Element Avalanche Beacon from Barryvox Preview


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 12, 2011      
Avalanche Beacons

Avalanche Beacons

WildSnow Beacon Reviews Intro and Index

[January 2012 edit: This old post was a preview of the Element when first announced. For a full review of the beacon now that it is available on the market, please see this newer post.]

When the Pulse avalanche beacon first debuted from Mammut/Barryvox, I was highly impressed by its amazing technological tour de force set of features. But maybe a bit too impressed: A beacon with so many optional configurations, so much functionality, and even two different back-up modes probably wasn’t the beacon for everyone.

Barryvox largely addressed my concerns at the beginning of this past season with the “Basic” user profile configuration under the new 3.0 firmware. This to harness the Pulse’s capabilities in a more idiot-proof manner for the user who is, well, I’ll let you the dear reader complete that sentence as you wish!

But still, why pay the premium price if not taking full advantage of all the Pulse’s functionality? And since the Basic configuration always assigns identical functions to the left and right buttons, why have two buttons if intending to always use the Basic configuration?

One answer is that although some new users might feel more comfortable starting off initially with the Pulse’s Basic profile, the Pulse’s Advanced profile allows for additional features as a user’s experience and familiarity both increase.

Another answer is the subject of this avalanche beacon preview: The new Element model for the 2011-12 season. The Element is essentially a Pulse in Basic user profile configuration and with a single button on only one side of the housing. For the details on exactly how a Pulse operated in Basic configuration, no sense repeating my prior assessment. And the details I reviewed from Barryvox as to how the Element will differ from the Pulse in Basic configuration appear fairly minor (and most likely subject to change by the time of its Fall 2011 marketplace introduction).

The big difference is that the Element price point will be targeted exactly in the territory of the BCA Tracker 2 and the Ortovox 3+. As an economist I find this trend interesting, and as an avalanche safety instructor I find this trend very encouraging. For a few years, all the new beacon models — Pieps DSP, Ortovox S1, and Barryvox’s own Pulse — kept bumping up the price points. Yet now we have new three-antenna models that in inflation-adjusted terms are significantly less expensive than the less capable beacons of a decade ago.

Avalanche safety of course encompasses far (far, far) more than just beacon searching. But still, better beacons at lower prices = good!

Manual

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Element avalanche beacon.

WildSnow Beacon Reviews Intro and Index

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England, he works as a financial economics consultant.)

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)

Comments

3 Responses to “Element Avalanche Beacon from Barryvox Preview”

  1. mc January 12th, 2011 9:09 am

    Just about to pull the trigger on the 3+ and now this! 🙄

  2. Jonathan Shefftz January 12th, 2011 11:30 am

    The product cycle is so fast these days, and new products are announced so far in advance — certainly tempting to never buy anything new given that something even newer always seems to be right around the corner! (And indeed yet another ~$350 beacon model will be available next season…and then there’s all the new Dynafit gear for next season too.)

  3. jim January 12th, 2011 1:13 pm

    Just got 3+ in…no flutter problems. Seems like a clean design and interface, light. I like the multiple burial marking features.

    BCA just called and will send RME, post paid to update software in Tracker 2’s. They were very nice about it.

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