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As COVID-19 continues to make gathering in crowds a risk this winter, industry professionals are expecting a surge of new backcountry skiers this winter. But the backcountry isn’t the resort: head out beyond the gate, and you’re responsible for your own safety. The best and first step you can take to ski safely is to take an avalanche course. Once you have the knowledge, get the gear with our picks for the best probe, beacon, radio, and avalanche airbag of the winter.
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Durable Radio: Rocky Talkie
Communication is key in the backcountry, and the ability to talk to your partners, coordinate rescues, and avoid getting lost is essential to safety. But most consumer radios lack durability, and outdoor-specific models can get pricey. Buy the Rocky Talkie Now / Read the Full Review
Intuitive Beacon: Arva EVO 5
For those who want a straightforward, no-frills avalanche transceiver that’s light and small, the EVO 5 offers a simple design by jettisoning some more sophisticated features. About as thick as a deck of cards and lighter than standard beacons (it does have the standard three antennas, though), the EVO 5 auto-reverts back to transmit after 8 minutes in search mode, and detects up to three burial signals that can be “marked.” Buy the Arva EVO 5 Now / Read the Full Review
Fast-Action Probe: Mammut Carbon Probe 280 Speed Lock
It’s disconcerting how tricky some probes can be to deploy and lock into place, especially in a panicked rescue scenario. Not this one: Mammut’s new design ditches metal pins that can freeze or break in favor of a metal latch on the top pole section that requires less effort to pull into place and breaks down with a glove-friendly button. Buy the Mammut Carbon Probe 280 Speed Lock Now / Read the Full Review