The Best Snow Safety Gear of 2020
Your deductible toward security in the mountains
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
PoleClinometer Sticker Kit ($15)
Backcountry caution dictates knowing a slope’s pitch before committing to climbing up it and then riding down. And while it may look gimmicky, the PoleClinometer provides this information as simply and quickly as possible: with a sticker you attach to your ski pole indicating various angles. Dangle the pole vertically, compare the slope’s pitch with the chart on the sticker, and make better-informed decisions off-piste.
Mammut Alugator Pro Lite Shovel ($80)
Those who obsess over shovel performance will love the Alugator Pro’s long, telescoping shaft and hardened and sharpened aluminum blade, which has cutouts that both reduce weight and allow it to function as an improvised rescue sled.
Mammut Fast Lock 280 Probe ($70)
This probe features a big orange handle that’s easy to grip and pull for busting out its nine-foot length. The aluminum construction doesn’t add much heft to your pack.
Black Diamond JetForce Tour 26 Pack ($1,200)
As backcountry gear matures, bugs and kinks are worked out, and the latest generations look better to boot. The Tour 26 is a fine example. It’s sleek, compact, and reliable, and it makes use of Alpride’s avalanche-airbag tech, which operates via a fan and supercapacitor. The system recharges by micro USB (or, in a pinch, two AA batteries) and features a mesh helmet holder, accessory pockets, and a standard under-leg strap, so you don’t slip out of the pack in a slide.
Backcountry Access Tracker S Beacon ($335)
The Tracker S follows a beacon-design trend toward simplicity, which makes it more usable in an actual avalanche, when fancy features are likely to be forgotten or just get in the way. Yet it still has all the functionality of the more blinged-out models, with three antennas, a 164-foot range, and directional arrows that point toward buried partners to hasten searches.