Product Review: Buying Peace Of Mind

Hoping you never need to use it

Published in the December 2009 Issue Published online: Dec 09, 2009 New Products, Product Tests
Viewed 310 time(s)

OrtovoxSeldom would you find consumers willing to spend around $500 for something they hope they never use. But then again, sometimes that $500 is the best investment you can make your entire life.

The Ortovox S1 avalanche beacon is one piece of snowmobile equipment that the test riders at SnoWest Magazine pack with them on every ride . and hope that it's never used. The nice part of the design is that it's comfortable to wear and once you put it on you can forget about it until the end of the day.

However, if you feel you need to get some use out of a beacon, without having to bury a friend, there are a couple of features on the menu that can be somewhat useful. The Ortovox S1 has an electronic compass, along with a temperature and slope inclination gauge.

But in case of an actual avalanche emergency, the Ortovox S1 can scan for multiple victims, displaying them simultaneously on its LCD display, providing the positions and distances to the buried victims (up to 4). It also features an automatic "safety switch-back" mode. If the beacon's motion sensor doesn't read any movement for a set period of time (like you were in the search mode and a second avalanche broke and buried you), it reverts back to the transmit mode (allowing others to locate you).

It does require a little bit of learning to understand how the beacon works and how to navigate through the menu system.

The Ortovox S1 operates on three AAA batteries.

It retails for about $530.

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