It doesn’t matter whether you’re a ski touring or freeriding beginner buying your first avalanche transceiver (LVS), wanting to equip the growing kids, or an experienced mountaineer wanting to switch to the latest device again – one question always arises: “Which avalanche transceiver should I buy?” This question is absolutely justified, as there are currently several manufacturers who offer many different avalanche transceiver models.
The wishes, demands and requirements for a new avalanche transceiver can vary. However, before we go into that and take a closer look at some device details and features, something fundamental first: No matter which model you choose - and here all manufacturers, organizations and associations agree - it should meet the following two minimum requirements:
It should be a 3-antenna digital device.
It should be equipped with a marking function.
In addition to the currently available devices, most of the past generation of avalanche transceivers also meet these basic requirements. When buying a used device, it should therefore also be considered whether the avalanche transceiver is still within the stated "lifespan". This can be found in the operating instructions or the manufacturer's website.
It can also happen that an avalanche transceiver can no longer be operated correctly after a fall or that it is damaged. In such a case, if there is even the slightest doubt, it should be sent immediately to the manufacturer for verification.
A tip for all PIEPS brand avalanche transceivers: These offer a special device service that is recommended as standard three and five years after the date of purchase and every year thereafter. The hardware and software of the device are checked and updated, the device is cleaned and returned with a service report.
How much can an avalanche transceiver cost?
Understandably, the purchase price is a decision criterion for many. Accordingly, transceivers can be divided into three classes:
Not only the price, but also functional and performance features increase in this list, whereby the "middle class devices" offer the best price-performance ratio for the majority of ski tourers and freeriders. They usually work reliably and are also equipped with all the functions that are important in an emergency. As with other electronic devices, as the range of functions increases, so does the complexity. Extended features are only useful for users if they are trained and can handle them. Otherwise they quickly overwhelm or are not used anyway.
In the last few years there have been fewer and fewer inexpensive "beginner's devices". On the one hand, because they lacked features and performance characteristics that have become important, such as the "marking function", on the other hand, because you can get the next better device class for a few euros more.
Size and weight:
When it comes to mountaineering and ski touring, it's becoming more and more important to keep equipment as small and light as possible - with unrestricted
functionality, of course. This applies in particular to clothing, but also to technical products such as belts, crampons, skis, etc. That's why there are also particularly light and small avalanche transceivers that are particularly popular with lightweight freaks and competitors. Likewise, some freeriders like to have a device that is as compact as possible, which hardly impedes jumps and causes as little impact as possible on ribs etc. in the event of a fall. In addition, some ski tourers, for example, are more willing to carry an avalanche transceiver if it is small and light.
Because studies show that around a third of ski tourers and around two-thirds of off-piste skiers are out in the open without an avalanche transceiver or emergency equipment, one goal is very clear: to get as many skiers and snowboarders as possible to use an avalanche transceiver (as well as a probe and shovel).
In summary, it is important to be clear before making a purchase which of the points mentioned are important to you personally, and then to get detailed advice on the manufacturer's website or, even better, in a specialist shop you trust. Ideally, you can use various events and actually search with the devices before making your decision. You should also know your avalanche transceiver well so that you can use it in an emergency.
Images and content provided by PIEPS GmbH: https://www.pieps.com/lvs-geraete/