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Walking Equipment and Accessories

Mammut Barryvox S Avalanche Transceiver | Review

A powerful, ultra high-tech transceiver from Mammut which is incredibly easy to use

An avalanche transceiver is an unusual bit of kit, because although you want to get a high spec model with as many features as you can afford, you also hope that you’ll never have to use any of them. It’s also completely essential for anyone who’s serious enough about mountaineering, skiing or snowboarding to start venturing off into the backcountry. Whether or not you have a transceiver, shovel and probe (and of course know how to use them properly) can quite literally be a question of life or death in the mountains.

Mammut, a Swiss company which was founded as far back as 1862, have been making avalanche beacons for years, and they’ve developed an excellent reputation. When this reviewer triggered an avalanche last year, he was very glad to be wearing a Mammut. The Barryvox S is brand new for the 2017-2018 winter season, replacing their popular Barryvox Pulse as the top-of-the-range model.

Like its predecessor, this is named in tribute to Barry der Menschenretter (“Barry the manfinder”), a celebrated mountain rescue dog who is credited with saving more than 40 lives between 1800 and 1814. But Mammut decided to ditch “Pulse” for “S” in the name because this isn’t just an update, it’s had a radical makeover.

“The bottom line is that this is the best Barryvox ever.”

The designers focused on three main areas of improvement – making the range more powerful, making the device easier to use, and improving its ability to find people quickly, especially in the case of multiple burials.

The transceiver sits nicely on the user with a mount designed not to get in your way. Photo: Chris Johnson.
It's powerful, it's easy to use, and it's fast. Photo: Chris Johnson.
The battery life is astounding at about 300 hours. Photo: Chris Johnson.

The new Barryvox S has an effective search range of up to 70 metres, compared to 60 metres on the previous model. This means the “strip width” (the width of the perpendicular zig-zags you have to make down the fall-line in the “coarse search” stage of a rescue) is 70 metres wide, so you can cover more ground quicker.

Ergonomically they’ve made improvements too, making the screen bigger, easier to read and changing the buttons so you just have to slide a switch to change between search and send functions, rather than pushing and sliding, as before.

Finally they’ve improved the speed at which this latest Barryvox S model picks up signals, and improved its ability to separate signals so that rescuers don’t get confused in the case of multiple burials.

There are plenty of other useful features too, like the ability to enter user profiles or customise the time that the device will switch from search to send automatically when it stops moving – useful in case there’s a follow-up slide that catches you out while you’re searching for avalanche victims. The bottom line is that this is the best Barryvox ever.

Mammut Barryvox Transceiver

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