The Top Three Best Avalanche Beacons for Backcountry Safety

women kneeling in the snow using a beacon

Your avalanche beacon is one of the most important pieces of gear you need while in the backcountry wilderness, along with a shovel and probe. Our buying guide will walk you through the different features of the top avalanche beacons on the market for 2023. All beacons featured here are 3 antenna.

Avalanche beacons are a critical safety tool in avalanche terrain. Like any tool, they are only effective if you know how to use them. Read your beacon’s manual thoroughly and learn how to use it before you head out. We highly recommend taking an avalanche education course as well. Make sure you have the necessary safety gear – beacon, shovel, probe (airbag packs are now highly recommended too) – and are educated on the many hazards of winter travel in the backcountry before you hit the trails.

Ortovox Diract Voice

#1 Ortovox Diract Voice

Introducing the world's first avalanche transceiver with integrated voice navigation! Clear, simple spoken instructions tell you what to do in every phase of your search and keep things calm when your partner’s survival is of the utmost importance

The Diract Voice is equipped with Smart Antenna Technology, which analyzes the device’s location in the avalanche and automatically switches to the best transmitting antenna to help you be found faster. Secondary avalanche protection automatically switches from search-and-standby mode to transmit mode to guarantee the searcher full protection.

It also has a Recco reflector to help searchers find you. The Ortovox Diract Voice has a rechargeable, low-temperature, battery that is especially long-lasting and environmentally friendly. It has a clear, illuminated display and intuitive acoustics to guide you to your victims. You can get automatic updates via the free Ortovox app (Apple iOS & Android)

Price – $450
Range – 40 meters
Weight – 210 grams
Power – Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery

Multi Burial Flagging

Use the flag button to hide a signal during a multi-burial event. Once that signal is hidden, the Diract will locate the next closest signal and begin directing you towards it.

Self Test and Partner Check

A self-test is performed every time you power on the Diract Voice. The beacon tests its transmitter, receiver, smart antenna, and sensors. To check your partner’s beacons, turn the Diract Voice into search mode and turn it on. Hold down the flagging button until PC appears. One at a time, you can test each beacon within a 1 m range. If your partner’s beacon is fully functional, EO will be displayed on the screen.

Smart Antenna Technology

This unique feature of the Diract and Diract Voice will ensure that you send out the strongest possible signal regardless of your orientation in the snow if you are buried. It determines your position and chooses the best transmission antenna accordingly.

Auto Switch to Send

If you are caught in a secondary avalanche while searching for a buried victim, this beacon will automatically switch from search mode to send mode. A motion sensor will detect inactivity, and after two minutes the Diract will give a 10-second warning tone and then switch from search mode to transmit mode.


product image of mammut barryvox beacon

#2 Mammut Barryvox 

The Barryvox ranks high on the list of our top picks for its processor speed, features, and ease of use. It has a clear, 2 inch depolarized display to help visually guide you to the victim. If you’d rather keep your eyes on the snow, it has loud acoustic search guidance. It has a battery life of 300 hours in send mode and updatable software.

Price – $385
Range – 70 meters
Weight – 210 grams
Power – 3 x AAA alkaline batteries

Auto Revert from search to send

In the event of a secondary slide, this beacon will revert to send mode so you can be found. After 4 minutes of inactivity, detected by an internal motion sensor, the Barryvox will assume that a secondary avalanche has occurred and will switch from search mode to send mode.

Multi burial marking

In the event of a multi burial, you can use the flagging button to mark a beacon signal as found. This beacon will then ignore that buried subject and move on to the next closest beacon signal.

Self and group test

This beacon performs a self-test on startup and has a handy group test feature that you can use at the trailhead to check your partners’ beacons. When you turn the beacon on, you’ll press the flag button to bring up the group test screen. When you get close to your partner’s beacon, the skier icon will darken and say go, indicating that your partner’s beacon is sending properly.

Additional Features

  • Visual interface shows distance, direction and number of buried subject
  • Smart search interacts with rescuer’s actions
  • Buried subjects can be selected from a list, mark and un-mark
  • Auto guidance guides the rescuer to the buried subject in the event of signal failures or overlaps
  • Vital data from a 3D sensor
  • Advanced, configurable search settings including pro search, acoustic and visual guidance, Auto Revert
  • Alternative search mode (analog mode)
  • Personalize the start screen and texts
  • Uses W-Link for additional communication and improved search performance
product image of black diamond recon x beacon

#3 Black Diamond Recon X

The Recon X avalanche beacon is outfitted with all the features needed for fast, accurate searches in the event of a slide, including Bluetooth connection, which allows you to manage settings and software updates from your smartphone. With a 60-meter circular range, and three antennas for pinpoint search accuracy, the Recon X is streamlined, making it perfect for everyday backcountry travelers. The included harness-style carrying pouch is lightweight, comfortable and provides streamlined storage and fast removal for beacon practice and emergency response.

Price – $350
Range – 60 meters
Weight – 225 grams
Power – 3 x AAA alkaline or lithium batteries

Scan and mark for multiple burials

Using the flag button, you can mark (and un-mark) a beacon signal. This tells your beacon to ignore that signal and locate the next closest victim in a multi-burial situation. There are two scan modes, regular and detailed. The regular scan feature gives you an overview of the number of buried victims within a distance range. The detailed scan mode directs you to each buried victim and allows signal selection.

Auto Antenna Switch

If any external interference impacting the transmitting antenna is detected, the beacon will automatically switch to transmit from the other antenna to send the best signal possible.

Bluetooth capabilities

You can manage the Recon X directly through the Pieps mobile app via Bluetooth connection. You can manage settings, update software, enable certain features, and optimize battery from your smartphone. There are also tons of avalanche education training tools on the Pieps mobile app. *There is a risk of this beacon not transmitting when in Bluetooth mode, so make sure to disable Bluetooth before heading out into the field.

Auto Search to Send

This feature can be enabled through the Pieps App device manager. Once enabled, if there is a secondary slide this beacon will switch from search to send after a specified amount of time of inactivity (60s, 90s, or 120s).

Self and group checks

A self check on start up ensures all antennas are functioning properly. A regular and extended group check can be performed with the Guide BT. Extended group check is recommended for checking older beacons.


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