Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $390 - $490 | Compare prices at 8 resellers
Pros: Lots of user options, easy to use with gloves on.
Cons: Expensive, fast processing but not the fastest.
Best Uses: Back country skiing, back country snow boarding, snowmobiling.
This is our Editors' Choice winner because it got us to victims the fastest. In multiple burial situations, the Pulse was much faster than the Tracker 2 and just barely edged out the Pieps. The Pieps preformed very comperably to the Pulse but the Pulse has more options for the advanced user, such as more control over the specific features. The Pulse also starts in analog mode to increase range during the "single search" (i.e. looking for the signal). The other top performer was the Pieps DSP, which is $40 less expensive than the Pulse.
If nearly $500 seems like out of your price range consider the Pieps DSP Tour or the Mammut Element Barryvox both are nearly as good but $150 less.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The name "Pulse" comes from the fact that if both the searcher and victim have the Barryvox Pulse, the beacon can sense if the victim is still alive. This feature is nice and distinctive. However, it is only really useful if all your backcountry partners have the Pulse. This feature has sparked some debate in the community (take it or leave it) but there are a lot of other reasons to choose the Pulse other than the "pulse" feature. Some large heli-ski operations outfit their guides and guests with the Pulse to help in decision making.
If you are heading in the wrong direction, the arrow indicator will point toward you to indicate you need need to turn around. With most other beacons, the arrow will keep pointed in the wrong direction and it is up to you to read the distance number and figure out you are going the wrong way. Along with the S1+ the pulse had our favorite directional arrow. Instead of having 3 to 5 directional arrow lights, the pulse has an arrow that spins 360 degrees to help the user stay on the flux line.
The Pulse has a ton of options. You can set many different profiles and keep the beacon in analog mode for longer or short distances while searching. Or in the event that your beacon is on very low power, it can search entirely in analog mode. Very few other beacons offer this possibility. This can be confusing for the novice but some experts will appreciate the versatility.
It deals with signal spikes well. It also deals with multiple burials well. It lets you mark the victim you are not looking for and come back to them later. If you are caught in a secondary avalanche, the Pulse will revert to transmit mode if there has not been motion for four or eight minutes (you choose).
The Pulse can be switched between digital and analog modes. It's cool for experienced users and professionals who have previously spent time learning how or using analog beacons and it allows the Pulse to have a huge range while it is in analog mode (this is a feature that most people will never use).
The Pulse is one of the smallest and lightest of the three-antennae beacons.
We also liked how easy the Pulse was to use with bulky gloves and mittens.
The number of options this beacon gives you can be overwhelming.
With so many options, processing speed feels a little slower than Pieps (but it is still relatively fast). In side-by-side testing with multiple burials we felt that the Pieps DSP could stay on the flux line while moving slightly faster than the Pulse, which would give us the "Stop" sign, its signal to slow down.
— Chris McNamara and Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 3, 2013
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