5 Best Avalanche Beacons for Skiing

Avoiding avalanche-prone areas and educating yourself on avalanche safety are both keys to lowering your chances of getting into a bad situation. An avalanche beacon is a vital piece of gear that can save your life if you get caught in a slide. 

I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life, and I have luckily avoided avalanches the whole time. That doesn’t mean I’m not prepared for the worst, and I always take a beacon with me in the backcountry. I have experience with these devices and know how to find the best options. 

The Mammut Barryvox is my pick for the best avalanche beacon for skiing this season. This very reliable unit gives you an effective search range of 70 meters. It also has a long battery life and is very durable. 

There are several other good avalanche beacons out there, and I’ll show you all of the best models in this post. If you venture into the backcountry, you need to play it safe. Having a good beacon is essential for this reason. 

Let’s get started. 

Who Should Get This

It always pays to be prepared. If you’re skiing in the backcountry or anywhere with high avalanche risk, you need to be extra prepared because a beacon can save your life.

Backcountry skiers should have an avalanche beacon on them at all times. It’s a simple solution that will allow searchers to find you if you become buried in an avalanche.

Beacons can obviously be used by snowboarders, nordic skiers, snowmobilers, and anyone else who wants to spend time in the wilderness in the winter. 

If you only ski in-bounds at a resort, you don’t need to use a beacon. However, if you want extra peace of mind just in case the unthinkable happens, it’s an easy item to throw in your pack.

Modern avalanche beacons are pretty effective. The best models have a range of 70 meters or more, which gives rescuers a good chance of locating you quickly. Any advantage is better than nothing, and beacons are a great lifeline.

Most beacons are designed to work for years of reliable performance. You should replace your beacon every ten years at the most, just to ensure optimal performance.

A good beacon will easily last for ten years or more. They are designed to give you the same performance for a long, long time.

Yes, an avalanche beacon is a transmitter and receiver in the same unit. This makes them function as a life-saving and rescue device. If you are trapped in a slide, they will transmit your location.

Yes, nearly all modern avalanche beacons are designed to work together. This ensures that they can function as life-saving devices even when different units are in the field simultaneously.

Best Avalanche Beacon for Skiing: Top Picks

Here are all of my top picks for the best avalanche beacons for skiing this year. 

1. Mammut Barryvox

  • Best for: Overall 
  • Key features: Extended range, long battery life, reliable performance, easy to read display
  • Range: 70 meters 
  • Battery Life: Up to 350 hours 
  • Cost: $$$$

The Mammut Barryvox S Beacon is a top option that’s hard to beat. This well-designed and reliable item provides the peace of mind you need when venturing into the backcountry in search of endless powder. 

What makes this truly stand out is its range. It has an effective digital search strip width and digital receiving range of 70 meters. 

Other key features of the Barryvox S include an extended range of up to 100 meters and a wide circular receiving field that helps narrow down a search with nearly identical receiving ranges of the X and Y antennas. 

It also has a bright, clear digital display that can be read even when wearing polarized glasses or goggles.

It’s expensive but very much worth it for the added safety it provides. 

==> You can also get it on Utah Ski Gear or Backcountry or Evo.

2. Backcountry Access Tracker 3

  • Best for: Design 
  • Key features: Lightweight, good design, long battery life, solid effective range 
  • Range: 50 meters
  • Battery Life: Up to 200 hours
  • Cost: $$$$

Another solid avalanche beacon is the Backcountry Access Tracker 3. This unit has a great design that is easy to use and very reliable.  

This lightweight option comes in at 7.6 ounces, making it easy to keep on your body with the included harness. 

It has an effective range of 50 meters, which is the recommended minimum and has good battery life for accurate and consistent performance in winter weather. It even comes certified to both North American and European safety standards.

This one doesn’t have as long of a range as my top pick, but it’s still very effective. 

==> You can also get it on MEC or Atmosphere or Moosejaw.

3. Black Diamond PIEPS Micro BT

  • Best for: Small Profile 
  • Key features: Small profile, lightweight, flagging function, great sensors
  • Range: 50 meters 
  • Battery Life: Up to 200 hours 
  • Cost: $$$

For another excellent avalanche beacon that can be used for other wilderness activities, check out the Black Diamond PIEPS Micro BT. 

This well-built device comes with the standard three antennas for extra safety and reliable transmission and a self-checking antenna. 

It features a smart transmitter that adjusts signal to allow for multiple burial scenarios and a beacon drift adjustment for added precision during location.

This one has shorter battery life with a smaller design, but it still compares to all the top models. 

4. Arva Evo 5

  • Best for: Lightweight 
  • Key features: Lightweight design, extra-large screen, good search range
  • Range: 50 meters  
  • Battery Life: Up to 200 hours 
  • Cost: $$$

The Arva Evo 5 is another solid beacon and is my pick for the best lightweight option. This is a good one for any serious backcountry skier who is trying to limit the weight of their gear. 

It still has an extra-large screen that gives you visible readouts even in near whiteout conditions despite a smaller size. 

A 50-meter range gives you the industry standard for search radius, and a 200-hour battery life leads to reliability you can count on. 

It can be just a little challenging to use the controls with gloves on, though it’s still doable. 

==> You can also get it on Utah Ski Gear or Evo or Backcountry.

5. Backcountry Access Tracker S

  • Best for: Budget Option 
  • Key features: Affordable, 5-year warranty, small profile, effective design, lightweight 
  • Range: 50 meters 
  • Battery Life: Up to 200 hours
  • Cost: $$

The Backcountry Access Tracker S is a more affordable avalanche beacon that will still give you dependable performance when you need it most. 

This is a stripped-down beacon that doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, but you still get all the essential features that give you reliable search and transmitting capabilities.

It’s also a lightweight option that makes for a good unit to bring on extended backcountry adventures. It has an intuitive design that is easy to operate as well. 

This one is pretty simple in design, but that helps keep the cost down quite a bit. 

==> You can also get it on Backcountry or MEC or Walmart.

How to Choose an Avalanche Beacon for Skiing

Here are some essential factors to consider when choosing an avalanche beacon for skiing. 

Receiving Range

One of the biggest considerations with an avalanche beacon is the effective search range it provides. That refers to the distance from the beacon’s physical location to where a transmitter can pick up the signal and locate the beacon. 

The more extensive the receiving range, the easier it is to locate the beacon and, as such, anyone stuck in an avalanche. Look for a minimum of 50 meters, but the higher, the better. That gives rescuers an increased chance of locating you if you get stuck in a slide. 

If that happens, you want everything on your side, and you want a beacon that will put out the best and farthest signal because it can help save your life. All of the options you see here have a range of at least 50 meters.

Number of Antennas

Almost all modern avalanche beacons come with three antennas. That provides you with the best signal to help pinpoint the beacon’s location. By using multiple antennas, a beacon’s signal can be triangulated quickly. 

That allows for a faster rescue time if you get caught in an avalanche. While any beacon is better than none at all, you should always look for an option that comes with three antennas to ensure the best signal.

Battery Life

All avalanche beacons are powered by a battery. And all batteries can run out of charge. You want to make sure the beacon you purchase has an extended battery life that will put out a signal for hours (or days) of one charge. 

The options you’ll find here have excellent battery life to give you more reliability. 

Useful Tips & Resources

If you have the need for an avalanche beacon, you also need to know how to avoid avalanches in the first place. You need to be well-prepared and understand how to react if you or anyone you’re skiing with gets caught in one. 

Check out these tips on avalanche safety and take a class before heading out into the backcountry.

And the video below will provide you with some basic information on conducting a search with an avalanche beacon if you don’t already know. 

Final Verdict

The Mammut Barryvox is my pick for the best avalanche beacon for skiing this season. This is a very reliable and dependable unit, which is absolutely essential. It also has one of the widest search ranges you can find. 

If you are skiing anywhere with avalanche risk or just always want to play it safe, you need to get a good avalanche beacon. All models you see here will give you added safety and protection in dangerous situations.

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