The Best Avalanche Beacons

These beacons are also known as transceivers because of their dual function of being able to transmit a signal and to be switched to receive a signal. Just carrying one of these is not sufficient. It’s key to know how to use it—the life of the person you’re in the backcountry with can depend on it. These beacons take practice to know how to use.

Before purchasing one of these and heading out into the backcountry, we recommend taking an avalanche training course. Learn more and find one at the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Arva Neo Avalanche Beacon
93
Best in Class
2017
Beginner Friendly 8
Accuracy 7
Speed & Responsiveness 8
Ease for Multiple Bu... 10
Range 10

Excellent range 65+/45

Fast, reliable mark function

Smooth response

Locks on quickly

2nd victim range – 20-25m

Intuitive display symbols

Overestimates distance

MSRP
$360.00
BEST DEAL
$306.95
Pieps DSP Pro
88
Beginner Friendly 9
Accuracy 9
Speed & Responsiveness 6
Ease for Multiple Bu... 8
Range 8
Value 8

Circular, 50+m Range

Above average distance accuracy

Improved Mark function

Slope Clinometer

Easily confused in 3+ scenarios

Slow response time in close

MSRP
$375.00
BEST DEAL
$349.95
BCA Tracker 2
86
Beginner Friendly 10
Accuracy 7
Speed & Responsiveness 9
Ease for Multiple Bu... 3
Range 7

48-plus meter range

Fast response time

Multiple victim alert

Intuitive to use

Recognizes more than one victim

Multiple victim scenarios require practice (duh)

Doesn't list number of victims, only “more than one.”

MSRP
N/A
BEST DEAL
$379.00
Barryvox Pulse
85
Beginner Friendly 7
Accuracy 7
Speed & Responsiveness 8
Ease for Multiple Bu... 6
Range 8
Value 9

Excellent range.

Intuitive set of audio/visual signals.

Reliably 'sees' multiple victims.

Reliably 'marks' found signals.

Customizable.

The Price.

Customizable (it can be a double edged sword).

Practically useless motion detection system.

MSRP
$490.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Pieps DSP Tour
85
Beginner Friendly 8
Accuracy 9
Speed & Responsiveness 6
Ease for Multiple Bu... 5
Range 10
Value 7

Long Range

Accurate Distance readings

Marking

Multiple victim range

Easy to use

Unreliable marking with analog beacons

Slow response time in close

The harness is weak

MSRP
N/A
BEST DEAL
$389.95
Pieps DSP
83
Beginner Friendly 8
Accuracy 9
Speed & Responsiveness 6
Ease for Multiple Bu... 5
Range 10
Value 5

Long Range

Accurate Distance readings

Marking

Multiple victim range

Easy to use

Unreliable marking with analog beacons

Slow response time in close

The harness is weak

MSRP
$450.00
BEST DEAL
$292.56
BCA Tracker DTS
79
Beginner Friendly 8
Accuracy 7
Speed & Responsiveness 9
Ease for Multiple Bu... 2
Range 3

X-patterned dual antenna configuration that yields a virtual antenna indicating the critical element of direction lacking in single antenna analog beacons.

Low price and reliability as new techology has entered the market.

The maximum range is on the low side of what is available, 40m on a good day when the virtual antenna is parallel with the victims transmitting signal, but only 20m when cross-polarized.

Strap system is not intuitive.

As a dual-antenna beacon the signal is prone to 'spiking' an erroneously high distance when you're about 2 meters away. A disconcerting anomaly but when understood it is simply another clue that you're pretty close. This 'spiking' phenomenon is why triple

MSRP
$290.00
BEST DEAL
$198.60
Ortovox 3+
77
Beginner Friendly 8
Accuracy 6
Speed & Responsiveness 6
Ease for Multiple Bu... 6
Range 5
Value 6

Intuitive Display

Manual Auto revert button

Adaptable send antenna

Good signal separation/marking

Low Power consumption – single AA battery

Harness that keeps loose straps organized for storage

Least accurate distance reading

Easily confused with 3+ signals

Lowest range in class

MSRP
$369.00
BEST DEAL
$320.75
BCA Tracker 2

This is still an extremely easy-to-use beacon with the added feature of being able to search for multiple victims. It has a reliable, best-case 48-meter range and fast response time with no distance spikes in close. This is still a beacon you want your friends to have if you are the one buried.

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Arva Neo Avalanche Beacon

Experienced backcountry skiers who are willing to upgrade and new skiers alike will appreciate the long range of the Arva Neo. This extended range quickly picked up signals and provided smooth response for quickly directing me to the burial point. The Neo marks signals reliably, and did not get confused by multiple signals.

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What is a Beacon?

Last Updated:

Avalanche Beacons are one of the three core pieces of safety equipment, along with a shovel and probe, for playing on snowy backcountry slopes. They are mostly marketed to backcountry skiers and snowboarders but the truth of it is anyone spending time on or under snowy slopes of 35-40 degrees need to have one of these strapped to their body and know how to use it. The oft overlooked users are snowshoers and snowmobilers.