According to a recent study, human-powered snowsports (namely backcountry skiing and snowboarding) are the fastest growing segment in winter recreation. And it makes sense. As prices continue to climb at ski resort ticket windows across the country, backcountry riding offers the allure of being virtually free provided you have the knowledge and gear to access off-piste areas safely. The operative word being safely.
To that point, when it comes to making the leap from the resort to the backcountry there are three essential pieces of gear one must never be without, the big three: avalanche transceiver (aka beacon), shovel, and probe. A quick survey of the market shows that safety gear isn’t cheap – especially most transceivers – but German-based, longtime avalanche safety pioneer, Ortovox, has significantly reduced the barrier to entry with their avalanche safety bundle meaning there are no excuses not to head into the backcountry fully prepared.*
Since 1980, Ortovox has built a reputation for being one of the most trusted names in the mountains. In other words, the brand stand behind every piece of gear that bears its name.
Recognizing the market’s need for an affordable, intuitive avalanche transceiver, some time ago Ortovox launched their Zoom+ transceiver that features an on/off switch and a simple button to switch between transmit and search modes. Now, Ortovox has bundled the Zoom+ with their Badger shovel and ALU 240 probe to create the ideal kit for resort shredders eager to earn their turns in the backcountry – of which I count myself.
Recently, Ortovox was kind enough to send over their Zoom+ Avalanche Rescue Kit and in short, each element is absolutely dummy proof.
To start, using the Zoom+ transceiver is as easy as turning a switch on the back and throwing it in your pant pocket or in your transceiver pouch (included in the kit). In the event of a rescue, the Zoom+ has three antennas, uses Ortovox’s patented “Smart Antenna Technology” that automatically switches to the best antenna at all times, and features large LED arrows and intuitive acoustics that increase in volume as you get closer to the victim. It also automatically switches over from search to transmit mode in the event of a secondary avalanche.
Unlike other transceivers, though, there’s no way to install software updates on the Zoom+, so the intention is very much to be a person’s first-ever transceiver before graduating to one with more frills and a heftier price tag.
The Badger shovel and ALU 240 probe are both very simple to use and fit nicely in a 25-liter pack, but again, are bare bones. For instance, unlike pricier shovels, the shovel head of the Badger can’t change angles, but it’s incredibly light, sturdy, and will get the job done in nearly every situation.
Above all, Ortovox’s entry-level kit is the ideal starting place from which to grow your competency with avalanche safety gear and is cost-effective without skimping on tech and functionality. Ortovox’s Zoom+ Avalanche Rescue Kit runs just $310 and is available here.
*Editor’s Note: The Inertia acknowledges that backcountry skiing and snowboarding are dangerous, and having the proper gear is just as essential as knowing how to use it and understanding the avalanche phenomenon. For info on avalanche courses near you, head here.