Ortovox M2 Avalanche Beacon - Gear Review

April 17, 2007

There are some pieces of equipment that are luxuries (neck gaiters), others that are just for style (sweet in-the-boot stirrup stretch pants), some that you love just because they are just so practical (hydration tube insulators) and some that are just plain essential. The Ortovox M2 Avalanche Beacon is in the last group, but it's so user-friendly that for me it falls into the "love" group as well. When you get a beacon that you love, there comes a point when you realize that you'll probably never want to purchase another brand of beacon...ever...because in a situation of life and death, you don't want to be fumbling around trying to remember how to use it. You want to learn it, learn it again, and again, and again, and never change it so it becomes second nature. Now, everyone has different preferences for beacons so I hope you'll stop by some shops and try some out before buying. I also definitely recommend taking avalanche classes from Exum Mountain Guides or any of the other reputable providers, and asking their opinion as well. The beacon has a screw-shut battery case, a headphone plug for those windy days, a simple and foolproof transmitting/not transmitting setting, and is supposed to be able to transmit for 300 hours on 2 AA batteries, though I've never gone that long (of course). It has a replaceable date label in the back so you can jot down the day you put in new batteries and remember when to change them out. The Ortovox M2 Avalanche beacon wins my vote because of a couple of reasons: It has few fragile parts, so it can take a real beating. Its dial is simple to understand -- you just dial it in to closer-closer-closer as you zero in on your target. This takes a bit of the dummy-factor out of hunting down a transmitting beacon. The Ortovox M2 beacon is crescent-shaped to match your body comfortably, and its strap positions it across the stomach instead of across the sternum, which is more comfortable in my humble opinion. There are two downfalls, however: tracking multiple burials is not quite as intuitive as some other beacons I've seen The positioning across the stomach makes it a bit of a dance to find where to place your pack's hip strap so as not to overlap with the beacon. But all in all the Ortovox M2 Avalanche Beacon is a stellar, easy-to-use beacon in my opinion. What beacon do you use? Post in the comments below. Buy Now: Search for Ortovox Beacons

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