Best Avalanche Beacons - Feature Image

7 Best Avalanche Beacons of 2023/2024

I love backcountry skiing as much as the next powderhound, but you have to be honest with yourself. As soon as you leave the resort, you are putting yourself at risk.

I live in Hakuba, Japan, one of the world’s powder meccas and a fantastic spot for backcountry skiing. I spend 30+ days skiing and guiding outside the resort in an average season.

Best Avalanche Beacon - Avalanche

It’s not often spoken about in town, but there are fatalities in the backcountry every year. Last year, a pro skier filming in Hakuba died, near where I ski regularly.

I take avalanche safety seriously. I have a wife, kids, and a business that depends on me to come home every day.

An avalanche transceiver is an essential part of the avalanche safety kit I take with me. I carry my avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe whenever I head beyond the resort boundary.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Tracker 4

Best Avalanche Beacon - Best Overall - BCA Tracker4

Key Features

  • 7.6 oz
  • 250 hr Battery Life
  • 70m range
  • Multiple Burial

Best Beginner

Diract Voice

Best Avalanche Beacon - Best For Beginners - Ortovox Diract Voice

Key Features

  • 8.8 oz
  • 200 hr Battery Life
  • 50m Range
  • Verbal Commands

Best Value

Tracker S

Best Avalanche Beacon - Best Budget - BCA Tracker S

Key Features

  • 5.8 oz
  • 250 hrs Battery Life
  • 55m Range
  • No Motion Sensor

In this article, I will review the best avalanche beacons and what to consider when purchasing a transceiver.

What to consider when purchasing an avalanche transceiver

  1. Ease of use: You want a beacon that is easy to use, even in a stressful situation. The last thing you want to do is fumble with your beacon when time is of the essence.
  2. Battery life: Most beacons will have a battery life of around 200 hours. However, some models may have extended battery life, which can be valuable if you spend a lot of time backcountry skiing.
  3. Multiple burial indicator: This feature will indicate if multiple beacons are buried under the snow. This can be extremely helpful in avalanche rescue situations.
  4. Display: Some beacons will have an LED display showing you the distance and direction of a buried beacon.

The draw of skiing untouched powder can be a strong one. Before you decide that ducking a rope is for you, take an avalanche safety course, ensure your safety gear is in your backpack, and check that your ski buddies know how to use it!

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What Is The Best Avalanche Beacon?

Here is our ranked and reviewed list of the best avalanche beacons.

The 7 Best Avalanche Beacons

  1. Best Overall – Backcountry Access Tracker4
  2. Best For Beginners – Ortovox Diract Voice
  3. Best Value – Backcountry Access Tracker S
  4. Best Heavy Duty – Black Diamond Recon X
  5. Best Compact – BD Recon LT Beacon
  6. Best For Ease of use – Backcountry Access Tracker3+
  7. Best For Professionals – Mammut Barryvox S
Best Overall


  • Intuitive use
  • Great fine search


  • 60s signal suppression


  • Weight: 7.6 oz
  • Battery Life: 250 hrs
  • Max Range: 55m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • Motion sensor reverts to transmit mode
  • Bluetooth capable
  • Fleet management

The Backcountry Access Tracker4 is the best overall avalanche transceiver. It’s easy to use and packed with tons of great features. The rubberized molded case and larger LED display offer improved durability and functionality.

The Tracker4 is a 3 antenna beacon capable of signal suppression and Big Picture modes for easy multiple-victim searching. It also has a motion-sensing auto revert-to-transmit mode, which is excellent for safety.

Built using the same fast and intuitive user interface of the Backcountry Access Tracker3, the Tracker4 is easy to use, even in the most challenging situations. It is upgradeable with electronics performance testing for fleet management.

The only thing missing from the Tracke4 is Bluetooth connectivity.


MSRP $399.95

Best For Beginners


  • Voice direction
  • Simple use


  • Some voice prompts confusing
  • Direction arrows disappear at 3m vs. 2m


  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • Battery Life: 200+ hrs
  • Max Range: 50m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • Voice direction
  • Max 4 multi-burial signals

The Ortovox Diract Voice is one of the best avalanche beacons for beginners. An avalanche burial is an intense situation that challenges even the most experienced guides. When seconds matter, you want an intuitive beacon design that is easy to use.

The Diract combines a simple-to-use design with innovative voice technology. When in search mode, the device gives verbal commands to perform the search. This is an important feature, especially for beginners, as it reduces stress in an emergency and helps speed up the search.

The three antenna device also comes equipped with Smart-Antenna Technology. This technology analyzes the beacon’s location in the avalanche and automatically switches to the best transmitting antenna. As a result, you reach double the range and will be found more quickly.


MSRP $330.00

Best Value


  • Affordable
  • Easy to Use


  • No motion sensor
  • Can’t upgrade
Check Price


  • Weight: 5.8 oz
  • Battery Life: 250 hrs
  • Max Range: 55m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • Simplified Tracker 3+
  • Fast Processor

The Backcountry Access Tracker S is the best budget avalanche beacon. The Tracker S is a simplified version of the Tracker 3, with a few features removed to make it more affordable. The most significant difference is that the Tracker S does not have a motion sensor, which automatically puts the beacon in “send” mode if the beacon doesn’t move for a minute. While this is a safety feature, it’s not essential for recreational users.

The Tracker S also can’t upgrade the firmware, but this is not a big deal for most people. Despite these few differences, the Tracker S has all the basic features you need in an avalanche transceiver, and it performs just as well as the more expensive models.


MSRP $299.99

Best Heavy Duty


  • Durable construction
  • Bluetooth updates


  • Bare bone features


  • Weight: 7.6 oz
  • Battery Life: 400 hrs
  • Max Range: 60m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • iProbe compatible
  • Bluetooth

The Black Diamond Recon X, is a durable, good-quality avalanche transceiver best suited for backcountry travelers. With a 60-meter circular range, three antennas, and Bluetooth functionality, the Recon X excels in both performance and convenience. The Recon X has an extended, symmetrical search area with pinpoint accuracy. The update-able software via Bluetooth or USB and harness-style carrying pouch make this beacon an excellent choice for everyday backcountry travelers. It’s a feature-rich yet easy-to-operate beacon that covers the bases for intermediate users.


MSRP $349.95

Best compact


  • Small & compact
  • Bluetooth


  • Stiff toggle
  • Battery life


  • Weight: 5.6oz
  • Battery Life: 200 hrs
  • Max Range: 50m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • iProbe support
  • Fast processor
  • Excellent precision

The BD Recon LT Beacon is the best small avalanche beacon. With its large display and easy-to-use controls, the BD Recon LT is our favorite beacon for those who count their grams. Skimo and mountaineering racers will love this beacon, as will anyone who wants a small, lightweight option.

The Recon LT has an excellent display. The large numbers are easy to read, and the signal strength bars are clear. The controls are also straightforward to use. It is one of the easiest beacons to use, with only three buttons. The Recon LT also has an iPROBE support feature. Despite its small size, it boasts one of the fastest processors and excellent precision during the bracketing stage.


MSRP $389.95

Best for ease of use


  • Fast processor
  • Great fine search
  • light


  • Screen info limited
  • Flagging lasts only 60s


  • Weight: 7.6 oz
  • Battery Life: 250 hrs
  • Max Range: 55m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • Motion sensor auto-switches to send
  • Bluetooth upgradable

The easiest beacon to use is the Backcountry Access Tracker3+. The tracker3+ features an easy-to-use interface with an OLED screen that is easy to read in all lighting conditions and motion-sensing auto revert-to-transmit mode.

The marking feature is simple to use and very effective. You can mark a buried victim, with mode for up to one minute, allowing you to focus on other buried beacons.

The Backcountry Access Tracker3+ also features an optional fleet management system that allows you to keep track of your beacons and their performance over time.


MSRP $349.95

Best For Professionals


  • best range
  • Advanced features


  • Not for beginners


  • Weight: 7.4 oz
  • Battery Life: 300 hrs
  • Max Range: 70m
  • Multiple Burial: Yes

Key Features

  • Audio and visual queues
  • W-Link radio

The Mammut Barryvox S is one of the most capable beacons making it ideal for professionals. With its digital and analog mode three-antenna and 70m search strip, it is one of the best beacons on the market. The Barryvox S is also equipped with a W-Link radio which adds an additional communication channel for improved search performance.

The visual and auditory search guidance of the Barryvox S is best in class, making it the choice for advanced user who demand the best performance from their equipment. The Barryvox S also features a U-turn indicator, an essential feature for search teams working in large and complex terrain.

The one negative with this beacon is that with all of the added features, there is a learning curve to be able to use this beacon properly. For beginners more basic beacons are a better choice as many backcountry users will find this beacon overkill. For the professional looking for the best battery life, maximum range, and most features, the Barryvox S is an excellent choice.


MSRP $ 549.95

Avalanche Transceiver Buying Guide

What is an Avalanche Beacon?

An avalanche transceiver is a device that emits a radio signal that can be detected by other avalanche beacons. This allows rescuers to find buried victims in an avalanche.

Beacons come in different shapes and sizes but have three essential components: a transmitter, receiver, and antenna. The transmitter sends a radio signal picked up by the receiver. The antenna helps to amplify the signal and makes it easier to detect.

Send and Receive Modes

An avalanche beacon has 2 primary functions; send and receive. To rescue someone, you have to be able to do both.

Sending Mode

All beacons can send a signal that other beacons can pick up. This is important because it allows rescuers to find buried victims. When in the backcountry, your beacon should be set to send at all times. If an avalanche occurs, your beacon will continuously transmit your location.

Search Mode

The second function of a beacon is the receive or search mode. You must put your beacon into search mode to find someone buried in an avalanche. The beacon will identify the location of all buried beacons using the transmitted signal.

Digital vs. Analog Beacons

Most modern avalanche beacons are digital. They offer several advantages over analog mode beacons. Digital beacons have better range, are more precise, and have easier-to-use control panels. In addition, digital beacons can be set to automatically go into receive mode when turned on and may automatically switch to send mode in a secondary avalanche scenario. Some beacons are hybrid digital/analog, meaning they have digital and analog modes.


One of the most essential features of an avalanche beacon is range. The range is the distance the beacon can pick up a signal from another. In search mode, most beacons have a max range of 50-60 meters.

Weight and Dimensions

Beacon size and weight vary depending on the model. Some beacons are small and lightweight, while others are larger and heavier. The size and weight of a beacon are something you should consider when making your purchase. Smaller, lighter beacons are easier to carry but may have a shorter range or be less durable. Larger, heavier beacons may be more difficult to carry but offer a more extended range and better durability.

Avalanche Beacon Functions

Along with the basic send and receive functions, beacons also have additional features that can be very helpful in an avalanche situation.

Multiple Burial Indicator

multiple burial capable beacons can mark the location of a buried beacon allowing a searcher to move on to a second beacon without interference from the first.BCA

Distance Reading

Most beacons include a distance reading that gives you the distance to the buried victim. This is beneficial because it allows you to zero in on the victim’s location.

Motion-Sensing Auto Revert-to-Transmit Mode

This is a newer feature that is becoming more common on digital beacons. With this feature, a capable beacon will automatically go into send mode if it fails to detect motion. This is meant to protect the user in the case of a secondary avalanche scenario. The beacon will switch to send mode if a rescuer is buried during a secondary avalanche.

Marking Function

In multiple burial scenarios, the marking function allows you to mark the location of any beacons buried. This is helpful because it will enable you to track where beacons are buried and prevent signals from interfering when you are trying to find multiple victims.

Audible Signaling

Most beacons also include an audible signal to help you find a buried victim. The audible signal gets louder as you get closer to the victim, making it easier to locate them.


Beacons are designed to withstand the rigors of backcountry travel, but they are not indestructible. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and inspect your beacon before each use.

Battery Type and Battery Life

Beacons have either an internal battery or use AA batteries. Beacons with an internal battery can be recharged, while those with AA batteries need to have the batteries replaced when they run out of power. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. With replaceable batteries, you can always carry an extra set with you. An internal battery creates less waste and is better for the environment. Beacon battery life varies depending on the model, but most will last for several hundred hours in transmit mode.


Most beacons have an external connection port to allow you to upgrade the software. This is helpful because it means you can keep your beacon up to date with the latest features and improvements. Some beacons also have Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to connect the beacon to your phone or other devices. Pieps beacons, for example, have a companion app that gives you additional information about your beacon and the search area.

Carrying Case and Strap

Most beacons come with a carrying case and strap. The carrying case helps protect the beacon from damage, and the strap keeps it securely attached to your body.

Software Updates

Beacons need to be updated with the latest software to function correctly. Most manufacturers offer free software updates, and some even have a companion app that allows you to update your beacon wirelessly.

Avalanche Safety

When it comes to safety, you can never be too prepared. In addition to carrying the proper avalanche safety tools, you also need to know how to use it. Carrying a beacon will not save your life, but carrying a beacon and knowing how to use it might. Before venturing into avalanche terrain, be sure you know how to use your equipment and practice.

Avalanche Safety Course

Taking an avalanche safety course is an excellent idea if you are new to the backcountry or want to brush up on your avalanche safety skills. In these courses, you will learn about avalanches, how to avoid them, and what to do if caught in one.

Several organizations offer avalanche safety training, but the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) is the most popular in the US.

Avalanche Safety Equipment

In addition to taking a safety course, carrying the proper equipment is essential for staying safe in the backcountry. In avalanche terrain, you should always have a shovel, probe, transceiver, and backpack.


How successful are avalanche beacons?

While an avalanche beacon can significantly improve your chances of survival if buried in an avalanche, they are not foolproof. Beacons can malfunction, and batteries can die. It is essential to always carry extra batteries and to practice using your beacon before venturing into avalanche terrain.

Do all avalanche beacons work together?

No, not all avalanche beacons work together. Different manufacturers use different frequencies and protocols. However, most newer beacons are compatible with each other. Digital and analog beacons are not compatible with each other.

Always perform a group beacon and check your equipment before heading into avalanche terrain.

What is the difference between Barryvox and Barryvox s?

The Barryvox S is the latest beacon version and includes several improvements over the original Barryvox. The Baryvox S has a larger screen, provides audio signals, and has an improved user interface.

When should I retire an avalanche beacon?

A beacon should be retired after 5-10 years or if the battery no longer holds a charge. At a bare minimum, your beacon should have 3 antennas and be digital compatible.

Final Thoughts

Avalanche beacons are essential equipment for anyone venturing into avalanche terrain. Be sure to purchase a beacon compatible with other devices, has an external connection port, and comes with a carrying case and strap. Most importantly, take a safety course and practice using your beacon before heading into the backcountry.

See you in the mountains!

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