits you best.
Best Avalanche Probes
G3 Speed Probe 240
The simple G3 Speed 240 Probe is ideal for someone who likes to travel light and fast while yet having endurance in the terrain. This is achievable in part because G3 created the aluminum vs carbon probe.
Backcountry skiers in regions with sharp inclines who want to save weight and put their probes in a smaller backpack can choose the G3 Speed Tech 240 Probe.
Since the aluminum 7001-T6 tubing is lightweight and dependable, meeting the demands of both recreational users and professionals by combining stability and durability while being relatively lightweight. It has fully tested high-quality aluminum ferrules. Also, it has two length possibilities.
It features a one-pull rapid deployment. The best feature is that it is entirely ice resistant. G3's speed cone technology lends itself to a fast and simple structure. Throughout the whole length of the probe, there are tech markers in 5mm increments. The probe is available in two models: 320 (Navy) or 240 (Army) (Teal). Simply grip the handle, extend the probe, then pull on the locking mechanism on the handle to unlock it.
Mammut Carbon Probe Light 240
Will you be competing in a ski mountaineering event and need an incredibly light probe? If that's the case, the Mammut Carbon Probe Light 240 Probe is for you.
The single carbon probe on this year's list comes from Mammut, one of the industry experts in avalanche snow preparedness.
The Mammut Carbon Probes feature robust, light segments that click together using a telescopic locking system that is simple to use while wearing gloves.
The tip is drop-shaped to save energy while probing, and the sides are marked with accurate scales to know what depth you're aiming for. The Mammut Carbon 240 Light probe is lightweight, designed for racing, and functional enough for touring. The 280-inch length is ideal for traveling and regular pit work.
When it's time to extend the probe, the Mammut Carbon 240 opens incredibly quickly. You can expand it to its maximum length by pulling on the handle and throwing it away from you. However, we would not recommend using this probe for classroom instruction or outdoor measurements since the bottom 40cm lacks any type of cm indicator and is marked in millimeters.
The Carbon fiber segments of high grade are both stable and lightweight. The drop-shaped tip allows for energy-efficient probing in hard snow. The intriguing probe cover includes a built-in emergency plan. High tensile, steady probing is made possible with a long-lasting tensioning cord. The depth scale on the side is highly accurate.
Please remember that the 240cm length has a simple tension lock, whereas the 280cm length has Mammut's Speed Lock technology.
Black Diamond Quickdraw Pro 280
Black Diamond has created a fantastic all-around probe that fits perfectly in the middle of the size and weight spectrum. As the name says, the Black Diamond QuickDraw Probe opens and deploys exceptionally rapidly.
When opened, the locking mechanism on the probe's top gives a high level of protection.
This avalanche probe is an excellent alternative for individuals searching for a bigger diameter probe.
The probe is simple and sturdy enough to last for several seasons. This probe, which has a steel tip and an aluminum frame, is simple to use in most snowpacks. The Quickdraw Pro 280 Probe from Black Diamond is the contender for the best avalanche probe of the year due to a steel probe tip and aluminum probe frame.
In most snowpacks, the approach is easy and reliable to operate. If you use the Black Diamond Quickdraw Pro 280 Avalanche Probe, there will be no more false strikes with a collapsing probe. It's always a difficult moment when it happens because you never know when. With that said, it's always best to be prepared. This one is all you need to stay safe out there.
MSR Striker CX 320
Another probe in our list of the best avalanche predictors. We've compiled a list of the top avalanche rescue products.
We had a difficult time limiting it down to just ten things because there are so many new and interesting products on the market.
However, after considerable thought, this one became one of our top recommendations for 2022.
This year, we chose the 320cm variant to test since, in a thick snowfall, a greater length is usually preferable.
The MSR Stiker CX 320, like the other probes we tested, is straightforward to toss and secure by simply pushing up on the handle after the probe is completely extended. The only thing that might improve this probe is additional snow measurement markers since it only measures 5cm distances. This is especially true for deep snow freestyle skiing and split-boarding.
The probe also features an easy-to-grab handle, that makes for easy unburying. The handle is also less likely to freeze over than a traditional rubber handle in cold climates, it is glove-friendly. The probe also comes with a small pouch that easily attaches to your pack, or you can clip it onto your belt for easy access.
All in all, the MSR Striker Probe 320 is a great probe for backcountry travelers who are looking for a durable and lightweight probe. With its easy throw and secure locking system, this probe will make quick work of finding your buried targets.
Ortovox Steel 320+ PFA
The heaviest and burliest probe on this list is most likely excessive for you. The Ortovox Steel 320 Probe is, as the name suggests, constructed of steel. You won't want to play with the Ortovox Steel 320 because it is about three times heavy as the smaller 240cm probes.
When the terrain becomes rough and burial depths surpass the range of a 240cm probe, heliski and cat skiing guides may utilize this probe.
Have you ever attempted to dig your way through avalanche debris? Sift through bits of hard frozen snow blocks If you're searching for a tough probe that can handle anything, Ortovox's Steel 320+ PFA is the one for you. It is roughly three times heavier than the other probes on this list and is made of steel, yet it can manage burial depths that surpass the range of a 240cm probe.
So, if you're planning a trip into the outdoors to tackle some pretty deep snow, the Steel 320+ PFA is the probe for you. If that's the case, you're not going to be digging through the snow with a carbon shovel as mentioned before, the Ortovox Steel 320+ PFA probe is our pick for the skier or rider looking to venture into deeper snow.
This steel probe is built to handle greater burial depths than the smaller probes on this list, making it a great choice for those hitting the backcountry slopes. This is where dependable steel comes into play, and the tradeoff is the protective impact for a backcountry ski probe.
Choosing the Best Avalanche Probe – A Buyers Guide
The ideal avalanche probe should be simple to set up and operate. It should also be durable, long enough to reach the casualty beneath the snow, and transportable. When venturing into the backcountry, avalanche awareness is critical. You must have suitable equipment at all times.
Probe size: If you want it to be effective, a probe must be at least 2 meters long. A great majority of victims are buried at a depth of up to 2 meters. The chances of survival are highest when buried at a depth of 2 meters or less. All of the probes listed in our probe evaluations are between 240 and 320cm in length, so they will work well when you need them. There are two factors to consider while deciding on the appropriate length. A longer probe has a greater reach along with a stronger grip since you can keep your hands farther apart. It increases the effectiveness of probing and lowers the possibility of breaking the probe.
A longer probe will be bulkier, which is significant when you are carrying it in your ski bag all day. Moreover, you must also consider the size of the probe when packed. If it is small, it means the equipment can easily fit inside your backpack. Probes are often made up of numerous 40cm parts attached by a cord, although this might differ from one probe to the next, so double-check.
Probe material: The fabric adopted affects not just the probe's toughness and endurance, but also its weight. Carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel are the most widely utilized materials. Carbon fiber is no doubt the lightest and most handy material to carry all day. It is, however, quite expensive, and while it is fairly strong, it is more prone to breaking than the alternatives.
Aluminum probes offer the best combination of strength, weight, and affordability. It's still lightweight, but it's strong, and the probe is tough when investigating harder snow. Finally, we have steel probes, which are the most powerful. They are also the heaviest, which is the reason only search and rescue experts carry them.
Weight: Some types of skiing require minimal equipment since heavier gear causes tiredness more quickly. This also applies to probes, as they are part of your avalanche rescue equipment. The finest avalanche probes are light and robust when digging. However, this typically means that they are also more expensive.
User friendly: The probe must be ready for use within a fraction of minutes. The probe's structure and your skill level decide the speed and efficiency of use. The best avalanche probes are nearly instantaneously prepared for use. Then you release them by whipping and tugging on the cord.
A few probes, such as the iProbe, are suitable with transceivers and avalanche airbags, resulting in more efficiency. Whichever probe you receive, ensure you rehearse before dispatching it. Also, be careful to test with gloves and notice how long it takes to extract the probe out of the pack.
Is it handy enough?: Many modern probes are comprised of several segments linked by a cable, which snaps together when you pull on the cord. This is most likely the most practical. Ski poles that serve as avalanche probes are another option.
Though this may appear to be handier, it also means you'll spend more time removing the snow basket from the pole, and the probe will be shorter. Whatever type you pick, be sure it is ready to use right away.
Probe tip: While probing, the pole's effectiveness may be determined by the tip. A sharp tip penetrates the snow very efficiently and with less effort. Duller and broader tips, conversely, can generate bigger holes, which might be advantageous in a greater search area.
Probe diameter: The probe diameter is not uniform and fluctuates from one probe to another. A big ski probe diameter indicates that the probe is stronger, and thus less likely to bend or break. Unfortunately, this makes the probe heavier. Thus, some manufacturers shrink the diameter to minimize weight as well.
Probe depth markings: Usually, probes have etched depth marks, that are highly useful for search and rescue since they provide information on the victim's depth. In deathly settings, shallower victims have a higher chance of surviving and should be attended to first. The best avalanche search probes include markings that will not fade with use.
Probe storage: Your probe will come with or without a bag. So, though it may appear convenient, getting it out of the bag might take some time. If you carry the probe in a bag, ensure that you practice using it beforehand. One shouldn't be wasting valuable time when searching for avalanche victims.
A metal rod used to sift through avalanche rubble in search of buried victims. Probes are a must-have in the backcountry. In an avalanche crisis, they can shave vital minutes off rescue timeframes. Foldable probes are easier to use than ski pole probes since they assemble quickly, are longer, and glide through the snow much more readily. A probe is a special-purpose pole. It's an essential piece of avalanche safety equipment that plays a critical role in assisting others in surviving an avalanche.
The length of your probe should be determined by the depth of your snowpack and the intended application. In shallower snowpacks, a compact probe may suffice. You may consider a long probe if you reside in an area with a deeper snowfall or travel to locations with a deeper snowpack.
It is critical to consider the length of an avalanche probe. Typical lengths are 240cm, which is suitable for the normal avalanche burial depth. However, the probe must also be small and easy to store.
When you've determined the victim's approximate location with an avalanche beacon, use a probe. Around that moment, you begin probing the snow until you come across the victim. The best avalanche probes improve the victim's chances of survival. However, you must follow a plan while probing and resist probing haphazardly.
The apparent advantage is that you are assisting in the lifesaving of someone. Avoid walking around and digging in the wrong place. A probe shows you where the victim lays buried. Correlating with this, you know where to dig. Another advantage is that snow depth may be measured as part of avalanche testing to determine if a region is safe.
Carrying the best avalanche probe with you when skiing in the backcountry is a wise and prudent decision. The probe is a critical piece of avalanche rescue equipment that plays a key role in locating avalanche victims. Look for a probe that is light and simple to carry. But it should also do the job when necessary.
Hopefully, you never have to use it. But avalanches are unpredictable and dangerous. So, it's always a good idea to be prepared. All of these probes are simple to use. Yet it is always advisable to test often. Try it out at home. Put your equipment to the test, and make sure it works. Being a competent probe striker can boost the chances of survival for buried avalanche victims.