Im going to start out by telling you I work at a touring and powder specific ski store in nelson b.c. so Im always learning about this kind of stuff first hand.
**DO NOT BUY USED!! beacon signals will start to lose potency after about three years and will send mixed emotions, and when your life depends on it, that's the last thing you want.
**MAKE sure you buy a 3 antenna beacon, research the beacon or ask the staff thats helping you at the store.
It depends what your friends use, you see company beacons work best with their sisters or brothers, mammut with mammut, tracker with tracker, ortovox with ortovox etc. if most of your friends have a tracker, get one for yourself aswell.
Know how to use it right away! If you're more familiar with analog, go analog, reason 1. cheaper. big reason. They say a digital beacon can read up to 50 feet(15.24m) far, I would drop 10 feet off of what they say just for safety, most people do this. You can test this by standing standing from 60' apart and switching from send to tranceive with a friend while walking closer (obviously while switching on one end at tranceive the other on send). With an analog they say up to abou 70', so 60' trusting feet, thats twenty more! the reason its this way is because an analog beacon will find the reading of frequencies and convert them to sound, simple. a digital will have to process it try to pinpoint and then give you a reading of where he/she is. It's allot more work and needs a much stronger signal to do so. http://www.fsavalanche.com/encyclopedia/avalanche_transceiver.htm
these are all 3 antenna'd beacons.
Mammut: Mammut makes a beacon made mostly for guides but it is called the Pulse barryvox. This is the most intelligent beacon made. It has ability to switch from analog or digital. If your friend carries the same it can read eachothers heartbeats per minute or what ever it is. Also this beacon will walk you through it to a degree, ex; when you are in a certain close radius it will tell you to slow search. great beacon.
Element also by mammut is a similar beacon only with less features for a lower price. No pulse reading nor switching from digital to analog and looses many other features. But! Both beacons have flagging which is a tool that allows the beacon to ignore a signal that you've already found and begin searching for another without getting confused.
Tracker: is a great company very easy to use. as well as mammut the tracker two and the all new to next season tracker 3 (I will be getting this beacon next season), have flagging but with the tracker three. It is the very first beacon to not just ignore but completely shut off anothers signal for their device (meaning much more effective and trusting). trackers are most commonly used beaons.
These are my two favorites thats why I post them, Do research to find more about other beacons.
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