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avalanche beacons

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'm planning to purchase an avalanche beacon and would like to hear anyone's recommendations, preferences as to mfr, features, digital vs analog etc.

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 26
just get your hands on a few working samples at your local shop if you can(hopefully they have a few) I would try a few and just see what is easy for YOU to use and learn. All the different types out there have different bells and whistles, but they are all similar in the end.. I use the ortovox m1. I have used it for three years now, and it is very easy to use. Once you purchase one, make sure that you learn how to use it without hesitation. Your friends might thank you for it one day. For that matter, make sure they are just as familiar with there beacons as well... hopefully you will never have to thank them. I am not an expert in beacons, especialy the newer ones, but thats my two cents...I hope it helps. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
I've practiced with an Ortovox M2, which is a digital beacon. The vectoring feature seems easy to use and intuitive with its visual display. I don't beleive the effective range is as great as the analog models and that concerns me. thoughts anyone?
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:
...

I don't beleive the effective range is as great as the analog models and that concerns me. thoughts anyone?

...
Where will you do most of your skiing? 25 meters is actually quite a lot when you're in a real-life slide area. A fairly high percentage of the slides that actually kill people tend to be moderately small pockets or gullies, rather than huge open slopes.

75 feet on each side of you as you're searching up (or down) a slide path covers a lot of territory.

Personally, ease and effectiveness of use trumps distance.

Bob
post #5 of 26
If you spend a few minutes on Google, you should be able to find a number of good reviews by avalanche pros and search & rescue groups. I don't remember any of the URLs, but they were easy enough to find when I was looking for a set of tranceivers last year.

That said, my bias runs towards digital - specifically the Tracker. Although the range is a bit shorter than some other units, two things sang to me about it: 1) It is really, really simple to use. I compared the Tracker to a friend's analog tranceiver and I just can not imagine fooling with the analog device in an emergency. The tracker (mostly) just tells you where to go. Quickly. 2) Everything I read (and practice location exercises in class) convinced me that the range limitation is more theoretical than real. As was pointed out in a prior post, most slide areas are small enough to be covered quickly by an individual or small team using tranceivers that do not require a PhD to use. "Time to locate" and not "range" should be the driving metric.

Although the Tracker was the only unit I used in the snow, I did play with a few other models while shopping around. All digital or hybrid. I operated on the assumption that a typical real-world search area could be modeled by doing searches in the aisles of REI . At least in that situation, the Tracker seemed to get a better directional lock faster than the others.

Finally, it is worth noting that virtually every credible review I read made the point that being with people who have tranceivers and really know how to use them is more important than fussing over which model someone has (assuming compatible standards).

I'd love to hear comments from folks with more field experience with different models...
post #6 of 26
I use a Pieps 457. What I like is that it's simple. When I practiced with some others who had digital beacons I was finding the hidden beacon just as fast as they were. I have heard good things about the tracker...but I have never used one.

As far as I'm concerned your beacon only needs to do 2 jobs, transmit and recieve.

Whatever you decide to buy the important thing is, know how to use it...PRACTICE and then practice some more until you are totally comfortable with it.

Good luck in your quest!
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I've ordered a pair of Ortovox M2s, the digital model I'd tried previously. I like the way the beacon will vector you directly toward the target instead of guiding you along the curving flux lines. This seems faster although it does seem necessary to wait patiently for the microprocessor to do its thing. Thanks Bob Peters for your comments regarding range also. I think the speed and ease of use arguments are compelling.
post #8 of 26
I saw there was an article in the new Couloir magazine about searching with the dual mode (a/d) beacons- haven't read it yet, but it looks like worthwhile reading.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by Poodlebitespoodlechewsit:
I use a Pieps 457. What I like is that it's simple. When I practiced with some others who had digital beacons I was finding the hidden beacon just as fast as they were ...
From my experience working with Avi classes and a few avi searches, folks with analog beacons -- folks who practice -- can find buried beacons in class situations as fast as folks with digital beacons. But in a real avalanche situation, with your heart pounding and your head ringing from adrenalin and people yelling, the slight volume differences in an analog beacon can be very hard to discern accurately. If I am buried, I would very much prefer having my searchers looking at an arrow and a number. Less chance of confusion in a confusion-prone situation.

But in either case, practice is key.
post #10 of 26
If you can't afford a beacon, just get a cheap, portable AM radio and good pair of headphones.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ugli Pupferknick:
If you can't afford a beacon, just get a cheap, portable AM radio and good pair of headphones.
I don't know what Ugli is trying to say but, just for clarification. Av beacons do not transmit radio frequency signals but, instead an electomagnetic field. so......good luck with your radio!
post #12 of 26
Just go buy any old piece of crap as long as it transmits.. that's all that matters, right? [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Ugli Pupferknick:
If you can't afford a beacon, just get a cheap, portable AM radio and good pair of headphones.
I don't know what Ugli is trying to say but, just for clarification. Av beacons do not transmit radio frequency signals but, instead an electomagnetic field. so......good luck with your radio!</font>[/quote]Ugli was of course joking, but radio signals are in fact electromagnetic waves propagated by an antenna. Therefore, avy beacons actually do transmit radio signals; specifically, on the 457 kHz frequency.
In fact, if you hold a beacon up against a radio and tune it to 535 AM, you can sometimes hear a very faint signal.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Jonathan
I don't pretend to be knowledgeable (hence my post) but my understanding is that the beacaon transmits a field on a particular frequency. I don't doubt that a radio receiver might detect it if close. I just wouldn't want to depend on someone who thought an FM radio was going to do the trick. Of course he's SOL if he happens to be the one buried.

[ November 10, 2003, 08:15 AM: Message edited by: arcadie ]
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:
Jonathan
I just wouldn't want to depend on someone who thought an FM radio was going to do the trick.
AM!!! AM!!! Sheesh, how mfny times do I hfve to sfy it! I'm not sure ia I wfnt to depend on someone who cfn't tell his As from Fs. Fnd vice versf.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
AM, shmFM! I just hope you're listening to some good tunes in your final moments! Maybe an m-p3 would be a better bet?
post #17 of 26
I'm also just making the decison on which to go for. How do the DTS's compare with Ortovox?

Great online sales demo of the DTS Tracker at Tracker Demo
post #18 of 26
My husband and I both have Trackers. Last avalanche class I went to, the instructor said he personally liked the Mammut analog/digital model for himself and other professionals (lots of options, but complicated), but recommended the Tracker for people who aren't practicing VERY regularly. He said when he took his girlfriend shopping for transcievers and they tested them out in the store she said she could find him twice as fast with the Tracker - so that's what she got.
post #19 of 26
I recently bought myself an Arva 9000. Why? Because it is digital and it was heavily discounted at end of season to clear stock.

I read the reviews on http://www.gearreview.com/beacons.asp
but price and availablility won out. Decided digital, with directional arrows, was the only way to go after doing a training session with a borrowed analog. Anyone buried would not have wanted to rely on me finding them. Another woman was using the DTS Tracker and she walked straight to the spot. I decided against the DTS Tracker cause even though hers was new, she had trouble turning it onto receive. The Arva 9000 would be much easier to use with gloves and when in a panic.

I also thought the ARVA 9000 would be more comfortable to wear than the Ortovox.

Julie
post #20 of 26
Another vote for Tracker (from someone who practices very little). Very straightforward and easy to use.

Analog beacon did have about 30 feet on my Tracker so range is a bit shorter, but once the tracker locks on it is very easy to stay on course.
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
I have to admit I bought the Ortovox M2's partly because of price. The pro price on these was quite a bit off retail. I did think they were easier to use than the analog models, which were even less expensive. Being able to vector more or less directly to the target seemed more intuitive than attempting to follow some invisible curving lines by the sound intensity of the signals alone. I don't doubt that, in the hands of an experienced, skilled user the analog models might offer greater capability.

I was a little puzzled by the harness thing. I wonder a bit why not carry the beacon in a zippered pocket in my parka? I know the argument is that the parka could be ripped off but why not the harness as well?
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:


I was a little puzzled by the harness thing. I wonder a bit why not carry the beacon in a zippered pocket in my parka? I know the argument is that the parka could be ripped off but why not the harness as well?

Based on my own experience, I think the concern has more to do with absent-mindedness than having the parka ripped off. For me, I'll often put my coat on and take it off several times during the course of a backcountry ski day. Sometimes I tie it around my waist, sometimes I stuff it in my pack, etc. What if I were to forget and loan my coat to a friend during the day? I'm stupid enough to do something like that.

While it's likely that the beacon would still sort of be part of you in a coat parka, I think the general consensus is that something as potentially crucial as your transceiver should be firmly attached directly to your body at all times.

Bob
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:

I was a little puzzled by the harness thing. I wonder a bit why not carry the beacon in a zippered pocket in my parka? I know the argument is that the parka could be ripped off but why not the harness as well?
While all clicked in it snuggles close to the body core which keeps the batteries warm. This might be a plus in extreme cold climates.

Also, some folks don't have pockets large enough to carry a beacon in.

Can't speak to other models, but the harness for the Tracker allows me to start searching a few seconds faster than fishing it out of a pocket. Unzip, then two squeezes on the lower clips and its hanging by it's over the shoulder strap so I don't lose it if it slips out of my gloves.

[ November 11, 2003, 04:47 PM: Message edited by: TomK ]
post #24 of 26
I shove my beacon down the front of my pants. Keeps it very warm and keeps me protected.
post #25 of 26
Hey Ugli- did you buy a model that vibrates instead of beeping?
post #26 of 26
I have the Tracker and find it fast and easy to use. Another reason for the harness is that it may slide again when you are searching and you want to keep it attached to you.
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