Whether you are new to ski touring or freeriding or you're an old hand looking to upgrade to a new avalanche transceiver, there's always the question: "Which avalanche transceiver should I buy?" This question is absolutely justified, there are currently seven manufacturers who offer in total of around 20 different avalanche beacon models.
The challenge now is to find the ideal avalanche beacon for yourself, so the question posed above must correctly read as, “Which current avalanche beacon best suits my needs?”
- It should be a 3-antenna digital device.
- The transceiver should be equipped with a marking function for multi burials.
In addition to the devices currently available, most past generation avalanche beacons also meet these basic requirements. Therefore, should one consider a second-hand purchase, it should be checked for the sake of completeness that:
The avalanche beacon is still within the specified “service life”.
For how long you can use an avalanche beacon, you can find out in the instruction manual or on the manufacturer’s homepage.
If an avalanche beacon can no longer be operated correctly after a fall or similar, if you notice cracks or damage, or if you receive error messages during the self-check or group check, then you should immediately send the device in for inspection.
Tip: PIEPS offers a special device service for its avalanche beacons, which is recommended as standard three and five years after the date of purchase and every year thereafter. The hardware and software of the device is checked and updated, the device is cleaned and returned with a service protocol. This service costs € 35,- and can be used at any time.
- entry level devices
- mid-range devices
- top devices
Not only the price, but also functional and performance characteristics improve as you move up this list, whereby the “mid-range devices” offer the best price-performance ratio for most ski tourers and freeriders. They are reliable and are equipped with all the functions that matter in case of an emergency. Top devices offer more, but as with other electronic devices, the complexity increases with the range of functions. This means that additional features that are only useful for users if they have been trained accordingly to handle them. Otherwise, they quickly become overwhelming or are not used anyway.
The inexpensive “entry-level devices” have become fewer and fewer in the last few years. On the one hand, because they lacked important features and performance characteristics such as the “marking function”, on the other hand, because you could already get the next better device class if you’d spent just a little more.
”The challenge is to find the right avalanche beacon that best suits your needs.
3. Size and Weight
In mountaineering and ski touring, the focus is more and more on keeping the equipment as small and light as possible, but of course with unrestricted functionality. This applies to clothing, but also to technical products such as harnesses, crampons, skis, etc. That’s why there are also particularly light and small avalanche beacons, which are particularly popular with athletes competing at events. Likewise, some freeriders like to have a device as compact as possible, which barely hinders them during jumps and causes as little impact as possible on the body in the event of a fall. In addition, the willingness to wear an avalanche beacon is greater, for example, among some piste tourers, if it is small and light, because it is just so easy to carry.
4. Features & performance characteristics
It must be clear that an avalanche transceiver is emergency equipment that can save one’s own life or that of one’s touring partners in the event of an avalanche burial. So, for dedicated tourers and freeriders who practice their hobby or profession regularly, criteria other than weight, size and price will be the deciding factors in their purchase. Like any craftsman, they will want high-quality tools with which to work well and efficiently. This includes, for example, that both the avalanche transceiver and the carrying system are easy to use even with gloves on and in the cold, and that the avalanche transceiver meets the user’s wishes and requirements in terms of certain performance features.
And here it is definitely also about personal preferences, which are often individually justifiable: For example, based on recommendations and personal experience, a search strip width that is as wide as possible is important to one person, while another attaches importance to the device’s capabilities of signal quality and a steady guidance to the victim, so no jumping of arrows. Those who belong to rescue organizations, instead of turning off their device as a shoveler, will resort to the “standby or return-to-send” feature (in this case, the beacon remains in send mode, but is “silent” as long as you are moving, i.e. not “buried”. This only works on devices with a motion sensor). An “analog mode” – that is, the ability to receive the signal unprocessed – will be of value if you have mastered special search techniques that are helpful in some complex situations; however, this special requirement is relevant for just a few excellently trained professionals.
For every user, on the other hand, technical possibilities to deal with existing interfering signals are interesting: I’m not talking now about the cell phone, which should be turned off or carried further away from the avalanche beacon, but, for example, lift supports and nearby cables because these are permanently installed.
In summary, it is important to be clear before a purchase, which of the points mentioned are important to you personally, and then get detailed advice on the homepage of the manufacturer or even better in the specialty store of your confidence. Ideally, you can visit various events and actually search with the devices before you make your buying decision.
PIEPS POWDER BT – The all-round beacon for everyone
- Easy update and device settings via app
- High, circular reception range
- Best signal processing
The PIEPS POWDER SERIES is simply suitable for all users: whether weekend ski touring, ski mountaineering or freeriding -devices of this series offer easy operation and the exclusive PIEPS safety technology without compromising. And all this at a very good price-performance ratio.
PIEPS PRO BT – THE beacon for experts
- Fleet management with device settings and updates via app and Bluetooth.
- Professional group check
- Expert features