How to choose your avalanche safety equiment?
Touring has never been as trendy as now and so is freeride skiing or snowboarding. If it’s true that riding on powder feels incredibly nice and offers that unbeatable feel of freedom, but it can be dangerous. In order to make risks as low as possible, make sure you are equipped as you should (and must). The three things you have to have are a transceiver (avalanche beacon), a probe and a shovel. In case of an avalanche, you will need these 3 things to retrieve and save somebody who got caught in an avalanche. Another great feature is the airbag. It helps you float on top of the avalanche and drastically increases your odds of survival.
Buyer’s guide for safety equipment.
When you’re about to go off piste, the first thing you think of is the nice untouched slope you’re going to ride. Or perhaps the gorgeous landscapes you’re going to see. But don’t rush, take the time to prepare your session carefully. Analyse your line, the snow conditions and the weather forecast as well as the avalanche risks. If you are not sure about one or more, better delay your session. You have only one life. The avalanche safety gear (beacon, probe, shovel) is with you in case things don’t go as planned but in an ideal world, you shouldn’t have to use it!
How does an avalanche beacon work?
The avalanche transceiver or beacon has two functions, transmit or receive. In other words, it either helps you find burried victims, or help the others find you. In transmit mode, the device emits radio signals continuously. This means if you were to get caught in an avalanche, it would continue to emit (even when covered of snow) and help the others locate your position. The receive mode is for when you look for a victim. Basic transceivers will bip faster and faster and louder and louder as you get closer to the body. Modern beacons are easier to use as they point the direction of the victim with an arrow and display the distance between you and the victim. High-end transceivers can even help you locate several victims.
Are the shovel and the probe really needed?
15 minutes. This is the time limit established for retrieving an avalanche victime. It may seem long enough but in real conditions, time flies. The beacon will lead you to the victim but only the probe will help you locate it precisely. And even if you have located it, your bare hands won’t help much to dig the snow. A shovel will. An avalanche beacon, a probe and a shovel are three things that go together. If you buy a shovel, you can buy a convertible one that turns into an ice pick for even more efficiency. And even if you have the best safety gear ever, you need to know how to use it and nothing replaces training. We highly recommend to train on how to recover avalanche victims on a regular basis!
How about the ABS airbag?
This technical piece of equipment features a system with an air cartridge that inflates an airbag. To activate, just pull the handle. This technology was proven to be efficient and increases drastically your odds to stay afloat on top of the avalanche. It is a great extra feature for freeriders.
So, before it’s too late, have a look at our avalanche safety gear!