Avalanche rescue equipment, including probes, shovels, and airbag backpacks, can last a long time with proper maintenance and care. While avalanche transceivers can also remain functional for decades, antenna technology has been improving drastically over recent years, with cutting-edge tech speeding up the rate at which transceivers become obsolete. In fact, anyone using an avy beacon that's more than five to eight years old is doing herself and her backcountry partners a disservice.
When it comes to technological evolutions, beacons are a lot like cell phones—just like you wouldn't use a cell phone from the 1990s, you shouldn't be using a beacon from more than a decade ago, either. And just like earlier generations of the iPhone, dual-antenna avalanche transceivers might not be entirely obsolete, but when there are so many technology upgrades to a device that can be a determinant factor in life or death situations, wouldn’t you at the very least want your partners to use the avalanche transceiver equivalent of a modern smartphone? Shouldn’t your partners expect that of your beacon, too?
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According to the Canadian Avalanche Association, “dual antenna digital transceivers aren’t obsolete, but they’re dated. The current crop of three antenna digital transceivers supersedes them and provides clear advantages over previous generations.” For certain avalanche courses, the C.A.A. will “accept modern dual-antenna transceivers [but] we strongly recommend students to have 3-antenna devices.”
“Friends don’t let friends carry vintage beacons,” says Tom Mason, ORTOVOX brand manager, in a press release from the company. “Outdated safety equipment is a liability not only to you, but to those around you.”
ORTOVOX wants to help get all backcountry users up-to-date when it comes to transceiver technology, which is why they are in their third year of running a beacon retirement program. By bringing any single- or dual-antenna avalanche transceiver to a participating ORTOVOX dealer, customers can get a $75 credit towards a new ORTOVOX 3+ digital beacon with Smart Antenna Technology. If you don't live near an ORTOVOX dealer, an exchange can be made by calling the closest shop and making shipping arrangements.
While the ORTOVOX 3+ avalanche transceiver retails at $339—or $264 with trade-in credit—this is a small price to pay considering the beacon's many advantages, including technologies to shave valuable time in rescue scenarios. You owe it to partners—and they owe it to you—to make sure you are using up-to-date technology in the backcountry, and you can operate the device efficiently and accurately.
The program is scheduled to end on May 1, 2019, so get going on upgrading your beacon.