Mammut Barryvox Review
Cons: Not as user friendly in the bracketing stage as other models, sometimes tells user to keep the orientation earlier than we would like during the fine search
Bottom line: A great all-around and very capable beacon that works well for the majority of users.
Number of Antennae: 3
Manufacturer's Range: 70 meters
The new Mammut Barryvox is the updated version of the older Mammut Barryvox Element, and after extensive testing, we must say our entire testing team is very pleased with all of the new upgrades over the older version. This new version has better multiple burial capabilities, is far quicker in the fine search than its predecessor (its most significant improvement), and offers superior range. The Barryvox is often thought of as a more "basic" version of the Barryvox S. While this is true, it is a little bit of an unfair comparison as the Barryvox S is easily one of the most capable beacons ever and the more basic Barryvox is still much more capable than many other standard/mid-level beacons.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Mammut Barryvox is a beacon that even an inexperienced user can operate. It has great features and speed, and even most advanced users and some pros will be delighted with it.
The maximum effective range of this beacon is 70 meters, and it has a Search strip width of 70 meters. While range isn't everything and having a larger search strip width only helps you some of the time, it is nice not to have to zig-zag as far or as much with this beacon as with others. Overall, the Barryvox has one of the longest maximum ranges and largest search strip widths of any beacon in our review. In fact, the only model that features better range is the Mammut Barryvox S, which has the same 70-meter range in digital mode (which is what most people are going to use), but can be extended to 95 meters in analog mode.
Ease of Use and Controls
The Barryvox requires two hands to power-on the beacon. Because you need two hands to turn this beacon into search-mode as well, you are not able to do it by mistake, but you need only one hand to turn it back to Send mode. Besides the top switch that powers the beacon on and changes between Search and Send mode, there is also has an orange "flag" button used for selecting items on the menu or marking a buried beacon.
It's worth noting that one of the key external differences between this model and the more advanced Mammut Barryvox S is that this model does not have the up and down buttons located on the side of the Barryvox S. This is because the Barryvox doesn't have the in-depth menu or features that require scrolling buttons to navigate.
Ease of Finding a Single Victim and Speed
The Barryvox has one of the faster processors on the market, and it shows at each phase of the search but particularly shines under 10 meters and during the bracketing stage of the fine search. This is where we truly found it to be an improvement over the older Element version. When you turn this beacon to search mode, it displays a graphic with the rough zig-zagging pattern that you should be using during the signal search (while searching for the signal).
Once this beacon obtains the signal, it gives you one of seven possible directional arrows. These were easy to follow, but we didn't like them as well as other models below 5 meters. For example, we had better luck coming right onto our low point without having to traverse sideways with the Barryvox S, BCA Tracker2, or BCA Tracker 3. We did really like the audible tones that this beacon utilized to help its user better stay on the buried beacon's flux-line and during the fine search while bracketing.
Ease of Use in Fine Search
Under 10 meters this beacon was quicker than average, but overall, less experienced users didn't find the bracketing to be as intuitive nor as easy as other models like the BCA Tracker2, BCA Tracker3 or the Pieps DSP Pro. As you come in on your final approach during the bracketing stage, the Barryvox has a feature that when you get lined up with the buried beacon it gives a straight-line display to let its user know that you should keep the beacon in the same orientation and proceed with the fine search/bracketing stage.
This worked well, but you had to be particularly careful not to move too quickly (especially below 5 meters), or we commonly found ourselves slightly off to the side on our initial pass of the beacon. This straight-line display would even sometimes appear earlier than expected and at distances even more significant than three meters, making it harder to come directly in on the buried beacon. This wasn't too detrimental as we would keep bracketing and would eventually end up with a more square box located directly over the beacon, but it took more time if we moved too quickly during that final approach.
Ease of Use in Multiple Burial Situations
The Barryvox flags beacons in multiple burial situations similar to other high-to-mid level beacons, like the Arva Neo and Pieps DSP Sport. We found that this beacon did not have a hard time marking a burial when only two beacons were buried nearby and rarely had a hard time with three. Unlike several top models, like the Barryvox S, Ortovox S1+, or the Arva Axio, it cannot go back or unmarked a flagged beacon. We don't think this is a big deal in the slightest for real-world use as this would take many unique sets of circumstances to come up that all have very low probabilities, but in ski guides exams and other professional level beacon drills, it can be helpful.
There aren't a lot of extra features this model, though we did like the ones described below.
Revert to Send Mode
This model features a Revert to Send mode. There is an internal motion sensor, and if a rescuer does not move for 4 minutes, this beacon assumes a secondary avalanche may have hit the rescuer and the device automatically switches back to Send mode. It is hard to not move during a rescue, and we never had a problem with it auto-reverting back to send before us wanting to change it. If we set this beacon down, after 4 minutes, it gives out a very loud audible tone letting its users know that it is about to go back into Send mode. To stop it from going back to Send mode all you have to do is press any button or move the beacon.
Group Check Mode
This beacon has an excellent signal lock, and we recommend using the Group Check mode for function checks before leaving the trailhead. When you turn the Barryvox on you, have roughly three seconds to press the orange flag button to switch the beacon into Group Check mode. This is prompted by easy-to-understand text on the screen presenting the user with this option.
If the option is selected, it shows two people icons, one on either side of the screen, and "1m" is displayed letting you know the beacon is ready to start the Group Check. Once the beacon gets close enough, it shows the word GO, produces progressively louder audible tones and fills one of the skier icons in the dark letting you know that your partner's beacon is properly sending. We liked this model's group check function but its worth noting that it doesn't like to get closer than around 30cm before it starts angrily beeping at you.
The Barryvox was one of the easier beacons to use. Once you power it on you, have a few seconds to decide whether you want to run the beacon in Group Check mode before it transitions to a self-check and then Send mode. At this point, the beacon displays the battery life and gives an audible tone and displays an okay.
Comfort to Carry
The Barryvox is slightly lower profile than the older Element, though it feels even smaller than it might seem because this newer model has a thinner design. It's more comfortable when worn inside zippered pants, especially when compared to its predecessor.
Barryvox S versus the Barryvox
The Barryvox is essentially the more fundamental and utilitarian version of the fully-loaded Barryvox S. Its worth noting that not everyone will benefit from the Barryvox S, and while the Barryvox is "simpler" that's not necessarily a bad thing. The two models share similar search, flagging, and group check functions, but nothing more.
The Barryvox S did have more intuitive arrows to follow, and the more basic Barryvox has no extensive menu to choose from nor up-down buttons on the side to scroll through menus and options. This model is great for novices, beginners, and advanced users. The S is, of course, an option for any user, but has many advanced features that AIARE Level 1 will likely not teach.
The Barryvox is a great all-around mid-level beacon. It is a little more expensive than other beacons marketed as "mid-level" but still offers more features and functions than more-basic models like the BCA Tracker2 or the Pieps DSP Sport. Some of these features that various other beacons don't have include a group-check mode, revert-to-send mode, and one of the best marking/flagging functions in its price range. Though for a majority of level 1 students we still observed people bracketing faster with the Tracker2 than this beacon, this model is far more capable overall.
At $350, the Barryvox is on the more expensive side of the more "basic" beacons. The Barryvox does offer better range, an above average speed processor and more features than other options costing $200-$375. Compared with the Zoom+ ($300) or the BCA Tracker2 ($300), this model has a longer range and a vastly superior multiple burial function. The Barryvox does compare closely with the Pieps DSP Pro model, a "professional" level product which offers more functions in multiple burial situations and a marginally faster processor, but less range and a bulkier housing. The Arva Neo compares very closely in most situations to the Barryvox and is the same price.
This is a solid all-around beacon that proved above average in multiple burial situations with top-tear signal lock and marking functions. It is certainly above average for ease of use but wasn't among the absolute easiest during the fine search (bracketing stage). This beacon is easy enough to use for beginners but capable enough for most pros without much compromise.
— Ian Nicholson
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