Transceivers: Arva & BCA
Avalanche transceivers are undisputedly some of the most important protective equipment on the market. While they're a no brainer for anyone heading into the backcountry, it’s even common for resorts to require them in order to ski certain areas or even to load certain lifts. Here at the club fields of New Zealand, it's commonplace for us to ski with a transceiver. With so many skiers still heading out with their decade+ old transceiver, it’s important to revisit this topic and see what the frontline offering is today.
While many people commonly spring for the cheapest models so they can pour extra money into flash skis, the latest goggles, or other hobbies, you should know what your trade off is. Your transceiver will go everywhere with you in the mountains for many years to come. Having one that fits your personal needs and user ability well is paramount. While some users need more features and capabilities, they may make things more difficult for less experienced users in high stress situations.
So what’s wrong using a dated transceiver? While nothing may be inherently “wrong” and it maye still perform the way it was meant to, things have evolved and progressed over time. These are just a few of the major points of difference:
Antennas – all transceivers we stock have three antennas, up from one or two in the past. While this has been the standard for a while now, it’s still important to note. This means a better range while taking more directions into account. Searching is faster than ever and the path to the victim is more clear cut.
Digital Interface – transceivers that search using a digital system are typically easier to use and read. While analog style transceivers still have a great range (often better than digital), they can be more difficult to use in high-stress situations. While some high-end transceivers still have the option to switch to analog, digital is usually the primary option for the average user.
Multiple Burial Indicators – while statistics show that avalanches involving multiple burials are relatively low on the scale of things, they do happen. Most new transceivers have the ability to mark victims once the signal is located so that the searcher can move on to locating other victims while other members of the search party dig the located victims out. These systems aren’t fool proof, but when used right they can make all the difference.
Software – the hardware isn’t the only thing that has moved forward. Software has made consistent jumps to smooth out any wrinkles that happen along the way. Like any other high end electronics, many transceivers have the ability to update software as new versions roll out. This means that your device stays at the front of the pack.
Beyond changes in the capabilities of these neccessary safety devices, they are also suceptible to wear and tear just like any other electronics. Antennas can get damaged in falls and there can be other issues with the software and processing over time. Because of this, it's also important to know where your transceiver has been. It's similar to the implications of skiing with a helmet that's a decade old or even a used one from someone else. It may appear fine, but inside the ability to work as designed and protect can be greatly reduced.
What's on our shelf?
We carry a selection of transceivers from Arva and BCA. Over the recent years, Arva has been incredibly progressive with their offerings. Their options have great features for the price and the software works very well. BCA has been a frontrunner in the snow safety equipment game for over two decades. Each of their models has been ground breaking and remained sought after options many years after their release. Make sure to check out our snow safety packs as well for a great deal on a transceiver, shovel, and probe.
The Evo4 has been around for years and for the price, you won't get better. This option is great for people getting started in the backcountry or those on a budget. The interface is simple and efficient, it's a great choice for users who may not need all the extras. It may be the cheapest on our shelf, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's low quality.
3 Antennas | Digital Signal | 40m Search Bandwidth | Auto Check | Group Check | Multiple Victim Indication: 3+ | Clip for Safe
The Evo5 made waves instantly once it was announced. It’s comes in an incredibly small package and the functions are equivalent to many higher priced transceivers. This device suits an incredibly broad range of users. It’s got everything most backcountry enthusiasts need and it’s very simple to use. With it's slim profile this transceiver is designed to go in a dedicated pocket and then secured to the waist band, but if you don't have a dedicated pocket a harness can be purchased separately.
3 Antennas | Digital Signal | 50m Search Bandwidth | Auto Test | Group Check | Multiple Victim Indication: 3+ | Automatic Revert to Transmit | Interface Management | U-Turn Alarm | Updateable Software
The Neo+ is our go to for industry professionals and dedicated ski enthusiast that are looking for top of the line functions and features. With a 70 meter search band, a switch back to transmit sensor, group check, an interference management system, and much more, you can rest assured that you’ve got everything you’ll ever need right at your fingertips. The holster is also specially designed to be able to be used while the device is in search mode, protecting the switch from sliding back into transmit mode.
3 Antennas | Digital Signal | 70m Search Bandwidth | Auto Check | Group Check | Multiple Victim Indication: 4+ | Switch Back to Transmission Sensor | Interface Management | U-Turn Alarm | Updateable Software | Holster Included
BCA Tracker S
The Tracker S is the latest addition to the renowned Tracker series from BCA. It packs in all the great performance and ease of use that the Tracker 3 brought forward, without the motion sensing and updateable software that are often only used by industry professionals. This results in lower cost option that’s still incredibly powerful.
3 Antennas | Digital Signal | 50m Search Bandwidth | LED Display | Multiple Burial Indicator | Close Proximity Indicator | Mute Mode | Auto Revert Mode | Big Picture Mode | Signal Suppression Mode | Includes Harness
BCA Tracker 3
The Tracker 3 isn’t new to the game, but it’s still looked at as one of the best options on the market. It’s functions are as easy to use as some of the most basic options out there, but the features place it as a top tier offering. Users love the small body with the large, easy to read display. Big Picture mode offered a new take on multiple burial situations, jumping from victim to victim so you can get an idea of where everyone is roughly located.
3 Antennas | Digital Signal | 50m Search Bandwidth | LED Display | Multiple Burial Indicator | Close Proximity Indicator | Mute Mode | Auto Revert Mode | Big Picture Mode | Signal Suppression Mode | Motion Sensing Auto Revert | Updatable Software | Includes Harness
Did we miss something?
While we've stocked the wall with our favorite options, feel free to reach out about other options from these or other brands. With an offering that's always growing, it's not always easy finding the best option for yourself. Feel free to hit us up, we're always more than happy to chat about what's out there and what's going to fit your needs best.