Avy equipment recommendations

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Avy equipment recommendations

Postby Patrick » Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:35 pm

Avy gear newbie here.

Instead of renting/borrowing, I might consider buying a transceiver new or used. Same does with the probes and shovel.

Any recommendations here?

Type of beacon.
New or used, does it matter?
What should I look for and what should be the requirements?
Same goes to lesser extend for the probes and shovel.

All opinions are welcomed.

Yes, I know that an Avy course is also very important.
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Re: Avy equipment recommendations

Postby lookn4powder » Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:30 am

Patrick wrote:Avy gear newbie here.

Instead of renting/borrowing, I might consider buying a transceiver new or used. Same does with the probes and shovel.

Any recommendations here?

Type of beacon.
New or used, does it matter?
What should I look for and what should be the requirements?
Same goes to lesser extend for the probes and shovel.

All opinions are welcomed.

Yes, I know that an Avy course is also very important.



I feel like I?m on dangerous ground here because many skiers on this board probably have more backcountry experience with avi equipment than me?and I have not taken an avi course. But I can offer some thoughts based on my hands-on experience.

BEACONS: If you buy used, pay attention to the age of the unit. I read somewhere that the broadcast and receiver center frequencies in a beacon can drift systematically over time. Thus, a beacon should be shop-tuned every five years.

Because I believe that my IQ will drop 20 points if I am suddenly tasked with saving buried friend(s), I have never considered analog units. Digital units are simpler to operate properly. Analog beacons seem to have slightly higher sensitivity but the difference seems functionally unimportant. Over the past five years I have carried two ARVA 9000?s (the older yellow body model and newer orange body model), a friend?s Tracker, and for this season I have bought a Pieps DSP. On the hill I have trained extensively only with both ARVA?s. Although you will find reviews claiming superiority of one beacon over others, my buddies and I locate a ?single burial? with equal speed using the ARVA and Trackers. In short, training equalizes the effectiveness among most units.

This year I wanted to upgrade my avi beacon so that it has the latest technical advances. I looked carefully at the ARVA Advanced and the Pieps DSP. The new digital ARVA has two antennas and the Pieps DSP has three antennas that allows for dual analog/digital operations. (I will ignore the analog feature.) Both units have advanced tools for multiple burial searches and allow for firmware upgrades. I opted for the Pieps because it seems to have a better multiple burial search algorithms.

But the choice was not really clear since trained skiers may achieve the same performance from either beacon. The ARVA has a better harness (he Pieps harness fits poorly), a better ?on/off? switch and a better ?broadcast/search? mode switch. These features may not be superficial. A few years ago field tests under high-stress conditions with non-professional skiers found that a significant fraction of a group attempted to initiate searches with nonfunctioning beacons. Their beacons were either not powered up or in the wrong mode. ARVA beacons robustly avoid this problem because they are powered when their harnesses are fastened. The ARVA ?broadcast/search? mode switch is a large slider on the nose of the unit. The beacon mode is unambiguous and the switch is easy to operate while wearing heavy gloves. Moreover, the slider is designed to snap into ?send? mode should the rescuer become buried in a secondary slide. For comparison, the Pieps ?broadcast/search? mode switch is slightly harder to operate with gloved hands. I believe that the construction of the Pieps switch is more likely to break during a secondary slide and is very unlikely to snap back to send mode.

SHOVELS: I own and ski with both aluminum and plastic Life-link shovels. I prefer the plastic shovel because it packs more compactly and is narrower. If my aluminum shovel had the same shape, I?d probably prefer it because it might chop ice more easily. During the winter I use these shovels often for mundane tasks (removing snowplow ice-pack, cleaning cars off) and they perform about the same.

PROBES: I use a French folding model that deploys to its full length instantly, but I don?t remember its brand or length.

Jeff
When encountering a skier, turn. Same goes for a tree.
-2nd Law of Skiing
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