Are you one of the few that takes snow science to the next level? Understanding the snow that you ski and snowboard on top of can help keep you safe, but it is important to first know what to look for. Understanding the different layers of snow and how they break can make a good day a really good day and a bad day a really bad day. If you are unaware of what to look for in the snowpack, I recommend you do a little research. Here is a link that will help you understand what to look for in snowpack https://avalanche.org/ In this review, we’ll be focusing on the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw which is a great tool to use for when you have your snow pit dug and are ready to get to work.
Details that matter
When conducting snowpack test, the standard snow block measurement is 30cm wide by 30cm deep. As you will notice, the length of the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw is 47 cm in total with a 35cm saw blade. This allows you to measure a full 30cm giving you a little extra to work with. There is a 30cm marker on the blade so you know how far to cut into the snow.
While cutting through various layers of snow with the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw, I found the saw to be more than adequate for getting through thick layers of crust and ice. One of early storms we had this year in Steamboat dropped a good amount of rain on top of a good snow storm reeking havoc on snow stability. To keep up to date on this layer and the additional layers, I’ve cut into this a number of times and found the saw to cut through the layers nicely without compromising structure of the snow blocks.
While the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw has a very slim handle, I found it to provide plenty to grab onto yet it takes up a small amount of space. This handle is a spray on layer of rubber over the stainless steel that has just enough texture to keep it slipping from your hand.
To know the size of snow facets, there is a 1mm grid and a 3mm sized grid imprinted on the blade to understand the type of snow you’re dealing with.
MSR Beta Snow Science Saw Focuses on Weight
As you can see by the pictures, the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw has a focus on weight reduction. If there were areas to cut weight in this saw, they were cut out as evidenced by the three large holes in this stainless steel saw. There is a fourth hole in the saw, but that is more for your enjoyment of a frothy beverage, ie bottle opener. This is more for when you get back from your adventure as most backcountry travelers typically don’t travel with glass bottles.
As for downsides in the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw, there is a minor area of improvement in my mind. The protection case of the saw is a very tight fit and can sometimes get caught on the saw when covering and uncovering the saw blade. My only fear would be it stick and I pull too hard one time and slicing a hole in my gear or skin. This is not likely to happen, but it is possible. In the future, it would be nice to have a case that would be easy to slide on and off the blade, yet be secure. This is the only downside and as I mentioned, it is very minor in my mind.
If you’re the slightest bit interested in avalanche safety and snow pack stability, the MSR Beta Snow Science Saw is definitely worth a look. This saw is compact, lightweight, and gets the job done. For more information, please visit https://www.msrgear.com/