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Pieps Micro BT Review

One of the smallest triple antenna beacons, it scores near the top in every metric
Pieps Micro BT
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $390 List | $389.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Smallest triple antenna, excellent for pant carrying beacon wearers, fast processor, precise, decent multiple burial functionality
Cons:  Not quite as intuitive an interface as other models, slightly more expensive than average
Manufacturer:   Pieps
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 18, 2020
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Range - 15% 9
  • Speed - 20% 8
  • Single victim search - 20% 8
  • Fine search - 15% 9
  • Multiple Burials - 15% 9
  • Features - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Pieps Micro BT looks similar to the previous version but is a world apart when it comes to the user interface. The previous Micro was the first beacon to automatically switch from send to search when you pulled it out of its harness. The new Pieps Micro has one of the fastest processors and excellent precision during the bracketing stage. We love several features and design aspects, like its ability to differentiate two closely buried signals. We also appreciated the interface of its marker and the signal suppression feature, and it's one of the smallest triple antenna beacons on the market.

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Pros Smallest triple antenna, excellent for pant carrying beacon wearers, fast processor, precise, decent multiple burial functionalitySuper fast processor, differentiates between beacons fantastically during multiple burials, best range in this review, best model for multiple and pro-level examinationsEasy to use, many features, Bluetooth and smartphone based app, good range, fast processor, best battery life in our review, excellent multiple burial and flagging featuresVery fast processor, crushes in the fine search, easy to use, light and compact (great for beacon-in-pocket users), low stress soundsVery fast processor, excellent range, easy-to-use, comfortable to carry, top-notch multiple burial capabilities with excellent signal lock and marking/flagging functions
Cons Not quite as intuitive an interface as other models, slightly more expensive than averageExpensive, more complicated than other models, okay but not the best for newer or less practiced usersBattery life is only displayed in thirds and not a percentage, some force required to toggle switches, can be chunky feeling if carrying in a pant's pocketDisplay screen is just okay, multiple burial function un-suppresses the last marked beacon in only 1 min, leading to confusion and wasting time, can only mark one signalNot 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 highly capable, lightweight, triple antenna contenderPerfect for pros or advanced users, this model is one of the best performing products in every categoryA high-end beacon that is packed full of features, with an interface that is easy to use for the less experiencedA fantastic all-around model that combines ease of use in a smaller than average packageHas better range and superior multiple burial capabilities while still being fairly quick in the fine search
Rating Categories Pieps Micro BT Mammut Barryvox S Black Diamond Guide BT Backcountry Access Tracker3 Mammut Barryvox
Range (15%)
9
10
9
8
10
Speed (20%)
8
9
9
10
9
Single Victim Search (20%)
8
9
9
10
9
Fine Search (15%)
9
9
9
10
8
Multiple Burials (15%)
9
10
9
8
9
Features (15%)
6
10
10
8
7
Specs Pieps Micro BT Mammut Barryvox S Black Diamond... Backcountry Access... Mammut Barryvox
Weight 150g / 5.2 oz 210g / 7.4 oz 210 g / 7.4 oz 215g/ 7.6 oz 210g / 7.4 oz
Number of Antennae 3 3 3 3 3
Manufacturer's Range 40 meters 70 - 95 meters 60 meters 50 meters 70 meters
Flagging Feature? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery Life (send) 200 hours 300 hours 400 hours 250 hours 300 hours
Digital/Analogue Digital Both Both Digital Digital

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Pieps Micro BT is a small, lightweight, triple antenna beacon. Boasting one of the fastest processors in our review, as well as some of the best precision during the bracketing stage, this beacon is performance-focused. We did find that the interface on a handful of other beacons is marginally easier to use; for example, you have to hit the search button and then the flag button to start searching. However, this is not complicated, and the Micro BT is an excellent option.

Performance Comparison


A major update to this year helps make it one of our favorite...
A major update to this year helps make it one of our favorite overall beacons. BD/Pieps ditched the proximity sensor in favor of a manual search-to-send function that when coupled with its top-tier speed, accurate bracketing is one of our favorite all-around beacons. While there are still a few beacons that are easier to use, this one isn't hard and its review small size is something anyone can appreciate.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Range


The Micro BT has a recommended search strip width of 40 meters; we found it to have a longer maximum range than most other beacons with a similar recommend search strip.

Ease of Finding a Single Victim and Speed


The Micro proved to be one of the better models at finding a single beacon. It uses five primary directional arrows occasionally used in pairs to help better line its user up with the flux line. This is a very intuitive design, and both novice and experienced users found this beacon easy to find a single buried signal. It proved to have a speedier than average processor, and we could move as quickly with it as any other high-end beacon.

The Micro BT uses five directional arrows that can be used to help...
The Micro BT uses five directional arrows that can be used to help keep its user on the flux line. In our real-world tests, it was among the quickest to move faster, without causing the beacon to hiccup; something less experienced users, in particular, will appreciate.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

When you press the search button, you only have three seconds to press the flag button on the screen (this allows the beacon to start searching). The beacon vibrates during this transition and beeps at its user; we observed several people struggle while learning to use this beacon, and believe that as with any beacon, practice is necessary to maintain functionality, especially in a real-world rescue.

Ease of Use in Fine Search


The Micro is quicker in the fine search than the fastest in our fleet. Its directional arrows disappear at two meters, which is particularly useful with less experienced users, as it helps them end up closer to the buried beacon when beginning the bracketing stage of the fine search.

One of the most precise in the fine search while bracketing, we...
One of the most precise in the fine search while bracketing, we found this to be true with both more experienced users as well as true novices. The buried beacon was consistently in the middle of our boxes, regardless of user.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

One unique aspect of the Micro is we consistently found that it created a slightly more substantial set of brackets (i.e., a box in which the buried beacon is inside) during the fine search than most other models with an identical buried beacon. However, we still found this model to be one of the better and easier to use models to use during the final stage of the search.

Multiple Burials


This Pieps performed well in multiple burials situations.

This model proved very capable in complex multiple burial...
This model proved very capable in complex multiple burial situations, both with its ability to differentiate closely buried beacons and its easy-to-understand graphics on the bottom left side of the screen. In our example photo, this model is showing it sees three signals and has flagged one indicated by the box around the person icon.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

It micro-strip or concentric circle searches like a champion. It differentiates signals respectively well, but occasionally got confused with two closely buried beacons and would miss-mark or not mark marginally more often with three signals. We also loved the display in multiple burial mode, as it displayed the number of signals it was picking up (up to three, and a plus symbol for more than three). Then it displays a box around each person at the bottom of the screen to confirm it flagged/marked/suppressed the signal of a given beacon.

The only two buttons/switches on the Micro are a flag button above...
The only two buttons/switches on the Micro are a flag button above the screen and its on/off leaver. While this beacon doesn't have a lot of leavers and switches, it isn't necessarily the easiest to use. With some help via the manual, you can use several combinations of pressing the flagging button at different times to let you access certain settings.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Features


Bluetooth

Like the rest of the Pieps/Black Diamond BT (Black Diamond owns Pieps) line of beacons, the BT refers to Bluetooth and offers a Bluetooth connection to your phone — via an app. This is generally an easier way to dial in features rather than the scroll through.

Battery Life

The battery life on the Micro is displayed in thirds, as with all the other models in the Pieps family. These are the only beacons that don't show a specific percentage remaining of battery life. This can make it difficult to determine the amount of power remaining, as one third is quite a large, non-specific range — for example, anywhere from 100 hours (on send) to 20 hours (on send), which is slightly lower than most avalanche educators and other manufacturers recommend.

This beacon flashes AR to let you know it is in Auto-Revert while in...
This beacon flashes AR to let you know it is in Auto-Revert while in SEND/Transmit mode.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Revert To Send

This beacon comes set up to Revert to Send/Auto revert out of the box and lets you know this when in send mode by flashing AR for auto revert while in Send/transmit mode. There is a motion sensor in the beacon, and it will auto-revert after a pre-determined amount of time (60, 90, or 120 seconds) if it doesn't feel any motion. This mode can be disabled or adjusted via a Bluetooth connection and your phone.

Showing the narrower profile of the Micro BT.
Showing the narrower profile of the Micro BT.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Comfort-to-Carry

The Micro is one of the smallest beacons on the market today; this alone makes it very comfortable to carry.

Photo: Ian Nicholson

Even compared to the low profile BCA Tracker3 or Tracker S, this beacon is still roughly 20% smaller. It comes with a comfortable, lightweight harness, but our testers found it took a fair amount of force to get the beacon out of the harness.

Showing the unique, lower profile and comfortable harness of the...
Showing the unique, lower profile and comfortable harness of the Peips Micro.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

We are okay with this because other than practicing beacon searches, you don't need to be taking your beacon out all the time.

Photo: Ian Nicholson

The Peips Micro BT is the smallest triple antenna beacon currently...
The Peips Micro BT is the smallest triple antenna beacon currently available and is the smallest of the new wave of lower profile beacons. The Peips Micro BT (far left) compared in order from left to right to the Arva Evo5, BCA Tracker3, and Tracker S.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Value


This beacon is a little more expensive than average but offers excellent all-around performance. It's one of the lightest, most compact triple antenna beacons currently on the market. As a result, anyone looking for a smaller beacon will love the size and won't be disappointed by its overall functionality.

This beacon's small size is only part of the story. The manual...
This beacon's small size is only part of the story. The manual search to send functionality has allowed this to become one of our favorite overall beacons for its speed, precision in the fine search, and ability to handle complex multiple burial situations.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


Our review team loved the new Pieps Micro BT over the previous version. While the sensor on the previous model was cool in theory, it proved to be more problematic than useful, and presented a larger learning curve. The current Micro BT has the same incredible functionality and is still one of the smallest and lightest triple antenna beacons. It provides solid, all-around performance, particularly during single searches, and is extremely effective in complex multiple burials. While there are a few beacons that are easier to use for absolute beginners, the new Pieps has a much shorter learning curve. It's capable enough to satisfy the most seasoned backcountry traveler and is still adequate for a beginner that is learning winter travel in avalanche terrain.

Ian Nicholson