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Wearing Beacon In Pants Pocket

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I'm curious how many of you opt to carry your beacon in your pants pocket instead of wearing the harness?

 

While obviously carrying your beacon in your pack is a big no-no, there are reasonable arguments to be made that carrying it in a secure pants pocket (zipper not velcro) could be advantageous, such as faster access if you need to search.

 

I would also contend that in a fall you are less likely to smash / break an object against your thigh than against your chest, not to mention that if you did I'd rather get hit hard in the leg than in the sternum or ribs.

 

By the end of last season I started doing this and feel it is a legitimate option.  Some people (usually older guys) think it's a gaper move because of conventional wisdom, but I've read / heard that a good number of mountain guides have started recommending it as well.

 

Anyone else?

post #2 of 26

In harness under jacket was always not only recommended but mandated as there was less potential for the beacon and wearer to beome seperated in the event of being in a slide.

post #3 of 26
... And the beacon warmer for longer battery life.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taxman View Post
 

In harness under jacket was always not only recommended but mandated as there was less potential for the beacon and wearer to beome seperated in the event of being in a slide.

 

If it's in a secure pocket, I'd say the odds of losing your ski pants over your boots is not likely.  I always heard that argument for why you shouldn't put your beacon in your pack or jacket (because it might get ripped off of you).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

... And the beacon warmer for longer battery life.

 

If your batteries are low enough that the placement on your body makes a substantial difference, they should be changed in the first place.  My legs stay pretty toasty in my ski pants.

 

Outdoor Research actually makes beacon specific pant pockets: http://www.outdoorresearch.co.uk/about-us/product-technology/beacon-pockets/

 

Also: http://absolutetelemark.com/where-to-wear-your-avalanche-beacon/

post #5 of 26
I've tried using on my or trailbreak pocket but didn't get used to, too bulky for the pocket specially a trim fit pants like the trailbreaker...

I prefer the harness but for 100% fit reasons... I can see the pocket being more handy option and I don't see why not, if the pants have a sprcial beacon pocket
post #6 of 26

Wearing the harness is important when there is potential for multiple burials during an avalanche.  If a rescuer finds you and you are unconscious or dead he will be searching your upper torso to find your beacon to turn it off and allow easier searching for other victims.  

post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

If it's in a secure pocket, I'd say the odds of losing your ski pants over your boots is not likely.  I always heard that argument for why you shouldn't put your beacon in your pack or jacket (because it might get ripped off of you).


If your batteries are low enough that the placement on your body makes a substantial difference, they should be changed in the first place.  My legs stay pretty toasty in my ski pants.

Outdoor Research actually makes beacon specific pant pockets: http://www.outdoorresearch.co.uk/about-us/product-technology/beacon-pockets/

Also: http://absolutetelemark.com/where-to-wear-your-avalanche-beacon/

No worries... Always ski with fresh batteries. Just like the idea of electronic battery dependent devices kept warm. Other than that, what A Carey said.
post #8 of 26

I've also heard lots of guides do this for easier search/beacon checks. Interestingly, BCA OK'ed this as a practice for the Tracker 2 in the user manual. I started skiing with my beacon in my pocket a lot last season, and have the following thoughts:
-I don't ski with a beacon every day. On some "marginal" days, I'm more likely to bring it if I pocket rather than harness it, so I guess that's a positive.
-I only use it in a zippered pocket (thigh pocket). 
-I also run the cord attached to the beacon out of my pocket and secure it to my belt with a carabiner.

post #9 of 26

I use the harness, but I don't care where you put yours as long as you can reach it and use it quickly and easily to find me.  

 

I did read something funny somewhere (TGR? TAR?) recently where a guide said something like that most of the time they didn't care if someone found his crotch before they found his airway, just not when they were buried in an avalanche.  

post #10 of 26

Andy Carey makes a good point.

 

My old Ortovox had a very comfortable harness system but it has been retired.  I am now using what used to be my loaner Tracker.  The harness system was never comfortable for me but I wore it anyway.  Last year while doing beacon drills with one of our Pro Patrol/avi instructors I noticed that he kept it in his thigh pocket.  Now I am noticing more of our patrol doing the same.  The few days that I have had mine this season I have tried it.  My pocket has a leash in it that I attach the beacon too & zip it up.

post #11 of 26

The only problem I see is clothing can get torn in a slide.  Wearing the harness under your jacket just gives you a little extra insurance.  I have a couple of friends who do the beacon in the pocket thing.  I am with Bob, as long as you can get to it quickly to find me, go for it.  If I need my beacon to find you and it's 20 feet away from your body, we'll have a great memorial in your honor.

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post

... If I need my beacon to find you and it's 20 feet away from your body, we'll have a great memorial in your honor.

And we get to split your gear.
post #13 of 26

All 3 guides who taught my Avy 1 and another guide I've toured with say integrated pants pockets are a-ok (you don't want it in a cargo pocket or something that's sewed on).

 

What I hate about the harnesses (aside from the fact that they're never comfortable on me) is if you're touring in the spring, you always get hot on the way up and take layers off. It's not hard to end up with the harness on the outside, which is obviously a terrible place for it to be if something happens. Or you're taking the harness off and on to get it back under a layer, which is also not ideal.

post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 

^^ This is part of what made me make the switch.  I was always wearing the beacon just over my base layer, but sometimes on the uphill when it was warm I'd get to the point where I was unzipping my jacket to let more air in / cool off and at that point the beacon was fully exposed and hardly more secure than it would be in my pocket.  I don't have any reservations about the decision and it sounds like I'm not alone.

post #15 of 26

I like the harness.  It's closer to my airway.  The harness also stays attached to my body and the beacon stays attached to the harness while searching.  I use the auto revert feature.  My thought is that if I'm hit with a secondary slide while searching the beacon is still attached to me and will start transmitting so maybe I can be found.  I don't have a real problem if someone wants to carry theirs in their pocket.

post #16 of 26

Putting on my beacon the last 3 days led me to think about position.  The snow I have been skiing has been 1-4 inches of powder over a hard crust (breakable in some places and some places with a buried permanent weak layer).  In my level III course I had 2 beacons fail in a multiple burial exercise (these were my spares and we used them as victims)--lost for all time, now.  

 

We discussed what makes a beacon fail.  The general opinion was a sharp blow--dropping the beacon to the pavement, tossing it in the back of the car or in an unprotected part of luggage (neither applied to my beacons; the most likely cause there was simply age--that's why they were spares; I prefer not to carry a beacon that is more than 3 years old).

 

It occured to me that putting the harness on with the beacon at my side, under my arm, places the beacon in the place where it would be least subject to impacts from my backpack taking it off, skis when carrying, climbing, fixing skins; etc., and from falling on hard snow, etc.  Just something to thinkg about.

post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Carey View Post
 

Putting on my beacon the last 3 days led me to think about position.  The snow I have been skiing has been 1-4 inches of powder over a hard crust (breakable in some places and some places with a buried permanent weak layer).  In my level III course I had 2 beacons fail in a multiple burial exercise (these were my spares and we used them as victims)--lost for all time, now.  

 

We discussed what makes a beacon fail.  The general opinion was a sharp blow--dropping the beacon to the pavement, tossing it in the back of the car or in an unprotected part of luggage (neither applied to my beacons; the most likely cause there was simply age--that's why they were spares; I prefer not to carry a beacon that is more than 3 years old).

 

It occured to me that putting the harness on with the beacon at my side, under my arm, places the beacon in the place where it would be least subject to impacts from my backpack taking it off, skis when carrying, climbing, fixing skins; etc., and from falling on hard snow, etc.  Just something to thinkg about.

 

I have several friends who have died in avalanches.  In one case my friends partner had a beacon that malfunctioned and delayed the search.  I have had one of my beacons go bad, we noticed it in practice.  This particular beacon sent out a signal, but wouldn't receive one.  It's important to test beacons frequently in both send and receive...  Perhaps at every trail head.  I have also noticed strange results from beacons with weak batteries.  I change mine at 75%.  I have headlamps and remotes that work just fine with these older batteries.  I have also seen the battery power drop quite a bit when switched to receive and taken from your warm pocket or where ever you have it into the cold.  If you are in a real avalanche situation, you will have enough stress without a flaky transceiver.

post #18 of 26

I've also observed people having beacons that sent signals but wouldn't receive signals during beacon search practice--I agree it is important to test both send and receive routinely.  I also won't use rechargeable batteries in my beacons; I use them in a wide variety of applications but they seem less cold and time resistant and I've been told they can affect beacon transmission frequency.

post #19 of 26

Some rechargeables don't hit the required voltages. I'd stick to alkaline. Check the ACTUAL specifications on batteries before using them in various devices. 

post #20 of 26

The instructions that came with mine flat-out said no rechargables.  Always wondered why.

post #21 of 26
Alkaline batteries starts at 1.5v but drops quickly under use (unless it's really low powered like TV remote), rechargeable NiMH is about 1.4 full charged and drop to 1 when empty. I think the no rechargeable is just an antique rule from back when rechargeables are pretty crappy.

But honestly if I were to use a beacon, I'd get some energizer lithium AA (the patent hasn't expired so no generic), much higher capacity, resistance to cold, and not that expensive if bought in bulk (i.e. not at walmart photo center).
post #22 of 26

I'm pretty sure that that generally  beacons are designed to work with the time/temp decay curve of alkalines. I *believe* that one aspect of this is that the battery meters show lithiums as holding nearly a full charge and then decaying to nothing almost instantly. Not so good when you check the beacon at the car and it shows full in the AM...

 

Maybe a true beacon maven can chime in.

post #23 of 26

Believe it or not, there are entire forums dedicated to-- batteries. People actually go out of their way to graph the discharge curves of various AA (and other) batteries, and there are definite differences in the curves. I too suspect the beacons are set up for a typical alkaline discharge curve. 

 

Batteries are cheap enough, and last long enough in a beacon-- and a beacon might one day save my life or the life of a friend; I sure hope it never needs to--- so I'll stick with alkaline for mine. I've got tons of eneloops at home, and other rechargeables. But I'm putting alkaline in my beacon until Ortovox tells me to put something else in it. 

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzmtl View Post

But honestly if I were to use a beacon, I'd get some energizer lithium AA (the patent hasn't expired so no generic), much higher capacity, resistance to cold, and not that expensive if bought in bulk (i.e. not at walmart photo center).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
 

I'm pretty sure that that generally  beacons are designed to work with the time/temp decay curve of alkalines. I *believe* that one aspect of this is that the battery meters show lithiums as holding nearly a full charge and then decaying to nothing almost instantly. Not so good when you check the beacon at the car and it shows full in the AM...

 

Correct.  (With the sole exception of the Barryvox Pulse, starting with the firmware version for the 2012-13 season.)

 

I've observed this with my GPS (old but still nice Garmin 60Cx), which has no battery meter setting for lithium, so goes from 100% to off with almost no warning.  (But digging out the backup set of batteries is only a minor annoyance for navigation, whereas for an avalanche victim search...)

 

This should link to an article at p. 7 on beacon battery power meters:

http://www.americanavalancheassociation.org/tar/TAR28_4_LoRes.pdf

... but bottomline is pretty simple:  use only alkaline batteries, and for a simple (and if anything excessively cautious) rule of thumb, replace below 50% for daytrips and before overnight trips. 

post #25 of 26

I'm pasting this into a separate reply since it's fairly lengthy:

 

Suggested Protocol for Testing of Used Avalanche Beacons

By Jonathan S. Shefftz

Here are some tests, based upon Jeff Lane’s TAR article with my input, plus some additional modifications since then:

1)      Perform a check of initial signal acquisition range.  This varies enormously among different models, so compare your results to another unit of the same model.

a)      Set up your target so that the long axis of its housing is pointing directly at the searcher. BCA DTS & T2 models make poor targets because the transmission antenna is at a 45-degree angle to the housing, so optimal alignment is difficult to establish.  Ortovox 3+, S1+, and Zoom+ “Smart Antenna” models also make poor targets since they can switch transmission between the antenna on the long axis versus the short axis.  (The DSP Pro and DSP Sport models can also switch, but they display which antenna is transmitting.)

b)      Start with your test searching beacon in send mode well outside of its receive range.

c)      Then, switch the beacon to search, and walk at a moderate pace toward the target beacon.

d)     Note the distance, turn the beacon back to transmit, and repeat the test a couple times.

e)      Then repeat the entire test, but with the target beacon at a 90-degree angle to the searcher.

2)      Perform a check of transmission range. 

a)      This is very similar among different models, so just about any other beacon should work as a comparison unit. 

b)      But once again, the BCA DTS & T2 make for poor comparison models (unless of course that is the unit you’re trying to test), since mimicking the same alignment as another model is difficult. 

c)      And the Ortovox “Smart Antenna” models are kind of hopeless for this test (even when using them as the baseline to test identical units), since you never know which antenna they’re using to transmit.

d)     The test configuration is essentially the same as for initial signal acquisition range, but this time you keep varying the transmission target, and keep the searching beacon constant, so any variation is attributable to different beacons in transmission strength.

3)      Inspect the beacon’s casing and harness system for any physical damage, such as cracks or loose switches.

4)      Inspect the battery compartment for signs of corrosion or looseness.

5)      Inspect all the display components, including making sure the direction arrows function properly when in search mode.  For a quick test of a possible problem in this regard:

a)      Set up the target beacon and your test beacon so that they are in optimal coupling alignment, i.e., pointing directly at each other.  (Note the previous caveats about BCA and certain Ortovox models.)

b)      Put them far enough apart so that your test beacon is outside the pinpointing/fine phase, but well within the initial acquisition range. 

c)      The center directional indicator on the test beacon should display.  If not, you have either a broken secondary antenna or some other major problem (consigning the beacon to target-only practice).

6)      Ensure the functionality of all buttons and switches. Do they do what they’re supposed to do?  If the beacon has an auto-revert function, does it actually revert to send after the specified amount of time and/or lack of activity/motion?

7)      Check for frequency drift with another beacon that has such a capability.  This is particularly important with older analog beacons, e.g. the F1 Focus, which may drift outside of the international standard for avalanche beacons, 457kHz +/- 80Hz.  Unfortunately, you can’t test for frequency drift with the range tests previously described, since different beacons have widely varying abilities to pick up a drifted transmission.  Beacons with frequency test functions include:

a)      Pieps discontinued DSP Advanced, discontinued DSP (sans nomenclature appendage), and current DSP Pro (but not the current DSP Sport or the discontinued DSP Tour)

b)      Ortovox S1 (discontinued), S1+, 3+

c)      Barryvox Pulse

And if you’re really into all this, the Pieps tester is unique in displaying just how far off the frequency is from spec (even if it’s within spec), and the S1/S1+ is unique in also testing for transmission “On” time and total “On” + “Off” cycle time.

8)      Run through a couple practice searches, looking for errant behaviors. Try it with single burials and with multiple burials; this is particularly important with modern beacons running complex algorithms.  This is much involved and open-ended than any of the prior tests, but then again, it is providing you with additional rescue practice!  

post #26 of 26

I prefer the harness for reasons discussed by others above.  Also, when wearing the harness while searching, my transceiver is attached to the harness by a cord.  This prevents dropping the transceiver in the event of falling or stumbling.  Back-up systems, such as cord attached form the transceiver to the harness, are always a good idea when things go sour and one is stressed.

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