At Avalanche Geeks we have been lucky enough to have a first look at the new BCA Tracker 3 digital avalanche transceiver.
The brief BCA set themselves was to make a smaller lighter 3 antenna unit that was easier to use in a multiple burial situation. BCA were shooting for something the size of an iphone 4, they haven’t quite managed that but they have produced a unit that is thinner and lighter than the other comparable 3 antenna units.
The proof of any transceiver is not the package but what happens on the hill if you are in a real avalanche situation with your partner or partners buried under the snow.
The on off switch is refreshingly simple and a button on the front accesses other features.
The Tracker 2 was a fantastic unit with a one to one burial, the T3 continues this performance with everyone from first time to experienced users finding the unit fast and simple to use. When we move onto multiple burials then the unit works well with a three circle or micro strip search method.
Where the unit differs to previous Tracker models is an ability to suppress the signal of a unit in a multiple burial situation. There are a few unresolved issues between Europe and the US regarding multiple burials, many folk in the US don’t believe they exist where as the stats in Europe definitely say this is an issue that people need to deal with.
The T3 has a Signal Suppression system activated by pressing a button on the front of the unit this suppresses the nearest signal (works best if you hold the T3 close to the unit you have just found). The T3 then locks onto the next strongest signal. The signal stays suppressed for 1 minute, which should be enough to get you heading in the new direction. To some people this isn’t long enough but it does work. The big change users will have to deal with if they are used to a Mammut or Ortovox unit with a mark function is that the suppressed unit only stays suppressed for 1 minute so you need a bit more interpretation. On the flip side there is chance for the unit to become confused in a full on disaster situation.
A further function is the BP – Bigger Picture, which gives a distance and direction to all the detectable units, which can be a big help in getting a visual picture of any rescue situation.
I thought this was a big step up from the T2 but like all transceivers is only as good as the person who is using it and is no replacement for not getting avalanched in the first place