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Over the last 12 years, we've tested more than 30 different avalanche beacons, with 13 in our current lineup. Our crew of seasoned AMGA-certified ski guides, AIARE course instructors, and avalanche professionals have extensively tested these beacons across North America, from Alaska to the Cascades to the Sierra Nevada. We put these beacons in the hands of novice users, certified ski guides, and avalanche forecasters, testing each in both single and multiple burial simulations. Whether you're an industry professional or a brand new backcountry enthusiast heading outside the ropes for the first time, we can help you find the right avalanche beacon for your adventures.
Bluetooth makes it easy to adjust settings and update software
Best battery life in our review
Lots of features
REASONS TO AVOID
Bulky for pocket carry
Slider is sticky and takes some force
Battery life is only displayed in thirds, not a percentage
The Black Diamond Guide BT (along with the functionally identical Pieps Pro BT) is our top choice for a huge range of users. It should be noted that the difference between the Guide BT and the Pro BT is strictly cosmetic, which is why both of these models earn identical scores that topped our list. These beacons proved to be our favorites all around because they are so good at so many things. They are among the fastest of the models tested and offer some of the most precise bracketing during the fine search, which is where many more advanced beacons struggle or lag in speed. The solid range and multiple burial functionality were among the best, second only to the Mammut Barryvox S and Arva Neo BT Pro.
The Guide BT is an incredible beacon, but its feature set is a little overkill for many backcountry users. Many novices will be just as well off with an easier-to-use beacon, such as the BCA Tracker4 or the BD Recon BT — both of which aren't nearly as feature-rich but satisfy the needs of most backcountry travelers at a lower price. However, for those seeking a fully-featured beacon that is still ultra-quick and easy to use, look no further than the Guide. This model boasts a rare combination of user-friendliness, speed, and precision, with a good range and excellent multiple burial capability. These assets land it at the top of its class and make it an excelllent option for nearly all levels of users.
Signal suppression function can be tricky in certain situations
Lacks option to update software
The S in the Backcountry Access Tracker S stands for simple, and that is the design aspect that drives this beacon: simplicity and ease of use. This beacon maintains all the features that most backcountry travelers seek while keeping the ultra-intuitive design that the Tracker beacons are known for. It's housed in a low-profile casing, great for those who prefer carrying their beacon in a zippered pants pocket or for feeling less bulky in the harness. During our testing, we were continually impressed by its speed and prowess, especially for the price. All of our testers loved how straightforward this beacon was to use and appreciated the fast processor speed, which was above average among all beacons in our review. One of our favorite things is how precise it was during the bracketing stage of the search. This is a huge benefit for both experienced and novice users alike, as this is the most challenging part of companion rescue.
While hardly a dealbreaker as multiple burials only makes up about 15% of rescues (and rescues involving more than two buried people are less than 5%), we didn't love the multiple burial function where it only suppressed one signal for one minute. In certain situations, this can create confusion, and it takes a bit more practice to become adept with it. Additionally, the model we tested didn't quite live up to BCA's stated range. While more range is great, the Tracker S still provides the 40-meter search strip that most rescuers will use and that most avalanche educational intuitions are teaching. Overall, we think the pros far outweigh the cons for this beacon, and if you're looking for a high-value contender with notable speed and ease of use, you've found it.
Consistently the fastest rescue times for less practiced users
REASONS TO AVOID
Multiple burial function wasn't as good for complex scenarios
Slightly below average range
The BCA Tracker4 is the latest of BCA's long line of tried and true Tracker beacons that prioritize speed and ease of use over a bunch of bells and whistles. The Tracker4 picks up where the Tracker3 left off, but most of its differences are external, with the T4 being tougher and offering a better display and notably easier controls. The functionality of these two beacons is nearly identical other than the range on the T4 being slightly improved. In our tests, the Tracker4 proved to be one of the fastest and most user-friendly beacons on the market. Its processor speed is among the absolute quickest, and its precision during the bracketing stage was consistently among the best. These attributes are likely why this beacon has consistently produced some of the quickest rescue times for 1-2 beacons and was the absolute fastest in the hands of newer or less practiced users.
The only thing we didn't love about the Tracker4 is its multiple burial functionality. It works well enough for two beacons but for three or more (about 5% of real-world avalanche scenarios), it requires more skill since it can only mark/flag one beacon at a time while searching for the next. Additionally, it automatically "un-marks" the first beacon after 60 seconds. This does have some advantages but is generally more difficult for less practiced users, and even the slick big-picture mode couldn't quite make up for it. Its range was also so-so — not terrible, but nothing to write home about. Still, for the vast majority of users, the Tracker4 repeatedly proved it was among the absolute fastest and easiest models we tested — something that anyone can appreciate with the influx of stresses associated with a real-world rescue.
Slightly less precise bracketing during the fine search
A tad slower processing in the fine search
Slightly thicker housing makes it feel bulkier
The Arva Neo BT Pro is an ultra-capable beacon that performs well enough for any professional but is easier to use than most high-end beacons while checking in at more of a mid-level price. At the time of publication, no other beacon featuring this model's level or range, multiple burial functionality, or the ability to switch to an analog-only search function can be found at this price point. Our team was impressed by several of this model's features, which are about as user-friendly as it gets — things like the ability to access "group check mode" anytime from SEND, the visual prompts at every stage of the rescue, and its absolutely massive 80+-meter recommend search strip width. Lastly and most importantly: despite all of these features, our testers found the Neo BT Pro one of the easiest and most intuitive, making it equally appropriate for newer, more novice users as well as experienced ones.
While the Neo BT Pro offers many advantages, it does have one slight but notable disadvantage: it was consistently slightly less precise in the fine search, resulting in slightly bigger brackets. However, it should be noted that this was more noticeable with less practiced users than more experienced ones. Overall, if you are looking for a performance-focused option packed with features that remains relatively easy to use, this is your beacon.
More practice is required to be proficient in the fine search
Slightly less precise (small) brackets compared with other models
Not geared towards novices
The Mammut Barryvox S is an excellent option for more advanced users who demand a lot from their beacon and are likelier to take advantage of the fully-featured capabilities. This model is fast at finding a single burial but takes a little more practice than most to be proficient in the fine search. It really excels in complex multiple burials, where its prowess and ability to differentiate even close proximity beacons is nearly unmatched. It sports numerous options and features to help customize it for a user's preferences and style, and it sports the longest overall range. It was also tied for having the widest manufacturer-recommended search strip width of any model we tested.
While the Barryvox S is excellent for professionals and experienced users, it's likely just too much beacon for novices or less experienced backcountry travelers. Many of the advanced features of this model likely won't get used by many folks, and they increase the overall complexity. The Barryvox S also takes notably more practice to achieve precision during the bracketing stage in the fine search, with new rescuers consistently needing more time and producing bigger "boxes". This model is best for advanced users and pros who will take advantage of its many features, gigantic range, and unparalleled ability to manage even the most complex multiple burial rescue scenarios.
We've purchased and tested dozens of avalanche beacons over the last decade. Our team extensively tests each model, pitting them head-to-head in single and multiple burials and comparing features, range, design, and other performance characteristics. We compared all products side-by-side over several full days, with well over 200 tests performed. We time and analyze each model's performance at each search stage in the hands of both professionals and novice users. The heaviest weighted metrics are single victim search, speed, and fine search. We compared each model's performance and accuracy in the fine search and the consistency and precision of their brackets. We also performed controlled range tests, starting outside the beacon's maximum range and moving in until detection to avoid single drag error, performing this on two separate occasions with each model. We looked for consistency and repeatability of each model's performance along each stage and across user types to best assess the pros and cons of each contender.
Our testing of avalanche beacons is divided into six rating metrics:
Single Victim Search (25% weighting)
Speed (20% of overall score weighting)
Fine Search (20% weighting)
Multiple Burials (15% weighting)
Range (10% weighting)
Features (10% weighting)
Two of our resident experts in mountain safety and technology created this review. Heading up the review is Ian Nicholson, an IFMGA/UIAGM guide who works on skis in the backcountry for over 100 days each winter. Ian is also an AMGA-certified ski guide and former avalanche forecaster who works on AIARE's national training team instructing professional-level avalanche courses and training future avalanche instructors. Additionally, Ian works on the instructor team for the AMGA, teaching and examining ski guide courses, and has personally taught over 100 recreational level AIARE 1 and 2 courses. This gives him a unique and in-depth perspective on how beacons perform in the hands of different user groups, from the more experienced to the novice. Joining Ian is our Founder and Editor-in-Chief Chris McNamara. As the co-founder of OutdoorGearLab and guidebook publisher SuperTopo, and the founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, Chris is highly interested and invested in information, awareness, and gear used in the mountains.
Analysis and Test Results
To help you suss out the best beacon, we present key pieces of information regarding these devices and the criteria we use for evaluation. Besides real-world practice with individual beacons, we also performed a series of side-by-side tests to assess processor speed, bracketing/fine search performance and precision, flagging/marking features, battery life, range, associated search strip widths, and more.
We highlight awards for specific user groups because beacons, like many things, aren't a one size fits all sort of product. Certainly, like many things, the more you spend, the more features you receive. However, with beacons, the most capable and featured option might not actually help you find someone faster, especially for newer users in the most common single-burial situation. This is because the most capable beacons are frequently more complex and associated with more complicated interfaces. Because they are generally less straightforward to use, an ultra-capable beacon geared towards a pro might be a poor choice for a novice user or someone who doesn't practice as frequently — especially under the stresses of trying to save someone's life where time is a huge factor.
Allow us to use the metaphor of a high-end manual camera versus your smartphone's camera or a similar point-and-shoot. If you don't know how to operate all the settings on the high-end manual camera, you might be better off with a point-and-shoot because it will be within your skill range. A more fully-featured beacon is a lot like a manual camera. Sure, it can do more, but you have to know more about operating it to get more out of it. If you don't plan to use all the manual features, you're better off getting a "simpler" beacon that might have fewer functions and settings but is easier and more streamlined to operate.
We made sure to highlight a handful of models that perform well but are on the less costly side. One beacon that fits this description is the Backcountry Access Tracker S. At its price point, it's an extremely capable beacon and, therefore, a great value. While it wasn't our favorite overall, it is fast, easy to use, and the price is right. If you're seeking a more advanced beacon but don't want to spend top dollar for a professional-level model, the Arva Neo Pro BT has a bunch of the advanced features that pros and seasoned recreational users are looking for, like an analog mode, a super-capable multiple burial function, and a super long range — all while costing slightly less than the majority of its closest competition.
Single Victim Search
It's easy to get wrapped up in a lot of the new cool features, but a beacon's ability to find a single victim is crucial both because single burial scenarios make up 85% of real-world incidents and because — in multiple burial situations, depending the circumstances — you could address each buried beacon one at a time, effectively treating them as several sequential single beacon rescues.
For example, if two rescuers are looking for two buried beacons, they will complete two independent single-victim searches, one immediately after the other, as it is better to get one person an airway faster than two people probed but left under the snow. The clock doesn't stop on a buried victim until they have a clear airway. For this metric, we also consider the interface's simplicity, functionality, controls, and processing speed.
After extensive testing in the hands of both novices and pros, our favorite beacons for finding a single person are the BCA Tracker4, BCA Tracker S, and Black Diamond Guide BT for their lightning-fast processors, precise bracketing, and easy-to-use interface. The Arva Neo BT Pro is also notable, particularly for anyone with more practice than a beginner.
Overall, speed and ease of finding a single victim should be the most important factors to consider when purchasing a beacon. It's easy to get swept up in all the cool extra features or stats for range, but at the end of the day, speed and ease of finding a single buried beacon should be your strongest considerations.
In our speed category, we looked at both the beacon's user interface and how quickly we could find a single burial, start to finish. While speed considers several other factors, such as precision in the fine search, we gave it an accumulative score from our criteria in our evaluation. This is because it considers parts of other categories and how they interact, with the most important being the overall user interface and controls, the processor speed, and bracketing precision.
Interface and Controls
How easy and intuitive the controls and interface are directly correlates with how quickly rescuers can find a buried transceiver — something that we found true with experts and novices alike.
Along with the actual user interface (how the beacon communicates to you where to go) are the controls themselves, which help you navigate through menus, switch from Send to Search, and flag a buried beacon.
In this aspect, the simplest model to use is the Ortovox Diract Voice, thanks to its unique voice prompts that guide you through your rescue in various ways throughout the search. We found the Diract Voice comparable with the BCA Tracker S, BCA Tracker4, and Arva Evo5, which all feature exceptionally easy-to-use interfaces. Also of note are the Black Diamond Recon BT and the identical Pieps Powder BT, which have intuitive and straightforward controls that are easy to understand and operate while offering a few more features than most of the models listed above.
We also tested models that accommodate a wide range of user abilities, from relative novices to seasoned ski guides and avalanche professionals, to get a broad insight into each model's performance. In the end, the fastest performers in simple, single-transceiver burials weren't always the most expensive or the most feature-rich options. In these scenarios, we found several more complex models to be slightly slower than their more basic counterparts — both in processor speed and in the intuitiveness of their user interface, which took longer to interpret for the less experienced or less practiced users.
The models with the most lightning-fast processor speeds were the BCA Tracker S, BCA Tracker4, Black Diamond Recon LT, Black Diamond Recon BT, Black Diamond Guide BT, Pieps Powder BT, and Pieps Pro BT. There were other solidly performing models, but these are a cut above the rest for pure processor speed.
The fine search is the final phase of the beacon search and classically involves the final approach below 10 meters and the bracketing stages of the search (making the "box"). This is the part of the search that rescuers struggle with the most, both in real life and in practice. Regardless of the beacon, it is essential to slow down during this stage and move along the surface of the snow with your beacon. However, this is also the phase where you can see the most notable differences between products concerning processing power, precision, and ease of use.
Regarding the fine search, we found a lot of variability in the precision or the size of the brackets (aka, box) above our buried victim. Some models were slightly better than others at efficiently getting the victim in the center of our brackets, and some consistently had larger brackets. Larger brackets are a disadvantage because it means more probing and a greater chance of having a slower overall rescue.
This assessment came from an average of consistency among dozens of tests. The best models include the BCA TrackerS, BCA Tracker4, Black Diamond Recon BT, Recon LT, and Guide BT. These beacons most consistently put the buried beacon in the middle of the bracket. We found the Mammut Barryvox S and the Mammut Barryvox provided very precise bracketing but took more experienced users or more practice overall to consistently come in right over the top of the buried transceiver.
Roughly 15% of reported avalanches in North America and Europe are instances where multiple people are buried in a single avalanche occurrence. In 10% of avalanches, there are two people buried. Statistically, only 5% of avalanche occurrences bury three or more victims.
To be in a situation where you need to use a flagging/marking function on a beacon, you'll likely need several rescuers. If you have multiple people buried and three or four rescuers, all those rescuers' efforts should likely go into finding one person quickly to give that person the best chance of survival rather than splitting resources and "dividing and conquering."
Once you get to an uncovered person's airway, you could choose to flag them to save the effort and time of turning their beacon off. However, turning it OFF is the most foolproof way to deal with the situation and will take away any doubt or future confusion, depending on your rescue skills. For ski guides, ski patrollers, or other avalanche professionals, a dependable rescue flagging/marking functionality and a beacon's ability to handle multiple close proximity burials is essential for training and examination, which commonly requires that searchers find 2-4 beacons (depending on the drill) in a very fast amount of time.
For your beacon to be able to tell other buried beacons apart, it uses a blend of signal strength and cadence (each model uses its own magic blend of these two, and no two companies are exactly the same). When two buried beacons are close together, the difference in strength becomes minimal, and your beacon can only rely on cadence (or the pulsing "beep" off each beacon). If there are three or more beacons buried even slightly near each other, they will have too much signal overlap, and your beacon will have a very difficult time differentiating each cadence from another. The beacon potentially won't be able to mark/flag/suppress a specific beacon accurately. Once there are four beacons in a smaller area (30x30m), even the most advanced beacons will struggle.
Universal Multiple Burial Techniques
Being practiced and familiar with your beacon's specific masking/marking/flagging function is unquestionably essential. However, even the best beacons can have errors, and knowing how to recognize your beacon is struggling is just as important. Two universal multiple burial techniques will work with any beacon, eliminate the need for flagging, and work fantastically with multiple beacons in close proximity. This is the concentric circles method (sometimes referred to as the three circle or expanding circles method) and micro strip searching technique. With either of these techniques, a fast processing beacon is crucial to moving quickly, but no flagging function is necessary. Between these two techniques, micro strip searching is far more useful because it works in scenarios where flagging/marking is unlikely to work.
Our Findings From Side-by-Side Comparisons
Multiple burial situations are telling for a beacon. Again, professionals will find, probe, and dig up a single victim rather than just flagging/marking multiple victims without digging them up. Consequently, our scoring weights the speed and single victim search metrics more heavily. With that said, multiple burials are still a factor to consider. We performed our side-by-side comparison tests with two, three, and four buried beacons to see how well each model resisted getting bogged down. Keep in mind that with any beacon, multiple burials are always harder and take even more practice than single burials.
After dozens of tests and comparisons and facilitating AIARE Pro 1 and AMGA Advanced Ski Guide Courses (which both involve timed rescue drills searching for multiple beacons), the undisputed best beacons for complex multiple burials are the Mammut Barryvox S and the Arva Neo BT Pro. The Black Diamond Guide BT, Pieps Pro BT, and Mammut Barryvox came in a very close second. These beacons differentiated between close proximity burials exceptionally well, and in the case of the Neo BT Pro and the Barryvox S, you can scroll through victims. In our testing, these two beacons were also the most difficult to trick in the marking/masking function.
People tend to put a lot of emphasis on maximum range, mostly because it is a quantifiable number. However, in reality, the various ranges aren't the biggest factor in how quickly a beacon can find a buried person. It's hard to object to the concept that more range is a benefit, but in most situations, having an extra 10-15 meters of range is unlikely to significantly reduce rescue times. This is especially true as most people will default to the generic 40-meter-wide search strip they learn in their avalanche course rather than their avalanche beacons specific recommendation.
A Note on Range:
While beacons might have different ranges, all beacon manufacturers' maximums rated ranges are measured the same way — with the searching beacon's antenna oriented the same as the buried one in a direct line. This is considered perfect coupling, or orientation, and is the situation where the searching beacon can pick up the buried beacon from the greatest distance away. This is a standard for manufacturers and is the same format for our in-house range test. It's important to note that you will be unlikely to get the full advertised range in a real-world setting because the odds of getting the perfect alignment are extremely slim.
The beacons we tested have a manufacturer's maximum range of between 50 and 100 meters. It is worth noting that if a perfect scenario range is 50 meters, then its worst-case range is 25 meters. Thus, most beacons cite 50-70 meters of maximum range with a 25-35 meter worst-case range. This is why AIARE and other avalanche educational organizations teach the rescuer to search with a 40-meter wide search strip width, or 20 meters of range on either side of you. You could pick up the signal, even with the poorest coupling and a beacon with the lowest possible range.
While most manufacturers' range was reasonably accurate, some of the time, it was a bit further than we could pick up in our tests. For insurance accuracy, we did multiple testing sessions, one on a dry football field and one in the mountains in a remote parking lot.
The units (IE numbers) that describe the distance along the flux line we follow to find a buried transceiver are typically not exact (but often close). For example, when we picked up a signal with a Tracker3 while it was reading 47 meters, we were around 42 meters away (even in the perfect coupling position, reducing the effect of the curvature of the flux lines).
The products with the most accurate range numbers (or extremely close) were the Mammut Barryvox and the Mammut Barryvox S. Most units display a higher number of meters than the actual distance, often giving a much larger number than we observed in our testing. While we'd prefer accuracy, this doesn't affect actual performance; it is just something to be aware of.
Beacons with extended ranges were either entirely analog or had an analog function. The models with the longest ranges are the Mammut Barryvox S and the Arva Neo Pro BT, which can both pick up a signal as far away as nearly 90-100 meters in analog mode and between 70-80 meters in digital mode. While we agree analog function is a cool feature, few people know how to accurately use the analog function effectively enough that it would speed up a rescue. In digital mode, both of these models still offered the longest maximum range, consistently picking up a signal at around 70 meters away, and both have a manufacturer's search strip width recommendation of 70 and 80 meters, respectively.
Some beacons come laden with useful and well-thought-out features, while others have limited options. Below we cover many of the different feature options currently available on the market.
Scanning Functions and Big Picture Functions
Several beacons offer a scanning feature that helps advanced rescuers assess how many victims there are to locate and how far away they are, rather than just showing the closest signal. The Black Diamond Guide BT has this "fish finder" style application that will tell you how many signals it picks up in specific distance ranges. The BCA Tracker3 has a big picture mode, which, when turned on, displays the distance and a direction for every signal it picks up, quickly cycling through all of them in rapid succession. This is similar to an older analog-style avalanche beacon or the Mammut Barryvox S in analog mode.
Group Check Mode
Several beacons in our review feature a "Group Check Mode" designed to be used during the function check that every backcountry traveler should be doing before leaving the trailhead every single time they go out into the backcountry. A group check mode helps models with a stronger signal to lock onto the closest beacon and then stay with it for short periods, even if they start moving further away. There are advantages and disadvantages to a strong signal lock. One advantage is the ability to differentiate close proximity burials to its user.
However, a strong signal lock can make it difficult to perform a function check if there are more than just a few other people in your group. Among all the models we tested, the Arva Neo Pro BT was our favorite as we could access it both when it turned on and anytime we were in SEND mode.
Revert to Transmit Mode
Some of the models we tested have a "revert to transmit" feature (also known as auto revert). This feature has the unit automatically switch from search mode to send mode if there has not been any user interaction, like pressing a button or significant movement during a designated period. The idea behind this feature is if the rescuer is searching and their beacon is in search mode, and a second avalanche hits them, it will switch over in hopes that they can be located.
In most beacons that include this feature, it comes ready to use. For some models (like the Black Diamond Guide BT), you have to configure it via Bluetooth with the smartphone app. Some models have this mode, but you can't set it up in the field. With the Tracker3, if you want the beacon to revert to transmit, you need to turn that function on every time you turn on your beacon — otherwise, it won't revert. We like models that allow the user to turn this function on or off. We gave higher scores for beacons that took it one step further by allowing the user to select the amount of time to pass before the beacon reverted to sending. The Mammut Barryvox and the Arva Neo Pro BT beacons have this feature.
The Pros and Cons of Revert to Transmit Mode
The revert to transmit mode can be controversial. Its importance is sometimes overemphasized, and some manufacturers don't recommend it (and intentionally design their beacons without it). Why wouldn't you want your beacon to automatically switch back from searching to sending if a second avalanche hits you? Because if you are searching for someone, your beacon is likely in your hand, and if a second avalanche hits you, there is almost zero chance that you will be able to hang onto it. The elastic leash attaching the beacon to a chest harness is also almost sure to snap. So, while we considered this feature when rating all the products we tested, we didn't count it as a significant factor.
Turn-Around Indicator in the Fine Search
Some beacons offer a built-in compass or turn-around feature, which proves especially helpful for newer users in the fine search. These indicate whether you have gone too far and need to turn around instead of just telling you to continue straight ahead. In those instances, the only indication you need to turn around will be a larger distance number. Products with this compass feature are the Mammut Barryvox S and Arva models.
Smart Antenna Technology
This is a feature developed by Ortovox that we expect to see other manufacturers use in the future. Any unit using this type of technology determines which antennas are at the best orientation to broadcast from. With most other products, if the primary transmitting antenna is oriented vertically, the range at which other beacons can pick up the buried beacon is dramatically reduced; it could potentially be only 50 percent of the maximum range. The Smart Antenna or similar technology uses gravity to determine the best antenna to transmit. Smart Antenna Technology helps beacons be found more easily by optimizing antenna position rather than helping a beacon search better.
Practice Makes Perfect
No matter how fancy a product you decide to purchase, proper training and practice are essential. Experienced backcountry enthusiasts and avalanche professionals can find multiple beacons in under six minutes, while the unpracticed novice can easily take 25 minutes or more. While the average rescue time is heavily debated, it is thought that from the moment the person is caught in the slide to when the victim's airway is exposed on the surface, it is around 20 minutes. Wouldn't you and your partners like to be faster than that average?
We recommend taking an AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education), American Avalanche Institute (AAI), or other American Avalanche Association (AAA) recommended avalanche course. Additionally, if you haven't taken a course in the last 5-10 years, you should consider retaking one since a lot has changed with recent studies. It would be extremely rare for someone not to find retaking a Level 1 useful, even if they have taken a course several years prior.
Wearing Your Beacon
Two locations on your body are considered acceptable to wear an avalanche beacon. The first is in your beacon's harness under at least one layer of clothing; this puts it in the most significant "target area" on your body, and it's slightly more protected from impact. While wearing the beacon in its harness, it is not acceptable to have it exposed to the outside. It must be underneath at least one layer of clothing because the odds of it getting ripped off your body are too high otherwise. It is not okay to expose the beacon, no matter how hot it is or how cool you think it makes you look.
The other acceptable location for your beacon is in a zippered pants pocket. The pants pocket must be an internal (i.e., inside hanging) zippered sewn-in pocket. Laminated pockets are not okay because these types of pockets have been torn off during an avalanche. Despite concerns, there has never been a reported case of someone having their pants ripped off in an avalanche with their beacon inside. And despite lots of debate, there is no evidence one way or another that either a pants pocket or a harness is safer.
This review is designed to help lay out the differences between the avalanche beacons on the market today. Though they do not guarantee survival, the products in this review are meant to enhance safety if you or someone around you is caught and buried in an avalanche. Regarding safety, making a selection can be an overwhelming task. Remember that you aren't necessarily just buying this beacon for yourself but also for your friends and backcountry partners. With all the ways you could save money, an avalanche beacon is likely not the best gear to scrimp on.
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.