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
|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
This graph summarizes 236 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 Vector, and Ortovox Zoom). The other models were tested extensively. 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 here.
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.
Knowing the appropriate search strip width
for your transceiver 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 search.
You can click on the transceiver names (or bars) in
the following graph to read more about that avalanche beacon.
Dual Mode Beacons
The Barryvox 3000,
Ortovox X1, and
start in analog mode and then automatically switch to digital
Barryvox 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
direction arrow 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 analog-only search mode.
Search Strip Widths
Learn about search strip widths.