Gear Review

CAMP Carbon Light Probe

CAMP USA Carbon Light Avalanche Probe

CAMP USA continues its tradition of offering the lightest gear on the planet with their Carbon Fiber avalanche Probe—and this is indeed a light probe.

At 4.7 ounces (measured), the CAMP Probe averages 40-50% less than everything else in its class. The CAMP Carbon is conveniently marked in 10cm increments for depth gauging, and features a metal tip to better penetrate hard snow—as well as enhance the probe's 'feel'. Compared to a typical aluminum probe, you'll notice that the CAMP's carbon tubing is slightly larger in diameter. This gives the Carbon Light extra strength, and is unlikely to have any practical impact on searches.

In terms of durability, the Carbon Light probe seems adequate, at least. Without actually destroying the probe, I put it through various workouts and saw no evidence of damage. CAMP USA describes the probe's carbon fiber segments as 'virtually unbreakable.' Because it is carbon, however, the probe can be damaged by excessive flexing (whereas aluminum would simply bend).

Ski patrol and professional guides may lean toward aluminum for its ability to resist day-to-day wear—especially gouging by metal edges. For everyone else, avalanche probes will (hopefully!) spend their entire lives in your pack, except for training exercises. At half the weight of many other probes, the CAMP Carbon is thus a highly appealing choice.

Is 240cm an adequate length for an avalanche probe? This is a somewhat controversial subject that can arouse strong opinions. A shorter probe does limit one's ability to locate deeply buried victims (without a beacon signal). However, persons buried beyond 2m have a vanishingly small chance at survival. I would recommend a long probe only as part of the group gear for larger parties. In that case, the extra size might be of some small advantage.

If you do get the CAMP Carbon, be sure to familiarize yourself with the probe's locking system. While it is extremely simple (just yank the string and hook the knot through the slot), if you're expecting a locking pin you could become confused during the chaos of an emergency. The bottom line on the CAMP USA Carbon probe is that light is right. Lighter gear takes less energy to carry, allowing faster travel with less effort, and lighter gear is more likely to be in your pack when you need it.

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.