Gerald Kampel did not listen to the voices of those who said it was impossible. But he listened to his inner voice, which said: You can make the world of mountain sports safer. And that’s exactly what he did. In 1980, Kampel developed the F2 double-frequency avalanche transceiver, which would go on to revolutionize avalanche search and rescue – and form the beginnings of ORTOVOX: The name is a portmanteau of “Ortung” (the German word for detection) and “vox”, the latin word for voice.

ORTOVOX has now been following the inner voice for 40 years. For 40 years they have been developing products that make our first love – mountain sports – safer, while also protecting nature and animals. This philosophy has shaped the company up until the present day – from our headquarters near Munich, across to Tasmania, where their merino wool suppliers have been sharing their convictions for decades. ORTOVOX has revolutionized equipment and influenced designs, but the values have remained unchanged for 40 years. That’s how it started – and how they mean to go on.



Before 1980, the avalanche transceivers that were used transmitted and received on two different frequencies. This led to (often deadly) delays in searching for avalanche victims. Gerald Kampel’s F2 functioned on both frequencies, thus becoming the clear market leader within just a few years.

ORTOVOX systematically continued to develop avalanche transceivers. They presented new, pioneering models almost every five years. One of the highlights was the F1 FOCUS: Introduced in 1994, its optical search aid helped it become one of the world’s bestselling avalanche transceivers. The M2 came along a few years later, offering the possibility of searching for several victims at once.

The X1 arrived in 2002 and featured two antennas, unrivaled range and a fully automatic search system. In 2007, the world’s first sensor-controlled avalanche transceiver arrived: the S1. This was followed in 2011 by the S1+ with its smart antenna technology which made it easier not only to find victims, but also for you to be found.


Further milestones in the safety sector followed regularly: The clearing function of avalanche shovels and the PFA quick-assembly system on probes have helped rescuers to gain decisive seconds when searching for victims.

In addition: Ortovox became a leading brand in the development of backpacks for ski touring and freeriding. The first deep-snow backpack was put on the market in 1985. This was followed by backpacks such as the FREE RIDER with its TÜV-approved SPS back protector. And last but not least, 2016 heralded the arrival of the sensationally light AVABAG system.

Since then, the argument that avalanche airbag backpacks would be too heavy for ski touring has become invalid. The ORTOVOX-developed cartridge system was promptly awarded “Product of the Year” at ISPO.



The introduction of SAFETY ACADEMY demonstrated exactly what ORTOVOX is all about. Successful sales figures thanks to the development of innovative equipment is one thing. However, economic success should not be the primary driving force. The core values are clear: protection and responsibility, sustainability and friendship. These are the pillars the brand’s success is built upon.

This was the reason why, in 2008, ORTOVOX developed a platform for imparting alpine safety knowledge. The SAFETY ACADEMY began by providing avalanche courses and training by mountain guides and experts, and it now educates more than 1,400 participants every year. Today, the SAFETY ACADEMY has grown to be a comprehensive, globally unique platform for alpine safety training – online, in print and through courses.


Living by your values with conviction can often also mean having to swim against the tide. This can be difficult, but it makes you stronger and increases your stamina. Synthetics had always been considered absolutely necessary for functional apparel whereas ORTOVOX began using natural materials in 1988. They were laughed at but were completely convinced by the characteristics of felted wool.

In 1995, ORTOVOX became one of the first to use merino wool, thus defining anew the world of these fine fibers from highland sheep. They introduced the ORTOVOX WOOL PROMISE (OWP), one of the most comprehensive standards for the protection of animals, nature and people. The merino sheep farmers in Tasmania have not only committed themselves to the OWP, they literally live by this systematically sustainable approach with every fiber – and have been so economically successful with their responsible handling of flora and fauna that many other farmers are now following suit.

A deep friendship has developed between ORTOVOX and the partners in Tasmania – and that’s exactly how it is with the suppliers of the SWISSWOOL, the natural warmer from Switzerland. Just a few years ago, small businesses in Switzerland were still earning very little money from mountain sheep’s wool. Now mountain farmers not only enjoy financial success but new appreciation, too. And ORTOVOX profit from a durable, highly functional, natural fiber that neutralizes odors, regulates moisture and temperature, and that excellently insulates. From functional underwear to three-layer outer hardshell. From safety equipment to training platform. They have always gone their own way. ORTOVOX have been trusting their inner voice for 40 years now. And today as never before, the world is demonstrating that a value-conscious attitude is the right way into the future.

40 years of Ortovox