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Avalanche Beacons/Transmitters

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I am heading down to South America this summer and figure it would be wise to have an avalanche beacon/transmitter.  Any tips on brands? Is it okay to buy used ones? etc.

I am new to this, so anything you have to offer would be much appreciated.
post #2 of 12
1) Take Avy 1 (or equivalent for wherever you are)

2) Use the search function here, TGR, etc, etc.. to gather some very basic info.  And check out the various avalanche & backcountry sites - probably starting with avalanche.org. Following the links & googling will help you find the info you need.

The big take away is that without appropriate knowledge & training (for you and the people you are with) - all the equipment in the world is of little use to you. Whether or not this even matters depends on where you are going & what you are doing...
post #3 of 12
Yes, of course.  People should take courses, learn to use the equipment, and practice regularly.  Still-if you have a recommendation for a good beacon, please post them here.  It is almost similar to telling people who ask about powder skis to go become experts in powder skiing first...
post #4 of 12
 I like the BCA Tracker as functional and easy to use beacon.
post #5 of 12
Probably the best one out there right now is the Pieps DSP. The tracker is okay, but with only two antenaes, it gets confused more and is less accurate. My students have trouble with the pinpoint search in particular, and it has trouble with orientation of the sending unit. The problem with the DSP is the expense. If a digital tracker is all that you can afford, then by all means buy one. You can find used analogs pretty easily. Out of the ones I have experience with I would go with an ortovox M2. If you have a choice between analog and digital, for sure go digital. Like the other posters said, practice, practice, and practice some more. Don't forget a good shovel and probe while you're at it.
post #6 of 12
Originally Posted by RicB View Post

...You can find used analogs pretty easily. Out of the ones I have experience with I would go with an ortovox M2. If you have a choice between analog and digital, for sure go digital. 

Whoa, before you go with a used analog transceiver, you should read this article about frequency drift which crops up especially in older analog units:

As to the OP's question, I'd feel safe recommending any new digital x-ceiver.  Pieps, BCA, Ortovox, Barryvox/Mammut, hey all have their fans.  Go here and read up:
...then pick a x-ceiver based on your personal preferences.  Some people like the bells and whistles of one like the Pieps DSP, others like the features in the Barryvox Pulse, some like the range of the Ortovox models, and some like the simplicity of the Tracker.  The key is to pick a model that you find matches you as a user.  Some people are overwhelmed by the feature-laden models while others take to that sort of thing like ducks to water.  

Personally, I like it when a partner has a fairly new digital model that they have practiced with extensively.  I don't care much what brand it is or what the features are.  My personal beacon is a Barryvox, I have a backup/loaner that is a BCA Tracker.  The Tracker is a loaner because it's simple and straightforward and that's what I want if someone is looking for me.  
post #7 of 12
All good points. Frequency drift is an issue with all transceivers. Even new digital ones can be off. It's in the crystal from what I have been told. I have witnessed analog transceivers that were off by 100-110 and still were used effectively in timed searches, but I think if I had one that got around fifty or more htz's off I would be replacing it.

Analogs still work, it is just harder to learn how to use them effectively, but in my opinion learning to use an analog is a great foundation to move up to a digital beacon from. This will help eliminate the pinpoint search isues that many people experience when they rely on the ease of use of a digital beacon. The other issues I see is in the secondary search and the over reliance on arrows versus signal strength and distance readings.

You never know, you might be somewhere sometime and want to use the backcountry and the only beacon available to borrow is an analog. If you've trained with one you are way ahead of the game. It si safe descision making that keeps you safe in the backcountry, beacons are really just body finders.

To the OP, if you can only afford an analog beacon then you need to practice even more. Take a good course and continue to practice. Your friends life may depend on it.
post #8 of 12
I second the Tracker recommendation. For somebody who has never used a beacon, that is the easiest beacon to use.

Longest range/ best multi-victim search / etc does not equal ease of use. People forget that if you're actually involved in a search you very likely will not be all calm and level-headed.

Like Bob Lee, I've got a Pulse that I use all the time and my old Tracker that I keep just in case. The pulse has about twice the range of the tracker, but I give it to some guy with limited experience.
post #9 of 12
"This is my beacon. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My beacon is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my beacon is useless. Without my beacon, I am useless......"

Whatever you get, master it.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input.  And just to reassure you, I do understand the importance of classes/mastering the beacon.  I was just looking for a point in the right direction on brands/models.
post #11 of 12



going to Banff in 2 wks, and looking at the Lake Louise Trail map and where I'll prolly be most of the time...

I betta get one...


any more suggestions?  latest info?  URLS for comparos/reviews? rentals? good deals  (Beacons-R-Us) ??? selling one ??? (PM me)



post #12 of 12

Just googled 'avy beacon reviews'. Lot's of stuff came up. http://beaconreviews.com/transceivers/Specifications.asp


Personally, I like the mammut/barryvox pulse if I were buying a new one. Deals? Just do a web search. Backcountry.com was having a sale a couple of weeks ago, and there are the usual suspects like REI (or MEC if you're in Canada).


Don't forget to get a shovel (never with a plastic blade... go big, sturdy, or go home. Buy the shovel you'd like your partner to dig you out with), and a probe. I like the 3 meter versions.


It's a three tool package. They're all (beacon, shovel, probe) kind of worthless without the others.

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