Hands-on Gear Review

Compare avalanche beacon ratings side-by-side >

Backcountry Access Tracker DTS Review

   

Avalanche Beacons

  • Currently 3.4/5
Overall avg rating 3.4 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: April 18, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $180 - $240 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros:  Easy to use, good price.
Cons:  Shadowbox effect, low operating range, not ideal for multiple burials, only two antennae.
Best Uses:  Backcountry skiing and snowboarding, snowshowing, snowmobilers.
User Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (3/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Backcountry Access
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ December 31, 2012  
Overview
The Tracker DTS was the first digital avalanche beacon and is still the most popular beacon ever. However, it is no longer the best. The Tracker DTS remains the easiest to use two antennae model but it is not that much less expensive than the Backcountry Access Tracker 2, which performs better in every way. Even if you are on a budget, spend a little more money and get a three antennae beacon. The Tracker was a great beacon when it was first introduced and for some time afterward, but since the advent of triple antenna beacons with great ranges, more precise fine searching skills, and vastly superior and easier to use multiple burial abilities, it might be time to upgrade. Check out our complete Avalanche Beacon Review to see how it scored against other models.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge


OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
This is the easiest to use two antennae avalanche beacon. Just turn it on, hold down the big red button and it points you toward the buried person and counts down the units/meters to them. It is the ease of use that made it so popular, compared with manual dial down analog beacons with flashing lights and sound. We all like to think we can figure out how to use any gadget. But if you are only in the backcountry sporadically like most folks, chances are you are not always staying as current as you should on how to use your beacon. The reason this tracker is so popular is because it's so intuitive and doesn't take nearly as much training and practice to use effectively.
Click to enlarge
The original Backcountry Access (BCA) Tracker DTS avalanche beacon.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

This device can last a while, but check to see if any of the antenna are cracked (which the Tracker is more prone to than other beacons). You should strongly consider doing a range check at the start of each season and even during the middle of one.
Click to enlarge
Showing an BCA Tracker DTS avalanche beacon. The backside of the beacon has antennas that can be cracked if the beacon is mishandled or dropped.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Dislikes
It has one of the lowest operating ranges (30 meters). It also doesn't do well with two beacons very close to each other and does not work great with multiple burials in any situation. Users found it confusing during the fine search (under three meters) when you start slowing down and forming your brackets. While most beacons' directional arrow shuts off and the rescuer should focus on keeping their beacon in the same orientation and looking only at the distance numbers, with the Tracker you need to ignore them. It's a simple task but one more thing that you have to remember.
Click to enlarge
Showing the "SP" button the limits the range of single that the Tracker DTS can receive to aid in multiple burial situations.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

It does not deal with signal spikes well. In multiple burial situations it requires a lot of practice to perfect. It doesn't feature a flagging/marking system and instead it focuses the "viewing" range. It is also susceptible to the shadow box phenomenon if a victim's beacon ended up in a vertical orientation.

When you are at the edge of its range in coarse search, the Tracker DTS can send you away from the victim. At that point it is up to you to notice that you are getting farther away by reading the distance indicator. By comparison, the other high end models (S1 and Pulse) have ways to overcome this shortcoming.
In our side-by-side tests the DTS came up far behind most other beacons in this review

Trackers can be durable but they can easily get a cracked antenna. If the user doesn't do anything more than a basic function check they will not realize an antenna is cracked until they try to pinpoint their victim. On the Tracker even a short drop onto a firm surface can damage them. In AIARE Level 1's we even teach a check that is mainly designed to look for broken or cracked antennae on Trackers.
Click to enlarge
Comparing the older BCA Tracker DTS and the newer Tracker 2.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Other Versions
The Backcountry Access Tracker 2 was awarded as a Top Pick and the Backcountry Access Tracker 3 rated highly for the advanced beacon user.

Chris McNamara and Ian Nicholson

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

Where to Buy?


Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 18, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 25%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Apr 18, 2014 - 10:51am
WML · Climber · Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
Dependable, ease of use, good battery life, and not overly bulky - what more could you possibly want from an avalanche beacon? The BCA Tracker DTS is a stellar piece of equipment that has served me well on many ski tours when I lived near Tahoe, and even in the precarious Mojave snowpack down here in Southern Nevada. The BCA Tracker DTS serves the most important part of any piece of gear: you forget you even have it with you due to lack of hassle until you need it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jul 5, 2012 - 07:35pm
Tfish · Climber · La Crescenta, CA
Really basic and easy to use. Im not super into BC, but do try and get out a lot. Basicly the best beacon is the one you know how to use, so since this thing is really simple, I'm really comfortable with it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Apr 24, 2010 - 06:33am
powderrush · Climber · Back of My Truck, CA
This device has given me the confidence to explore the mountains with an ease of mind that if I'm buried or if I need to find someone I'm more than prepared. I have had my tracker for over 8 years now and it's still chugging along. I do a beginning of season and end of season check where my buddies and I will bury our beacons in various locations throughout a snowfield and we're off the races. Those of us with the Tracker DTS seem to always find the beacons faster. I love the digital display, the device is very intuitive to use, it allows for multi-person rescues, and if you're buried while searching it switches from receiving to a transmitting mode so you can be found. I'm sure these are all common features on most devices now but they have been invaluable to me in my snowy ventures. The battery life is great, I still always keep an extra battery or two duct taped on but I've yet to need them.
All in all I think it's a simple, very effective, thus far bombproof Avalanche tracker and I can't recommend it enough

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the Backcountry Access Tracker DTS?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Tracker DTS
Tracker DTS
Credit: backcountryaccess.com
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Backcountry $179.96  -  23% off!
Amazon $234.00  -  2% off!
REI $239.95
Compare prices at 7 sellers >

*Help support OutdoorGearLab. If you click on one of the seller links and make a purchase, a portion of the sale helps support this site
Related Best-in-Class Review
The Best Avalanche Beacon Review

The Best Avalanche Beacon Review

What is the best avalanche beacon for the backcountry? To find out we took seven of the top models and put them in rigorous head-to-head tests in the Cascades, Sierra, and Alaska.
Helpful Buying Tips
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Related Gear Reviews
Other Gear by Backcountry Access