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Thoughts on the Pieps Freestyle beacon?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for reviews, etc on the Pieps Freestyle avalanche beacon. It's being advertised as more of a 'sidecountry' than backcountry beacon. The advertising makes it look pretty good for what I want to do with it (which is 'sidecountry' skiing and cat skiing). It's the first AB I've seen under $200.
post #2 of 18
The Freeride is a single-antenna transciever, while the DSP is a three- antenna model.

All else being equal, there shouldn't be any difference if the transceiver is buried (although I suppose there might be a signal strength issue).

The difference is when they're being used to rescue. The DSP's three-antenna technology greatly improves search speed and accuracy, especially for less experienced users.

So the salient distinction is probably not backcountry versus sidecountry, but whether you expect that you may need to rescue your fellow skiers, or only to be rescued (e.g., by patrollers or guides). There's obviously a fair degree of overlap between those constructs, though.
post #3 of 18
The Freeride is certainly attractively priced, for which I applaud Pieps.
It also amazingly light and small, although when used with its harnesss (which it now shares w/ the DSP), those disadvantages pretty much disappear (as its the first beacon ever to be outweighed by its harness).
As a single-antenna and hence nondirectional beacon, it will require lots of practice to be used effectively, as well as be prone to nulls and spikes in the pinpoint phase.
I'm about to conduct some more formal tests (mainly because I need to update my prior tests of the S1, Pulse, and DSP for their latest versions of their firmware that just came out this fall), although the Freeride won't be included in my upcoming WildSnow.com reviews unless there's a big demand for it.
post #4 of 18
J -- do you agree that this seems more like it's aimed towards the guided ski businesses (heli and cat ops, Silverton) as something they can give to their clients?
post #5 of 18
I was suspecting that it's aimed more toward the "sidecountry" crowd, which is what its name hints at. (Say, the skier who buys a Marker Duke/Baron, or maybe even buys skis with it preinstalled, and who might buys skins plus a Pieps Freeride as more of an afterthought for any occassional ski out the access gate, but has no plans to really "get into" backcountry skiing.)

But you're right, there are plenty of mechanized backcountry operations that essentially set up their clients with beacons in victim-only mode. (That was my first introduction to a beacon, an F1, on a day of heli skiing in NZ back in '92 -- I knew essentially nothing about avalanche safety, and had no idea how to use a beacon, other than turning it on and wearing it, and I had no shovel or probe, nor did anyone else in our group except for the guide.)
An interesting fleet option would be to equip all clients with Freerides, then each guide gets some sort of more advanced beacon, although with a few Pieps iProbes so that the multiple Freeride beacons can be deactivated once found in case of a multiple burial.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback. So the Freeride is great if I'm buried, but not so good if I've got to dig somebody else out. Hmmm.

At the very least it should be better than what I've been using - nothing. To get a multiple-beam instrument I've got to pay quite a bit more, over $400.
post #7 of 18
Correct, all beacons are the same when buried. (Well, the Pulse can transmit information that you're still alive to other Pulse beacons, and the DSP and Freeride can be turned off by a Pieps iProbe once found, but otherwise they're all the same.)

And correct, any beacon is better than no beacon, and the Freeride would work adequately WITH *LOTS* of PRACTICE!

I generally advise price-sensitive purchasers to find a reliable used beacon (although that always carries some potential risk) or just wait for a sale like this:
http://www.bentgate.com/tracdtsbeac.html
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz View Post
And correct, any beacon is better than no beacon, and the Freeride would work adequately WITH *LOTS* of PRACTICE!

I generally advise price-sensitive purchasers to find a reliable used beacon (although that always carries some potential risk) or just wait for a sale like this:
http://www.bentgate.com/tracdtsbeac.html
Nice link - thanks! Just ordered one for m' sweetie, who's been using my old F1.

Second the motion re: practice. One thing we do... whenever our little gang gets together for a waxing party, we also do tranceiver practice in the yard.
post #9 of 18

Practice, practice, practice!

It's like the old saying," the place to learn to fight with a knife is not in a knife fight." How stupid would you feel if your friend(s) died because you were stumbling with your tranceiver for an unnecessay extra 5 minutes. If you've ever had to look for someone in a real avalanche situation you know that your mind is not at its best. If you have the routine down from repeated practice with a cheap tranceiver you are still ahead of the guy with the high zoot one that has to re-learn in a pressure situation how to use it.

Without practice all tranceivers are not worth much. It is important to practice multi-becon searches because finding one is not that hard, but if you are dealing with 3 simultaneous signals you need to have the drill down. You may be shook up from getting taken down yourself before you start to search for your friends, so feeling comfortable with your technique is key, and that only comes with lots of practice.
post #10 of 18
There is no reason to skimp on a cheaper and harder to use beacon! It's made to be used in a life and death situation, you saved money, but did you save your buddy?
Shoot the lock off your wallet and get the highest tech, easiest to use beacon that is currently available! Funerals are super expensive!!
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz View Post
Correct, all beacons are the same when buried. (Well, the Pulse can transmit information that you're still alive to other Pulse beacons, and the DSP and Freeride can be turned off by a Pieps iProbe once found, but otherwise they're all the same.)

And correct, any beacon is better than no beacon, and the Freeride would work adequately WITH *LOTS* of PRACTICE!

I generally advise price-sensitive purchasers to find a reliable used beacon (although that always carries some potential risk) or just wait for a sale like this:
http://www.bentgate.com/tracdtsbeac.html
Thanks for the link - good pricing. So the DTS Tracker is a dual antenna unit?
post #12 of 18
Correct -- the Tracker pioneered the entire category of the dual-antenna directional beacon.
Since then, other companies (Pieps, Barryvox, Ortovox, ARVA) have introduced a third antenna, which eliminates nonsensical readings (spikes, nulls) during the pinpointing phase. The Tracker 2 (January availability?) will add a third antenna.
Another development has been various features for aid in multiple-burial searches. The Tracker will add an indicator light for that, but will not introduce any sort of masking feature (like with Pieps, Barryvox, Ortovox, ARVA) so as to remain true to its goal of being very easy to use, with no additional features whose added complexity can cause potentially cause confusion.
You can drive yourself crazy overanalyzing all the choices and trade-offs:
http://www.wildsnow.com/1476/avalanc...-review-intro/
. . . but if you're not enamored of gizmos, and want to save yourself some $$, a Tracker on sale is a great choice.
Also, once that Bentgate sale ends on Nov 18, then starting Nov 21 through Dec 1, the Tracker will be $230 at REI.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I was all set to buy the Tracker this morning off Backcountry.com. Wouldn't you know it, the sale price of $229 was gone, back up to $289. Same at REI. Know of any current or upcoming sales on the DTS?
post #14 of 18
I just received a 25% off code for EMS.com -- PM me with your email address and I'll forward the code to you.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jonathan. Ordered up the Tracker DTS beacon, BD Transfer 7 shovel, and BD Quickdraw probe 265 tonight. The promotional code worked fine, 25% off, and a hair under $300 total with free shipping. My wife is looking over my shoulder while I type this, and says "Well, I guess it's Merry Christmas."
post #16 of 18
EMS has beacons? I searched but can't find any!
post #17 of 18
I don't think that store-wide discount is in effect any longer, but if it is (or if you have any sort of gift certificate to redeem), call any store and ask them to search other stores' inventories for 210-039-334 for BCA Tracker -- some other stores might also still have the Barryvox Pulse, but I don't know the inventory code for it.
post #18 of 18
As a AMC member, I have a standing discount of 20% that's always valid.

But I'm just not able to find the tracker on their website. I'll call a store tomorrow when they're open and see if I have better luck.

REI has it on their website but no discounts... Anyone got a special discount code?
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