Ortovox - Committed to your Safety

Friday, September 25th, 2015

"It all started last winter," Brian Lundstedt recalls, "we got hooked up through a mutal friend and then invited to come check out the product." Brian, never willing to miss an opportunity to check out another safety providers gear, jumped in the TBA truck and headed off to Boulder, CO. Ortovox's North American headquarters is located 45 minutes away, we have to love that. More importantly they are located central to the Rocky Mountains, these guys get the time in the field. So when Brian asked the questions, they had the answers.

With all the beacons on the market, what sets yours aside and makes them industry leading? Ortovox air bagsAll modern 3-antenna transceivers are fast locating 1 victim. There is a clear distinction in technology when we simply add a second (or more) transmitting unit. This is evidenced by a 2014 test of the Canadian Ski Patrol and Canadian Ski Guide Assocociation. Two different ORTOVOX model beacons  ( S1+ and 3+ ) in the fastest search times for 2 transmitting units by “naïve” users. Remember, we’re all “naïve” users in a panic situation.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, ORTOVOX is pioneering technology for the victim, in the avalanche, to be more searchable.

1.     Patented Smart Antenna technology – Automatically eliminates poor receiving range for searchers, regardless of the brand of S3+ Beacontransceiver, due to the orientation of the victim’s transmitting signal

2.     Safe Switchover – No user input required to activate transmit mode in case searcher is caught in a second avalanche

3.     Recco Inside – passive back up in case of transceiver damage/malfunction, battery failure, or failure to turn the transceiver on.

Why do I want my beacon to switch antennas? Three antenna digital beacons have become the industry standard. Not everyone realizes we all transmit with 1 antenna. Three antennas, refers to the number of antennas used while searching. The range at which searchers capture a transmitting signal is directly related to the orientation of the transmitting antenna and the receiving antennas. ORTOVOX has patented technology that automatically recognizes the orientation of the transmitting antenna and if necessary, switches the transmitting antenna to the one that provides the best range for searchers.

What if there is a secondary slide while I am searching? While you are searching, you are no longer transmitting any signal. ORTOVOX transceivers have a motion sensor. It is utilized mainly in case a searcher is buried in a second slide. After 120 seconds without motion the transceiver will automatically return to transmit, allowing other searchers to locate the signal. It is also used in case the transceiver is not powered off at the end of the day. After no motion an alarm will sound as a reminder that the unit is still on, a measure to preserve battery life.


What all this means to us, the end user, is a user friendly beacon that flat out works. We have not had snow since we got our 2016 Ortovox gear but in demos and playing around the house with the beacon, we are excited to get it in the field and see how it holds it's own. Each beacon has its strong points and every user will find features that appeal to them. So, if you are upgrading your equipment this year, come take an intro course and find out if the features of the Ortovox are what fit your needs.

Ortovox also has an amazing Airbag as well. It uses the tried and proven ABS - Airbag in a system they call M.A.S.S. (Modular Airbag Safety System). This allows you to use the backpack without the avalanche safey component in other sports that do not  have avalanche danger. Also unique, is the spine protection they have incorporated, which is removable too. Every thing about the bag is well thought out and color coded. We have tried on a lot of bags and this one feels well balanced and weighted. The true test will, again, have to wait for the snow to fly. Look for a comprehensive on snow review from our volunteers this winter. 

Inflaed Airbag

So, we have covered some of their gear, we will be reviewing their probe, and a really awesome looking shovel that Tom Mason of Ortovox says, "features a sharpened edge for chopping. Most importantly though, the blade features a second position for the shaft which converts the shovel into a trenching snow removal tool." The shovels we got look like they will really do the trick in avy debris.

With great gear we would put them in a class of safety equipment provider like the rest of our wonderful sponsors. They will likely hold their own (we will let you know this winter). But the guys at Ortovox North America have really jumped out to help the motorized community. They are currently looking to sponsor a program to put beacon check points at trail heads all across Colorado and then the Rockies with a program that CSA (Colorado Snowmobile Association) is putting together. A branch of the Know Before You Go campaign that Utah has been working on and now partnering with the CSA for the trail head program. They have also donated all of the student work centers for the TBA mobile class room that will debut this season. A huge commitment to you and getting the latest education to the public.

Ortovox brings more excellent gear to your hands and is going the extra step to make sure we are all safe in the backcountry.