Pieps Company Bought by Black Diamond

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 24, 2012      

Exciting to hear that Black Diamond is buying the Pieps company. According to BD’s top man Peter Metcalf:

“Why Pieps? Simply because they are a global market leader in snow safety and electronics with significant opportunity in the year round GPS/Personal Locator market. As macro trends supporting mobile technology in the backcountry intersect with Black Diamond’s experience in building life-dependent products the result is an improved and safer shared experience for consumers.”

“This reputation continues to be earned with the recent introduction of the PIEPS Vector in 2011. The Vector is the first device to use four antennae, integrate GPS tracking and use rechargeable Lithium Ion Batteries for higher performance and reliability in cold temperatures.”

“PIEPS has significant upside opportunity in North America and in parts Europe. The ability of integrating multiple electronic technologies is evident in their new Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and Vector transceiver, and the complete line of snow safety equipment, shovels, probes, and packs nicely complements the Black Diamond brand.”

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10 Responses to “Pieps Company Bought by Black Diamond”

  1. d September 24th, 2012 9:12 pm

    1. I hope BD do something about P’s awful website. I want info, lots of it. Current website does not accommodate.

    2. Any chance of a Wildsnow review of the Pieps Global Finder? Pieps sure kept that advancement in affordable two-way text comms via the Iridium Network a secret.

  2. Lou Dawson September 24th, 2012 9:41 pm

    D, we’re working on getting a Global Finder review going. We were having trouble with getting a long enough loaner unit to actually do a real review. Hopefully with the changes that won’t be an issue. Thanks for asking. Lou

  3. d September 25th, 2012 2:11 am

    Look forward to it, Lou.

    I can imagine that with this type of techy tech from outside the ski world, getting loaners is not so easy. Thanks for making the effort to get it done. I imagine it will be quite a task.

  4. Lou Dawson September 25th, 2012 5:56 am

    D, the loaner is easy, but they do it for short amounts of time. Not sure why, as it’s a fairly large company and they can sell the loaners after they get used and easily break even on them, or give them to sponsored athletes, and so forth. Probably just a budgeting issue. Or perhaps the PR people are wise to the fact that the two-day loan gets “editor’s choice,” while the two month loan might have some in-depth eval with criticism.

  5. See September 25th, 2012 9:41 am

    Unless there is some innovative integration of gps and beacon functions, I’m not sure I understand why combining the two is a great idea. Of course I thought the same thing about putting cameras in cell phones, but it seems to me that gps needs to be carried where it can get a good signal and is easily accessible, whereas a beacon should be securely strapped to the wearer (usually under layers of clothing) to keep it from getting separated in an avalanche.

  6. Lou Dawson September 25th, 2012 9:55 am

    See, I don’t recall the details but the GPS is indeed part of how the beacon functions in a recovery or rescue. GPS is an incredibly powerful technology that we’re starting to take for granted, but virtually anything that requires locating things can usually benefit from it in some way. My biggest problem with GPS isn’t how it’s integrated, but it’s the fact that there is a guy sitting by a switch that says on/off and he can flip it any time he wants.

    One improvement in GPS units coming along is they use a variety of sat systems from different countries. That way if for example ours got turned off, perhaps we’d still have the French system…

  7. See September 25th, 2012 6:48 pm

    If the Pieps could get a fix under any significant depth of snow and then send the location information to a searcher’s device, that would seem to me to be a major development; but given the problems my gps has getting a fix in canyons, under trees, in my pocket, etc. I’m skeptical.

    When I try to imagine scenarios in which the powers that be would switch off the whole system, I wonder if that wouldn’t be a good time to be lost in the backcountry anyway. But it’s that type of thing (or more likely me forgetting to bring fresh batteries) that makes me less eager to upgrade to a mapping gps. I like to use old fashioned paper map and compass (and altimeter) in combination with a small gps. If the earth’s magnetic field gets switched off, we’ve probably got bigger issues than navigation to worry about.

  8. Frank K September 25th, 2012 7:04 pm

    See, the Vector indeed has what I would consider a useful integration of GPS and the beacon search mode. As you are doing an initial search trying to get a signal, the GPS will show you on-screen where you have searched so you shouldn’t re-trace your steps. Granted, good technique produces the same results, but in the heat of an accident, it may still prove to be a solid addition to beacon technology.

  9. See September 26th, 2012 8:49 am

    Thanks, Frank K, for the explanation. Sounds like it could be a useful feature. Look forward to a review.

  10. Nick December 21st, 2012 10:12 am

    I use a pieps dps beacon and think highly of it, but would have to try the one with GPS to believe it’s an improvement. There is a lot to be said for simplicity in beacons. They tend to hypnotize people as it is.

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