If you’re the kind of skier who lives to run Black Diamonds, or you like to hike along remote wilderness snow trails, think about carrying an avalanche transceiver on your adventures. If you get buried by snow, such a device can save your life; it transmits a pulsed radio signal that can be received by similar devices within a limited surrounding area.
An important thing to keep in mind about avalanche transceivers — sometimes called avalanche beacons — is that they’re intended to be used by at least two people, each with a device. When people are skiing or hiking the backcountry, transceivers are always set to Transmit mode. If someone becomes buried under snow, their device would continue to transmit (those searching switch their devices to Search mode).
Sleek, pocket-friendly and powerful, the Backcountry Access Tracker 3 is one of the most highly rated transceivers around, and a favorite of professional guides. The three-antenna device runs on 3 AAA alkaline batteries, operates on 457 kHz, offers a 55-meter range, weighs 7.6 ounces (with batteries), and uses a single dial to move between Off, Search and Transmit modes.
Tracker 3 also provides real-time display, as well as markings for multiple burials. Among many other features, its firmware is easily upgraded via a mini USB port. It can be used worldwide. $335. www.backcountryaccess.com.
In Sonoma County, Backcountry Access products are carried by REI.