Essential safety gear for backcountry snow
Bringing essential gear and ensuring everyone knows how to use it is key. Essential gear includes:
- Avalanche airbags – increase your overall volume and reduce your density by filling with air and helping you stay closer to the surface of the snow
- Avalanche beacons – switch between search and transmit mode to either locate or be located when an avalanche happens, it’s important to conduct pre-trip tests on these devices to ensure everything is charged up and working before you head out
- Avalanche shovels – lightweight and durable, these shovels are compact, so they don’t take up too much space in your pack and are an essential in the event of an avalanche to help dig people out
- Avalanche probes – long, collapsible poles that penetrate down into the snow to pinpoint the location of a buried individual
To (hopefully) catch an avalanche before it happens, snow analysis kits let you analyze the stability of the snowpack and provide info on avalanche potential. These kits usually contain a snow saw, ruler, data sheets and various tools for performing stability tests.