Buying Guides

Avalanche Transceiver Why You Must Have One – Complete Guide

How to choose and use an avalanche transceiver?

If you play and travel in snowy backcountry areas, then you and your companions must each carry three vital pieces of gear and an avalanche transceiver, a probe, and a shovel as well. In the hand of professionals, this gear can mean the difference between life and death, if an avalanche occurs. Furthermore, survival literally depends on how faster rescuers can pinpoint and excavate a buried avalanche victim. Keep in mind, your skill in using your transceiver is far more important than the model you choose to buy.

What’re avalanche transceivers?

Avalanche transceivers are worn close to the human body and they continuously emit a radio signal that can be picked up by other transceivers in the area. Your companions with the transceivers can switch them to the search mode to locate a buried person signal and with the probe help them pinpoint exactly where to dig.

In addition, all the transceivers today operate in the same international standard of 457KHz. So, you do not need to get a similar brand and model as others in your group. You also do not need to pay a premium price, unless you want a unit with many more advanced features.

Difference between personal locator beacon versus transceiver?    

An avalanche transceiver isn’t the same as the personal locator beacon (PTB), which can only be used to send a save our soul (SOS) signal to search and rescue teams. Those teams are likely to be too far away to aid you in a very successful avalanche rescue. A lot of avalanche experts prefer the term transceiver to beacon, so as not to confuse the two. A personal locator beacon (PTB) and satellite messenger will still be important if you need medical support and help with the evacuation and other help after digging out the victim.

Transceiver features:         

A higher cost relates to the number and sophistication of the unit features. It also reflects the lightweight and compact design, when choosing an avalanche transceiver, then you much consider these features.

A number of antennas:

A lot of transceivers today including unit sold at REI have three antenna design that allows searchers to more efficiently pinpoint the location of the victim and regardless of the orientation of the buried person’s transceiver.

Display screen:

A display communicates the direction & distance to the buried victim. So, the user’s interfaces vary to brand and model. But, the variables are fairly intuitive to use.


Consider the stated range of distances to be the best-case scenario. Greater range allow you to pick up the signal from a further distance. In fact, the range is often shorter, because the orientation sending unit to a searching unit is rarely ideal. In addition, you’re also searching technique calls for searching in 20m swaths, so you need that as a minimum.

Multiple burials:

Valuable in the slide that has many victims. These multiple burials feature lets you flag the location of each burial person. So, you can move on to search for the additional members, then you can go back & do a fine search such as victim by victim.

Audio signal:

Most models emit an audible tone that also helps searchers know when they are getting closer to a victim.

Auto revert to send:

This feature automatically switches a transceiver to the send mode, if it is accidentally left in the search mode and has been stationary for a particular time. This feature works vary between models and different scenarios which makes it more and less useful.


  • It automatically switches your device to send, if it’s buried by the secondary avalanche while searching.
  • It automatically switches your device to send, if you forget to put the unit in the send mode.


  • A subsequent avalanche can simply and easily rip the transceiver out of the searcher’s hand, which can divert a subsequent searcher to the location of that person’s now separate transceiver.
  • An auto-reverted transceiver in the searcher’s hand can confuse the other searchers, who pick up its signal instead of the buried victim.

Backup transmitter:

This separate product isn’t an avalanche transceiver, because it has no search function and its purpose is to transmit in the event that the subsequent avalanche separates you from your regular transceiver. While you’re searching r someone else who is buried.

4 Tips on using an avalanche transceiver:

Carry your avalanche transceiver the way the manual recommends:

Carrying your transceiver guards against it being separated from you, during an avalanche. Plenty of manufacturers provides a harness and carrying system and recommend that you carry your transceiver close to your body.

Moreover, it should also be worn underneath your outer layer of clothing, close to your torso, & not stowed in the pack. Few people choose to carry their avalanche transceiver in a pocket, but this’s only acceptable securely zipped pocket, and ideally attached via the transceiver lanyard to an internal sewn loop. So, check your manual for the recommended way to carry your avalanche transceiver.

Learn and practice how to use your avalanche transceiver:

Survival rates drop off significantly after someone is buried for ten-minutes. So, it is critical for you to become an expert with yours. Although, read your transceiver manual and take an avalanche rescue class and regularly practice using your transceiver, probe, and shovel as well.

Always keep an avalanche transceiver is the send mode:

It is critical to keep the transceiver in the send mode at all times because you would not be able to switch modes after an avalanche buries and immobilize you. Furthermore, searching the transceiver wearer will immediately switch their units to the search mode, in order to receiver the signal of your transceiver is sending out.

Beware of electronic interference:

Avoid carrying other electronic devices such as cell phones and radio close to your transceiver. So, such electronic devices can interfere with the search and transmit signals.

Are all avalanche transceivers compatible?

The only thing you must need to know is that all an avalanche operate on the same frequency and are therefore fully compatible. That means you can also search for an avalanche beacon with any other avalanche beacon available on market.

What’s an avalanche probe used for?

A metal rod used to probe through avalanche debris for the buried victims. Avalanche probes are a must for the backcountry. Furthermore, they can knock precious minutes off the rescue time in an avalanche situation and the collapsible probes assemble very quickly, so they are longer and they slide through the snow much more easily than the ski pole probes.

How long you an avalanche beacon last?

Beacon is a life-saving device that requiring 100 reliability. The best way to ensure this is through the replacement of the unit before it is too late. Pieps stood in the middle and stating that no beacon should be older than the 10-years.

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