Gear 2017-10-25T18:14:28+00:00


There are so many options, we suggest trying them for yourself. We have EVERY brand on the market for you to test out on our courses. Our instructors are well versed in the bells and whistles of avalanche transceivers, probes, shovels, backpacks and avalanche airbags.

Essential gear is the equivalent of a PFD on a boat or a seat belt in a car – the basic stuff that everyone needs. Although you buy them separately, think of the Transceiver-Probe-Shovel as a single piece of gear – two out of three isn’t good enough. Every person needs all three parts.



“Are you on?”

Avalanche transceivers are small electronic devices worn close to the body. When travelling, everyone’s transceiver sends out a radio signal. In the event of an avalanche, those not buried switch their transceiver to search mode and follow the signal toward a buried person.

Three antennae digital transceiver with a visual display and audio display set the standard for ease of use, speed and accuracy. Features and functions may also include a marking function for locating multiple burials, or transmission of “vital data” to support triage.

Single antenna (analog) transceivers are considered obsolete. Need convincing? Three antennae digital transceivers generally won’t find single antenna transceivers as well as digital units. That means if two people are buried close together, the one with the digital transceiver is likely to be isolated first. Signal overlap can also be a significantly bigger issue with old transceivers in a multi-burial scenario.  If you are still hiding your SOS under your jacket it’s time for an upgrade.

Got that? This is important stuff.


“Size matters!”

Transceivers get you close to buried victims, and probes help you find them.  An assembled probe inserted in the snow in a systematic pattern lets searchers physically pinpoint someone under the snow so that time isn’t wasted digging.

How big is YOUR Probe?  Small probes will bend, snap or deflect in avalanche debris. Do you really want a small probe?


“Shovels must be strong enough to stand up when digging through cement like avalanche debris”

Here comes the tough part.  Stone mason’s and olympic athletes excel here. To get down deep, quickly, involves technique – adrenaline will only get you part way. The type of shovel you have will help or hinder you now.  Shovels must be strong and have an extendable shaft. If you got yours from Costco I can guarantee that it is the wrong shovel for sledding in avalanche terrain. We don’t see too many Plastic or “Lexan” shovels anymore which is good riddance!  We have conducted “jump tests” on several shovels and have found some good ones include:

Maybe 2 shovels? We like to pack one on our tunnel bag for digging out stuck sleds only so the emergency shovel never comes out of the backpack.


“Airbag vs Non-Airbag that is the question”

You need a backpack that fits your back and fits your probe & shovel inside.  If your gear is on the outside (some vests) you need to MAKE SURE that it cannot be ripped off easily.  We like to carry non essential gear in our tunnel bags to keep as light as we can.

  • Airbag – Recommended not essential. Just like any other piece of gear you MUST practice. Read, yes read, the manual. Lube, clean and care for this potential life saving tool. Don’t leave it to freeze up in your trailer over night, learn how to re pack in case you accidentally pull the trigger, and PRACTICE pulling the trigger!  Make sure it fits your essential gear.  If you have your probe or shovel handle flopping around on the outside, it is too small.
  • Regular Backpack – Make sure it is comfortable and fits your essential gear.  You can get winter specific packs that have pockets for your tools. This is handy to keep your spare gloves from getting wet from the shovel you just used to dig your sled out of a creek bed.

“The most important thing is that you know how to use the gear that you have!”

You would be surprised with how many people are riding out there that have no idea how to turn their old analog beacons to search, or how to check their battery life in a new digital beacon or even how to put their probe together! We found that 1 student was sold a secondary transceiving device for his sled that was suppose to be on a different frequency, however, he was sold the wrong one! It was actually transmitting on the same frequency as a regular transceiver! It completely threw off rescuers in a training scenario. Good thing it was a test run.