Expert Review: Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Probe
This review is my honest opinion of the probe, which I purchased with my own money in December 2019.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the probe, which I purchased with my own money in December 2019.
The Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Aluminum Probe is a great, sturdy probe that comes with a carry case, is easy to deploy, and has a reliable locking mechanism. For anyone who isn’t aiming to have an ultralight setup, this probe is a great option.
About the probe I own
- Model: Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Probe
- Material: Aluminum
- Length: 270 cm
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 115 lbs
- Experience: 5+ years of backcountry skiing
- When I bought it: December 2019
- Days tested: 50 days
- Backpack: Patagonia Snowdrifter 20L backpack
- Where I’ve carried it: Utah
- Terrain: Backcountry, sidecountry
How it performs
What I was looking for
When I purchased this probe, I was getting into backcountry skiing and needed a durable probe that was appropriate for skiing in the Utah backcountry. Though I could have gone with a 240cm length probe and still probably been ok, I wanted something that was a bit longer since we sometimes have really deep snow years, in which case I would need the extra length on the probe in the case of a very deep burial of a ski partner.
Why I chose this gear
I bought this particular product because Backcountry Access is one of the most well-known brands for avalanche safety gear. Their product reviews always state they tend to be very reliable. I considered getting a carbon probe, such as the Ortovox 240 Carbon Probe. Carbon probes are lighter weight and still fairly durable, but the locking mechanism on this one wasn’t as intuitive to me, and aluminum is still a bit sturdier. So I opted for the Stealth 270, which is a heavier, but stronger probe with a locking mechanism that made more sense to me.
What I love about it
- Packability: The Stealth 270 probe comes with a carry sack, which is a really helpful feature. This keeps it together and safe in my backpack. If I need to deploy it quickly, I don’t have to untangle it from anything else. I also feel better knowing it’s safe in its bag instead of rubbing around, hitting other things in my pack, which could lead to more wear and tear.
- Reliability: Though I have not had to use it in any emergencies, I have practiced and done a ton of beacon drills with this probe and it has always been very reliable. It has never come unlocked when it shouldn't or had trouble pushing through any hard snow.
- Setup Speed: The deployment on the Stealth 270 is really easy. I can toss the probe out, and there is a locking button on the top. I have seen other probe designs that require one to pull and lock, or twist and lock, but the Stealth 270 is the most intuitive design I have seen yet.
- Durability: It seems to be very durable. I have used it quite a bit in practice and it looks brand new. I attribute a lot of this to me keeping it protected and taking care of it, but I have heard of other probes having issues with the metal casing on their probes cracking, which warrants a replacement as there should never be at-home repairs done to life-saving gear, such as probes (photo below of cracking metal casing on another probe, not the Stealth 270, for example).
- Length/Size: 270 cm is a great length for Utah. I could have gone shorter, but given that it’s a life-saving tool, I would rather have the extra length and not need it than need it and not have it. The packed up size is 45 cm, which fits very well in a backpack.
- Ease of Use: The setup and use are really easy to maneuver with gloves on. Since it's just a button that needs to be pressed on top, there aren't a lot of fine motor skills needed to deploy this probe, which makes it great for emergencies and for gloved hands.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: At 295g, the Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Aluminum Probe weighs almost twice as much as a similar carbon probe (The Ortovox Carbon 240 Superlight Probe weighs closer to 160g). To me, it’s not a huge issue, as I don’t have many long touring days wherein my pack needs to be as light as possible. But to some people this weight would be a deal breaker.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this probe happened during an avalanche/beacon safety clinic held by one of my employers. About 20 of us went to a snowy area near a ski run and practiced beacon drills with hidden backpacks. It wasn’t particularly eventful, but it was really fun to get all the coworkers out practicing with their gear. Plus, it’s kind of fun to poke around in the snow with a big stick!
Value for the money vs. other options
Aside from weight, another big difference between carbon and aluminum probes is the price. Most carbon probes, such as the Ortovox 240 Carbon Probe are $90ish, whereas I picked this up for closer to $45. For how durable it is, and the fact that it comes with its own storage sack (not all probes do), I think this is a great price. Again, if weight was more of a concern, I might pay the extra money for something lighter, but for me the Stealth 270 Aluminum is perfect.
The Backcountry Access Stealth 270 Aluminum Avalanche Probe is a reliable, sturdy option for a backcountry touring probe that won’t break the bank. It’s perfect for anyone who isn’t counting grams and worried about weight. The locking mechanism is intuitive, fast, easy, and maneuverable with gloved hands. It comes with a storage sack to protect it from abrasive materials or getting tangled in a backpack, and will last for a long time!