Sometimes, perfect gear comes in an inexpensive, simple format. The PoleClinometer is just that – a simple piece of gear that helps you estimate slope angle, adds almost no weight to your kit, and doesn’t require your average Joe to take out a second mortgage.
Why is slope angle important? Studies show that avalanches are most likely to occur on a slope with an angle between 30° and 45°. Having an easy way to estimate slope angle is important and the easier it is to use your gear, the more likely you are to use it. Having the PoleClinometer permanently attached to your pole means you don’t have to dig out your inclinometer every time you want to check a slope angle.
The PoleClinometer is a sticker that you place on your pole. Used properly, it allows you to estimate slope angle either across a slope or looking down it from the top. Grayson King, an engineer and backcountry skier, invented it in Spring of 2014 after reviewing other available stick-on inclinometer solutions and discovering that they sucked. He’s much smarter than we are, so we’ll refer you to his site for an explanation of how the whole thing came together. Suffice to say, it’s the first of its kind to provide accurate readings. The secret is in the curve.
Once the PoleClinometer is attached, you’re ready to use it. In the field, you hold your pole, vertically, so the PoleClinometer is at eye level and so you can see the slope behind it. It’s important to hold the pole loosely so the pole is vertical. Otherwise, your reading will be off. If you’re looking across a slope, you use the side of the sticker and see which line matches most closely with the slope angle. If looking down a slope, you use the front of the Poleclinometer; whichever line appears least curved is your slope estimate.
If you’ve ever taken a look at your ski poles, you’ll notice that even the most durable graphics get scraped, scratched, and generally beat up with use. Poles tend to bang against things – ski edges, each other, trees. Grayson was worried about durability, so he includes a heat-shrink plastic sleeve that goes over the sticker.
We’re always excited to see innovators create small items that make a big difference. Sure, a $1000 air-bag pack can help you stay afloat once you’re stuck in a running slide, but this $10 item may keep you off the slope that is going to slide. Much better to avoid an avalanche than to try to survive one.
The PoleClinometer is available now on Kickstarter, with funding closing on February 2, 2015. Check out the video and support them. Early orders are already shipping!
Poleclinometer has been kind enough to provide us with a kit to test out, free of charge. We’ll be taking it out in the backcountry (maybe on one of our lines we want to ride!) as soon as it arrives to give it a full review and compare it to some of the other inclinometers we have laying around.
Need new skis or a splitboard to carry you into the backcountry where you can use the PoleClinometer? Contact our Gear Concierge for help choosing the perfect setup.
Remember, the most important avalanche safety gear is knowledge.