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.
REASONS TO BUY
Smallest triple antenna
Excellent for pant carrying beacon wearers
Decent multiple burial functionality
REASONS TO AVOID
Not quite as intuitive an interface as other models
Slightly more expensive than average
Voluntary Recall for Material and Assembly Issues — July 2022
The transceiver that we tested is the PIEPS Micro BT Button, which is included in the current recall listed below.
PIEPS/Black Diamond has now issued an official voluntary recall for its PIEPS and Black Diamond branded avalanche transceivers, as a follow-up to the Safety Check Notice they issued in April, 2022. The issue relates to the functionality of the device switch, and these transceivers should be retired immediately. PIEPS/Black Diamond will issue a replacement free of charge.
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.
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.