Backcountry Access Tracker2 Beacon Review

For the past several years I have been skiing, guiding, and teaching with the Backcountry Access Tracker2 avalanche transceiver.  I typically get in close to 80 days every winter wearing my beacon. These include a mix of ski patrolling, course leading AIARE Level 1 and Level 2 avalanche courses, ski guiding in the San Juans around Silverton and Red Mountain Pass, and personal skiing.

Students on an AIARE Level 2 having a classroom session on the deck of the Addie S Cabin on Red Mountain Pass. San Juan Mountains, CO

Students on an AIARE Level 2 having a classroom session on the deck of the Addie S Cabin on Red Mountain Pass. San Juan Mountains, CO

I used this beacon on my American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Advanced Ski Guide Course for the close proximity multiple burial beacon drill and will likely use this beacon on my AMGA ski guide exam next spring in Valdez, AK. I want a beacon that is simple and works every time. The Tracker2 does this. These are several key features of the simple Tracker2 that I love.

American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Certified Alpine Guide, Rock Guide, and Assistant Ski Guide, Josh Kling, doing a snow stability assessment. San Juan Mountains, CO. Photo by AMGA Certified Ski and Rock Guide Matt Wade.

1) The toggle switch to get the beacon from transit mode to search mode is one of the simplest on the market, even with gloves or mittens on. There is no finicky button or switch. The toggle is HUGE and easy to deal with.

AMGA Certified Alpine Guide, Certified Rock Guide, and Assistant Ski Guide, Josh Kling, dropping into the meat of the Snake Couloir on Mt. Sneffels.

American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Certified Alpine Guide, Rock Guide, and Assistant Ski Guide, Josh Kling, dropping into the meat of the Snake Couloir on Mt. Sneffels. Photo by AMGA Certified Ski guide and Rock guide Matt Wade.

2) The LED display is extremely easy to see even in low light OR with polarized lenses. If you have every tried to fill up your car with gas while wearing polarized lenses your know how the screen can be difficult to see.  This is due to LCD displays and polarized lenses.  The large red LEDs are visible regardless of lighting or eyewear.

American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Aprentice Ski Guide Mike Henderson using his Backcountry Access Tracker 2 to find the prize and on American Institue for Avalanche research and Education Level 2 avalanche course on Red Mountain Pass.  San Juan Mountains,  CO

American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Aprentice Ski Guide Mike Henderson using his Backcountry Access Tracker2 to find the prize and on American Institue for Avalanche research and Education Level 2 avalanche course on Red Mountain Pass. San Juan Mountains, CO

3) The Tracker2 detaches from the chest harness. This allows it to be worn either in the harness or in a pocket. While my personal preference is to wear my beacon in the chest harness, I do like the option to be able to detach it from the harness. More and more ski guides, patrollers, and backcountry skiers in general seam to be wearing their beacons in designated beacon pockets on their pants. If the beacon is preeminently attached to the harness, this is not an option.

AMGA Certified Ski and Rock Guide Chris "Snowmarshall" Marshall assessing an R2D2 slide in Porspect Gulch.  San Juan Mountains, CO.

AMGA Certified Ski and Rock Guide Chris “Snowmarshall” Marshall assessing an R2D2 slide in Porspect Gulch. San Juan Mountains, CO.

Students on an AIARE Level 2 avalanche course assign snow crystals on their BCA metal crystal card.  San Juan Mountains, CO.

Students on an AIARE Level 2 avalanche course assign snow crystals on their BCA metal crystal card. San Juan Mountains, CO.

4) Ease of use for OTHERS. If I am buried in an avalanche and dug up by somebody that has a beacon OTHER than a Tracker2, I want them to be able to figure out how to turn my beacon off without my help. While multiple-burials are unlikely in the US, they are possible. Having a beacon that others can figure out and turn off is a comfort to me. I do not want my partners struggling to figure out how to turn my beacon off.

Students on an AIARE Level 1 avalanche course looking at snow crystals from a small column test.

Students on an AIARE Level 1 avalanche course looking at snow crystals from a small column test.

While the Tracker2 does not have a marking/ flagging function for multiple burials, I found to not need to not make a difference. The close proximity multiple burial drill in the AMGA ski exam involves finding three buried transceivers in under 7 minutes. Two of the beacons are buried extremely close, and one is a deep burial. After trying serval different three antenna beacons, I have found that the Tracker2 is the best beacon on the market for locking on to the strong signal This is due to its fast processing. If there is a multiple burial (which statistically is low anyways), since there is no marking function there are extra any buttons to push. As long as long as the deposition pile is covered in a systematic fashion, there is nothing additional to do. Despite not having a flagging function, the Tracker 2 still performed flawlessly on my AMGA rescue drill. If I can find three beacons in under seven minutes with the Tracker2, I can certainly find one beacon.

Students on an AIARE Level 2 at the Addie S Cabin on Red Mountain Pass learning about re-cyrstalization of snow.

Students on an AIARE Level 2 at the Addie S Cabin on Red Mountain Pass learning about re-cyrstalization of snow.

Overall this is an awesome beacon. Despite newer beacons being available that taught fancy features, I have stuck with the Tracker2 and been extremely psyched about it.

Josh Kling,
AMGA Certified Alpine Guide & Certified Rock Guide
AMGA Assistant Ski Guide
IFMGA Aspirant Mountain Guide
AIARE Level 1 & 2 Course Leader

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