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Hands-on Gear Review
Price: Varies from $196 - $250 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros: Easy to use, Awesome price, has a flagging function for a sub $300 beacon
Cons: Limited Range, Bulkier and less comfortable than other bacons
Best Uses: Less experienced through Intermediate Backcountry skiing, backcountry snow boarding, snowmobiling.
The Arva Evo3+ is a basic, few frills, easy to understand beacon; that has more features than most other models in the $300 and under price range. The Evo3+ has one of the shorter maximum ranges among all of the products in our review but its processor speed and capabilities while following the signal and in the bracketing stage are solid and easy to understand. The Evo3+ also has one of the better multiple burial functions in its price range, though it will likely be slightly more confusing for less experienced users at first. The Evo3+ is bigger and bulkier than almost any other beacon and because of the "plug" used to turn the beacon on and off it is less convenient for folks who like to wear their beacon in a zippered pants pocket.
RELATED: Our complete review of avalanche beacons
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Arva Evo3+ had one of the shorter maximum ranges among beacons we tested. The Evo3+'s maximum range was around 40 meters, which is similar to the Ortovox Zoom+ and the orginal Backcountry Access Tracker DTS, but around 5 meters shorter than the newer Backcountry Access Tracker 2, or the Ortovox 3+, and a little more than 10 meters shorter than the new Pieps DSP Sport.
Ease of Finding a Single Victim
The Arva Evo3+'s simple and well labeled controls helped it to do well for our tests comparing Ease of finding a single victim. To switch to search simpley pull up on the tab at the top of the beacon which is labeled "search". To go back to send simply slide the toggle back into place. The Evo3+ preformed similarly to other options in its price range like the Ortovox Zoom+, but didn't do quite as well as the BCA Tracker 2 or the Pieps DSP Sport for speed.
During our side-by-side comparison tests during the last five meters, and the bracketing stage of the search we thought the Arva Evo3+ scored rather average. The Evo3+ processor speed, was solid, but wasn't anything too special and we thought it was in the middle of the pack. The Evo3+ uses five directional arrows to help the rescuer stay on the flux line. At two meters the arrows disappear to help the rescuer start bracketing soon.
Ease of Use in Multiple Burials
The primary differences between the older Arva Evo and the newer Evo3+ are the functions and displays during multiple burial situations. The older Arva Evo would just let the user know there were multiple beacons whereas the new Evo3+ lets the user know if there are one, two or more than two additional units buried. Also the newer Evo3+ has a dedicated flag/mark button to mask a buried beacon whereas the older Evo had a toggle on the top.
The Evo3+ starts off differently than most other products for multiple burial situations. Instead of just taking the rescuer to he closest victim it bounces back and forth with each "pulse" of the flux line and displays the distance and directional arrow for each buried beacon. Once you follow one flux line for a while the other signal goes around and the double pulse distance and direction stop. The flag/marking feature works well and not that it should be a deal breaker but it only works for up to three beacons.
Comfort to Wear
The Arva Evo3+ is a little bulkier and comes with a less comfortable harness system when compared to most other models we tested. Its not that the Evo3+ harness system was "uncomfortable", but it wasn't as nice as most other harness systems on the market. The Arva Evo3+ is one of the bigger models and because the "plug" that turns it on is integrated into the harness it is less comfortable and less convenient for folks who like to wear their beacon in their zippered pants pocket.
The Evo3+ is one of only a handful of options that is available in more than one color, its available in either orange or red.
At $290 the Arva Evo3+ is one of the best priced options in our review. We think the Evo3+ is far better in every way to the Pieps Freeride which checks in at $170 and the Evo3+ is very comparable to the similarly priced ($300) Ortotovx Zoom+ but was far better in multiple burial situations. Compared to the Pieps DSP Sport ($275), the Evo3+ has shorter range, but had similar processing speed and a very comparable multiple burial function.
Best Application and the Bottom Line
The Evo3+ is an excellent product for the less experienced, through intermediate users who want an easy to use beacon (something important during the stress of an avalanche rescue) that won't break the bank. The Evo3+ is also a great beacon for folks who are honest with themselves and realize they might not practice as much as they should and will benefit form the easy to understand interface of the Evo3+. More advanced or experienced backcountry users might wish this beacon had longer range, a faster processor and a more advanced marking function.
— Ian Nicholson
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 5, 2014
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