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Q:

What's the best avalanche safety gear?

I’ve been reading about a lot of avalanche fatalities recently. What do I need to stay reasonably safe in avalanche country?

Black Diamond Avalung

Black Diamond Avalung     Photo: Courtesy of Black Diamond

A:Next, buy a shovel. K2’s Rescue Shovel Plus ($80) is sturdy and lets you reposition the shovel blade to act as a hoe, which can be a more efficient way to dig in high-pressure situations.

Another device I've been conflicted about since it came out is the Black Diamond Avalung. You can buy a standalone Avalung sling, or a Black Diamond ski pack with one built in. When buried, breathing through the mouthpiece ports away exhaled carbon dioxide, increasing the amount of time you have time before your warm breath creates an ice layer on the snow near your face, and you suffocate and die. Black Diamond’s Outlaw Avalung Ski Pack costs $229. Avalungs are good safety features, but they won't protect you. They simply give you a little more time to be rescued alive.

—Doug Gantenbein
@OutsideGearGuy

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