Hybrid shovel doubles as an emergency backcountry shelter
One of the innovative young brands that really impressed during the recent ISPO Munich show, Advenate, has developed several multipurpose tools for backcountry snow sports. The headliner is an avalanche shovel that includes a probe in its handle and a light, compact emergency shelter in its blade. The shovel links together with the probe and two ski poles, pitching a personal bivy sack capable of surviving cold high-alpine nights.
Beacon, shovel, probe. The avalanche gear market has grown to include accessories like airbag jackets and exploding binding triggers, but the beacon, shovel and probe continue to serve as the cornerstones of avalanche safety. Some manufacturers in the space have offered shovels with probes stored in the shafts – a perfect way to fold two gear items into one and save a little space.
If the 94.5-in (240-cm), seven-segment probe inside the Advenate Hybrid shovel's telescopic shaft was the only piece of multi-functionality going on, we'd be skipping right to the dual-function avalanche backpack below. But Advenate has taken it a step farther with its Hybrid Pro model, strapping a compact, tent-like bivouac sack to the shovel's blade.
Advenate's bivy weighs just 1.6 lb (720 g) and relies on a combination of the Hybrid shovel, probe and two ski/hiking poles for structure, the shovel's D-handle serving as the pole-connecting tent hub at the peak. Six snow anchors stored in the shovel's shaft serve to stake the tent out. Advenate promises quick set-up, something that will be essential if you're racing a fast-approaching snowstorm.
Out on the snow, the bright Cordura ripstop fabric stands tough against the elements and offers high visibility for emergency situations in which the occupant wants to attract the attention of rescuers. While single-wall tent designs in general tend to struggle with breathability and condensation issues, Advenate says that its ventilating zipper design lets humidity escape, which should help prevent condensation inside the tent, keeping things dry and comfortable.
Advenate says the bivy can be used either as a backup for emergencies or as a Plan A shelter for overnighters in the backcountry. And, as if shovel, probe and shelter weren't enough functions for one piece of gear, the packaged bivy can serve as a seat pad.
Lest we all forget that the Hybrid Pro is a shovel first and foremost, we must note that it features aluminum construction, a telescopic hexagonal shaft that adjusts total shovel length between 25 and 37 in (64 and 94 cm), and a dual-purpose blade that can flip between shovel and pick modes.
Advenate plans to get the Hybrid Pro to market for Winter 2018/19 (Northern Hemisphere) for an estimated €350 (approx. US$430). The standard Hybrid shovel (shovel and probe, no bivy) will cost around €180.
Integrated Avalanche System
The 2018 ISPO Gold Award-winning Hybrid Pro was what drew us to Advenate's booth, but we found another intriguing ISPO Award winner when we got there. The company's Integrated Avalanche System is a backcountry backpack that combines an avalanche airbag and avalanche breathing apparatus into a single survival tool. The breathing system is integrated into the activation pull handle for the airbag so that both systems are activated in one step. The airbag inflates to help the victim float atop the avalanche's surface, lessening the chances of burial and suffocation.
Should the victim become buried under the snow, the IAS breathing mechanism provides another layer of protection, pulling breathable air out of the surrounding snowpack to keep the victim breathing while buried. According to Advenate, even a wet, dense snowpack is made up of about 50 percent air – it's just a matter of being able to effectively access that air to keep breathing.
The IAS' plasma-coated filter draws the air in, and the system redirects CO2 to the back of the backpack to prevent inhalation. Advenate says the system can deliver more than 60 minutes of under-snow breathing time, potentially increasing survival time several times over.
Black Diamond has been offering the similar Avalung breathing system for years, so the idea of an under-snow avalanche breathing system is not new, but Advenate's seamless integration with the airbag system looks to be a very smart way of combining two potential life-saving technologies into one pack. The breathing system can also be worn without the airbag for a lighter configuration.
Advenate will offer the Surface Integrated Avalanche System in backpacks of several sizes, with prices starting around €850.