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dr_feelgood


Jan 3, 2011, 9:36 AM
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School me on avalanche beacons
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I think it would be wise for me to start using an avalanche beacon. I plan on taking an avi course in the near future, but getting a beacon is another important step. I already have the probe and shovel, so that is taken care of.

Which brands have the best durability and reliability? Any special features I should be aware of or desirous of? Anything to avoid?

Thanks.


ryanb


Jan 3, 2011, 10:34 AM
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Re: [dr_feelgood] School me on avalanche beacons [In reply to]
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http://beaconreviews.com/transceivers/
http://www.wildsnow.com/...anche-beacon-review/

You want a 3 antenna digital beacon (Ie a modern design) that gets good ratings on the sites above.

We got tracker 2's which are great but lack advanced multiple burial features. THe ortovox 3+ is tempting but has some issues (see the review sites).


juho.risku


Jan 3, 2011, 1:15 PM
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I've used Mammut's Barryvox and Ortovox S1, been happy with both. I think that ease of use is the number one feature. I would be looking at a digital one, with multiple antennas, you might consider the range as well + the fact that some beacons have upgradeable firmwares. There has been also few pretty interesting features, such as body movement detection (priorization of live victims) + a possibility to team / link over air multiple beacons... of these later ones I don't have any practical experience, and can't really comment on their usefullness in real world.

If you're interested I think my other project http://www.tribevine.com has information of all the beacons there is on the market, or atleast most of them (i.e. 13 different) + allows side by side comparisons. It's still in closed beta though, i.e. you need to apply for access... but throw in an application through our site or drop me a line through my blog's feedback form and I'll send you an invitation.

Once you're in you can use direct link to transreceivers: http://beta.tribevine.com/...true&q=typeid:54


hafilax


Jan 3, 2011, 1:23 PM
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Re: [dr_feelgood] School me on avalanche beacons [In reply to]
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All beacons work well if you practice with them, even the single antenna analogs. Modern 3 antenna beacons simplify the search a bit when you get closer than about 3m. IMO, multiple burial functionality isn't critical for the typical user since it *should* be unlikely that they will ever encounter such a situation. MB features are more for guides, SAR and ski patrol.

Personally, my preference is the Tracker II. I've used and am a fan of the original Tracker and by all accounts the Tracker II has significant improvements. It will be my next beacon.


marc801


Jan 3, 2011, 2:14 PM
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As long as you practice and know how to use it, the one you own isn't that important - modern, 3 antenna, digital, reputable manufacturer - they're all pretty similar in terms of reliability, durability, and features.

However, you want your partner to have the one easiest to use with the greatest range!


qwert


Jan 4, 2011, 3:04 AM
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Well, in theory, with enough skills and practice, it doesnt matter which one you use, even the old analogs do work.

However in reality i would say way more than 90% of all users (and that includes most of the "experienced" folks) will greatly benefit from the the new ones.

Personally, i have the mammut barryvox pulse, and i am quite happy with it. Had the previous barryvox before it, and that was also not bad, and quite easy to use, but the pulse is better, especially with multiple burials.

From what my friends use, the Pieps DSP is also is quite good, and when i tried it, it seemed quite useable.

If you want to try running it through google translate or something similar (you might have to trick around a bit, since the things are pdfs), the german alpine club has quite a big archive of tests available:
http://www.alpenverein.de/...51ae8abc83f6849a626f
http://www.alpenverein.de/...51ae8abc83f6849a626f
http://www.alpenverein.de/...51ae8abc83f6849a626f
http://www.alpenverein.de/...51ae8abc83f6849a626f
http://www.alpenverein.de/...51ae8abc83f6849a626f

qwert


Rudmin


Jan 4, 2011, 7:34 AM
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The BCA Tracker and Tracker 2 are pretty much the industry standard idiot proof beacons. You could hand one to your 12 year old nephew and they would figure it out in under a minute. Not that you should do that, but you could.


altelis


Jan 4, 2011, 1:42 PM
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qwert wrote:
Well, in theory, with enough skills and practice, it doesnt matter which one you use, even the old analogs do work.

I'll go a step farther and say that I would strongly suggest you learn/practice on an older strictly analog beacon. In order to use these older beacons quickly and efficiently you really need to have a strong grasp of proper initial search patterns, proper pin-point techniques, as well as a good understanding of how the signal is propagated from the beacon (which dictates the path you take to the buried victim, which is NOT in a straight line).

It should only take a solid afternoon to become proficient with an older beacon. Once you have these skills down, using any digital beacon on the market becomes WAY quicker. Of course quicker than an analog beacon, but what i really mean is you'll be able to use the digital beacon much better than if you didn't learn on an analog.

This may not have been clear, but I think once you've used both it'll make sense. A lot of ski areas have beacon parks, and if there aren't any in your area, getting some partners together, throwing a beacon in a tupperware and burying it in a field (of snow of course) is really good practice. I do it every season.

qwert wrote:
Personally, i have the mammut barryvox pulse, and i am quite happy with it. Had the previous barryvox before it, and that was also not bad, and quite easy to use, but the pulse is better, especially with multiple burials.

I can't remember if it was brought up here yet or not, but I just wanted to comment on this briefly. I see this point made a lot. Hell, I have the older Barryvox (that's now discontinued Frown), and I think the multiple burial feature is really useful, and I hear Pulse is even better.

That said, it should be made very clear that multiple burials indicate a failure to navigate avalanche terrain properly. Ok, sure, there are some times when route finding becomes so messy/complicated that its just about impossible not to cross or all travel in the same slide path. But, especially for somebody just getting into backcountry winter travel, if this situation presents itself i would say its time to turn around.


fx101


Jan 9, 2011, 12:01 PM
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I recently started using the Mammut Barryvox Pulse. I hope I'll never have to use it or (even worse) the multiple burial features, but it does have some unique advantages over other beacons. First off, the display is amazingly clear and will compute the path and distance to each victim. Generally it is extremely accurate and allows you to move faster than many other beacons before it needs to recompute the path. I've found the accuracy good enough that you won't necessarily need to grid search before arriving right at the victim (which for training purposes is the buried beacon). Additionally, if all victims have a Mammut Barryvox Pulse, the device will send a signal indicating whether or not they have vital signs (i.e. do they have a heartbeat/are moving?). This can help with rescue strategy.


hafilax


Jan 9, 2011, 12:48 PM
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fx101 wrote:
I recently started using the Mammut Barryvox Pulse. I hope I'll never have to use it or (even worse) the multiple burial features, but it does have some unique advantages over other beacons. First off, the display is amazingly clear and will compute the path and distance to each victim. Generally it is extremely accurate and allows you to move faster than many other beacons before it needs to recompute the path. I've found the accuracy good enough that you won't necessarily need to grid search before arriving right at the victim (which for training purposes is the buried beacon). Additionally, if all victims have a Mammut Barryvox Pulse, the device will send a signal indicating whether or not they have vital signs (i.e. do they have a heartbeat/are moving?). This can help with rescue strategy.
It's a great beacon but I think you're overstating some of the advantages of the Pulse. The old analogs held the search records well after the digitals and even 3 antenna beacons came out so I'm not so sure that there are any clear advantages for search time between to top beacon choices. I don't think there are any issues with having a clear display with any of the beacons. The bright red LEDs of the Tracker II may actually have the advantage there. IME LCDs are more fragile.

I would have a hard time trusting the vital sign feature and it's pretty rare that an entire party will have pulse beacons unless it's a guided outfit that's providing them. Could you go to the next beacon if the pulse said they were a lost cause? I'm not sure I could. What if only one person is buried and you are immediately faced with a recovery? I think I would rather have some hope in that case.

As an aside:
People love to focus on the gadgets but I think that knowing how to dig someone out is the real life saving skill (beyond terrain management of course). That is the part that takes the largest part of the limited time the victim has (~15 minutes). Everyone should practice digging a 2 m deep hole on a slope in hard snow to see how much work it really is and how difficult it can be to manage the discarded snow.

Another aside:
The reason I downplay multiple burial features is that I believe that it would be very rare that it would be useful to me. I usually ski in a group of 3 or 4. If 2 people get buried it will be very difficult to dig them both out unless they are close to the surface. I think any modern beacon will handle that scenario well enough. If 3 people get buried deep it would take at least 3 and more like 6 more people to get them all out in time. I would rather take another avalanche course than spend the extra ~$130 on a Pulse or Pieps DSP over a Tracker II.


fx101


Jan 9, 2011, 1:20 PM
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hafilax wrote:
fx101 wrote:
I recently started using the Mammut Barryvox Pulse. I hope I'll never have to use it or (even worse) the multiple burial features, but it does have some unique advantages over other beacons. First off, the display is amazingly clear and will compute the path and distance to each victim. Generally it is extremely accurate and allows you to move faster than many other beacons before it needs to recompute the path. I've found the accuracy good enough that you won't necessarily need to grid search before arriving right at the victim (which for training purposes is the buried beacon). Additionally, if all victims have a Mammut Barryvox Pulse, the device will send a signal indicating whether or not they have vital signs (i.e. do they have a heartbeat/are moving?). This can help with rescue strategy.
It's a great beacon but I think you're overstating some of the advantages of the Pulse. The old analogs held the search records well after the digitals and even 3 antenna beacons came out so I'm not so sure that there are any clear advantages for search time between to top beacon choices. I don't think there are any issues with having a clear display with any of the beacons. The bright red LEDs of the Tracker II may actually have the advantage there. IME LCDs are more fragile.

I would have a hard time trusting the vital sign feature and it's pretty rare that an entire party will have pulse beacons unless it's a guided outfit that's providing them. Could you go to the next beacon if the pulse said they were a lost cause? I'm not sure I could. What if only one person is buried and you are immediately faced with a recovery? I think I would rather have some hope in that case.

As an aside:
People love to focus on the gadgets but I think that knowing how to dig someone out is the real life saving skill (beyond terrain management of course). That is the part that takes the largest part of the limited time the victim has (~15 minutes). Everyone should practice digging a 2 m deep hole on a slope in hard snow to see how much work it really is and how difficult it can be to manage the discarded snow.

Another aside:
The reason I downplay multiple burial features is that I believe that it would be very rare that it would be useful to me. I usually ski in a group of 3 or 4. If 2 people get buried it will be very difficult to dig them both out unless they are close to the surface. I think any modern beacon will handle that scenario well enough. If 3 people get buried deep it would take at least 3 and more like 6 more people to get them all out in time. I would rather take another avalanche course than spend the extra ~$130 on a Pulse or Pieps DSP over a Tracker II.

To be fair, the avalanche courses I took insisted we begin with analog beacons because, when used correctly, they will be just as effective and it is an essential skill to learn how to properly grid search etc. This said, if you just got tumbled like crazy after an avalanche and are basically in shock, the digital units tend to be a little more foolproof. Specifically, the three antenna units with the full-on readouts give you all the information you want to know right away.

The vital sign feature does have its caveats, of course.
With more and more people using the pulse, it's not entirely unlikely that a group of 3 people will all have it. If this is not the case, then obviously it's a moot point. What the feature is useful for is peace of mind, if anything else. And in a stressful situation knowing that the two people burried are alive will give you that extra boost to pull them out faster.

Obviously a state of the art beacon is no substitute for proper training. In fact, like you said, it's very rare that you would encounter a situation where the multiple burial features would ever be useful. That said, since an avalanche beacon is something you hope you never have to use, I want to have the beacon that will give me the most flexibility in its time of need.


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