If you have a trip to the mountains planned, you are going to want to make sure you have an avalanche transceiver with you! The mountains are never to be underestimated at any time. They take multiple lives every year. Having the right gear and the proper knowledge before going into the mountains is a must no matter who you are or where you are from.
Best Avalanche Transceivers 2021
Avalanche Transceivers, commonly mistaken as beacons, have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. We here at Sledheadzzz will never be found in the mountains without our transceivers on us. Quite frankly, that could be taken literally. What we are saying though, is that we do not go into avalanche terrain without them. By the way, avalanche terrain is a lot less steep than you think. Enough rambling, it is time to cut to the chase and tell you what the best avalanche transceivers are for 2020.
Top 10 Avalanche Transceivers
(Listed in no specific order)
1. Backcountry Access Tracker 3
If you are a current snowmobiler this top pick comes as no surprise. Backcountry Access, BCA for short, is undoubtedly one of the most recognized avalanche transceivers brands on the market. Not only in the snowmobiling industry, but skiing and snowboarding as well.
The BCA Tracker 3 is the best of the best. It is 20 percent lighter and thinner than the Tracker 2, features a multiple burial indicator with Big Picture Mode, triple antennas, a digital display with directional arrows and distance readout, signal suppression mode allowing you to more easily find the next signal after locating the first, and finally it covers a 50 meter range. This avalanche transceiver will cost you $334.95 and it is worth the money.
This transceiver is built for the more experienced backcountry enthusiasts. That is not to say the beginners can’t use it, it just may take a little longer to get a grip on how it works. Boasting a 70 meter range this beacon covers a lot of ground. If that is not enough for you, switch it to the analog pro search option to cover even more ground, 10 additional meters to be exact.
The digital display shows directional arrows, distance, and victim number. Another special feature about this avalanche transceiver is the auto switch from search to send after not moving for four minutes. We would recommend the Mammut Barryvox S for the more experienced, but would not stop a beginner from buying it. Cost of this transceiver is $489.95, so it is a bit more expensive than the others.
3. Backcountry Access Tracker 2
The predecessor of the Tracker 3, the Tracker 2 is a tad bit more basic, if you will, but that is also reflected in the price of $284.95. Being it is so simple and more affordable, a lot of people we know choose to use this avalanche transceiver.
Some key features include a 50 meter digital range, a third antenna to increase accuracy and signal strength, multiple burial indicator lights, easy to use search/transmit switch, and a real time display to minimize lag time in the event of a search. This is a great all around transceiver. We highly recommend getting the BCA Tracker 2 if you are on a budget and want something that will get the job done.
This avalanche transceiver, just like the others already listed, feature a three antenna design. It has a 60 meter range and has a multiple burial function that allows you to pick up signals from multiple victims. Along with that it allows you to flag victims so one person can start probing while the searcher keeps searching, if multiple victims are buried. This transceiver also automatically switches from search to send mode after not moving for a certain amount of time. Similar to the Mammut Barryvox S talked about earlier.
One really cool feature about this beacon that we haven’t mentioned yet is how smart it is technology wise. This beacon runs a self-check ensuring that all software and hardware elements are functioning properly. We use the Pieps brand, more specifically the Pieps Pro BT, which we will discuss coming up. The Pieps Powder avalanche transceiver is going to cost you $339.95, which makes it a little less popular than the BCA Tracker 2, but with advanced technology comes a slight price increase.
The cheaper version of the Mammut Barryvox S, this avalanche transceiver costs $349.95. This triple antenna design gives you a 70 meter search range. The intuitive design of these beacons allows riders to develop an understanding of how the transceiver works promptly.
It features a single switch, single button, and a separate flagging button. The digital display shows you directional arrows, distance, and the number of buried victims. Just like the Mammut Barryvox S, this transceiver will also switch from search to send after sitting still for four minutes. This is an easy to use, reliable avalanche transceiver.
The slim and trim version of the Pieps Pro. This avalanche transceiver comes in at $299.95. Like all the others previously listed it also has a three antenna design. A 50 meter range, one-button interface with three options (send, search, and flag) make this transceiver very simple to use. Once you have flagged a burial the transceiver will automatically start searching for the next nearest signal. Helping you find other victims more effectively.
The Pieps beacons are compatible with the Pieps iProbes, giving your search an even greater chance of success. Like the others, this transceiver shows you direction, distance, and multiple burial indicators. On top of that it also shows you its battery life and has occasional software updates to ensure that your equipment is functioning at its best ability.
The avalanche transceiver we have chosen to use. This one is a bit spendier, $449.95 to be exact. This is pieps highest level transceiver for a few reasons. Its three antenna design gives you a 60 meter range, the highest of all the Pieps transceivers. When still for a certain amount of time it automatically switches from search to send. It’s multiple burial functions include locating the nearest 3 buried signals and once the closest is flagged it starts leading you to the next closest.
This transceiver performs extensive self-checks on not only itself, but the other transceivers in your group. This ensures everyone has equipment that is ready to go in the event of an avalanche. One very unique feature is its ability to pick up signals from the Pieps TX600 which is a product they made for dogs that carries a stronger signal than the transceiver humans use. This is handy if you are someone that likes to bring your dog hiking and is concerned about avalanches.
We aren’t finished yet… this avalanche transceiver also features a built-in digital inclinometer for measuring the angle of slopes, a scan function for an overview of all transmitting devices within its range, an analog mode if the buried victim has an analog transceiver, and a signal verification (it only indicates 457kHz) to avoid confusion from ghost signals. If you are looking for a transceiver that does it all, look no further.
This avalanche transceiver is much like the others. They pride themselves on their soft contact points making this transceiver more comfortable to use. We put low priority on how it feels in your hand… We care more about its functionality. A three antenna design giving you a 60 meter range, capability of finding multiple burial victims by flagging and proceeding, and the ability to find analog transceivers are all features of the Black Diamond Guide BT.
One thing we like specifically about this transceiver is the bluetooth capability it has. You can connect your smartphone to check for software updates and make sure your transceiver is working properly. Like the Pieps Pro BT, this transceiver picks up the signal from a TX600, the transceiver made for dogs. It is also compatible with the Pieps IProbe. This transceiver will cost you $449.95.
9. Backcountry Access Tracker S
The stripped down version of the BCA Tracker 3, this transceiver is built for those on a budget. Don’t let the $299.95 price tag fool you. This Transceiver lacks no safety features. It boasts a 50 meter range with it’s triple antenna design. Signal Suppression and Big Picture Mode allow to find multiple victims efficiently. The digital display presents you with direction and distance. Lack of motion sensing auto revert and ability to upgrade is what makes this transceiver differ from the BCA Tracker 3 and therefore makes it cheaper.
Last, but not least, the Black Diamond Recon BT avalanche transceiver. Let’s get straight to the facts. This transceiver has a three antenna design giving you a 60 meter range. The flag option allows you to move from one victim to the next, locating them as fast as you can. Like the Black Diamond Guide BT, this transceiver allows you to connect your phone via bluetooth to manage settings and software updates. It is also compatible with the Pieps iProbe. Cost on this one is $339.95.
Why You Need An Avalanche Transceiver
You need an avalanche transceiver because it could save your life. That is enough of a reason right there. Not only could it save your life, it could save someone else’s. As we said at the beginning of this article, the mountains are never to be underestimated. The smallest slopes have slid. You may think a certain slope would never slide, but you would be surprised at some of the slopes that we have seen collapse. Snowmobiling is a dangerous sport and the people participating in the sport need to be aware of the risks and be prepared with the proper equipment.
Having the equipment is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Simply having an avalanche transceiver is not enough. It is a requirement that you know how to use it properly. Without the knowledge of how to use it, it is no good. We strongly recommend signing up for an avalanche safety course and broadening your knowledge on the topic. Doing so will only allow you to enjoy the sport more and stay safe doing so. It will also give you a whole new respect for mother nature!
The Avalanche Transceiver We Use
As stated earlier, we use the Pieps Pro BT avalanche transceiver. We chose this one because we trust the product and enjoy all the features it has to offer. We understand a lot of people don’t want to break the bank as gear is very expensive. You can’t put a value on your life though and that is what makes spending the money more than worth it. Find the transceiver you like, that you feel the safest with, that you trust and get it. Get equipped and learn how to use it before it is too late.
Related: 5 Mountain Riding Must Haves, Snowmobile Idaho