The Best Snow Safety Gear of 2022
A kit to keep you protected in the mountains
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Dialing in your backcountry ski gear is about more than comfort or style. With the proper training, the right equipment can help save your or your partner’s life in an emergency.
Arva Plume TS Shovel ($75)
This compact shovel is great for small sidecountry packs and uphill-focused athletes counting grams. It weighs just over 17 ounces, and cutouts in the blade shed mass without compromising strength or durability. The telescoping handle makes it easy to pack and assemble quickly and helps the Plume TS strike the right balance between shoveling efficiency, heft, and size.
Black Diamond Recon LT Beacon ($349)
At 4.8 ounces, the Recon LT is the lightest beacon we tested. The device’s ergonomic shape and low-profile harness make it comfortable to wear and easy to forget about until you need it, and the advertised 50-meter range held up during tests in the glades of the Sangre de Cristos and in the Alaskan alpine. The locking mechanism, which is more secure than many other beacons’ we’ve tried, ensures you won’t inadvertently switch modes. Lastly, the search function—bolstered by a large screen and big buttons for gloved hands—allows you to mark and mute signals in multiple-burial scenarios.
Rab Zero-G Men’s Jacket ($500)
This jacket comes to you from the future. Beneath its ultrafine ten-denier nylon is 1,000-plus fill goose down that lends the Zero-G far more warmth than its slim profile would imply. It packs down to the size of a soda can, and a men’s large weighs just 11 ounces. It’s the perfect emergency layer for when shit hits the fan, whether you’re caught out in the night or waiting for a rescue in the cold. (XS–XXL)
Scott Patrol E1 40 Backpack ($1,150)
This roomy pack is equipped with the Alpride E1, a battery-powered rechargeable airbag that dramatically simplifies traveling and practicing with your pack. Simply plug it into the wall to charge, and carry backup AAs on your trips—no canister refills or airport negotiations required. A separate safety-gear pocket, helmet carry, and two internal zippered pockets for small items make organizing your stuff easy.
POC Devour Glacial Glasses ($250)
Glacier glasses meet biking shades in the Devour, which boasts a huge field of view through supersized scratchproof lenses that provide crisp visuals. Protective shields around the temples and brow offer ample coverage on sunny ski tours in southwestern Colorado. An adjustable nosepiece and arms allow you to dial a fit that’s secure for the downhill but comfortable on the uphill, so you don’t have to change eyewear during your transitions.
Rocky Talkie Radio ($95)
The Rocky Talkie is less expensive than other sport-specific communicators on the market but is just as reliable, with a simple five-button design, a wire-gate carabiner that secures to your pack’s shoulder strap for an easy reach, and a half-mile range in our mountain testing. (The company says you can realistically expect one to five miles.) It’s got shatterproof screens, and the batteries last over three days on a single charge, making it ideal for long missions.
Norrøna Lyngen Down850 Knickers ($249)
When it’s truly frigid out, adding lower-body insulation can save your ass. These seven-ounce knickers pack down to the size of a fist, and full side zips make them easy to put on over your pants on a windy ridge or during a cold transition. We add puffies up top when we get cold. Why not insulate our legs, too? (women’s XS–L / men’s S–XL)
Black Diamond QuickDraw Pro 320 Probe ($80)
This 14-ounce probe folds into eight short segments, so it fits into small daypacks despite the fact that it’s 320 centimeters when fully extended—critical for deep burials, and helpful when digging pits in deep snowpacks. The Velcroed stuffsack was designed not to interfere with the one-pull assembly, so you can protect your QuickDraw without losing efficiency.
Flylow Scotty Comp Vest ($275)
In collaboration with Big Hollow Designs, Flylow designed a carry solution for riders who want to have basic safety gear inbounds in a slim, streamlined way. It has compartments for your shovel and probe as a few other essentials like a water flask and snacks, and the fit makes loading chairlifts less treacherous than clambering aboard with a backpack. It’s great for ski areas with lift-accessed backcountry terrain. (S–XL)