Mammut is replacing the very popular and successful Pulse and Element transceivers with the new Barryvox S & Barryvox. This review focuses on the Barryvox S, the more versatile but complex of the two options. And while the new Barryvox is basically a ground-up redesign it’s inherited a few similarities in programming from the Pulse. A welcome surprise as it gives it a familiar feel to anyone upgrading along the Barryvox line.
- Group Check: now with ski & snowmobile options
- Auto-Revert: switches to send after 4 min without movement
- Rescue Send: for rescuers not searching with the transceiver (ie. Digging, etc.)
- W-Link: coms channel for extra info, better search performance (claimed), etc.
- Larger display screen that’s compatible with polarized sunglasses
- Flag & Un-flag option: The ability to un-flag/mark is a new & welcome feature
- Search settings can be personalized/configured
- Smart fine search: Helps direct rescuers using actual movement info as well as signal strength data
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week testing out the Barryvox S with some help from Manuel Genswein, one of its designers and a true snow-safety guru (or geek). This article is basically a review of my first impressions and is not intended to be a full-blown, detailed review… that may come later.
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list, just a few of the improvements that really stood out for me.
- Improved processing/operating speed
- Improved Range: 70m (up from 50m for the Pulse)
When the new Barryvox S is first turned on, group check mode activated or switched to Search one of the major changes is clearly evident: it’s fast! The waiting time for the on-board computer to fire up or switch modes is reduced by at least half. This improved speed is also evident in other functions as well. The incoming signal processing is quicker allowing a searcher to move at a faster pace for example.
There are also some improvements in how the Barryvox S deals with multiple signals and marking. I found fewer marking function failures & dropped marks due to overlapping signals, a more consistent list of buried subjects, etc. The annoying prompts to stop and wait whenever there’s a signal overlap are also gone. Of course the problem of overlapping signals still exists. The processor and programming are just more capable of dealing with these issues with faster re-acquisition and recognition.
The range is also noticeably improved over any other transceiver I’ve used. Barryvox S would reliably pick-up unburied transceivers in the 70m+ range. The Extended Range search mode turns off the display (the screen itself can create background noise given its proximity to the antenna) and supposedly increases the range to the 80-100m zone. In practice I didn’t find that this Extended Mode increased the range much if I waited for the transceiver to pick-up a signal and switch back to the normal search mode. However, it did allow me to hear a “beep” from further away (in pro-mode) which would get me moving in the right direction. A great option when looking for a lost skier.
The new Barryvox S has a sleek appearance, large display screen and a new button layout. This new layout works very well with the onboard software and makes navigation though the various options and menus easy and intuitive. Some key features include:
- A very bright Flag button is located on the front of the unit. In addition to being used to flag buried victims it’s also used as a select or enter type button when navigating menus. A great feature!
- Small Up and Down buttons are located on the right hand side of the unit. These are used to intuitively navigate through menus and options but can be hard to operate when wearing bulky gloves.
- The Lock/Power-Send-Receive slider button on the top on the unit is similar to the Pulse but a bit more glove friendly.
The new Barryvox S represents a significant improvement over the Pulse and sets a new standard for professional level transceivers. However, they’re still very new with a limited amount of field testing. As more and more people start using them I expect that Mammut will have a few software bugs to work out.
Pros: Faster than any other transceiver I’ve used, intuitive to operate, great range
Cons: New and unproven, it can take time to work out all the bugs on these things
Overall: The new Barryvox S is a big step forward in transceiver tech. Ideal for snow safety professionals, guides and advanced recreational users. Less experienced backcountry enthusiasts may want to consider the simpler and less expensive Barryvox.
I was provided the transceiver as part of my work as a ski guide, not from Mammut, and don’t receive any remuneration for this (or any) article. The views expressed are mine and free from influence. Monte.