Boulder-based snow scientist Katya Hafich reviews Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment’s Compact Shovel ($49.95), Basic Snow Study Kit ($57.45), and Igloo 35 Snow Saw ($49).
By Katya Hafich
I tested a collection of Brooks-Range Mountaineering snow science equipment this year, and the brand’s Compact Shovel ($49.95), Basic Snow Study Kit ($57.45), and Igloo 35 Snow Saw ($49) are all examples of well-made gear made by experts who pay attention to the details. Each piece has technical details that would be useful in the backcountry for seasoned backcountry skiers and snow scientists.
For example, the blade of the snow shovel—made from 6061 T6 Aluminum—features figures of avalanche rescue techniques, which may be helpful to look over as a refresher before you head out into the backcountry (but by no means are a substitute for avalanche safety training).
The Basic Snow Study Kit basically comes with everything a woman needs for an Avy I class and snowpack evaluation practice sessions throughout the season, including a fieldbook, slope meter, snow crystal card, folding magnifier, 200-centimeter folding ruler, and snow study pouch. The kit’s crystal card—a metal card with a measurement grid to assess snow grain size, a piece of information needed to assess avalanche danger—is filled with other useful information for snow nerds like me. (i.e. Does two jumps mean a Rutschblock level 4 or 5?)
The Igloo 25 Snow Saw also boasts neat features such as small grain size grids for the weight-conscious who want to leave their crystal cards at home and a 30-centimeter mark for common snow stability tests. Its name implies its handiness in igloo-construction, thanks to the saw’s aggressive tooth, but you’ll also find it useful building barrier walls or cutting out a snowpit to assess avalanche danger. In an emergency, you could even use this blade to cut wood.
Whether you have been digging snow pits for years and are excited about the latest gadgets or you are taking your first Avalanche Safety Course and are looking to buy a shovel, Brooks Range Mountaineering Equipment is a great place to start the gear hunt.