How to Choose an Avalanche Probe

Buying Guide
evo Size and Buying Guides - We have one of the largest selections of  avalanche probes on the web, a super knowledgable staff and expert guides to help you make an informed decision.

Avalanche probes help you pinpoint the exact location of an avalanche victim and measure the burial depth. If there is one piece of avalanche safety equipment that people tend to forget, it's the probe. All three pieces of avalanche safety gear are mandatory: transceiver, shovel, and probe. Without any one of these pieces, recovery time in an avalanche rescue situation goes up dramatically. 

Things to consider when choosing an avalanche probe:  
Consider snow depth when choosing your probe. 2 meters should be a minimum length, and longer than that is better. Probes on the short end of the spectrum are lighter and pack more easily. Somewhere between 240 and 300 centimeters is typically best.
Longer probes provide more space between your hands, which minimizes the chance of breaking the probe. Longer probes are also easier on your back when working a probe line for long periods of time and tend to be made of heavier gauge and more durable material.  

Aluminum or carbon? Both Aluminum and carbon are quality materials; carbon is lighter in weight but also tends to be more expensive. Slightly heavier aluminum probes tend to penetrate tough and dense snow more effectively – remember that avalanche debris sets up and becomes difficult to probe very quickly. In general, fast-and-light ski tourists who cover big distances and rack up a lot of vertical favor lighter, shorter carbon probes, while avalanche professionals and patrollers tend to choose longer, heavier aluminum probes. Some people have more than one probe for different conditions.

The probe you choose should be easy and fast to deploy and you should be familiar with how to use it. Practice at home with gloves before taking it into the backcountry. Most modern probes can be deployed in seconds by “whipping” them out and pulling on the string or cable that holds the sections together. If you have difficulty removing your probe from its bag, consider leaving the bag at home.
Note: A dedicated avalanche probe, not ski poles that turn into a probe, is the most functional and quickest to deploy. When a partner is buried you don’t want to spend an extra minute or two removing baskets and screwing pole sections together.

We recommend taking an avalanche course to familiarize yourself further with all your backcountry gear. 
American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education // American Avalanche Association // Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center

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Learn more with our other Backcountry Guides:
Backcountry Basics – How to Get Started
Backcountry Gear – Checklist
Backcountry Backpacks – How to Choose
Avalanche Beacons / Transceivers – How to Choose
Avalanche Shovels – How to Choose
Avalanche Airbags – How to Choose
Alpine Touring Skis – How to Choose
Alpine Touring Ski Boots – How to Choose
Alpine Touring Ski Bindings – How to Choose
Dynafit (Tech) Bindings – Getting Started
Backcountry Basics - How to Skin
Climbing Skins – How to Choose
Climbing Skins – Size Guide
Climbing Skins – Weight Chart
Climbing Skins – How to Cut/Trim
Outerwear & Layers – How to Dress for the Backcountry

This is evo. We are a ski, snowboard, wake, skate and clothing online retailer with physical stores in Seattle and Portland. Our goal is to provide you with great information to make your purchase easy.

Still have questions?  Please give our customer care team a call at 866-386-1590, Customer Care Hours.  They can help you find the right avalanche probe to fit your needs.