ARVA Evo5 Review
Cons: Takes practice in the bracketing stage of the search, beacon stays on if you don't hit the flag button when you turn it off
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|Pros||Easy to use interface, low profile design, excellent multiple burial design and features||Easy to use, Bluetooth compatible, good range, fast processor, great multiple burial and flagging functionality||Great performance and features for the price, cool analog feature, very good at multiple burials, intuitive design, ultra long range, fast processor, super featured||Very fast processor, crushes in the fine search, easy to use, light and compact (great for beacon-in-pocket users), low-stress sounds||Lightning fast processor, top-tier bracketing performance in the fine search, effectively differentiates between close proximity burials, low profile designs, easy to use interface|
|Cons||Takes practice in the bracketing stage of the search, beacon stays on if you don't hit the flag button when you turn it off||Bulky for a pocket, slider toggle is stiff, harness tether is somewhat short||Bulky, bracketing takes more patience, tones are ear-piercing, old school plastic housing looks "cheap"||Display screen is so/so, multiple burial function un-flag the last marked beacon after 1 min, can only mark one signal||Mediocre range, flagging/marking feature works, no option to update software|
|Bottom Line||An intuitive beacon with a great price||One of the better basic beacons on the market, especially for the price||This ultra-capable beacon packs in a ton of features and great performance at an awesome price||Takes previous Tracker's top-notch ease-of-use, speed, and intuitiveness, and adds a marking function and a low-profile design||An capable, easy-to-use beacon with a lightning-fast processor|
|Rating Categories||ARVA Evo5||Pieps Powder BT||Arva Neo Pro||Backcountry Access...||Backcountry Access...|
|Single Victim Search (20%)|
|Fine Search (20%)|
|Multiple Burials (15%)|
|Specs||ARVA Evo5||Pieps Powder BT||Arva Neo Pro||Backcountry Access...||Backcountry Access...|
|Weight||160 g / 5.6 oz||225 g / 7.9 oz||246 g / 8.6 oz||215 g / 7.6 oz||165 g / 5.8 oz|
|Number of Antennae||3||3||3||3||3|
|Manufacturer's Range||50 meters||60 meters||70 meters||50 meters||55 meters|
|Battery Life (in "Send")||250 hours||200 hours||250 hours||250 hours||250 hours|
Our Analysis and Test Results
One of the better-priced triple antenna beacons on the market, the Evo5 is an easy-to-use beacon that is one of the lowest profile models on the market. We appreciated how easy the Evo5's interface was; one of its drawbacks was it took a little more practice to dial in the fine search and bracketing portion of the search (search and bracketing under four meters).
Arva reports a 50meter range/search strip width. However, during our repeated testing, we did not pick up a signal that far away. Instead, our findings with the signal acquisition were more like 45-48 meters away — never once did we hit 50 meters. While there are models with longer ranges, we didn't find the maximum played nearly any role in speeding up overall rescue times; this is because most people are taught to use a 40 meter search strip in their avalanche courses. While some beacons have slightly wider search strip widths, most people simply play it safe (which is a good thing) and stick with 40 meters.
Ease of Finding a Single Victim and Speed
Moving the Evo5 from Send to Search is super easy; you just press the button at the top of the slider bar and pull it down from Search to Send. Once our testers acquired a signal, the Evo5 did an excellent job through the "coarse search" and kept us on the flux line very efficiently, thanks to its audible tones and directional arrows. Further than 10 meters from the victim, and we never felt like we truly had to slow down with this beacon.
One feature that can help newer users is the "turn around" icon that becomes illuminated when the rescuer has gone too far. While it should be evident when the numbers are getting bigger, panic or lack of practice could lead people to travel in the wrong direction. If traveling in the wrong direction for more than five meters, the turn-around notification flashes in the lower right corner of the screen.
Ease of Use in Fine Search
Once we were 10 meters away and we moved the beacon to the surface of the snow (as you should with all beacons), the Evo5's directional arrows and changing audible tones continued to be intuitive and easy to follow. During the final stage of our beacon search, both moving into and starting to bracket portions of the search, we had to be slightly more thoughtful and move slightly slower than with the fastest models in our review. As the Evo5's directional arrows disappear at three meters — instead of the previously listed beacons two meters — we had to make sure that we were moving between three and five meters with care. All of our testers noted that compared to some in our review, it took more effort to come in directly over the buried signal.
When multiple signals are being picked up, the Evo5 has multiple burial victim icons displayed on the bottom of the screen with 1, 2, or 3 people-like icons — there is an additional + if it is picking up more than three burials. Once you wish to flag/mark/suppress the signal of the closest beacon, simply press the button down. It will display OK and then give you the distance to the next closest beacon; a small Flag next to the person icon (at the bottom of the screen) will let you know it happened. We found this model flagging function was reliable and could flag beacons, even with a decent amount of overlap reliable from three meters away.
Similar to the BCA Tracker S and the BCA Tracker3, the Evo5 is easy to jump between signals when in multiple burial situations. This makes it better for concentric circle and micro strip-searching techniques, but it means you need to pay closer attention if you happen to have two people very close together (sub two meters).
The Evo5 features a "group check" mode to assist the user; this allows them to efficiently facilitate a function check — something that should be done with any beacon every time you head out into the backcountry.
To access this function, simply wait until after the beacon has displayed battery life; the only thing it starts displaying is a flashing group check. To activate this mode, hold down the "flag" button while in group check. In this mode, the beacon's max range is three meters and gives distance numbers and audible sounds to let you know it is picking each person up.
The Evo5 is one of the better-priced beacons on the market. While it was a contender for our high value award, it lost out to the Backcountry Access Tracker S, which was just a little faster, consistently offered better precision in the bracketing stage, and was a little cheaper. The Evo5 did have its advantages — it offered slightly better range and an easier-to-use flagging/marking function, especially if there were more than two signals.
The Arva Evo5 is an intuitive, simple-to-use beacon. We liked the flagging/marking function, and it comes in at a strong price point. It lost out on the award to the BCA Tracker S, which didn't have as easy to understand multiple burials or as good of a range. It was also faster and consistently more precise in the bracketing stage. It remains a solid, well-rounded beacon that will perform well for beginners and seasoned backcountry travelers.
— Ian Nicholson
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