If you ride powder you know the drill. If an Avalanche breaks you don`t have time to loose. Weather you are the one triggering it or the friend watching from the distance. Mere seconds can decide between life or death. I already wrote on the Avalanche Airbag-trend as a means to improve your survival in the opening article to the ISPO on Friday. In that context I think it only appropriate to continue with safety.
That said we also payed a visit to the booth of PIEPS. The Austrian company from Lebring close to Leibnitz, near our border and my hometown Maribor, that started out as Seidel Elektronik in the 70s and later became PIEPS, has more then 30 years of experience and know-how, and is probably best know for it`s introduction of the PIEPS DSP Transciver back in 2003. Most freeriders thou, know them for the affordable PIEPS Freeride model that is good for budget aware customers and is reasonably easy to master, even for a novice.
That said Pieps does not sleep on its past successes. The company keeps on innovating and playing hardball with its German rival ORTOVOX. This year Pieps have a new High Tech Transciver with GPS to show for, as well as an improved digital probe. Check out what Pieps Product Manager Mr. Markus ECK has to say about the new gear in the video below, and forgive me for screwing up the audio a bit. I had to fall back to the cameras feed because I forgot to hit record on the audio recorder 😛
Now lets take a closer look at these two flagship products:
The New PIEPS Vector
Form my first impression the VECTOR is a remarkable piece of search technology. It uses GPS to track your entire route during a track, is smart enough to sense others in proximity and even has the capability to track your search strip so you can be sure that you didn’t miss any spots. All the data can be Transferred directly over USB.
Another cool thing is an integrated battery that, according to Pieps, is going to last you even in temperature extremes. I did`t get a rating on it, but I suspect it should be good for a few days if you plan a longer trek. Keep in mind thou that like all digital Beacons ,it`s not an analog F1 that could last you a whole season on one set of batteries, thou with the integration off a rechargeable battery it almost seems like that is indeed the case. Also the USB charging probably makes it possible to use a off the shelf solar chargers with a USB adapter. That I think would be an elegant solution for possible power issues when one is outdoors in the wild for longer periods of time.
With all that packed inside, one has to say that this transceiver looks extremely capable. The downside is of course that it`s not the smallest unit. But the capabilities this thing offers give it the edge and the few more grams are not an issue with all the additional helpful information it provides. I sure wish I had one of these on my upcoming Canada trip next month. It would be interesting to see how this thing preforms far away from civilization for a longer period of time in the BC Backcountry 😛 With this unit Pieps really seems to have outdone themselves this time.
PIEPS IPROBE ONE
Next to the Vector comes a new enhanced digital Probe. With a integrated detector, it can help you pinpoint the probing location extremely fast so you don`t loose time while poking to many holes into the snow.
When you get 50cm or closer to the buried transceiver it beeps and can autonomously mutes it, if it`s iprobe compatible. That is helpful in case of a multi burial scenario. If used with other Vectors it transmits a OK to the others and discards the found contacts out of their search. This gives you time that would otherwise be lost with coordinating and searching for the others with overlapping signals.
Another thing that PIEPS have been very passionate about is Avalanche Safety Training. They offer workshops at various Austrian resorts and cooperate with many local guides and educators to teach riders how to properly use safety equipment. Unfortunately currently these are only limited to Austria and Germany. Who knows maybe we will see them in Slovenia some time soon too 🙂 and since the snow situation is finally improving here in Slovenia too