The Outdoorsman On Avalanche Safety Equipment


In my last and final article about avalanche safety, I will discuss, with the help of REI expert advice, the many forms of safety gear available that will ensure your chance of survival is greatly increased when an avalanche occurs.

When it comes to essential safety items, there are three small, lightweight items that will fit well in your pack. These items are a snow shovel, transceiver and probe.

  • Snow Shovel: Not only can it be used for testing snow conditions, but a lightweight, compact snow shovel can be a critical tool in making a snow shelter, rescuing a victim or checking snow conditions.
  • Transceiver: An avalanche transceiver, or beacon as they are often called, sends electronic signals that are used by other beacons to find an exact location of a victim.
  • Probe: These collapsible aluminum poles are similar to a tent pole and are used to probe for a buried victim. These can also be used as pin points in your search for a buried victim.

There are other optional items available on the market that provide additional safety to the back county adventurer. These items include Avalanche Airbags, Avalung, Snow Saws, Snow Crystal Cards, Slope Meters and RECCO Detectors.

  • Avalanche Airbags: An Avalanche Airbag is an innovative product that is designed to help victims stay on the surface of an avalanche. An airbag uses CO2 or compressed air to inflate a large balloon style airbag packed into a backpack and are triggered manually by a ripcord.
  • Avalung: Avalungs are a breathing apparatus that allows the victim to pull oxygen from the surrounding snowpack, allowing you to breathe longer under the snow.
  • RECCO Detectors: Usually embedded by the manufacturer into equipment such as jackets, boots, helmets and pants are designed to enhance the radio signal sent out by the transceiver and RECCO detector units.
  • Snow Saw: Snow Saws are used to check the snow stability and can also come in handy when making a show shelter.
  • Snow Crystal Card: These plastic cards are used to determine the various forms of snow crystals, their characteristics and how strong or weak the snow is bonded together.
  • Slope Meters: Slope meters are a small device used to determine the angle of a slope to determine avalanche probability. They can easily attach to the handlebars of a snowmobile or a ski pole.

Remember to always stay safe when enjoying Wyoming’s back country.

“I’m Tyler Mann, and I’ll see you on the trail”