Avy Beacons...Good-Bad-Ugly

Oct 3, 2008
Land of 10,000 Lakes
New to the mountain scene...wanna do it right...got the Ortovox Lexan Shovel, the backcountry 5star probe....Just need a beacon. Dont wanna cheap out obviously. Which one should I pick up?? EASE OF USE is KEY...:D


Well-known member
Nov 26, 2007
IMO and from what I have seen, get rid of that lexan shovel blade. Or put it under your hood for stuck situations only. When it comes to avy debris you will want a good aluminum shovel.

I know they say they are unbreakable, I have seen guys jump up and down on them w/o breaking. But I saw one break while trying to get through debris.

For what it is worth............

Wheel House Motorsports

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Nov 27, 2007
yeah no kidding, i aint trusting my buddies lives and that of my own to some plastic, my aluminum voile is seriously indestructable, i have sat and smashed braches off threes with nothing more then a tiny bend in the lip of the blade.

the rescue is only as good as the weakest link.


SnoWest Paid Sponsor
Premium Member
Dec 17, 2003
Mt. Pleasant, UT
I agree with the comments made here. Get an aluminum shovel and preferably one with a larger blade for moving a lot of snow. Use the "plastic" one for getting unstuck and get a good shovel for Rescue.
As far as EASE of USE, the BCA Tracker is a VERY easy beacon to use and is relatively inexpensive.
Jan 29, 2008
I was wanting a bigger shovel with telescopic handle any company build one.Have BCA Chugach Pro,it has 11.5" widex12.5long shovel.


Well-known member
Jan 19, 2008
Search through this forumn. I went throught the decision process earlier this year. Read what alot of people contributed. Get ahold of SNOWBIGDEAL here on the forum. Cade is who I dealt with. He rides sleds as well so he has some real world experience. I felt like he was more out for my safty than a sale. Check him out yourself. He has great deals and basically he was great with answering my questions. Oh and by the way I had alot of questions since I am new to the whole beacon thing


Well-known member
Oct 18, 2008
Buena Vista Colorado
black Diamond Shovel- Sweetest shovel I have ever had. Folds up nice. Avi stuff sets up like concrete.


Pieps for multiple people buried. Tracker is easy to use also. All digital, just get to know to use your beacon before you really need to use it. We hide a beacon with a beer, need another beer, find it with you becon. If you can use your beacon with a buzz you are good to go. :beer;


Well-known member
Premium Member
Oct 6, 2008
Bitteroot valley,MT
I have yet to see the orange ortovox shovel break,considering there are many different formulas for lexan , anyone else has see one of these snap?.....


Well-known member
Dec 21, 2006
Haven't seen the orange Ortovox break. Life link was pretty bad. there is a key to lexan, if you get a chip in it you must smooth it out with a file. If you don't maintain the blade it will break.
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Well-known member
Dec 21, 2007
Kalispell, MT
i am currently trying to decide which beacon to buy myself. some people i talk to say the tracker is not worth buying, others reccomend it with high praise. i am thinking of going with a D3 but am not for sure yet. anyone use both in practice or rescue and have some insight?


New member
Apr 1, 2008
Jackson, WY
i agree with the above posters. lexan is crap, i woulden't trust it as far as i could throw it. if someone showed up wanting to ride or ski with one of those things i would either ditch them at the parking lot, or trade them my bombproof alu shovel for the day so i know am safe. just think...would you want your buddies trying to chip thru rock hard avi debris to find you with a piece of plastic?

as for beacons i reccomend the barryvox pulse or the pieps dsp. these are 3 antenna beacons that can triangulate, mark found beacons, and split up the signals in a multiple burial situation. do yourself a favor and drop the extra cash for the new tech. the tracker is crap...i know, i have owned one for 4 years, and practiced regulaurly with it for 2 years.. its ok in a single burial situation, but in a multiple burial situation these things suck...they switch between the two signals sporatically, making it hard to "lock" onto a singal. the special mode for multiple burials doesn't work very well either, requiring you to narrow your field of view down to about 30-40 degrees to differentiate between signals. my search times for single burials decreased by a good margin when i upgraded to the pulse. my search times for multiple burials decreased substantially (read: minutes) when i got the pulse. and in comparison to friends with 2 anntenna beacons (tracker, original barryvox), lets just say by the time i had found 3 beacons they were just trying to find #2. bottom line is that most people buy the tracker cause thats what everyone tells them to get.they tout how "easy it is to use" giving people a false sense of security that when the **** hits the fan, its ok that they didn't spend much time practicing because their easy to use beacon will help them find their buried buddy. so keep practicing..no matter what you get. cause easy to use doesn't matter at all. if you sepnt the necessary amount of time to actually learn how to use a beacon, none are any harder than the others...the new ones just work better, plain and simple


New member
Jan 28, 2008
Hello, I am fairly new to "back country" riding, and watching some avy vids and reading some recent posts on areas I have ridden without even thinking of an avy possibly happening, kinda freaks me out! I realize I definately need a beacon! What is anyone's opinion on the ortovox m2? I am thinking of getting a couple for me and riding buddy. Are they(m2) digital or analog? Are probes really useful in a rescue? I agree with the alum shovel comments! Also like the idea of hiding the beer w/the beacon, very good idea!:beer;:D
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Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
May 5, 2008
Eagle River, AK
To nap96, yes a probe is key in a rescue. The idea being that you narrow the area down to just a few feet with the beacon and then probe until you get a 'hit' and then dig there. If you don't do this you risk digging for several minutes and missing your target by maybe 6-8 inches. 10-20 seconds spent with the probe could save precious minutes in the rescue. If you are good with your beacon, you will get a 'hit' with the probe on the 1st or second try and then you are sure you won't miss with the shovel. This is your buddies life you are talking about and you must do it right the first time! I highly recommend an avy course where they give you some real world rescue scenarios, it is amazing how much you can learn in a short period of time. Good luck and safe riding!!


New member
Jan 2, 2008
I won't even snowmobile with people if they do not have the following since MY life depends on it as much as theirs does.

1) A beacon
2) Shovel (not a snowblade or the other gimmicky plastic ones, but a true aluminum shovel)
3) Probe

And DO NOT store these things on your snomobile, keep the beacon on you and the shovel/probe in a backpack. They do no good if you are seperated from your sled somehow when you need them most.

You can buy the nicest beacon in the world, and still be worse off then the guy with the cheaper tracker beacon if you do not get training on how to use them! All snowmobilers should look into getting avalanche level 1 training (it just a few classes and a couple field trips), and the amount of knowledge and training you get is incredible!

The beacons take training to use and master, every second counts when finding the burried person and digging them out. The beacons seem like they are easy to use, but there is more to them then you think, especially the multi-burial situations.

I do alot of backcountry ski touring also, and I always am amazed on how easy it is to just blow up a hill/slope/bowl without truely assesing the avy danger on a snowmobile. As a skier you have alot more time to think about it and calculate the safest route, but as a snowmobiler it just to easy to throttle first and think second... scares me some times.

And if you are wondering, I use a regular ole DTS Tracker and I can find the buried signal just as fast as the fancier ones usually. Its more about knowing how to use it properly.