Avalanche transceiver- Avalanche beacon test 2013 by Franz T. UIAGM guide

Which avalanche transceiver is the best for my usage?

ALL OFF PISTE recommends

Mammut Pulse Barryvox – For experts and people which are skiing several weeks off piste per year

Mammut Element Barryvox – For the classic user, one week per year off piste skiing .


Our conclusion for searching with an avalanche transceiver and digging out a person:

ALL OFF PISTE recommends to change to an 3 antenna avalanche transceiver. With the new beacons it is even for less trained skiers possible to help a buried skier in an avalanche. Of course, practice makes perfect and as more you get used to the avalanche transceiver as quicker you get ;-)

Important note: metal avalanche shovels are much better to dig in the snow. Plastic shovels are just cheap and thats the only advantage the have :-(

Our impression – the strenght and the weaknesses form the avalanche beacon

Arva Link

arva link lvs test

Many additional options (for example: you can pick a single buried person in a multi burial situation), low range in z-axis, the recommended search strip width form the producer ( 50 meters) is for sure way to big! The German Alpine Club recommends with this transceiver about 20 meters. Furthermore is the Arva Link in the fine search very slowly and the transceiver has to be moved super slowly! In a multi burial situation is after marking from a buried transceiver the range very limited.


Arva EVO3+

As with the Arva link is the range from the Arva Evo3+ little. Often lost signal and changing direction arrows in rough search. In fine search disappears the direction arrow very late as a result is the direction arrow inaccurate. In multi burial situation we recognized many fallings. Occasionally some of the buried avalanche transceiver where not even displayed :-(



Arva AXISArva axis

The beginner avalanche transceiver from Arva. For beginner way to much operating options which are no way intuitive.



Backcountry Access Tracker 2tracker 2

A substandard avalanche transceiver which is just two years on the market

No marking option and very little range in multi burial situation



Backcountry Access Tracker DTStracker dts

Also the second transceiver from back country access in not satisfying at all.

Low range and because of the just two antennas bad range in worst coupling position


Mammut Element Barryvox

mammut element

Easy menu very intuitive usage, very good rage and direction arrows. In multi burial situation the avalanche transceiver has sometimes problems to divide the signals. The multi burial marking option is still one of the best one’s in this avalanche transceiver test


Mammut Pulse Barryvox

Very good range, very well target-aimed. With marking from a buried avalanche beacon support by an analog tone to divide  the signals more easy. 360° direction arrow, transmitting from heart rate and many other amazing options. For me it is the best call for technique freaks, mountain guides, off piste experts and any other nerds ;-)


Pieps Dsppieps dsp

Very good in first signal searching. The burial marking option takes time and sometimes it neededs to press the button several times. The battery standard is very cranky and it is possible that the avalanche transceiver has variations form 40% per day. The buttons are filigree and easy to break. The holster from the DSP is just a nightmare!


Pieps dsp tourPieps DSP Tour

Basically the same transceiver than the Pieps DSP just with less operating options.


Pieps Freeridepieps freeride

Single antenna avalanche transceiver which fails in every aspect!!!!!!

The very cheap price should not animate you to buy the PIEPS Freeride


Ortovox S1+ortovox s1+

Automatic variation from the transmitting antenna, so that one antenna is always transmitting  horizontal. This system should achieve to receive the signal from the Ortovox S1+ earlier.

In rough search the Ortovox S1+ is losing quite often the Signal. Unfortunately no analog tone in multi burial to divide the signals better


Ortovox S1

Very little range, in search radius more than 25 meters very often lost signal. After marking is the range even more limited. By the way, avalanche transceiver like the Ortovox F1 or the Pieps Freeride are harder recognized by  searching transceiver. In praxis crashes the operating system very often. In this case turn of and turn on the device is the only help!


Ortovox 3+ortovox 3+

Also this avalanche beacon changes the transmitting antenna like the Ortovox S1+. Die Range is in the lower midfield of the here tested avalanche beacons. In rough search is the approach with the losing signals and the changing directions very difficult. This avalanche transceiver changes way to late in to fine search according to the display it is about 2 meters.In multi burial is the marking option insufficient and it makes the searcher walking in serpentine line.

Ortovox F1ortovox focus

15 years ago was the Ortovox F1 the best avalanche transceiver on the market. In this days it is old technology and a substandard avalanche beacon. The range varies depending on coupling position. In rough search this transceiver demands lots of practice because of the very strong and needed pivoting. A little trained person has no chance to handle even a single burial situation.


Ortovox Patroller digitalortovox patroler

Catastrophic range from 10 meters in worst cast coupling position. Rough search, fine search and multi burial are very difficlut to handle. In the fine search it is possible that the displayed number goes up and down for meters just by a little pivot from the transceiver . In rough search very often losing signal.


See here the explanations for the single avalanche transceiver searching parts and what was important in the avalanche transceiver test.


Signal search

The range from the avalanche transceiver is a very important part in picking up the first signal. In general we talk about the range from 3 axes.

Rough and fine search

This part of the transceiver searching starts with the receiving of the first signal and ends about 10 meters before the buried avalache transceiver.

  • How effective is the approach after receiving the first signal
  • How steady is the direction arrow on the avalanche transceiver display
  • How acourate is is the distance number on the dsiplay
  • Are inexplicable variations in the distance number
  • The information form the transceiver should give you visual and acoustic the same information
  • Displayed information stability by pivoting the avalanche beacon

Fine search

  • Correct displayed information in fine search
  • Annoying and misleading direction arrows
  • Processor speed while moving the avalanche transceiver for correct displayed distance
  • Are little pivots while fine searching affecting the displayed distance on the transceiver
  • Is the acoustics search option supporting your transceiver searching

From our experience we know that people are losing most of the time in the last part of the searching. In a to quick fine search is the loss of time enormous. Most of the searching people think that: the search is almost over, and lose the focus and the orientation in the last meters of the search. This shows the fact that people running in a circle and are all over the place


Multi burial situation

The multi burial situation is for sure the biggest challenge for the searcher and  the avalanche beacon.

Here we had a look if:

  • The transceiver is recognicing a multi burial situation
  • The transceiver gives information about how many people are buried and in which direction they are buried
  • If the beacon is able to recive after the marking the next avalanche transceiver


Important note:

  • Three antenna avalanche device are a “must have”.
  •  Just two percent of the avalanche accidents are multi burial situations.
  • Three antenna avalanche transceivers are the best one for searching.
  • Avalanche transceiver with just one antenna are for no audience recommendable



Avalanche transceiver – Test from swiss tv:

The swiss tv organized a very impressive avalanche transceiver test. They tested 40 students with out any previous knowledge. After 20 minutes of avalanche transceiver training the students had to do 3 avalanche beacons searching scenarios. In the test where just the cheapest avalanche transceiver on the market accept the Pieps freeride.

Following avalanche beacons where tested

  • Mammut Element
  • Ortovox 3+
  • Backcountry Access Tracker2
  • Arva Axis
  • Pieps DSP Tour


The PIEPS DSP tour, the Tracke DTS2 and the Arva Avis had the worst results in the test. With this transceivers just 23 out of 40 could handle the buried situation below twelve minutes. In five cases the students could not even find the second avalanche transceiver. The marking of the first found transceiver got always lost so the participant had to mark the first person again and again. A very bad positioning from some buttons on the Arva Axis had as a result that some of the markings got deactivated. In the most searching scenarios the first avalanche transceiver got quite quick found. Just with the Tracker DTS2 had the students big problems.

Winner of this avanche beacon test was the Mammut element.