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The triple-antenna Tour is operated by a single button. In search mode, DSP (which stands for Digital Signal Processor) separates the signals of multiple buried beacons. In transmit mode, it automatically detects other transmitters and syncopates its signal to avoid overlaps in multiple-burial scenarios. This spring, Pieps is releasing the Vector ($599), the first four-antenna, GPS-supported unit on the market. [$350; pieps.com]
The Element has all the “basic” functions available on the more advanced, dual-platform Pulse (see sidebar), including a handy group test and a mark function that blocks located beacons. The large LCD display is easy to read and understand, and the software is upgradable, which means you don’t have to buy a new unit every few years to keep up with improving technology.
The triple-antenna Tracker 2 switches from transmit to search mode when you pull the large tab at the base of the unit. In search mode, five LEDs indicate direction and a digital screen shows the distance, in meters, to a buried victim. In a multiple-burial scenario, the Tracker 2 isolates the strongest signal within 10 meters, but the lack of a mark function means you can’t block the transmission signal of a located victim. [$335; backcountryaccess.com]
Arva’s “clip for safety” feature means that as soon as you snap the harness around your body, the beacon is on and transmitting. In search mode, the triple-antenna unit eliminates the signal spikes and nulls you can get with single-antenna devices. The digital display provides distance, direction, and sound indicators and tells you if you have one, two, or three-plus burials. A mark button lets you block out found victims. [$279; arva-equipment.com]
In search mode, the 3+ displays directional arrows and distance (in meters) to a buried victim. In send mode, the “intelligent position recognition” system automatically senses the beacon’s orientation and switches transmission to the optimal antenna. Slightly more advanced, the new S1+ ($450, not pictured) has a larger antenna and receiving range, and displays multiple burials relative to the rescuer. [$350; ortovox.com]
Mammut Pulse Barryvox
This three-antenna, dual-platform beacon is a digital/analog hybrid that can be programmed for basic or advanced users. Features in the advanced user platform include a vital-data display that indicates the number, relative distances, approximate locations, and survivability ratings of multiple burials. It also comes with W-Link technology, which allows searching beacons to communicate with and share info—such as located victims—with other W-Link compatible beacons. [$490; mammut.ch]
The Link is Arva’s W-Link-compatible option. Like the Pulse, it has simple and advanced modes (with personal programming options), a marking function for multiple burials, digital/analog processing, and a new motion detector that protects a searcher in the event of a secondary slide: If there is no movement for more than four minutes, the unit automatically switches into transmit mode. [$449; arva-equipment.com]