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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.