Pieps Freeride Transceiver
Ross McEwen, February 7, 2011
An avalanche transceiver is an essential piece of gear for the advanced skier. Since 1972 Pieps, Austrian snow safety specialists, have been working on products that increase survival rates in avalanches since 1972. Their main products include probes, shovels and backpacks, essential gear for off-piste junkies.
Since its inception in 1972, the avalanche transceiver has changed markedly. Pieps’ original offering was bulky, analogue and had a terrible battery life. After years of development, the Pieps Freeride demonstrates technological progress in this field. Weighing in at 110 grams, it is roughly the size of an iPhone, emits a digital frequency and has a battery life of 200 hours in ‘send’ mode from two AA batteries. In the event of a burial, its signal can be picked up from 40 metres away, and it has an ‘auto revert function’ in the event of a second avalanche.
The Freeride comes with a chest harness, which should be worn above the base layer to prevent disruption in the event of a fall. The harness is as comfortable as any I’ve tried, and is not noticeable when a jacket and backpack are worn. I was fortunate not to be caught in an avalanche during the test period, but I did bury it and practice searching. I found the large digital display simple to use and the chunky, buttons easy to control with gloves on. Considering the urgency of a real avalanche situation, usability and reliability play huge roles in safety products like the Pieps Freeride.
Pieps stress heavily in the handbook that an avalanche transceiver is useless in inexperienced hands. In order to get the most out of the Pieps Freeride, attending a mountain safety course and regular practice is essential.
The Freeride is available for £129 from facewest.co.uk.