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When the colder weather starts to approach, many people start dreaming of the coming snow. Excitement grows as the first snow starts to fall. You might already be thinking of skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and all of the fun that you can have as soon as there is enough snow on the ground. However, you also need to make sure that you have all of the proper gear and equipment you will need. This goes beyond just having some great skis or snowshoes, goggles, and warm winter clothing. You also have to think about safety.
Most people do not like to think about the possibilities of danger while they are out and enjoying the snow, but they must do. Avalanches, in particular, are a massive problem that has the potential to turn deadly. While there might not be a way to entirely avoid an avalanche when you are out on the mountain, there is something you can do to help increase the chance of survival for yourself and others. Namely, you need to have a high-quality avalanche beacon.
There are many different makes and models of avalanche beacon on the market today, and they all work similarly. Of course, with the various options available, it can sometimes be difficult to know which are the best options for your safety. We’ve taken care of the hard work for you. Below, you will find six high-quality avalanche transceivers from which to choose.
Backcountry Access is one of the top names in the field of avalanche beacons and safety equipment. They make some of the best trackers in the world, including the Tracker 3. This tracker features an instantaneous real-time display, and it is 20% smaller and lighter than the previous model. This makes it easier to put into a secure pocket, and those who do not want to carry too much extra weight with them when they are out and enjoying their day will not have to worry. The unit includes a harness.
The transceiver uses Signal Suppression and Big Picture modes, which allow for multiple-victim searching. It also has a motion-sensing auto revert-to-transmit mode. It also has upgradeable software. The unit takes three AAA batteries (included), and it has long battery life. It is essential to make sure that you change out the batteries after every couple of trips; however, to ensure it is still working correctly and that it will have plenty of battery power in case it is needed.
The Tracker 3 features a three-antenna system, temperature-resistant LED display, multiple burial indicator, a mute mode, and a close-proximity indicator along with the other modes mentioned above. It is a high-quality avalanche beacon that is durable and has an easy to use and control interface. It could be a good option for you and all of your family and friends who are heading out to enjoy the snow.
You can also find a version of this tracker online that will come with a 240cm probe, which can be very helpful when it comes to finding victims.
This is one of the bestselling avalanche beacons in North America. It is trusted for its high level of performance, as well as its durability. It also features a harness to ensure that it stays securely to your body in the event of an avalanche. The beacon has a very simple to use interface, along with a triple-receive antenna, and a real-time display.
One of the goals of the beacon is to be easy to use right out of the box. With this avalanche beacon, you will find that using it is a very intuitive process. There is a simple search/transmit switch, and it includes a special mode along with multiple burial indicator lights.
The maximum range for the device is 55 meters, while the search width strip is 50 meters. It will take three AAA batteries (included) like the Tracker 3 above. Again, always make sure that you have plenty of power left in the batteries before heading out into an area where there could be an avalanche.
The unit features a temperature resistant LED display, a close-proximity indicator, a mute mode, and an auto revert mode. This high-quality avalanche beacon could be the ideal option for you and your group of friends who are heading out to the mountains for a weekend of skiing. It is a lightweight, high-quality product that can provide the additional safety you need.
The PIEPS DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon from Black Diamond is a streamlined and lightweight option. It is powerful and easy to use, and it features a 50-meter circular range. The three antennas allow for better search accuracy, and it also features a self-checking reference antenna. You can determine the direction and the distance from the initial detection, and the smart transmitter will adjust the signal to make it easier to use in a situation where there are multiple burials.
The device also features beacon drift adjustment, which allows it to pick up beacons that are transmitting drifted signals. It is also compatible with the iProbe from Black Diamond. You can upgrade the software by using a USB. The maximum range and the search strip width are both 50 meters. The beacon has continuous carrier indication and auto-revert search to send.
The device uses three AAA batteries, which are included with the beacon. The avalanche beacon also comes with a harness and carrying pouch. The beacon is easy to use, and it has a bright green color that is easy to see. The screen also has a battery indicator on it, so you can easily tell when you need to change the batteries.
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Arva EVO4 Beacon
The EVO4 from Arva is an easy to use beacon whether you have used other beacons in the past, or this is your first. It features a slim and sleek design and a high-quality LCD screen. The unit has a 40-meter search bandwidth, and it has three antennas.
One of the best features of the avalanche beacon is the group check function. This will let you verify if all of the members of your group have their beacon in the transmission mode. You can even individually check the members of the group at a one-meter distance.
The marking function is another popular feature. If a victim is found, you can use the mark function to ignore their signal, so you can more easily search for other victims. Another interesting feature is called Clip for Safe, which means that once you put the transceiver on and clip the strap, it will begin working and transmitting.
The avalanche beacon comes with the three AAA batteries it needs to operate. These batteries should last for at least 250 hours. Of course, it is a good practice to change them out before they reach that 250-hour mark to ensure your safety. The beacon comes with a holster for carrying.
The Tracker DTS from Backcountry Access has been a popular beacon option since it was first introduced in 1997. The unit was the first multi-antenna option on the market., and it has been going strong since. Although BCA does not make them currently – they were retired in 2018 – there are still many of these beacons available for purchase that are still new in the box.
The device, which features two antennas, has a real-time digital display that will show the direction, as well as the distance with red LED lights. It is an excellent option, and it is one that is relatively easy to use. You will want to make sure that you read the manual, as it will help you to understand the finer points of the controls. Because this unit has only two antennas, you should note that it can have trouble resolving spikes.
The DTS Tracker features a select mode button that will narrow the arc of the reception to 70 degrees in front of and behind the user. This can help to find multiple burials. However, unlike the Tracker 2 and Tracker 3 on the list above, this does not have a way of indicating multiple burials.
The Recon BT is a lightweight, streamlined beacon from Black Diamond. It offers a wide range of features and benefits, including the capability to work with Bluetooth. This will allow you to manage the device’s settings through the PIEPS application on your mobile phone. You can also ensure that it gets software updates using this method. The avalanche beacon is easy to handle and use thanks to the ergonomic design. The controls are simple to use and intuitive, as well.
The unit has a circular range, which provides the user with a symmetrical search area. It has a maximum range of 60 meters and a search strip width of 60 meters. The three-antenna beacon has a mark function if multiple people are buried in the snow. Because it has three antennas, it also means that it will reduce signal spikes. The avalanche beacon will also work with the iProbe, which can provide the user with even more search features and functions.
The beacon requires three AAA batteries. The Recon BT comes with a harness. This is a durable, high-quality option that could be a good option for yourself and for the others who are in your group.
Never Head to the Mountains Without an Avalanche Beacon
It is unfortunate, but many people head out to go hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more who never bother to buy and use an avalanche beacon. Even though people die each year from being in avalanches, most people have the mindset that this sort of thing happens to other people, not them and their family or friends. While no one likes to think about the possibility of an avalanche, they can and do happen. You need to take precautions. Not having an avalanche beacon would be like not putting on a seatbelt or not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle.
The Utah Avalanche Center found that around two-thirds of the fatalities around the country happened because the victims did not have rescue gear. It simply doesn’t make sense that so few people are investing in safety gear that has the potential to save their life.
It doesn’t matter if you are only going out for an hour or if you are in an area that you don’t think could have an avalanche. If you are heading out into the mountains during the snowy season, and if you have friends and family who do the same, everyone needs to have one of these beacons. If some people you know are reticent about buying a beacon, you could always buy it as a gift for the holidays or their birthday, for example. The safer everyone is, the more peace of mind you will have, and the better your excursions will be.
How Does the Avalanche Beacon Work?
All beacons use the 457kHz frequency regardless of their make and model. This is so they will all be able to work together regardless of the manufacturer. This is essential in any avalanche scenario, as you wouldn’t want people trying to find you to have to scan through multiple frequencies hoping they find the one that you are using. The options on the market are all compatible with one another, which means your group does not all have to commit to buying the same beacon. They are also compatible with old dual-frequency models.
The transceiver emits radio signals in pulses. If there is an avalanche and someone is buried, the other people who are in their group and wearing the beacon, as well as rescuers with beacons.
The transceivers that are being worn by the rescuers and others in the party can be turned to search mode in the event of an avalanche. They will then be able to receive the radio signal pulses from the buried avalanche beacon. The rescuers will be able to home in on the signal to find the location where the person was buried. This allows people to be found and dug out of the snow faster, which improves their chance of survival.
What Factors Are Important When Choosing an Avalanche Beacon?
We have selected the six best options you can find on the market today for avalanche transceivers. However, you will still want to make sure that you are getting the best option for your needs. Therefore, you will want to look at everything available with each of these beacons when you are making your choice. Certain types of features tend to be important when people are making their choice.
One of the first things to consider will be the type of display that the unit has. You can see that there are several different styles amongst the options on the list. Do you want to have a full LCD screen, or do you prefer another option? Regardless, you will want to make sure that the screen can communicate the direction and the distance of the victims. It should be bright and easy to use and understand, which ensures that you can still use the beacon in the darkness and difficult to see conditions. The unit should also be easy to use and manipulate.
Do you want to have the capability of being able to track and find multiple burials? This is an important feature that you will find standard on most of the avalanche beacons today. Still, make sure that the option you are considering can accommodate this function.
You will also want to consider the number of antennas, as well as the range of the device. Consider the size and the weight to ensure that it will be easy for you to use.
Where Should You Wear Your Avalanche Beacon?
You must be wearing your avalanche beacon properly. This means that you want to wear it on the inside of your gear with the harness, or that you put it into an interior pocket where it will not fall out or become lost during the day. There are far too many people who strap them to the outside of their bodies over their jackets. This is a terrible idea, as there is not only the chance that it could become lost during normal activities, but an avalanche could tear it off.
Avalanches are violent and fast, and they can potentially tear off the beacon, leaving it hundreds of yards from where the person is actually buried. You will want to make sure that you have it affixed to your body correctly. Make sure everyone else who is in your group does the same.
What Else Should You Have with You?
The avalanche beacon is an essential piece of safety gear. However, it is not the only type of rescue item that you might want to keep with you. It is also a good idea to have a few other things with you that can help with the rescue process. For example, you should have a small folding shovel, as well as an avalanche probe. While this might seem like a lot of extra gear to carry, it can make all the difference in the world when you are trying to find and rescue someone buried. Wouldn’t you rather have the right tools with you so you can help a friend or family member?
Practice Using the Beacons
You need to do more than buy the beacons and wait for the snow to arrive. Even though they are simple to use and they can provide protection, you need actually to know how to use them. This means that you need to practice using them when they arrive. Get together with others in your group who have beacons and then learn how to use them together. Take turns using the search function to learn how it works by having beacons from your group spread out across your yard. Learn how to focus on and find the signals at home, so it is something familiar and easy to do out in the real world.
You should also make it a point to test the beacons before you head out on each trip. Just because everything was working well last season or when you practiced with them a month ago does not mean that they are still working correctly. Right before your trip, take them out and test them. Be sure to check the battery levels at the same time.
Find Your Beacon Today
Now that you understand more about why you need to have an avalanche transceiver and the benefits they offer, and you have a list of great options to consider, it is time to make your choice. Before you and your friends and family head out to enjoy that beautiful winter weather, you will want to make sure that you all have high-quality, durable beacons and that you know how to use them. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need them. It’s far better to err on the side of caution.