Reviews You Can Rely On

Mammut Barryvox S Review

One of the most capable and highest performing beacons on the market
mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review
Credit: Mammut
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $550 List | $385.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Super fast processor, differentiates between beacons fantastically during multiple burials, best range in our review, best model for multiple and pro-level examinations
Cons:  Expensive, more complicated than other models, somewhat complicated for novice users
Manufacturer:   Mammut
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 8, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 14
  • Speed - 20% 8.0
  • Single Victim Search - 20% 8.0
  • Fine Search - 20% 8.0
  • Range - 15% 10.0
  • Multiple Burials - 15% 10.0
  • Features - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Mammut Barryvox S is one of the most capable beacons on the market, and it surpassed all other models we tested for multiple burial situations. It improves upon older models with more speed when moving closer than 10 meters, specifically while bracketing in the fine search. We'd compare the Barryvox S to a manual camera; it isn't as easy to use, but with a little bit of practice, it can do far more than your average point-and-shoot. The Barryvox S is one of our favorite picks for professionals and advanced users who will take advantage of the numerous special features and functions.

Compare to Similar Products

 
mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review
This Product
Mammut Barryvox S
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $385.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$399.89 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$339.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$360 List$254.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
87
88
85
84
83
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Super fast processor, differentiates between beacons fantastically during multiple burials, best range in our review, best model for multiple and pro-level examinationsEasy to use, many features, Bluetooth and smartphone app, good range, fast processor, best battery life in our review, excellent multiple burial and flagging featuresIntuitive to use, very fast processor, excels at fine search, consistently produced quick rescue times with 1-2 burials, comfortable to wear in a zippered pocketGreat performance and features for the price, cool analog feature, very good at multiple burials, intuitive design, ultra long range, fast processor, super featuredLightning fast processor, top-tier bracketing performance in the fine search, effectively differentiates between close proximity burials, low profile designs, easy to use interface
Cons Expensive, more complicated than other models, somewhat complicated for novice usersBattery life is only displayed in thirds and not a percentage, some force required to toggle switches, somewhat bulky to carry in a pocketTakes more practice to be proficient when searching for more than two signals, signal suppression "ends" after 60 secondsBulky, bracketing takes more patience, tones are ear-piercing, old school plastic housing looks "cheap"Mediocre range, flagging/marking feature works, no option to update software
Bottom Line One of the most capable and highest performing beacons on the marketThis easy-to-use beacon is one of the best models for advanced users and beginners alikeOne of the fastest, most intuitive, and easiest to use beacons on the marketThis ultra-capable beacon packs in a ton of features and great performance at an awesome priceAn capable, easy-to-use beacon with a lightning-fast processor
Rating Categories Mammut Barryvox S Black Diamond Guide BT Backcountry Access... Arva Neo Pro Backcountry Access...
Speed (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Single Victim Search (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Fine Search (20%)
8.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
10.0
Range (15%)
10.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Multiple Burials (15%)
10.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Features (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Mammut Barryvox S Black Diamond Guide BT Backcountry Access... Arva Neo Pro Backcountry Access...
Weight 210 g / 7.4 oz 210 g / 7.4 oz 215 g / 7.5 oz 246 g / 8.6 oz 165 g / 5.8 oz
Number of Antennae 3 3 3 3 3
Manufacturer's Range 70 - 95 meters 60 meters 55 meters 70 meters 55 meters
Flagging Feature? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery Life (in "Send") 300 hours 400 hours 250 hours 250 hours 250 hours
Digital/Analog Both Both Digital Both Digital

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mammut Barryvox S is one of the most capable and highest performing beacons on the market. Though it works well in the hands of a beginner, they would certainly be shelling out more money than necessary for added features they are unlikely to ever use. It also isn't quite as easy to bracket with as some other models. For more experienced users and industry professionals, this beacon is hard to beat in any category. It's fast at finding a single beacon, comfortable to carry, and the best model for complex, multiple burials. It's the beacon we'd choose to use for an AMGA and ACMG Ski Guide's Exam or other Avalanche Professional level rescue examinations.

Performance Comparison


mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - the barryvox s uses the most intuitive and easy-to-follow...
The Barryvox S uses the most intuitive and easy-to-follow directional arrows of any model in our review.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Speed


The Barryvox S has a fast processor speed, and our testers (all professionals in the avalanche safety industry) noticed how quick this beacon was, particularly under 10 meters, and during the bracketing stage of the fine search.


Ease of Finding a Single Victim


When you first turn it to search mode, it shows a very clear graphic displaying the pattern a rescuer should take during the single search. Once a signal is obtained, it gives you curved or straight directional arrows that are very precise and among the easiest to understand and follow of the beacons in our test fleet.


The arrows can be straight, show varying degrees of bending, and even show you a "U" if you've gone too far. These arrows are more similar to a modern car-mounted GPS, as opposed to other avalanche beacons which illuminate 1-2 arrows at a time out of five.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - the barryvox s is one of the few models that instructs the user to...
The Barryvox S is one of the few models that instructs the user to turn around if they have gone too far. It displays the "U" shaped arrow shown here when you have overshot your mark.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Ease of Use in Fine Search


This beacon is quite fast in the fine search, particularly during the bracketing stage, though it's not necessarily the easiest. This is most notably due to the directional arrows, which disappear at three meters instead of two meters. The Barryvox S was precise with its numbers and brackets, with the buried beacon consistently in the low point at the center of the box.


After extensive testing, we are thoroughly impressed with the speed of this beacon.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - below 2-3 meters (during the fine or bracketing stage of the search)...
Below 2-3 meters (during the fine or bracketing stage of the search) the Barryvox S's directional arrows go away (this is true with almost all beacons). Once the arrows disappear this beacon displays a straight dotted line to help remind the user to keep the beacon in the same orientation while bracketing (as seen in this photo). It also adds a little pivoting arrow to help you keep track in the event you've gone too far and ended up on one side of your victim during the bracketing stage.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Range


Range certainly isn't everything in a beacon, but this model blows the competition out of the water, and that is never a bad thing.


It had a 70-meter maximum range (and thus a 70-meter wide search strip width) in digital mode and up to a 95-meter range in analog mode. Even without the added meters in analog mode, this beacon still is in the top tier for range.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - while maximum range certainly isn't everything, we were still...
While maximum range certainly isn't everything, we were still impressed by how far away we could pick up another beacon. This beacon has the longest range in our review.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Ease of Use in Multiple Burial Situations


For complex burials and professional training and examinations, this beacon is pretty tough to beat.


The Barryvox S flags beacons in multiple burial situations, similar to other top models. It "blinds" one beacon's signal from the search (also commonly called flagging or marking). The Barryvox S got confused or misflagged burials less often than any model we tested. It also scored the best in simulated AMGA, ACMG or Professional level avalanche rescue scenarios, which all involved three or more burials in a 100m x 100m area, with at least two proximity burials where a beacon will have to deal with extensive signal overlap.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - for complex burials, the barryvox s is pretty tough to beat. it...
For complex burials, the Barryvox S is pretty tough to beat. It flags/marks beacons in multiple burial situations so if you have enough people power, your friends can keep digging while you move on to search for the next person.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

A useful feature rarely found in other beacons is the ability to go "back" and select a beacon the searcher might want to resume looking for in the event of a false strike or some other mistake.

The Barryvox has an excellent signal lock, which means it doesn't jump from one beacon to another in close proximity burials (which is a good thing), and its marking function proved the most reliable of any model we tested.

Features


The features category is where the Barryvox S is one of the most stacked option on the market.


The Barryvox S is "Lithium-enabled", meaning it's okay to use with lithium batteries (most beacons will give you inaccurate battery life with lithium batteries, and the manufacturers don't recommend it). The advantage of lithium batteries is less risk of leakage; they're more stable in low temperatures and have an extended battery life — 350 hours in send mode compared to 300 hours with standard alkaline batteries.

The Barryvox S uses a second "W-Link" frequency, which creates an additional communication channel for other information and options for managing the Barryvox S in fleets. There is also an Analog mode, which can be extremely helpful in more complex scenarios, most notably while micro-strip searching during close proximity burials.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - this beacon includes more features and various options within each...
This beacon includes more features and various options within each feature than any other model in our review. Some of these options include language, user ID, Search settings, audio guidance, visual guidance, and Revert to Send mode options.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Controls

The Barryvox S requires two hands to turn on. You must depress the orange button with the "lock" symbol at the top of the beacon, which in turn allows you to slide the other switch between Off, Send, and Search. This model also has two up buttons on the right side of the body that work as up and down controls for the menu, as well as an orange "flag" button used for selecting menu items or marking a buried beacon.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - the barryvox s requires two hands to power-on the beacon and to turn...
The Barryvox S requires two hands to power-on the beacon and to turn it to search mode. To power-on and to change to search mode you have to press the orange lock button with one hand and slide the toggle between search, send, and off. Mammut intentionally designed this beacon this way to prevent accidentally changing it. The beacon does not require two hands to go back from Search to Send modes.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

We liked the fact that it required two hands to turn it into Search mode (making it less likely to switch into the wrong mode if you are buried), but only one hand to turn it back to Send mode.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - the barryvox s features two buttons on the right side of the body...
The Barryvox S features two buttons on the right side of the body that allows the user to navigate the various menus. This is one of the most obvious features that the Barryvox S has that the more basic Barryvox doesn't have.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Interface

When you turn it on, it will ask you to do a group check. During this screen is the only time you have access to the settings. The icon to access the settings is located in the upper right-hand side of the screen. From here, you can select options regarding language, user ID, search settings (basic or pro), audio guidance (with Analog option), visual guidance, and Revert to Send mode options. These are all easy to navigate using the up-down buttons and using the flag button as a select, and overall the menu is pretty intuitive and easy to operate.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - when you turn this beacon on you briefly have access to this model's...
When you turn this beacon on you briefly have access to this model's settings, which are numerous. It was pretty easy to navigate through them using the up-down buttons.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Group Check Mode during the Function Check

The Barryvox S features a group check mode, which makes it easier to perform a function check before leaving the trailhead. Similar to other high-end models, this beacon has a very good signal lock, meaning it won't quickly jump to another beacon if its signal becomes marginally closer. This helps you focus on one beacon during close proximity burials. It will eventually jump to the close beacon if the new beacon comes progressively closer and the prior buried beacon moves further away for long enough. In a function check, this means waiting three to five seconds per person longer for the Barryvox to re-lock onto the new beacon if you aren't using the group check mode.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - the barryvox s has a very good signal lock (a good thing) so for...
The Barryvox S has a very good signal lock (a good thing) so for your daily function check, the group check mode is very helpful, particularly if you are going touring with more than one other person. Group check mode can be set to only pick up another signal at 1m or 5m. It will give you audible tones and darken the figure in the screen as seen in the photo to let you know that your beacon is effectively picking them up.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

We recommend using the Group Check mode during the function check if you're the one leading the group. It's easy to use; simply select Group Check when you turn on your beacon, using the orange Flag button. This displays a series of skier icons in a line across the screen. It won't pick up a person until they are one meter away (Group Check mode can also be set to five meters). When the person you are checking is within one meter, the Barryvox makes progressively louder tones, and the skier icon in the screen becomes filled in. Once they move away, the skier icon is no longer darkened, and the audible sounds go away. We liked the Group Check function on this beacon, but its worth noting that it doesn't like it if you get closer than around 15cm (it displays texts saying "Too Close").

Revert to Send

This beacon does have a Revert to Send mode, and like many other features on the Barryvox S, it can be fine-tuned to the user's preferences. It can be turned on or disabled, and when enabled, it can be set to activate after two or four minutes. It knows to revert to Send mode if it doesn't sense any motion for the pre-set amount of time. If you somehow find yourself not moving but directing traffic during a large scale rescue, before reverting to Send, the Barryvox S gives a loud beep sound to help alert the user to what is happening.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - like many beacons, this one also has a revert to send mode, however...
Like many beacons, this one also has a Revert to Send mode, however with this model you can fine tune it to some extent. It can be disabled altogether, and when enabled it can be set to activate after two or four minutes.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Comfort to Carry

The Barryvox S's harness system is above average for comfort and among the simplest and easiest to use. For users who like to carry their beacon in a zippered pants pocket, this model was low-profile enough to fit the bill, though it's certainly not the smallest beacon we tested.

Barryvox S vs. the Barryvox


The Barryvox S is essentially a fully-loaded upgrade from the more straightforward Barryvox, but not necessarily everyone will benefit from this upgrade. The more standard Barryvox has search, send, flagging and group check functions but nothing more. The Barryvox does not have a menu or up-down buttons. The Barryvox is perfect for everyone from novice users all the way to advanced users. The Barryvox S is probably overkill for beginners, as it has many advanced features that someone fresh off their AIARE Level 1 will not utilize. It is perfect for pros and more advanced users who will use this beacon's many capabilities.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - the more basic barryvox on the left (in grey) and the barryvox s on...
The more basic Barryvox on the left (in Grey) and the Barryvox S on the right (in black).
Credit: Ian Nicholson

This model is the manual camera of beacons — far more capable than a point-and-shoot, but also requiring a bit more practice to dial in and get the most out of. The Barryvox S is best for ski guides, ski patrollers, avalanche industry professionals or advanced users who will benefit from the vast feature set and exceptional performance. For folks who want a beacon that finds one beacon at a time exceptionally well, the Barryvox S works great, but you can buy a beacon that will be easier to use and cost a lot less money.

mammut barryvox s avalanche beacon review - this model was one of the best beacons at finding a single victim...
This model was one of the best beacons at finding a single victim, and its processor is quite fast. It also uses very intuitive curved directional arrows similar to a car-mounted GPS.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Should You Buy the Mammut Barryvox S?


If you are a high-end user, there are many reasons to buy a Barryvox S, and it performed high in every test metric. It has a long range and excels at multiple burials, an unlikely real-world situation but something guides and pros are frequently tested on, which makes this device popular among industry professionals. If you are a novice or only occasionally get into the backcountry, this model might be overkill, as well as overpriced, as it contains features you may never utilize.

What Other Avalanche Beacon Should You Consider?


This is a great model for pros and guides. We'd also point those folks towards the Black Diamond Guide BT, or for a more affordable model with many professionally geared features, check out the Arva Neo Pro. However, we think less experienced users could build their brackets faster and be better served by a Backcountry Access Tracker S or Black Diamond Recon BT.

Ian Nicholson
You Might Also Like

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