Powder Cloud Likes: BCA Stealth Avalanche Probe
For most (including me), an avalanche probe feels like a dull necessity compared to shiny things like skis, boots, jackets, and airbag packs. You may have just grabbed one off the shelf while picking up your newly mounted Blizzard Zero Gs, or maybe there was no decision at all, as it might have come packaged with a transceiver and shovel in cost-saving package deal.
However, you are spending money and you’re serious about this sport (you’re reading Powder Cloud, after all), so you might as well get an awesome probe, which is where we come in. So…what should you look for?
A probe is a critical component in avalanche rescue, so the fiddle-factor needs to be zero. No Jacob’s Ladder flip flop toys that take precious minutes to assemble, won’t easily lock, or aren’t strong enough to drive through frozen avalanche debris. And, let’s not forget, probes need to be proficient for snowpack observations and tests, too. In his recent article Snow Study Tools, Bruce Jamieson, an avalanche consultant and educator, views the probe (and shovel) as the most vital tools for gathering the information needed to stay out of avalanches.
You can certainly do your own research, or just let me make this easy for you: Buy the Backcountry Access (BCA) Stealth Probe in either carbon or aluminum, whichever you prefer. (The carbon saves 30-40 g, depending on size.) It’s arguably the best probe on the market (and Jamieson’s tool of choice), and it’s sold in almost every store and online shop in North America, ranging from $50–$89 U.S.
The Stealth assembles lightning fast. No intelligence required—just toss it out, pull the orange button at the top, and whammo, you’re done. The Quick-Lock mechanism is seamless. The probe is stiff when assembled and the cables maintain their strength—no loosey goosey low-grade metal cables to inhibit assembly and tension. I’ve owned the Stealth for six years, and it’s as strong and sturdy as the day I purchased. Clear depth markings, laser-etched on the aluminum versions, enable your observations. Bonus points for BCA’s Stealth carrying case—a third-length zipper on the top (left unzipped while in your pack) allows for quick extraction, even with fumbling hands.
This past fall, I sifted through a box of a dozen or more avalanche probes that I’ve accumulated over the years. They’ll continue to gather dust, cause I ain’t partin’ ways with my BCA Stealth.
Through backcountry skiing, Paul Rogers has found incredible happiness, lasting friendships, and the opportunity to traverse the snowscape across Europe and North America. He founded Powder Cloud to help others safely find the same.