Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Easy to use, + feature, good price.
Cons: Range isn't as good as some others, Slow under five meters.
Best Uses: Back country skiing, back country snow boarding, snowmobiling.
The Ortovox 3+ is one of the least expensive three-antennae avalanche beacons and the former winner of our Best Buy award. The new Best Buy winner is the Backcountry Access Tracker 2, which is faster and more intuitive to use. The Ortovox 3+ processor was much slower than our Editors' Choice, the Mammut Pulse Barryvox, or the Pieps DSP Tour, but also didn't "bracket" quite as well and struggled under five meters compared with the Tracker 2.
While the 3+ did not score as high as the Ortovox S1, it is easier to use. Therefor, for more casual backcountry adventurers who are honest with themselves and are not going to practice as much as they should, we recommend the 3+ (You do still need to practice).
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This beacon is among the simplest and easiest to use. This is great for novice backcountry travelers. But under the stress of an avalanche rescue, even experienced backcountry travelers will appreciate its simplicity.
The 3+ is among the best with multiple burials and its flagging system is very intuitive and easy to use. It handles signal spikes well and the triple antenna eliminates the shadow box phenomenon.
This is one of the lighter beacons we tested. While weight is not one of the most critical elements, it is a nice bonus.
It has great accuracy in fine search mode while bracketing your victim before you get out your probe. Often our testers hit the practice victims on the first try with their probe.
Battery life is solid and the device and is very similar to all the other beacons we tested and it only requires one battery. When you power it up, it tells you how much battery life is left.
After 120 seconds of no movement, the beacon switches from search to transmit in case you get buried in a follow-up slide.
The 3+ has a unique feature where, if buried by a slide, it is able to sense which direction is the sky and then transmit from the antennae that will give the searchers the best chance of finding it. That compares with most beacons that have multiple antennae but only send from one antenna no matter what and only use the others for searching.
Not that this is a big deal, but the 3+ one of the few beacons to give buyers a color option.
The range is toward the lower end of the spectrum of beacons and the lowest of the three-antennae beacons we tested. Ortovox recommends 40-meter search strips while most other beacons we tested recommend 50 meters. Ten meters is not that big a difference, but we have seen tests that show that many of the beacons like the S1+ receive even past 60 meters. So if you are primarily focused on range, there are other beacons that give you a lot more.
The 3+ is not the most comfortable to wear. It moved around on our testers more than other beacons. That said, it is very light.
— Ian Nicholson and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 3, 2013
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