Course Equipment - Obsolete/Recommended



Photo needed of Gear

Avalanche safety gear is changing rapidly as new technologies emerge and innovative designers tackle old problems. This page is designed to give a bit more information for students enrolling in the CAA courses. By no means is it all-encompassing and we encourage students to look to gear manufacturers for the latest updated information.  


Single or Dual Antenna Digital Transceivers

Dual antenna digital transceivers aren’t obsolete, but they’re dated. The current crop of three antenna digital transceivers supercedes them and provides clear advantages over previous generations. While there are certain courses(check your course equipment list) where we accept modern dual-antenna transceivers we strongly recommend students to have 3-antenna devices.

Surprisingly, a single antenna digital transceiver exists. These should not be brought to course. If this is your transceiver and you chose not to update then find a modern transceiver you can borrow from a friend for the course. Make sure to practice and become efficient with it before course.

If finances are truly a concern, we recommend you consider buying a used three antenna digital transceiver (which can be function tested at select retail outlets for a nominal fee).

Upgrade your transceiver for any of these reasons:

  • 2.257 kHZ: This is the old frequency that was replaced by 457 kHz in the 1980s. If you still have one of these museum pieces, put it on a shelf.
  • Dual Frequency: from the 1980s transition era, these transceivers transmit and receive on both 457 and 2.257, but they don’t do either well. Get a modern transceiver.
  • Earphones: if your transceiver requires you to stick something in your ear, get one with a speaker.
  • No visual display: if you don’t have modern visuals, it’s time for a new transceiver.
  • Single antenna transceivers. I know lots of people are hesitant to upgrade because they’re “faster with their old transceiver,” they’re waiting “for the dust to settle” as new technologies standardize, or they just “don’t get out much”. Here’s why you should upgrade now:
    • Three antennae digital transceivers generally won’t find single antenna (analog) transceivers as well as digital units. That means if two people are buried close together, the one with the digital transceiver is likely to be isolated first. Bad news if it’s you under the snow wearing the old analog transceiver!
    • In a multi-burial scenario, signal overlap can be a significantly bigger issue with old transceivers in the equation. Modern digital transceivers are slowed down and again, it’s you under the snow who bears the cost.
    • Old analog transceivers send out fewer but longer signals. That means in any given period of time there is less information available to process. This slows down a digital transceiver. Consequently search speed slows down. Again, it’s you who pays the piper.
    • False maximum and complex deep burial problems aren’t an issue with modern three antenna transceivers except for extreme cases (where burial depth is greater than probe length).
    • Multiple burial problems are generally easier to solve with modern three antennae digital transceivers. And it’s only going to get easier as fewer old units remain in service.
    • Even in simple scenarios search times are faster with digital units – once you’ve practiced and learned how to use it effectively.
  • Most manufacturers require preventative maintenance every three years to ensure they function properly. This is important because frequency drift, a broken antenna, or a myriad of other problems can affect performance causing the transceiver to fail. Your old transceiver should be costing you money (it could be more economical to just get a new transceiver – and learn how to use it effectively!).

If finances are truly a concern, we recommend you consider buying a used three antenna digital transceivers (which can be function tested at select retail outlets for a nominal fee) over a new single antennae transceiver.

Plastic Shovel

Plastic shovels do not perform well in avalanche debris and should not be brought to course. Your shovel should have a metal blade and preferable an extendable handle.

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Revelstoke, BC Canada, V0E 2S0
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