page discusses the range (distance) at which an avalanche transceiver
receives a signal. Remember that during the
signal search you can
slowly swing your beacon from side-to-side to increase the likelihood
that your antenna will line up with the transmitting beacon.
|Rescuers Testing Beacons
The following graph shows the distances at which the avalanche
beacons received a usable signal. The bars show the distance with
the transceivers aligned (i.e., the best orientation).
This graph summarizes 269 range tests (view
the testing details). I only tested one or two of some models
(e.g., the Barryvox 2000 Ext and Pro, ARVA 9000/3Axes/Evo3, Ortovox
Patroller, Ortovox D3, SOS, Pieps DSP Pro, Pieps DSP Sport, Pieps Vector, Tracker2, and Ortovox Zoom). The
other models were tested extensively. You'll see the Pieps Pro shows a slightly shorter range than the
older Pieps DSP, and the Tracker3 is slightly less than that Tracker2. That has more to do with sample
size and a reasonable margin of error than the reception range. Even with this large sample
of transceivers, differences of 5 meters or less are probably immaterial.
I also tested the range that avalanche transceivers can transmit
a signal. You can read those test results
A transceiver's range will vary significantly if the transmitting
beacon is not at the correct frequency
(a rare occurrence). It will also vary based on other factors such
antenna orientation and battery strength.
Remember that the transceivers with the longest reception range
are almost always single-antenna
analog. That means they report a signal at a long distance but do
not provide a directional
indicator that points toward the victim. As explained in the
test details, the analog distances
in the following chart were when an extremely faint (but undeniable)
audio signal was heard. You will not get these analog ranges
if there is any background noise. Likewise the digital ranges
are with the best-case antenna alignment and the transceivers were
given a long time (up to 10 seconds) to lock onto the signal.
Avoid the tunnel-vision trap of believing that transceiver range
is the only important criteria—it isn't. Range is certainly
important, but the difference won't matter if you fumble during
your search (possibly due to spikes) or
if you can't identify and locate
multiple burials. Using an appropriate search strip width
is more important that having a transceiver
with a long range. As explained on the discussion on
searching an avalanche, it is better
to spend a few extra minutes searching a narrower path during the
signal search than to
end up at the bottom of the slide and have to repeat the entire
You can click on the transceiver names (or bars) in the following
graph to read more about that avalanche beacon.
(Learn how to test
your avalanche transceiver.)
Dual Mode Beacons
Patroller start in analog mode and then automatically switch
to digital mode. The
3000, and Mammut Pulse
can be quickly switched between analog and digital mode. Older versions
of the Ortovox
S1 can be changed to analog via a menu option.
On beacons that support analog and digital modes, two distances
are shown in the above graph. The analog distance is labeled "(A)"
and the digital distance is labeled "(D)". You can see
that there is only a 10 meter difference between the analog and
digital range of the ARVA Advanced whereas the Ortovox Patroller
has a 55 meter difference (the Patroller had one of the best analog
ranges at 75 meters, yet in digital mode it didn't display a
until it was within 15 meters of the victim).
The Pulse has an "analog-only" search mode that significantly
increases its range. Unfortunately, this mode was not used when
measuring the Pulse's analog reception range as shown on the
range chart. Learn more about the
Search Strip Widths
Learn about search strip widths.