Archive for the ‘Avalanche Beacons Talk’ Category

Avalanche beacons and airbags 20% sale

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Backcountry avalanche gear isn’t usually discounted this time of the year but some big retailers are currently going for it. So woo-hoo if you need to upgrade or purchase your first avalanche beacon or avalanche airbag right now!

Beacons at

Beacons at

Avalanche beacons and airbags currently on sale – what and where?

Two online stores are fighting for your wallet in the backcountry avalanche safety gear category – and  On some they are matching each other, on some beating each other.

Couple of the most sought after beacons (transceivers) are being discounted of up to 25%, here are the most notable mentions:

BCA Tracker 2 avalanche beacon:

BCA Tracker DTS beacon:

Ortovox 3+ beacon:

Mammut Pulse Barryvox beacon:

Beyond the above both stores have pretty much all of their beacons on 20% sale, so the choices are plenty but all of the above are proven solid performers.

And what about avalanche airbags?

From the airbags category there couple of good products currently on sale for very reasonable prices, most notably the best deals are on BCA Float airbag line.

» Quick link to avalanche airbags category on
» and here’s a link to CampCaver’s airbags & survival gear category

Great avalanche beacon and avalanche equipment sale (15-25% off)

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A big sale still continuing on all avalanche beacons and other avalanche equipment over at

Avalanche beacons sales and discounts are rare, especially in the 25% range. It’s because avalanche beacons are not high margin retail products, so when stores discount them this much it is time to think about an upgrade.

If you were thinking about it already then now is your opportunity as you can get 15-25% Off on avalanche beacons and up to 40% on other avalanche equipment such as snow shovels, avalanche probes, or snow study kits.

The sale even extends to climbing skins and backcountry ski poles categories with most items being discounted between 15-35%.

Avalanche beacon sale prices vs. regulars

Here are the current sale prices on some popular beacons:

BCA Tracker beacon

BCA Tracker DTS

Ortovox S1+ avalanche beacon

Ortovox S1+

BCA Tracker 2 avalanche beacon

BCA Tracker II

Ortovox S1 is up to 45% off

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Ortovox s1 avalanche beacon is currently on big sale of up to 45% off its regular price!
(as of June 12, 2011)

This is likely due to the fact that stores are selling their S1 units before its updated version, Ortovox S1+, comes on the market  during the 2011/12 season.

There is nothing wrong with these units and they certainly are not an outdated piece of equipment, hence, they are still among the top 3 avalanche beacons on the market. Simply, Ortovox is upgrading the S1 to S1+ which will have some hardware as well as software enhancements. To read more about it visit this page – Ortovox S1+ avalanche beacon.

Where are the best deals?

Literally, a big steal was at where the Ortovox S1 was going for $274.44, the lowest price for this beacon ever. (Out of stock as of September 2011)

For other stores currently discounting the unit check out the Ortovox S1 page for updated prices and stock availability.

In case you are unsure of which avalanche beacon suits your needs check out “How to choose the right avalanche beacon?” article.

Big discounts on All avalanche beacons

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Currently (as of Mar 28, 2011), there are great discounts on all avalanche beacons across the internet. It could be called even a “price war” waged by the online stores where all of them are rushing to unload their inventories before stocking up for next season.

If you have an older avalanche beacon or are looking for an upgrade this is a great deal opportunity. Because beacons are a type of gear that keep their value over long time stores are not too keen on discounting them much or often; however, it seems these are different times now.

Just a couple of examples what you can pick up for your buck:

In case you are unsure of which beacon suits your needs the best check out “How to choose the right avalanche beacon?” article.

Ortovox S1 avalanche beacon upgrades to Ortovox S1+ for fall 2011

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Ortovox, a leading manufacturer of avalanche safety gear, will upgrade its S1 avalanche beacon to S1+ by fall of 2011.

Despite the addition of the new technology the S1+ should look like the current S1 with maybe only few cosmetic changes.

The addition of the small “+” sign means that the Ortovox S1 will inherit smart transmitting antenna technology from Ortovox 3+ avalanche beacon.

This new technology allows a beacon to choose on which antenna to transmit its signal, therefore, actively creating a more favorable scenario for the searching beacon.

The Ortovox S1 is already leading the way for avalanche beacon innovations along with the Pieps DSP and Mammut Pulse. However, this new feature will significantly aid to its functionality.

The “+” technology

Until now, all beacons on the market (whether having one, two or three antennas) were sending their signal only through one antenna that was set by default to be the transmitting one.

This presented a problem when a victim (and its beacon) was buried in a “search unfriendly” position (more vertically than horizontally) because the transmitting antenna was sending its signal towards the sky instead of around the surface. This meant small range and long search times.

Ortovox addressed this avalanche safety industry shortcoming by releasing the Ortovox 3+ beacon in 2010. And in 2011, the 3+ will be joined by the S1+ to feature an intelligent position recognition system that analyses orientation of the two transmitting antennas and automatically switches to the optimal one.

With these new avalanche beacons there are two antennas to choose from to send a signal through instead of just one. And these two antennas lay in a 90 degree angle inside a beacon. Therefore, eliminating lots of bad transmitting positions which effectively gives a victim a higher chance of survival.

This advanced transmitting antenna technology affects only the transmit mode of the beacon and has no effect on the beacons search capabilities.

BCA Tracker2 avalanche beacon: Why it’s becoming the most popular one?

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Tracker 2 avalanche beaconBackcountry Access Tracker2, also known as Tracker 2, is in a short span of time becoming the most sold avalanche beacon in North America.

First units were released for retail only one year ago (December 2009) and a full-on distribution didn’t happen until February of 2010. Yet this avalanche beacon is overtaking all other beacons on the market.

For more technical information and product description see this page – BCA Tracker2 avalanche beacon.

This article also features an introduction video to the Tracker2.

Why is the Tracker2 so popular?

The biggest reason for the Tracker2′s popularity is its predecessor - Tracker DTS beacon. When the Tracker DTS was released (around 2001) it was the first digital beacon on the market. It was also the first to have more than one antenna. Furthermore, the DTS model created a legacy of easy-to-use device that could be used quite efficiently “out of the box”.

Today, the Tracker 2 is clearly benefiting from that legacy, but the legacy would not stick if the new beacon didn’t delivery on it. Besides being easy-to-use the new Tracker was also boosted technologically. It features a triple antenna,  faster processor and a more ergonomic shape.

An important factor of the legacy that is making the Tracker2 so popular is a word of mouth, alias friend recommendation. That means that it is logical for someone to choose the Tracker2 over any other beacon when his/her friends already have it or they have the older Tracker. Of course, this has to be underlined by their friends’ satisfaction with the product.

So should you get the Tracker2?

The crowds are saying yes, however, everyone should decide on their own because you may want features the Tracker2 doesn’t have or simply already prefer a different manufacturer.

To make your decision easier you should find this guide on how to choose an avalanche beacon helpful in your selection process.

And here is a great short video that introduces the Tracker2 in detail and should also help you to make up your mind.

For more technical information and product description see this page – Backcountry Access Tracker 2 avalanche beacon.

How to choose the right avalanche beacon?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

These days, there are many more avalanche beacons (transceivers) to choose from than a decade ago. Avalanche beacons differ in how much they are selling for, in technologies they use, and obviously in manufacturers that make them.

Here are tips that will help you to choose the right avalanche beacon by:

  • briefly explaining the different types of avalanche beacon technologies
  • defining what kind of a user you are, or whomever you are purchasing the beacon for

The latest avalanche beacons are definitely better but it’s confusing for buyers to choose the one that fits their abilities the best.

6 most popular beacons (after 2011/12 season):

Avalanche beacons compatibility

Pieps DSPIt seems that one basic piece of information is not communicated by the manufacturers and professionals clearly enough because many people wonder about compatibility of different types of avalanche transceivers and between manufacturers.

The only thing you need to know is that all avalanche beacons operate on the same frequency (457 kHz) and are therefore fully compatible. That means you can search for any avalanche beacon with any other avalanche beacon on the market.

There might be some fancy features that are only shared within a certain model type but the core practical functionality of all beacons is compatible as it was agreed by all manufacturers long time ago.

Avalanche beacon technologies: understanding different types

Basically, there are three types of avalanche beacons on the market today:

  • Analogue
  • Digital
  • Analogue/digital (hybrid)

Analogue avalanche beacons

Ortovox F1The analogue avalanche beacons are almost out of the market by now but they are the ones that started it all.

Bottom line: Analogue avalanche beacons, generally, have a big search range and are great for picking up a signal from further distance. However, they require quite a bit of practice for a novice or not too experienced users to be efficient with. But if you practice a lot you can become very good in searching with them. They are in the lowest price range of all avalanche beacons.

Digital avalanche beacons

Mammut Pulse BarrryvoxDigital avalanche beacons came to the market around 2001. Their main aim was to cut searching times by providing a user with a computer-like beacon. Every digital avalanche beacon has a micro-processor, just like computers do, that filters data for the user and communicates them through distance numbers and direction arrows.

Bottom line: Digital avalanche beacons are easier to use (to search with) than the previous analogue technology which makes them a great choice for any type of users. However, some are more suitable for professionals than less experienced users.

Digital beacons have a smaller range than analogue beacons but the micro-processor capabilities can greatly compensate for inexperience thus cutting down the search times. The prices for digital avalanche beacons vary greatly depending on their features, performance and manufacturer.

Analogue/digital avalanche beacons

These avalanche beacons use both of the above technologies, however, they don’t seem to provide any significant advantage over the digital beacons. And there are only one or two models of this type of beacons currently on the market, which suggests manufacturers are rather betting (and working) on the full digital platform than sticking with older technology.

Bottom line: These hybrid beacons are like enhanced analogue avalanche beacons and are as good as some fully digital beacons, however, there doesn’t seem to be much need for this type of beacons. They are being pretty much phased out just like the analogue beacons. Digital is the way. Prices are comparable to lower priced digital beacons.

Avalanche beacon user groups

Here is a brief differentiation of avalanche beacon users based on their experience. This might not be the best groups’ definition there is, however, it reflects how people usually define themselves when shopping for an avalanche beacon:


  • used an avalanche beacon very few times in their life if at all
  • no experience with multiple burials
  • accessing backcountry mostly from a lift to do individual runs


  • uses an avalanche beacon couple of times a year
  • some experience with multiple burials
  • quite proficient with their current beacon
  • regularly travels in backcountry


  • lots of practice and experience with different types of avalanche beacons in many different scenarios
  • very frequent users, mountain guides, ski patrol, rescue professionals, etc.

Suitable avalanche beacon models based on a user group and beacon type

Analogue avalanche beacons – more suitable for (very) experienced users, however, even they are now switching to digital technology.

Digital beacons – this is the future of the industry and every user group can find a model within this technology.

Hybrid – they are a good alternative and more suitable for the novice and regular users.

Specific avalanche beacon models suitability




This type of a user should know what beacon he wants and that suits him the best. But here are some suggested options since this user group should be well equipped to take full advantage of the most advanced features in avalanche beacon technology.

Avalanche beacons by technology

Here is a list of specific avalanche beacons based on which technology they use and that are currently available on the market.




  • Ortovox M2 (discontinued)

Practice your avalanche beacon search

No matter which avalanche beacon you buy there is no substitute for practice. Yes, some are easier to use than others but each one behaves slightly different and it is best if you get to know your avalanche beacon intimately through practice.