Best Overall Avalanche Beacon
Mammut Pulse Barryvox
The Mammut Pulse Barryvox
is our top scorer and winner of our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice Award. The Pulse scored at or near the top in every category. Although one of the most complex, feature-rich models on the market, most people still found it relatively easy to use. The Pulse also has the longest range, was among the fastest and deals the multiple burials exceptionally well. What's the disadvantage? The Pulse is, along with the Ortovox S1+, the most expensive in our review. The Pulse can also be a little overwhelming for some users.
Read full review: Mammut Pulse Barryvox
Best Bang for the Buck
Backcountry Access Tracker 2
The Backcountry Access (BCA) Tracker 2
remains the fastest option for the novice and intermediate users (and it's still wicked fast for advanced users) for finding a single victim and it is one of the fastest beacons period. That's the most important thing a beacon needs to do. While it does not have any of the more advanced features of some other products, the Tracker 2 serves the majority of users extremely well. If you like the Tracker 2 but wish it had a flagging/marking feature, check out the Ortovox 3+
, which could move nearly as fast and is equally intuitive. If you like the Tracker 2 but wish it had a multiple burial function, then check out the Arva Evo4
at $290 it was a very strong contender for this award.
Read full review: Tracker 2
Top Pick for Value for Advanced Users
Pieps DSP Pro
The Pieps DSP Pro is one of the most advanced models in our review at a very competitive price. It has similar functions, function options, range, and processor speed to most of the other beacons that cost $50-70 more. For that reason it is one of our OutdoorGearLab's Top Picks for best value for more advanced users. Price aside, the DSP Pro remains one of our favorite overall beacons and we love how easy it is to use. The Pro has a nice selection of more advanced features, like a frequency check, scan function and one of the best overall multiple burial functions that handles complex multiple victim burials wonderfully. We do think that for a lot of users the Pro offers more functions than most people need and for those folks they should consider the Pieps DSP Sport
Read full review: Pieps DSP Pro
Top Pick for All-Around Beacon Between $300-$400
The best product between $300 and $400 was a tough call because there are a lot of great options in that price range. This is also the price range that most consumers are looking in and most of the features these products have are geared toward the majority (novice through advanced) of users. That leaves only the most experienced guides and avalanche professionals to likely want something more expensive. After careful consideration, the OutdoorGearLab Top Pick award for best all-around product between $300 and $400 goes to the Arva Neo
. The Neo wasn't the runaway winner in this category, facing stiff competition from both the Mammut Barryvox Element
, Backcountry Access Tracker3
and the Pieps DSP Pro
. But in the end we picked the Arva Neo for its top end range, fastest-in-class processing, stellar user interface and easy to use and effective flagging feature. If you like the Neo but wish it had a couple more advanced features, check out the Mammut Element or the Pieps DSP Pro.
Read full review: Arva Neo
Great Features for Advanced Users
Backcountry Access Tracker3
The slick looking Backcountry Access Tracker3
is the newest of the Tracker family. Like its relatives, it's great at finding a single victim and bracketing during fine search, where most rescuers struggle the most. The Tracker3 now adds a lot more features aimed at advanced users: a signal suppression/marking function and the best overall pocket-riding triple antenna beacon on the market. We liked nearly all of the Tracker3's features, (especially its BP or Big Picture function) and its control options. We liked the accuracy of the signal suppression/marking function but didn't like that the suppression only lasted for one minute. After that one minute, the beacon reverts back to normal searching where the rescuer is directed to the closest beacon, regardless of which beacon that is. While less of an issue in real world settings, we also didn't love that the Tracker3 can only suppress one signal at a time; if you try to suppress a second, it undoes the first. The Tracker3 remains a capable, lightning fast beacon that has some of the functionality desired by more advanced users.
Read full review: Backcountry Access Tracker3
Fast with an Awesome Flagging Feature
Pieps DSP Sport
The Pieps DSP Sport
was our Best Buy award winner when it used to cost $275, now at $320 it's still a rad beacon for what is still an excellent price, but it faces a lot more competition in the mid-$300 price range. With that being said, we still think it's one of the most capable beacons for its price and is still one of our favorite overall products we tested for its ease-of-use and lightning quick processor. We also think that 80% of people should likely buy the DSP Sport over the DSP Pro because they'll never use the more advanced features and might as well just save the money and buy a nicer shovel.
Read full review: Pieps DSP Sport
Best Model for Budget-Hunters
The Arva Evo4
was a strong contender for our Best Buy award being the least expensive beacon ($290) to feature flagging/marking features. It's easier to use and quicker than its predecessor the Evo3+ and is above average for processor speed among beacons in our review. Its below average range and bulky housing are what narrowly kept it from being our Top Pick winner, yet it remains a super easy-to-use and dependable option for folks looking for a solid beacon on a budget.
Read full review: Arva Evo4