Freeride, Snowboard, Ski touring | Dec 7, 2021

Choosing and using an avalanche transceiver

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For many of us, there’s nothing better than to spend a glorious day in the snow with family or friends. We also know that it’s often tempting to venture away from the crowds, to catch some untracked runs or simply enjoy some winter solitude. However, as soon as you leave the groomed slopes, safety becomes a major concern.

Because whether you go freeriding or ski touring, avalanches pose a significant danger. That’s why it’s vital to come prepared with high-quality safety equipment. One of the standard items: a professional avalanche transceiver.

In this blog article, we’ll tell you everything about these useful little gadgets that can save lives. Together with the mountain safety experts of Mammut, we have answered the most important questions on choosing and using an avalanche transceiver.

What is an avalanche transceiver?

An avalanche transceiver is something like a modern-day St. Bernard dog. In short, it helps to find people who are buried under snow.

Avalanche transceivers are electronic devices worn on the body. They both transmit or receive a radio signal. When turned on, they transmit an electronic signal about once every second. If someone gets caught by an avalanche, the rest of the party can turn their transceivers to “receive” and locate the signal of the buried victim.

By the way: All transceivers operate on the same international 457 kHz standard.

© Mammut Archive
© Mammut

Avalanche transceiver or personal locator beacon – what’s the difference?

Avalanche transceivers are sometimes also called beacons. This often causes confusion because it can easily be mistaken with a personal locator beacon (PLB). However, the latter only transmits a call for help, while the transceiver also helps you find your companion in the snow.

What is important in an avalanche transceiver?

When choosing an avalanche transceiver, speed and ease of use are the most important factors. However, there are a number of other features you might want to consider before buying:

  • Number of antennas: A three-antenna design allows for more efficient location pinpointing.
  • Display screen: An intuitive user interface makes it easier to find a buried victim.
  • Range: A greater range allows you to pick up a signal from farther away.
  • Multiple burials: This option allows you to locate several victims.
  • Audio signal: A signal lets you know when you get closer to the victim.
  • Auto revert to send: This feature automatically switches the transceiver to send if it has been stationary for a specified time.

Our top pick: the Mammut Barryvox®. It combines a highly powerful search with intuitive handling and fast rescue options – a real lifesaver!

How is an avalanche transceiver used correctly?

Every transceiver works differently, so it’s important that you carefully read the manual of your product before using it for the first time.

Keep in mind: Even more important than reading the manual is actual practice! Carrying the safety gear will be useless without some training. So get out there, practice and refresh your skills every season! Because remember: On average, you only have ten minutes to pinpoint and dig out a buried person for them to survive.

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Our tip

Avalanche courses and rescue training are extremely useful ways to ensure the safety of you and your friends

What other safety equipment do I need?

Apart from an avalanche transceiver, there are some other essential tools you should always take with you when you’re headed for the backcountry.

A standard set of avalanche safety equipment includes:

Our tip: An avalanche airbag reduces the risk of getting completely buried in an avalanche and can help to minimise rescue time.


You’re all set for your next off-piste adventure and have the necessary safety equipment to go with it? That’s great! Then how about trying out the latest snowboard by your favourite brand while you’re at it?

At INTERSPORT Rent, you can find a vast selection of latest-generation snowboards and skis for rent. Our RENTertainers on site are happy to show you around and support you in finding what’s right for you.

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