Below I give a bit more information on the main sorts of avalanche beacons and how to choose one from some of the big names such as Barryvox, DTS Tracker, Pieps and Ortovox. I also offer some important considerations on choosing snow shovel.
If you choose not to carry the more expensive and advanced gear such as the Avalung, Snowpulse or Avalanche Airbag System I think that’s a fair decision to make. The choice to wear a piece of individual safety equipment is really a personal choice and one that will always be a balance between risk, reward and cost. But there are some bits of avalanche rescue gear that everyone should be carrying, because these are not just about self protection but about being able to rescue one’s companions. So that is why I think it is irresponsible not to carry avalanche beacons and avalanche probes why every group should have at least a couple of avalanche snow shovels.
Avalanche transceivers (which are also often know as PIEPS because of the popular brand) are small radio beacons that operate in two modes; transmit or receive. They are normally attached to you and set to a default “send” mode where they periodically send out little radio beeps that can be tracked. The idea is that you keep yours on transmit so that it is already signalling should you be caught in a snow slide and buried out of site. Your companions, who should also have avalanche transceivers and should ideally also not have been caught in the same slide (remember to cross dangerous ground in separate groups) then switch theirs from transmit to receive and start homing on your signal.
Avalanche Snow Probes
Anyhow, that covers the three basic items of avalanche safety gear that you should be carrying on your off-piste skiing and snowboarding adventures. Once you have those, then you can consider whether you also need an airbag or Avalang.