Be quicker in an emergency: Find out what you should look out for when purchasing a high-quality avalanche probe

In an avalanche accident, seconds count. Along with an avalanche transceiver and an avalanche shovel, the avalanche probe is therefore a central component of emergency equipment.
In the ORTOVOX AVALANCHE PROBE GUIDE, Chris Semmel, mountain guide and trainer with the Verband deutscher Berg- und Skiführer (VDBS – German mountain and ski guide association) explains which functions, safety standards and features are important in a high-quality avalanche probe. 


Why is the avalanche probe an indispensable item of avalanche safety equipment?

The probe is an important component of avalanche safety equipment. Only with a probe can the exact location and the burial depth of the victim be determined, allowing quick action to be taken. Because in an avalanche accident it’s all about working at speed to save lives.
Investigations have shown that without an avalanche probe for locating and pinpointing, it takes twice as long to dig out the victim: approx. 25 minutes. With a probe the average rescue time is eleven minutes. Without a probe, therefore, it is unlikely that the victim will be rescued within the 15 minutes that are essential for survival.  


  • Quick-assembly system and quick-release cover

    Be quicker – that’s what every detail is about. That’s why it’s essential to use an intuitive and effective assembly system at the top of the probe. The innovative PFA 2.0 quick assembly system is intuitive, quick and easy to pack. Thanks to the new quick-assembly strap, the probe can be assembled straight out of its specially developed quick-release cover. The PFA 2.0 quick-assembly system and strap enable immediate opening and assembly in one motion – without first having to take the probe out of its cover.
    The quick-lock assembly system is a knot-assembly system, and allows for quick and simple set up. The probe is ready for use in just seconds, and can be collapsed just as quickly. The tension can be set by simply turning the optimized adjusting screw. 

  • Stability

    To probe effectively, the probe must be stable and rigid enough to remain straight during use. Only then can you probe precisely and efficiently without errors occurring. The greater the probe’s diameter, the stiffer but at the same time heavier it is, assuming it is made of the same material.  

  • Length

    The length of an avalanche probe is important: Lengths of 240cm are typical, and this is sufficient for the average avalanche burial depth. But the probe must also be compact and easy to stow. Our probes consist of six to seven probe elements and are at least 240cm long in total. Thanks to the individual, shorter segments, each probe can be stowed in a backpack with a small total pack size. 

  • Visual guide system

    The intuitive visual guide system provides a quick and clear reading of the victim's depth at all times. Shoveling strategies can be perfectly adapted and valuable time saved thanks to the clear 1m marker, the contrasting depth scale and the colored end segments. The bottommost segment in neon orange indicates when you are approaching the victim. The exact centimeter value helps you to determine the exact burial depth and create a snow profile. 

  • Probe tip

    A voluminous probe tip, i.e. a significantly larger probe tip diameter compared to the probe elements, ensures improved penetration. This reduces friction while probing. A pointed probe tip also penetrates hard avalanche snow more easily. 

  • Materials

    The basis and foundation of a good probe is the material it’s made from. It must be light but at the same time stable. For our aluminum probes, we use high-end 7075 ALUMINUM T6, which provides an optimum ratio of weight to rigidity. Carbon is the material we use for our lightweights: Carbon is rigid, extremely lightweight and will not ice over quickly thanks to its low heat conduction. For those users who find reliability and a high degree of precision in leading them to the victim more important than weight, we offer probes made of steel. 

  • Tensioning system

    Steel or aramid is used for the tensioning system in our probes. As steel does not stretch, it is one of the most reliable tensioning systems. We use aramid for probe segments made from aluminum/carbon. Aramid fibers are lighter yet provide high rigidity and stability with limited stretching, making them ideal for use in tensioning systems. 


Probing correctly in the event of an avalanche accident

After completing the fine search with an avalanche transceiver and marking the location, you need to pinpoint the victim with the avalanche probe. Find out how to probe correctly here!

  1. Mark the point with the smallest distance measurement (with crossed ski poles, shovel etc.). Starting from this point, probe the area systematically from the inside to the outside in the 25cm (~10 in) grid spacing shown.
  2. The probe remains in place and is used for orientation purposes.
  3. Tip: Always probe at a 90° angle to the surface of the snow


Online or on our avalanche courses

Interactive avalanche training at home: The online ORTOVOX SAFETY ACADEMY LAB.

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Only with the right knowledge can you reduce the risk of getting caught in an avalanche: In the SAFETY ACADEMY AVALANCHE COURSES in cooperation with international mountain schools, we offer all the information you need about the risks involved when on the mountain. Get educated surrounded by snow-capped mountains and reduce the risk!





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