Black Diamond Recon LT Review
Compare to Similar Products
Black Diamond Recon LT
|Price||$350 List||$350 List|
$349.95 at Amazon
|$340 List||$350 List||$300 List|
$296.95 at Amazon
|Pros||Fast processor, precise bracketing, compact size, good multiple burial functionality, Bluetooth capability, grippy exterior||Very fast processor, crushes in the fine search, easy to use, light and compact (great for beacon-in-pocket users), low-stress sounds||Easy to use, Bluetooth compatible, good range, fast processor, great multiple burial and flagging functionality||Easy-to-use, configured with Bluetooth and an app, good range, fast processor, great multiple burial and flagging functionality||Fast processor, top-tier bracketing performance in the fine search, effectively differentiates between close proximity burials, low profile design, easy to use interface|
|Cons||Stiff on/off toggle is hard to use with gloves, less battery life than some models||Display screen is so/so, multiple burial function un-flags the last marked beacon after 60 seconds, can only mark one signal||Bulky for a pocket, slider toggle is stiff, harness tether is somewhat short||A little on the chunky side for pant pocket beacon wearers, slider toggle is stiff||Mediocre range, flagging/marking feature disengages after 60 seconds, 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 model||This takes the previous Tracker's top-notch ease-of-use, speed, and intuitiveness, and adds a marking function and a low-profile design||One of the better basic beacons on the market, especially for the price||This beacon will suit most recreational backcountry travelers well, from beginner to advanced||A capable, easy-to-use beacon with a lightning-fast processor and a low-profile design|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Recon LT||Backcountry Access...||Pieps Powder BT||Black Diamond Recon BT||Backcountry Access...|
|Single Victim Search (20%)|
|Fine Search (20%)|
|Multiple Burials (15%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Recon LT||Backcountry Access...||Pieps Powder BT||Black Diamond Recon BT||Backcountry Access...|
|Weight||158 g / 5.6 oz||215 g / 7.6 oz||225 g / 7.9 oz||225 g / 7.9 oz||165 g / 5.8 oz|
|Number of Antennae||3||3||3||3||3|
|Manufacturer's Range||50 meters||50 - 55 meters||60 meters||60 meters||50 - 55 meters|
|Battery Life (in "Send")||200 hours||250 hours||200 hours||200 hours||250 hours|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More