Thanks to Ortovox for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
Ever notice how the names “G3” and “K2” are siblings? G comes before K, but 2 comes before 3. You tell me what all that means, but know that both companies make nice beefy avalanche rescue probes. A couple of their offerings recently faced off on the WildSnow playa, six-shooters boomed, both…well, read on. (Clarity: This review is for 2011/12 models.)
G3 Speed Tech weighs 8.5 oz, (242 gr) at 2.48 meter length. K2 weighs 10.4 oz, (296 gr) at 3 meter length. You could say these two probes are in different classes of weight and bulk, but they’re really quite similar in those areas (we evaluated the shorter version of the G3, at 2.48 meters, while G3 also makes a 3.28 meter version at 10.4 ounces, thus matching weight of K2 but being slightly longer). Also note that the price difference between these two guys is substantial, around $50 street for the G3, around $90 for the K2.
While the longer lengths of both these probes can be useful, we feel that for exclusive use as a companion rescue probe about 2 meters length is adequate. Others disagree, and yes, using a longer probe is more ergonomic as you don’t have to bend over to get closer to the snow surface, as you do to go deeper with a 2 meter stick. Thus, we hear quite a bit of talk these days about 3 meters being the desirable length but 2.48 in our view is plenty long as well.
Well, there you go. The boys slapped leather, dodged bullets, and they’re both still standing. My take? If you want a markedly rigid and strong probe, perhaps for glacier crevasse probe use or plain old peace of mind, consider K2 Backside. If you want something we feel is still effective, a bit lighter, though definitely more flexy and slightly less strong, go G3 Speed Tech in the shorter length. Either way, they’ll work.
(Please note other companies make beefy probes as well, most notably Backcountry Access, Pieps, and Ortovox. Reviews in the works for selected items from those guys.)
Shop for Pieps iProbe (I added this one in as it’s got a built-in beacon receiver, kinda cool.)