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Avalanche Gear for Backcountry Skiing | UNITED STATES, WYOMING | 12/01/2008, by HotChocolateHere are some things to consider when purchasing avalanche safety gear:
Avalanche Beacons cost $200-$550.
More antennas = more range = good. In Europe, three antennas are standard at this point. Europe is usually several years ahead of the US when it comes to Avalanche safety trends, so let's jump on the bandwagon.
There are two types of signals: Digital and analog. Analog signals tend to have a longer range. Digital signals tend to be more accurate and less confusing. The cheapest beacons on the market use analog technology. They work great as long as you have the patience and commitment to learn how to read analog signals. Practice is especially important if you use one of these models.
The most cutting edge beacons combine digital and analog signals and have features that will assist you in rescuing more than one victim. It's debatable whether these extra features are helpful to the average backcountry skier.
Backcountry Rescue Shovels cost $40-$65.
In a rescue scenario, your most important tool will be your shovel. On average, avalanche victims are buried underneath 1 ton of snow!!! The worst thing that you could do is to skimp on weight and carry a flimsy, plastic shovel or the ridiculous snowclaw! Black Diamond, G3, Voile and other major ski companies make avalanche shovels that are strong and lightweight. The best shovels have a "D" handle and an extendable shaft.
Avalanche Rescue Probes cost $40-$95.
Any respectable avalanche probe will be at least 3 meters tall. Make sure that it is extremely easy to assemble because you will not want to waste time fidgeting with your probe while the survival clock is counting down. When testing your probe, wear your heaviest mittens or gloves to ensure that it's truly user-friendly.
Black Diamond Avalung II
Stand alone it costs $130. Integrated into a backpack it costs $150-$250.
An Avalung is a breathing device that looks like a snorkel. When trapped in an avalanche, it helps you to breath in Oxygen and it expels Carbon Dioxide behind you. This product will help you to survive for up to an hour underneath the snow! Bruce Temper, author of "How to Stay Alive in Avalanche Terrain" puts this product in the essential category.
Snowpulse Avalanche Airbag
An Avalanche Airbag costs about $1000.
An Avalanche Airbag is a balloon that inflates if you pull a string (similar to a parachute). It's proven that these airbags will keep an avalanche victim on top of the avalanche debris almost all of the time.
There are two main brands: The ABS and the Snowpulse. We prefer the Snowpulse because it is shaped to protect your head and vital organs from trauma during a slide. It is very userfriendly and by far the best survival product on the market!
Helpful Hint: It is often possible to purchase a beacon, shovel, probe and pack as a package deal.