MSR’s Innovative Backcountry Gear for Skiing & Snowshoeing

As a backcountry skier, snowshoer or mountaineer, you place a great deal of trust in your snow safety and backcountry gear. Should you find yourself in an avalanche or crevasse rescue situation, the efficiency and ease of use of your shovel, probe or snow anchor can make all the difference.

MSR snow shovel and backcountry gear

That’s why we spend so much time thinking about their designs, and devising innovative ways to increase their speed and reliability. Here we look at how MSR’s collection of snow tools brings in creative engineering solutions to deliver MSR’s legendary safety and reliability—all when it matters most.

4 Essentials for the Backcountry

safety snow tools - avalanche probe

Striker™ Probes’ burlier lower sections

A probe’s primary job is to help you locate a buried companion. That’s why each plunge needs to go exactly you intended. Yet, in hard snow, like avalanche debris, flimsy probes can deflect under the surface, shooting your probe off course.

To reduce that deflection, our Striker Probes feature beefed up lower sections. Their larger diameter and thicker wall maximize their stiffness and strength, giving you a truer and more accurate plunge.

To keep the probes light, we used a traditional-sized diameter in the probes’ upper sections to shed weight. This unique “dual diameter” construction creates a very burly probe that remains light in your pack.

Combined with their fast deployment, the efficient designs of our probes can save you time when seconds count in a strategic search.

MSR snow shovel

Snow Shovels with optimized strength & ergonomics

Whether you’re chopping away at avy debris during a rescue or building a shelter for winter camping, moving snow is a big task. The strength, efficiency and ergonomics of your shovel all go a long way toward speeding up your excavation job.

But of hard-anodized aluminum, MSR Snow Shovels offer fierce, unrelenting strength. In addition, their blades are designed without a neck, because the neck on a shovel is often the first part to fail under force. This low-profile design increases its durability—and its packability.

The teeth on the shovel’s leading edge create micro concentration points to break up hard snow and ice faster. This adds efficiency that can help save you crucial energy, especially during the intensely challenging act of digging someone out.

Even the shovels’ handles are meticulously engineered. Their unique tri-lobe shafts prevent the sections from rotating, providing instant, hassle-free deployment.

beta snow saw

Beta™ Saw’s among strongest, lightest available

At just 178 g (7 oz), the low-profile Beta Saw is easy to carry during a day in the mountains.

Engineered for conducting snow science, the stainless steel blade is laser-etched with 1 mm and 3 mm crystal grids. And a 30 cm mark indicates the ideal snow column width. The blade’s aggressive teeth easily slice through harder snow layers, while its off-set back teeth tear through tree branches.

Though it’s thin, the Beta saw is impressively rigid, which is a tall order for this category of saws. Protected in a sheath, it’s easy to slip into your pack’s compartments, and ups the ante of your backcountry gear kit.

cable picket

Cable Picket speeds anchor setup

Guiding operations have long used MSR pickets as the gold standard for snow protection during glacier travel. So when they requested a picket with a permanently affixed cable, we worked directly with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) to engineer the most reliable one possible.

The cable speeds anchor setup and safety. As the cable cuts through the snow, it disturbs the snow as little as possible creating more solid hold, which lets you exit the system faster.

The whole picket assembly was designed to exceed all UIAA strength standards. Our pickets have always used a T-beam design because it offers nearly double the bending strength of a V-shaped picket—one reason our classic pickets are venerated worldwide.

Like all MSR gear, the durability is in the details. The cable is galvanized steel for strength and corrosion resistance. Aircraft-grade aluminum keeps the picket light. The 52.3 cm length is optimal per guide requests. And the strike-end is reinforced and tapered to reduce deformation for long-term use.

snow shovel and 4 season tent

Proven in the field

MSR has a long history of engineering cutting-edge, reliable snow tools, and the 5-star reviews on our probes and shovels echo that user trust today. For guides to polar explorers to recreationalists, we’re committed to unparalleled quality and safety in the mountains. Anything less just wouldn’t be MSR.