Dec 07 2014

Low budget, lightweight ‘clinometer


Lightweight, low budge 'clinometer.

Lightweight, low budget ‘clinometer.

Knowing the angle of the slope you’re on is important for bragging rights and avoiding avalanches. There are plenty of options available for measuring slope angle, with price usually providing an indication of accuracy.

There is a new slope angle estimator heading to market that is a simple sticker that you apply to your ski poles. You need to apply it along the length axis of the ski pole accurately. Assuming that is done with precision, then all you need to do to estimate slope angle is hold the pole up vertically and then, either look across the slope with it to estimate slope angle, or down slope.

Hold it vertically, and eyeball it.

Hold it vertically, and eyeball it.

If you’re not ready to pony up $120 for Pieps electronic ‘clinometer that measures slope angle to an accuracy of 1° or a new pair of poles from K2 with an embedded slope meter, or a separate clinometer that you can get from a hardware store or with a snow science kit, this is a low-budget option. For a quick estimate with an accuracy with 5°, more with practice, you can hardly beat the price, weight, or convenience.

If you want this simple tool in your bag of tricks, you can help make it reality by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign to fund the first production run. Go to poleclinometer.com.

If you want an even lighter option, consider using a your ski poles, brain and trigonometry.

© 2014

  • Unge Andersen

    You can also use one of the manny exelent smartphone inclinometer apps.. Or do you leave the phone at home in order not to spoil the sereene backcountry experience?

  • Dostie

    When it comes to apps I’m a Luddite. My phone is still just a phone. If I want or need to stare into a screen I like a full-sized keyboard attached. In the backcountry I like it simple and reliable. The pole clinometer fits that criteria – no boot up time, minimal weight, and requires a modicum of user skill.

  • JohnnyXride

    In my “early days”, I would look at a slope and compare it to a resort run that I knew “never slid, would rarely slid, occasionally let go, go most of the time, and would be guaranteed to slide”. Then I progressed to clino cards, and more more recently phone apps. The phone, however is traveling mostly turned off these days due to battery life, transceiver interference, and a general need to “get away from it”. I was never great at trig, so the pole clinometer looks intriguing. Until it is available, I’m back using my card when in question.