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Black Diamond Recon LT Review

Don't be fooled by this beacon's small size; it's packed full of features and easily matches the performance of any full-sized model
Black Diamond Recon LT
Credit: Black Diamond
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $350 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Fast processor, precise bracketing, compact size, good multiple burial functionality, Bluetooth capability, grippy exterior
Cons:  Stiff on/off toggle is hard to use with gloves, less battery life than some models
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 8, 2022
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Speed - 20% 8.0
  • Single Victim Search - 20% 9.0
  • Fine Search - 20% 9.0
  • Range - 15% 8.0
  • Multiple Burials - 15% 8.0
  • Features - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

Despite the Black Diamond Recon LT's light weight and slim profile, we don't feel anything was sacrificed from a performance perspective. Those concerned that this is an oversimplified "compact" beacon shouldn't worry. We found it to offer very good performance at every stage of the search, and it includes a number of features and a level of functionality that will satisfy all but the most demanding pros. This is an ideal choice for smaller users or for folks who like to carry their beacon in their pocket.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$340 List$360 List
$299.97 at Evo
$326.65 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$261.06 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Fast processor, precise bracketing, compact size, good multiple burial functionality, Bluetooth capability, grippy exteriorEasy to use, Bluetooth compatible, good range, fast processor, great multiple burial and flagging functionalityGreat performance and features for the price, cool analog feature, very good at multiple burials, intuitive design, ultra long range, fast processor, super featuredVery fast processor, crushes in the fine search, easy to use, light and compact (great for beacon-in-pocket users), low-stress soundsLightning fast processor, top-tier bracketing performance in the fine search, effectively differentiates between close proximity burials, low profile designs, easy to use interface
Cons Stiff on/off toggle is hard to use with gloves, less battery life than some modelsBulky for a pocket, slider toggle is stiff, harness tether is somewhat shortBulky, 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 signalMediocre range, flagging/marking feature works, no option to update software
Bottom Line Don't be fooled by this beacon's small size; it's packed full of features and easily matches the performance of any full-sized modelOne of the better basic beacons on the market, especially for the priceThis ultra-capable beacon packs in a ton of features and great performance at an awesome priceTakes previous Tracker's top-notch ease-of-use, speed, and intuitiveness, and adds a marking function and a low-profile designAn capable, easy-to-use beacon with a lightning-fast processor
Rating Categories Black Diamond Recon LT Pieps Powder BT Arva Neo Pro Backcountry Access... Backcountry Access...
Speed (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Single Victim Search (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Fine Search (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
10.0
Range (15%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
Multiple Burials (15%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Features (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Black Diamond Recon LT Pieps Powder BT Arva Neo Pro Backcountry Access... Backcountry Access...
Weight 158 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
Flagging Feature? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery Life (in "Send") 200 hours 200 hours 250 hours 250 hours 250 hours
Digital/Analog Digital Digital Both Digital Digital

Our Analysis and Test Results

The full-featured Black Diamond Recon LT is essentially a slimmed-down version of the Black Diamond Recon BT. Black Diamond has made several upgrades to the user interface while maintaining its top-tier searching performance characteristics. In our testing, it offered very solid performance at every stage of the search, and despite its small size, Black Diamond managed to squeeze in the majority of the features that most backcountry travelers are looking for.

Performance Comparison


Black Diamond Recon LT avalanche beacon - don't let the small size fool you. this super capable beacon...
Don't let the small size fool you. This super capable beacon features precise bracketing, a fast processor, and it's one of the better options for tracking multiple burials.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Speed


Like the rest of Black Diamond's fleet, this model's processor is fast, even in the fine search, and was notably faster than a majority of models we tested. We found this especially easy to observe both in the fine search where many other beacons tend to "hiccup" or require the user to stop moving.


Ease of Finding a Single Victim


Despite its small stature, this beacon proved among the quickest and easiest at finding a single victim. In fact, while looking for a single buried beacon, we saw no noticeable difference between this model and its two larger cousins, the Black Diamond Recon BT or the Guide BT. We found this to be true in the hands of relative novices, people who have just taken an AIARE 1 or have just a couple of years of backcountry experience, and professional ski guides.


The controls are very intuitive, just release the slider lock and turn the (very tight) switch on the top between OFF, SEARCH and SEND. While in SEARCH mode, the sounds and display were very intuitive and user-friendly, even if the testers were using the beacon for the very first time. In our side-by-side testing, this model consistently scored in the upper third in all of our single and multiple burial scenarios.

Black Diamond Recon LT avalanche beacon - the recon lt is one of the better performers at locating a single...
The Recon LT is one of the better performers at locating a single beacon. With a long range, a fast processor, and precise bracketing, this is a solid all-around beacon.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Ease of Use in Fine Search


This model features five directional arrows which can be displayed two at a time to help assist its user to more efficiently stay on the flux line. Its arrows disappear at two meters, which generally leads to more accurate bracketing for less experienced users than models whose arrows disappear at three meters. Overall this model's brackets (or box) were notably smaller than average when we were directly comparing beacons searching for the same buried transceiver, and it was overall one of the best-performing models in the fine search.


Range


Black Diamond claims a 50m "circular range" on this beacon. In our testing, we found that to be pretty accurate. However, we didn't find that "circular range" to prove much more effective at locating a distant beacon than other beacons with similar ranges.


This model's range was shorter than the slightly more fully-featured models.

Black Diamond Recon LT avalanche beacon - the recon lt uses up to three small "buried person" icons on the...
The Recon LT uses up to three small "buried person" icons on the bottom of the screen to display how many signals it sees. Press the "flag" button, and a square appears around the buried person icon, indicating that the mark/flag has been used on that signal.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Ease of Use in Multiple Burials


The Recon LT uses three small "buried person" icons on the bottom of the screen to display how many signals it sees. When you press the "flag" button (the sole button on the front face of the beacon), it puts a square around the buried person icon to indicate that the mark/flag has been activated on that signal. The Recon LT can display up to three of these icons and then will display a "plus" symbol to let its user know its sees more than 3 signals.


Overall the Recon LT's signal lock was in the middle of the road. In our testing, we were still able to micro strip search 4 beacons in a 30x30m area without flagging any of them (exclusively micro strip searching) in 9 minutes. While initially trying to cause the Recon LT's flagging feature to fail or misfire, we felt that it could handle 2 beacons well and 3 beacons respectably, but struggled with 4 beacons, in that there was much single overlap. All in all, we found the Recon LT's multiple burial performance among the best out there with only "professionally focused" models performing better.

Black Diamond Recon LT avalanche beacon - the recon lt, while small, still has the majority of features that...
The Recon LT, while small, still has the majority of features that most backcountry travelers are looking for. It also has the ability to update software and configure settings via Bluetooth connection to your smartphone using the Black Diamond app.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Features


Bluetooth

The Recon LT uses Bluetooth to connect via Black Diamond's JetForce app on your phone, and this is the basis for most of the Recon LT's features. The Bluetooth connectivity allows the user to update software and configure many of the settings and options on the beacon.


Comfort to Carry


This is one of the smaller, slimmer beacons in our review and thus was among the most comfortable to carry. This model's two larger cousins are among the chunkiest-feeling among models we tested, whether in our pockets or their included harnesses.

Black Diamond Recon LT avalanche beacon - showing the svelte dimensions of this model along with its...
Showing the svelte dimensions of this model along with its ON-OFF-SEARCH controls. The toggle to move between these functions is quite stiff and hard to do with thick gloves on, but this could be a positive quality since you don't want it switching modes if you are caught in an avalanche.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

All of our testers found this model's flexible, low profile, perforated harness comfortable regardless of body size, and smaller users (especially those shorter than 5'6") found this beacon significantly less cumbersome to wear in a zippered pant pocket over its larger cousins.

Black Diamond Recon LT avalanche beacon - the black diamond recon lt is a svelte beacon, but it's more than...
The Black Diamond Recon LT is a svelte beacon, but it's more than just its compact size that appeals to us. With a fast processor, top-notch bracketing in the fine search, and excellent multiple burial performance, this beacon will satisfy the majority of backcountry users' needs.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Should You Buy the Black Diamond Recon LT?


Though it's marketed as a lighter and more compact beacon, we still found the Recon LT incredibly capable and perfectly suitable for all-around use. While not quite a true "professional level" beacon and not as advanced as some models, it offers many excellent features that will satisfy the needs of most backcountry recreationists.

What Other Avalanche Beacons Should You Consider?


If you're an industry professional who needs a top-quality and fully featured beacon, we recommend the Pieps Pro BT or Mammut Barryvox S. However, most folks simply will not utilize all the features those models and would be better served by something like the more affordable and more intuitive Backcountry Access Tracker4 or Tracker S.

Ian Nicholson
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