Without a probe, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint a victim after a beacon search, so you have to excavate far more snow in order to locate someone. This can be the difference between seconds of digging and minutes of digging, which may be the difference between your friend living or dying.
Almost every probe features length measurements printed on the shaft. These measurements are handy for gauging snow depth when you’re digging test pits or doing quick spot-evaluations of the snowpack.
Deep burials are bad news, but they’re even worse if your probe isn’t long enough to find the victim. A short probe (200-230cm) is lightweight and easy to pack while a longer probe (300cm+) might be heavier and harder to pack, but you’ll always know you have the length length to pinpoint a victim in a deep burial.
Carbon is ultralight and makes a great choice for weight-obsessed backcountry skiers. Aluminum’s durability makes it a solid pick for those who dig lots of test pits or prefer more traditional materials for their safety gear.