A buyer’s guide to transceivers

If you’re thinking of hunting down snow outside of pisted terrain, take this potentially life-saving bit of kit with you, and make sure you know how to use it

A transceiver is one of the most important bits of kit in any backcountry skier’s arsenal. What is it? In simple terms the beeper emits a signal to other beepers until it is switched to the receive/search mode where it will then receive a signal.

We would no longer recommend (or use ourselves) pure analogue or dual antenna devices, as recent improvements in technology have made the modern, triple-antenna units much easier and more effective to use.

The fastest of the lot incorporate W-Link technology, using two separate frequencies and taking the rescuer straight to the buried victim rather than following the sweeping arc of a flux line like conventional transceivers. In a rescue situation every second counts!

Fall-Line recommends looking at the following transceivers: 

Arva evo3+1. ARVA 

Like its big brother Neo (also featured here) this can handle a multiple burial effectively (unlike many cheaper beacons) and is clear and easy to use – you’ll find yourself happily scrolling through the functions even if you have only the most basic transceiver knowledge. Triple antennae, 40m range, and four AAA batteries give you huge 250-hour battery life. 

2. ARVA 

You can never have too much bandwidth when searching. And this has an outstanding 60m. No idea what on earth we’re on about? Well, most modern beacons are triple antennae, using two when in search mode. Usually the second ant’s performance is not as good as the primary. Not so with the Neo, which gives equal juice to each, so you get a larger search bandwidth area. Intuitive and tough too.

3. BCA


The eagle-eyed of you will have noticed this was in last year’s gear guide and… never released: It got delayed after they’d given everyone the big-up launch codes. Anyway, it’s finally bug free, perfect and available. Very Knight Rider black with red read-out. And big claims on multiple burial excellence. Lighter, smaller and more than likely better than any BCA previous models. Quite exciting.

Mammut Pulse_Barryvox4. MAMMUT

The best? Many ski professionals think so. The Pulse is easy to use and versatile, thanks to two different modes: beginners and advanced. It’s never been a sort of MacBook Pro aspirational sexy thing, but who cares when it does the job so effectively. And reliably. Boxy, called Barry (!), but still brilliant.

MammutElement_Barryvox5. MAMMUT

Such a common sight now on guiding missions, or first tracks sidecountry stuff. You turn up, sign in, test each other’s beacons and see a load of these. Accessible price, three-antenna, simple to use, one-button operation and large-icon display. Marking function useful for multiple burials and, like the Pulse, very tough and built to last for years.

ORTOVOX LVS-ZOOM-11390-blue-ocean-MidRes6. ORTOVOX 

The perfect starter beacon. This will do the job no matter how much of a Luddite/techno-phobe you are. Has the essential triple antennae, but crucially just two buttons. Rotate turn-lock to power on at back, pull switch apart on top to go into search mode. Easy. Then just follow arrows on screen and the distance countdown. Light yet tough and well built.