Life-Link International has been beefing up their product line over the past few seasons and this year is no exception. Focused directly at the backcountry snowboarder (read: not skier) is the new Variant Approach probe pole ($115). Like their other Variant poles, the Approach features an aluminum upper and a composite lower shaft, and their patented ovalized adjustment system for no-slip performance keeps them together. At a fully extended 49 inches, the Approach offers plenty of adjustability while hiking and is easily stored in or on any pack at a compact 30 inches–impressive measurements for any two-piece pole. Designed specifically as an avalanche probe pole for backcountry snowboarders (who may not normally carry such a piece), the two lower shafts screw together to make a 5-foot probe. A 15 inch extension ($15) bumps that up to 6’3″.
A quality tool indeed, the light-weight and solid feeling Approach also features comfortable grips; adjustable, quick-release straps; and carbide tips. They come standard with powder and trekking baskets.