Pieps Micro BT Review
Cons: Not quite as intuitive an interface as other models, slightly more expensive than average
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Pieps Micro BT
|Price||$389.95 at Amazon||$500 List||$449.95 at REI|
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|$229.95 at Amazon||$260.96 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Smallest triple antenna, excellent for pant carrying beacon wearers, fast processor, precise, decent multiple burial functionality||Super fast processor, differentiates between beacons fantastically during multiple burials, best range in this review, best model for multiple and pro-level examinations||Easy to use, many features, Bluetooth and smartphone based app, good range, fast processor, best battery life in our review, excellent multiple burial and flagging features||One of the easiest beacon to use, lightning fast, great value, extremely intuitive||Lightning fast processor, top-tier bracketing performance in the fine search, effectively differentiates between close proximity burials, low profile designs, easy to use interface|
|Cons||Not quite as intuitive an interface as other models, slightly more expensive than average||Expensive, more complicated than other models, okay but not the best for newer or less practiced users||Battery 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 pocket||Not as good for multiple burials, slightly below average range, not as low volume as other models||Mediocre range, flagging/marking feature works, no option to update software|
|Bottom Line||One of the smallest triple antenna beacons, it scores near the top in every metric||One of the most capable and highest performing beacons on the market||One of the best models for advanced and beginners alike, it's easy to use, and is one of the best priced "pro-level" beacons||Easy and intuitive for experts or novices, making it straightforward to help zero in on the buried signal||An easy to use capable beacon with a lightning-fast processor|
|Rating Categories||Pieps Micro BT||Mammut Barryvox S||Black Diamond Guide BT||Backcountry Access...||Backcountry Access...|
|Single Victim Search (20%)|
|Fine Search (15%)|
|Multiple Burials (15%)|
|Specs||Pieps Micro BT||Mammut Barryvox S||Black Diamond Guide BT||Backcountry Access...||Backcountry Access...|
|Weight||150g / 5.2 oz||210g / 7.4 oz||210 g / 7.4 oz||255g / 9.0 oz||165g / 5.8 oz|
|Number of Antennae||3||3||3||3||3|
|Manufacturer's Range||40 meters||70 - 95 meters||60 meters||50 meters||55 meters|
|Battery Life (send)||200 hours||300 hours||400 hours||250 hours||250 hours|
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.
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.
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 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.
This Pieps performed well in multiple burials situations.
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.
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.
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.
The Micro is one of the smallest beacons on the market today; this alone makes it very comfortable to carry.
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.
We are okay with this because other than practicing beacon searches, you don't need to be taking your beacon out all the time.
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.
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