An avalanche beacon is an essential piece of gear for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing that I hope I never need to use. Minutes are crucial when someone is buried in the snow. If they don’t have an air pocket, they can suffocate fairly quickly.
Ortovox is a popular brand of avalanche beacon and I have one of their F1 Focus avalanche transceivers. Now they’ve introduced the 3+ Avalanche Beacon. The 3+ is the first 3-antenna device with Smart Antenna Technology™, intelligent positioning system that analyzes the position of the antennas and automatically switches to the most optimal transmission. In short, the 3+ makes all other avalanche beacons more efficient at finding you.
The 3+ Avalanche Beacon represents a significant and important forward step in backcountry safety technology. Utilizing Smart Antenna Technology™, the 3+ is the first avalanche beacon to automatically recognize which of its two primary antennas is best positioned to emit the strongest flux line for rescuers to pick up. “There’s never been an avalanche beacon like this,” said Ortovox USA CEO Marcus Peterson, “A lot of energy and investment has been spent making transceivers get better at searching. The 3+ is undoubtedly the best at being found.”
The 3+ is no slouch at finding people either. A large real-time display with directional arrow and distance to the victim helps hone your rescue quickly and intuitively. The display deck also allows for a visual, easy-to-use overview of multi-burial situations that allows the rescuer to flag a victim once they are found. Additional features include rubberized housing for added protection, lighted display for night searches, switchover in case of a follow-up avalanche, optimized search acoustics and visual representation of victim proximity (in addition to metric distance).
All the features sound great for the Ortovox 3 Plus avalanche beacon so hopefully it performs as well in real life situations as the company says. I’ve been on backcountry hut trips where the group has had a few different avalanche beacons. We’ve practiced finding buried beacons and there are differences in how well they pick up the signals and how easy they are to use.