Best Avalanche Beacons Reviewed & Rated for Quality
If a beacon is not covered, then it will automatically switch to search mode. When this occurs, those beacons which are searching will eventually be able to locate the exact location of the person and beacon in which is lost.
We have found the 10 best avalanche beacons that are available and are going to review each one, if you have any questions there will be a FAQs section at the end of the review.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Ease of Use
When looking for the best product, it is important that they are easy to use. The best are capable of handling many rigorous tests within the Cascades, Alaska, and Sierras. These were put to the toughest of tests, using new users to complete some test to determine just how easy these systems are to use. Following that, there are even tougher users permitted to test the beacons; users such as certified AMGA and ACMG ski guides, forecasters of avalanches, all this is done to prove just how simple their ease of use can be.
There are several key features that are required if it is to work appropriately during heavy snowfall. Some of these features include a DTS and BCA tracking device, a device which shows digital features in real-time, a BTA Stealth probe, technology for dual antennas, and 240cm probe.
Modern beacons use several antennas in order to get an exact location; these beacons also have batteries in which hold a long life. This aids whenever there is a life-or-death situation which requires it to operate for long periods of time. It is imperative in life-or-death situations that these products have has good connectivity and are able to function well even in the deepest of snow settings.
You will know that your product is effective if it is able to transmit and pinpoint the exact location of a person that has been lost in the snow. You do not want it to be constantly transmitting default signals if you want it to be able to pinpoint exactly where you are. How can you be certain it is effective? For example, if you are at a ski resort and you and twenty other people all have their own beacons, all are set to transmit as you were advised to do to protect yourself. Now, what if your friend goes off the trail and gets lost? How will your friend be located if there are nineteen other beacons transmitting in the same area?
In order to ensure it is effective always make sure you have it in the on position and set for transmitting anytime you are wearing it. The reason you should always have it turned on is that should you get injured, and be unable to turn it on, it will be continuing to transmit your location so that you can be found and rescued.
These products should be completely portable so the person wearing it can be assured that their location will be found should they ever get lost following an avalanche or any other emergency situation. The portability should be able to tell your location with a range of 30 to 60 meters.
10 Best Avalanche Beacons
1. SpyTec STI_GL300
This is the perfect portable device to use when tracking vehicles for teenagers, married persons, or the elderly and protecting the assets they have. The size of this device is compact and will fit into anyone’s vehicle, backpack or fanny/belt pack.
Capable of Tracking Anything
This is a tracking device that is capable of tracking an object or person put in its path for 24 hours a day if needed. This little tracking device is activated by motion and the battery lasts up to two weeks or more in a lot of cases; therefore, it is not necessary to continuously re-charge it.
Small but Mighty
A small device, weighing only two ounces, it is three inches long and it is efficiently sized to where it can easily fit in a backpack or attach to one’s belt. This tracking unit can track and provide updates as to the location of who you are tracking every five minutes.
Cost and Value
You are going to love this handy little tracking device from the instant you turn it on and see all the excellent features available. There is no way to place a value on protecting one’s life; therefore, this little unit is going to prove it is invaluable.
2. Backcountry Access Tracker 2
The Backcountry Access Tracker is a lightweight, only 9.0 ounces or 255 grams; when placed in its harness it weighs a mere 13.2 ounces or 375 grams. Do not be misled by the tiny size of this tracking device as it has a digital display in real time and has a 50-meter range.
Has a Third Digital Antenna
This device has a third digital antenna and because of this has the capacity for more accuracy which allows for a compelling indicator upon locating the target in search of. With a presentation in real-time, this removes the chance of any delays in search time.
Single Search/Transmit Switch
This switch makes it simple to learn and teach others how to use this unit. It also cuts down on any misunderstandings or slip-ups that may occur because of an increase in adrenaline while trying to locate a missing person or persons.
Cost and Value
You will soon learn that this device has a greater use and it will become invaluable to you whenever you are out in the wilderness. The cost is a little more than other devices may be; however, from the instant, you turn it on and see how useful it is, you will wonder how you ever got by without it.
3. Backcountry Access Tracker 3
The Tracker 3 Avalanche Transceiver made by Backcountry Access is a handy little unit that weighs only 7.6 ounces or 215 grams with batteries in it. The lightweight harness weighs only 3.5 ounces or 100 grams. This tiny device has a minimum of one-hour battery life when in search mode following approximately 200 hours’ of being in the mode to transmit.
Twenty Percent Lighter
The Tracker 3 is twenty percent lighter in weight and size than the Tracker 2. Just as the Tracker 2 has, this tracking device has a display screen that is in real-time, as well as an additional third antenna, and capable of indicating several buried victims.
This device has a search range of fifty meters. That is one hundred and fifty feet! This is a remarkably large area in which to have the ability to search for lost or trapped victims following an avalanche.
Cost and Value
Backcountry Access makes wonderful tracking devices and the Tracker 3 is no exception. Once you try out this device (hopefully, the first time will only be practice) you are going to love how accurately it pinpoints whatever it is you are searching for. The actual price is a little more than other tracking units, however, this little tool is going to invaluable and you will be glad you invested in it should its need ever arise.
4. BCA Tracker DTS
The BCA Tracker DTS is an avalanche beacon and probe is the first digital receiver available worldwide with multiple functions. The digital revolution began with this tracking device by BCA; it has a history of fine products that are strong and reliable.
Real-Time Digital Display
BCA really outdid itself by creating a real-time digital display that shows in red LED lighting in both the direction as well as in distance. Showing distance in meters and the location is shown in lights which indicate which direction to go toward the beacons that are transmitting.
Two Antennas Transceiver
In 1997 this BCA Tracking device was the first of its kind to have a transceiver with two antennas.
The only downfall is the range is shorter than other tracking devices of its type and many of the other tracking units similar to this one have controls that are easier to use.
Cost and Value
This tracking device is going to prove it worth the moment you turn it on. With all its modern amenities, BCA has gone above and beyond in providing the best service possible. The actual price may be a little high at first glance; however, once you see what all is available for this price you will find that it is invaluable.
5. Pieps DSP Sport
The Pieps DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon is the ideal tracking device for those people who are avid outdoor and mountain professionals, backcountry skiers, and split boarders. This brand of avalanche beacon is rated at being one of the highest levels of beacons designed for the backcountry. This beacon has a three antennae system which assures a more precise search than two antennae can afford.
This device offers the user a full sixty meters of range when doing a search for lost or buried victims. It has a variety of functions available to allow for flagging down where each victim is; this allows for the person you are working with to be able to start digging them out as you continue the search for more victims.
A Victim Selection Scanner
This is a feature which is capable of doing an overall scan of the area and finding the three victims that are closest to where you are looking. Another great feature is if you are in receiving mode and get trapped up, after a few minutes this beacon will switch to send automatically, sending your rescuers a signal to lead them to your location.
Cost and Value
You will find this handy little unit has extreme life-saving value. It weighs only eight ounces when the batteries are in it; however, it is huge in its abilities to save your life or the life of others.
6. Ortovox Zoom +
This is an avalanche transceiver made by Ortovox and it has Smart Antenna Technology. What this means it has the capability to examine the precise location in which the antenna is in regards to responding to an avalanche and will routinely adjust itself to the antenna with the most optimal transmission.
Has a Secondary Switchover
If the transceiver does not register any form of a motion for 120 seconds when in search mode, it will switch itself back to transmission mode automatically. This guards the rescue team at all times from follow up avalanches.
Searches are visual and Acoustic
In order to make it easier to locate the victim, there are LED lights available. These LEDs are large and simple to decipher, particularly when there are dimly lit or poor lighting situations. Acoustics aid the unit when it is in a visual searching mode. As you approach the victims of an avalanche this mechanism will start to transmit some high, rapid noises to make you aware you are getting close.
Cost and Value
The Ortovox Zoom+ is going to prove its value to you the moment you turn it on to use it. This handy little device is small and easily fits in your backpack or pocket. The switchover buttons alone make this item invaluable because just the push of a button one can go from transmission to search mode.
7. ARVA Neo+
This avalanche beacon made by ARVA is one of the strongest made. It has a range of seventy meters—the most of any other beacon made by ARVA. It is finely tuned with a triple antenna to ensure the effectiveness of the product.
Search to send switch
With the ease of pushing a button, you can go from burial marking to searching while the unit is still in its harness. Beacon adjusts from search to send after just four minutes of no noticeable movement, in the event you should get caught up yourself in an avalanche while searching for others.
A harness like no other
Made durable, this harness allows the wearer to put it on and take it off with ease, without the chance of it turning off. While you are in the mode for searching, should you be about to pass up another beacon, the Neo+ will give you an alert to notify you.
Cost and Value
The Neo+ Beacon is an invaluable piece of tracking equipment that goes beyond monetary values. Once you become aware of all the features available to your with this device, you will wonder how you ever went skiing, snowboarding or hiking without it.
8. Black Diamond Guide BT
The Black Diamond Guide BT is a beacon that has a 60-meter range that is circular. It has functions for marking buried victims as well as scanning the area for other victims. It also has Bluetooth capability and an antenna with an automatic switch. This beacon offers industrial and professional performance to the user.
Beacon has Bluetooth connection which permits the ability to control the settings, update software, and optimizes the use of your smartphone's battery. There is also a self-check capability which makes sure the antennas are consistently on target.
Flag Numerous Burials
The Black Diamond beacon provides a feature which allows the user the capability to flag a number of buried victims following an avalanche. This device gives consistency in the tracking and signaling of which areas the victims are buried.
Cost and Value
When you purchase the Black Diamond beacon, you are going to be very pleased with this tracking unit. You will find it to be invaluable in locating buried or lost victims following an avalanche.
9. Pieps Micro
This tiny micro transceiver made by Pieps is the lightest weight, 3-antenna beacon you can buy. This tracking unit has all the technology of a patented sensor along with wireless device organization that one can expect from a next-gen Pieps transceiver.
This Pieps device has an extra large display for such a tiny little unit which makes visibility and readability much easier. It is able to clearly flag for any lost or buried persons following an avalanche or other emergencies.
40 Meter Search Range
This micro transceiver has a 40-meter circular search range and can flag for numerous burials if needed. Bluetooth wireless app capability for managing wireless updates is another feature that aids in the rescue effort.
Cost and Value
The Pieps Micro is a mere 106 x 74 x 20mm—for those not familiar with metric measurements, that is 4.2 x 2.9 x 0.78 inches! This little tracking device will prove its value beyond monetary means the instant you turn it on.
10. Black Diamond Recon BT
If you are looking for a way to get rapid, efficient searches, then the Black Diamond Recon BT Avalanche Beacon is just the device you have been searching for. Streamlined with Bluetooth capabilities; this unit even has soft-touch contact points which allow for even better management.
Multiple Flag Capability
The device comes equipped with a marking task which allows for the flagging of numerous burials at one time. It also has a circular range of sixty meters for searching lost or buried victims.
Bluetooth for Software Updates
There is Bluetooth capability available for making updates to the device’s software. However, you should never have it in Bluetooth mode when in avalanche terrain due to the battery will lose power.
Cost and Value
A tracking device which is best for backcountry skiing events, you are going to love the way it can quickly track what you are searching for. In a life-or-death situation, this little machine is going to prove to be an invaluable resource to have.