[updated August 2013]
An amazing array of avalanche beacons are available for ski touring. To cut the bull just shop the ones we recommend (marked with a ‘WS’ in the chart). Note that every beacon on the market still requires practice to be used to full potential. In our opinion, range, size and ease of use are the three most important beacon features. Durability and water resistance are also factors, but most beacons don’t appear to address those much more than what’s required by the European CE standard. If you’re new to beacon shopping you might be confused by all the “multiple burial marking masking” functions. Our advice is to simply ignore the multiple burial stuff while you’re shopping. After you have your beacon, do some practice sessions and learn how to use the multiple functions — and ski one-at-a-time through backcountry avalanche hazard zones so you never have to use it.
Avalanche Beacon Reviews & Shopping Chart
|ARVA Evo3+||$279||MR, WS!||Web||Manual||Shop|
|Arva Neo||$350||MR, WS!||Web||Manual||Shop|
|ARVA 3 Axes||$399||MR||discontinued|
|BCA Tracker DTS||$290||IL, DA||Web||Manual||Shop|
|BCA Tracker 2||$335||IL, WS!||Web||Manual||Shop|
|Barryvox Opto 3000||$300||IL||discontinued|
|Barryvox Element||$350||MR, WS!||Web||Manual||Shop|
|Ortovox 3+||$349||MR, WS!||Web||Manual||Shop|
|Ortovox F1 Focus||$199||SA, NR||Web||Shop|
|O Patroller Digi / D3||$249||IL||Web||Manual||Shop||Ortovox Zoom||$250||IL||Web||Manual||Fall 2012|
|Pieps DSP||$450||MR||Web||(defunct link to manual removed 2015)||Shop|
|Pieps DSP Advanced||$550||MR||Manual||discontinued|
|Pieps DSP Tour||$350||MR, WS!||Web||Manual||Shop|
|Pieps Freeride||$200||SA, NR||Web||Manual||Shop for avalanche beacons.“>Shop|
NR = Not Recommended for the typical backcountry recreationalist.
WS! = WildSnow.com recommended all-rounder beacon, e.g., what your one choice would be within each brand when asked by the non-skiing partner of a new backcountry or an old one looking to upgrade, with enough money to buy a modern design at retail, but without knowing anything more about the skier.
All beacons have three antennas unless otherwise noted.