best avalanche probes

The Best Avalanche Probes: Top 5 of 2024

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by James

Skiing powder is fantastic, but it can be fatal. Carrying the right equipment is crucial to your chances of surviving a snowslide, with the best avalanche probes being a vital component.

Once you have located a buried skier, you need an avalanche probe to determine their exact location under the snow. Although you hope you will never have to use one, they’re vital in times of crisis.

In order to make sure your carrying the safest equipment possible, we have reviewed the best avalanche probes on the market. We have analysed all the key features and assessed them in this guide to help you make an informed purchase.

The Best Avalanche Probes At A Glance

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Summary

Price

    • Speed ferrules for ultra-fast deployment

    • One-pull ready cord

    • Oversized tip improves probing sensitivity

        

        

    • Laser-etched depth markings

    • Quick-lock design for fast assembly

    • Compact and lightweight aluminium construction

        

        

    • Quick-locking segments that are easy to use

    • Two colour probe with easy to read depth markings

    • Budget friendly price

        

         

    • Fast individual locking tension system

    • Stable and lightweight aluminium build

    • Energy saving drop-shaped probe tip

           

           

    • Extremely lightweight carbon construction

    • Large probe tip increases penetration

    • Quick-lock assembly system

           

           

    Why Do I need The Best Avalanche Probe?

    If you plan on skiing backcountry, you need to take necessary precaution. Although the threat of an avalanche might seem unlikely, it’s always present.

    Carrying the right equipment can be lifesaving in the event of a snowslide. Avalanche probes are a crucial part of your safety gear, helping you pinpoint the location of a buried victim.

    In order to give a buried skier the best chance of survival, you need to find them in a matter of minutes. When it comes to a race against time, having the best avalanche probe possible can make all the difference.

    Your avalanche probe if just one part of the equipment set required for safety. In order to cover everything you need, we have also reviewed the best avalanche beacons and the best avalanche shovels.

    Best Avalanche Probes
    The Best Avalanche Probes Can Save Lives (Image: Clayoquot CC BY-SA 3.0)

    How To Choose The Best Avalanche Probe

    Length

    Avalanche probes generally have a length of around 2-3m (6.5-10ft). The chances of surviving a burial deeper than 3 meters is extremely low, so most probes will not go further than this depth.

    Shorter probes are often easier to manoeuvre, which can allow for a faster search. However, they decrease your chances of finding a deep burial.

    Longer probes give you a chance of finding a deep burial. However, each search will take longer, so you need to be extremely accurate when performing your transceiver search.

    Long probes are also a great way to measure snowpack depth.

    Probes will usually fold into segments that around 30-40cm (1-1.3ft) in length. This allows them to fit into most standard ski backpacks.

    Best Avalanche Probes
    Probe Length Can Have A Big Impact On Its Performance (Image: Ruth Hartnup CC BY 2.0)

    Material

    The best avalanche probes generally come in one of three materials. Carbon, aluminium and steel are the most popular choices, each of which having its own benefits.

    Carbon has become increasingly popular in recent years. They are super lightweight, which makes them practical to carry. However, they often come at a high price.

    Aluminium is a common material due to its strength. Although heavier than carbon, it’s still a highly lightweight material.

    Steel is the strongest probe material on the market. However, its weight can make it an impractical choice for the average skier.

    They key is to find a product that is lightweight and durable. The material will make a significant difference, but checking previous customer reviews is another great way to gauge effectiveness.

    Weight

    Carrying avalanche equipment can add a lot of weight to your backpack. You will need to carry your probes at all times while skiing backcountry, so making sure they’re lightweight is important.

    Material, length and thickness all have a significant effect on the weight of a probe. However, be careful not to sacrifice durability for a few less grams in your backpack.

    Features

    Key features can add to a probe’s adaptability and effectiveness. Some of the most common features include grips, depth markings and carry pouches.

    Depth markings are key to probe performance, letting you know how deep a victim is buried. They also allow you to measure the depth of the snowpack, giving you key safety information that can help prevent an avalanche.

    Grips can significantly decrease the time it takes to use your probe. Having a good grip will allow you to plunge the probe faster. Additionally, many of the best avalanche probes come with a grip that allows for super fast withdrawal from the snow.

    Carry pouches can reduce the time it takes to prepare your probe, with some allowing for one-pull readiness. However, a poorly designed pouch can add time to your probes deployment; so pay attention to this key detail.

    Best Avalanche Probes
    Avalanche Probe Features Can Save You Time

    The Best Avalanche Probes Reviewed

    Black Diamond Quickdraw Tour Avalanche Probe

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Available Lengths (cm): 240, 280, 320
    • Weight (g): 303, 342, 385
    • Tip: Oversized Durable Alloy
    • Best For: Overall

    Black Diamond know how to produce quality avalanche gear, with the Quickdraw Tour avalanche probe being no exception. It uses quickdraw speed ferrules that allow for exceptionally fast one-pull deployment.

    This probe also comes with a carry pouch that integrates with the pull cord for instant readiness. Its aluminium design is also highly durable, with an oversized alloy tip that improves probing sensitivity.

    If you’re looking to stay safe in the backcountry, this probe is one of your best options. It has a durable and practical design that it hard to beat.

    Pros

    • Quickdraw speed ferrules
    • One-pull cord deployment
    • Non-slip grip is compatible with wet gloves
    • Oversized durable alloy tip
    • Rapid deployment carry pouch
    • Highly visible depth markings

    Cons

    • Depth markings can fade over time

    Backcountry Access Stealth Avalanche Probe

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Available Lengths (cm): 240, 270, 300
    • Weight (g): 270, 310, 320
    • Tip: Oversized
    • Best For: Best Of The Rest

    The Backcountry Access Stealth is one of the best avalanche probes on the market. It uses a super quick-locking deployment system that is reliable and easy-to-use during stressful situations.

    This probe uses a durable aluminium design that is light and compact when it’s not in use. Additionally, it uses high-quality laser-etched depth markings that will stand the test of time.

    The Access Stealth avalanche probe is one of Backcountry Access’ best products. It uses a straightforward and high-quality design that can boost your off-piste safety for many winters.

    Pros

    • Durable and lightweight aluminium build
    • Extremely quick deployment system
    • Quick-lock assembly is reliable
    • Laser-etched depth markings
    • Compact when not in use
    • Easy to use while wearing ski gloves

    Cons

    • Compacted length could be too long for some

    TerraWest Core Avalanche Probe

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Available Lengths (cm): 240
    • Weight (g): 240
    • Tip: Solid Widened Tip
    • Best For: Budget

    If you are looking for a reliable probe at a budget price, the TerraWest Core avalanche probe might be your best option. Its made from six quick-locking segments that connect under cord tension.

    This probe is very light and compact for easy storage. It also has a widened tip that is durable enough to cut through the hardpack when necessary.

    The TerraWest Core avalanche probe is lightweight, compact and easy to use. Its quick-locking system is fast enough to aid mountain safety and it comes at an affordable price, making it one of the best avalanche probes on the market.

    Pros

    • Lightweight construction
    • Compact design
    • Quick-locking system
    • Reliable cord tension system
    • Wide and sturdy tip
    • Budget friendly price

    Cons

    • Depth markings can flake off

    Mammut Fast Lock Avalanche Probe

    Key Features

    • Construction: Aluminium
    • Available Lengths (cm): 240, 280, 320
    • Weight (g): 265, 285, 340
    • Tip: Drop-Shaped
    • Best For: Best Of The Rest

    The Mammut Fast Lock Avalanche Probe is durable and effective in avalanche situations. Its aluminium design is stable and lightweight, complete with precise depth markings on either side.

    This probe uses a fast and individually locking tension system that saves valuable seconds during deployment. It also has a well-designed drop-shaped tip that is energy-saving when searching through hard snow.

    Mammut are a well-known producer of quality avalanche gear, which they proven with their Fast Lock avalanche probe. It has a high quality design that makes it easy to deploy in challenging situations, along with a durable build that will last for many winters.

    Pros

    • Fast-locking tension system
    • Durable and lightweight aluminium build
    • Durable tensioning cord
    • Precise depth markings
    • Drop-shaped tip is energy saving
    • Stable feel when in use

    Cons

    • Carry pouch lid can impede deployment

    Ortovox Superlight Avalanche Probe

    Key Features

    • Construction: Carbon
    • Available Lengths (cm): 240
    • Weight (g): 185
    • Tip: Wide Diameter
    • Best For: Lightweight

    If you’re worried about weight, then the Ortovox Superlight avalanche probe might be the one for you. Its lightweight carbon construction weighs in at only 185g (6.5oz), making it one of the lightest probes you will find.

    The probe is extremely fast to assemble, using a quick-locking system that makes it ready for use in seconds. In addition, it has a probe tip that is wide in diameter and ensures maximum penetration.

    The Ortovox Superlight avalanche probe is one of the lightest on the market. Despite being super compact, its quality carbon design ensures that it maintains strength and durability.

    Pros

    • Super lightweight construction
    • Durable carbon design
    • Quick-locking system
    • Optimized tension adjusting screw
    • Wide diameter penetrating tip
    • Clear depth markings

    Cons

    • Top price bracket

    Summing Up

    Avalanche probes are vital in the event of a snowslide. Although you hope you never need to use one, being prepared for a serious situation is crucial.

    If you love skiing backcountry, then finding the best avalanche probe for your adventure can be a lifesaving decision. Additionally, it will allow you to enjoy a powder day with an element of safety in mind.

    Every probe on this list is designed to be durable, effective and easy-to-use. Take the time to weigh up the pros and cons of each option to find a product that works for you.

    If you stick to the probes on this list, you are sure to have improved your off-piste safety.