A tool to gauge slope angle and help judge avalanche risk.
This review is part of our New Brands Gear Guide.
By Chris Townsend
Developed after tragic avalanche accidents in the French Alps in the 2016/17 winter season, Slope Angel has a very specific purpose, namely calculating the slope gradient of the terrain, an essential factor in judging avalanche risk – as 70% of avalanches occur on slopes between 30 and 50 degrees.
Slope Angel’s founders talked to guides, instructors and rescue teams and found that the majority of skiers and mountaineers found estimating slope gradients difficult. They assessed different ways of doing this, from using ski poles – a technique I learnt many years ago – to expensive digital inclinometers. Unsurprisingly, the latter turned out to be the most reliable and accurate. Phone apps are available but to use them you have to put your smartphone down on the snow and risk it sliding away, as well as shortening the battery life in the cold.
Looking for an efficient, easy-to-use and inexpensive design, the designers came up with a tiny lightweight thermo-plastic inclinometer and temperature gauge with a battery that lasted one to two years. Playing with the name, they came up with Slope Angel. The device comes with laminated avalanche awareness cue cards that are very useful. There’s also much useful avalanche information on the Slope Angel website.
Tested: Slope Angel device
£19 / 16g
The Slope Angel was designed for off-piste skiing in the Alps. However it’s just as useful for winter hillwalking in the UK mountains where avalanches occur every year, sometimes with fatal results. I tried the Slope Angel last winter and found it easy to use, quickly giving the angle of the slope and the temperature. At 16 grams the weight is unnoticeable.