Those who want a fast, easy to use transceiver (just about everyone) with no extra options or modes to worry about
The BCA Tracker 2 is engineered to be as simple as possible. It only has 1 switch and one button. The button is unobtrusive and only for those who know where it is! In making the Tracker 2, BCA stuck to their guns on the usefulness of digital features instead BCA worked on a 3rd antenna to increase distance accuracy and eliminate the spike, making the information update faster which leads to more accurate pinpoint searches and an increase in range whilst still being backwards compatible to drifted analogue beacons.
The BCA Tracker 2 is a fully digital 3 antenna avalanche transceiver.
BCA's goal was simplicity. Once the transceiver is on there is just one big pull down switch, pull to search, push to transmit, everything else is automatic. BCA have shunned features like digital masking and target selection as their research has shown that all that really counts in the real world is speed and ease of use. The Tracker 2 has replaced the Tracker 1 as the easiest to use transceiver available.
This mode is selected when you pull down the bottom switch. Grid search until you receive a signal. Turn yourself and the Tracker until the red light is in the centre. Walk forward whilst checking that the distance reading is going down. Keep repeating until you get there. If the Tracker 2 detects more than one signal it will lock onto the strongest signal but will light the multiple burial light to alert you that there is more than one signal.
The Tracker 2 has the best pinpoint search that we have tested. The display updates so fast that it is difficult to overshoot in this final stage. Research showed that this was a problem for inexperienced searchers and so was one of the most important refinements from the original tracker.
The Tracker 2 has a special mode which allows the searcher to manually hide a a signal from the transceiver, this can be used during multiple burial searches. However this mode can be confusing to some users and is not selected as standard. In fact the button has been deemphasized from Tracker 1 to 2. It is now a black button on a black background, that's how important BCA think it is to the average user.
An important feature of both the Tracker 2 and original Tracker, and one that is easy to miss, is that of all the new digital transceivers the Trackers are the most backwards compatible with old analogue transceivers. All digital transceivers will detect a correctly functioning analogue transceiver.
The problem is that many old analogue transceivers especially old Ortovox F1's have drifted outside the industry standard transmitting window. Now I would stress that this is a problem with the old analogue beacons not the new digital beacons, but BCA have decided rather than reduce bandwidth to increase overall range which would exclude these older transceivers (of which there are many) they would leave the range alone and attempt to pick up as many old analogue transceivers as possible. This is quite a technical point but shows that BCA are committed to avalanche safety as a whole and not marketing driven performance figures.
If you like your tools to be simple but effective with no combinations of buttons to remember then the Tracker 2 would be a good choice.
I have a number of these transceivers for novices and/or inexperienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders to use when I am guiding them. The Tracker 2 is supposed to be one of the easiest transceivers to use, and I have found that a novice user can find a mock victim buried in the snow with virtually no training at all. With a small amount of training, however, a novice can become very quick at locating a victim. Even with the best intentions, most people do not practice transceiver searches very often, so a simple operation and high success rate with minimal training and practice are features that I look for, in addition to having 3 antennae as the Tracker 2 features.
Click to see more about Ric.
Ric is a North Wales based Guide who has a small guiding company called RPM Guiding. Ric teaches rock climbing and mountaineering in summer, and works as a backcountry ski and splitboard guide in winter.
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In common with most folks who purchase transceivers, a lot of research was done before this purchase. What sets this apart is the fast processor on board, which very quickly responds to directional and distance changes. In a simulated search scenario it was head and shoulders above the transceiver I had previously used and really helped cut down on phaff time and confusion. In a real life scenario, this could be a life saver. I am a relative novice when it comes to transceiver search and for people like me, the BCA approach of simple, uncomplicated design and responsiveness is a winner; most transceiver users would fall into this category. With a little study of the manual and a small amount of practice the mulitple burials function is quite straightforward and works really well too. All I would say is that be careful not to knock the search button back in during a search, putting you into transmit mode. Obviously if you didn't notice this had happened, vital time would be lost, not to mention the respect of your companions!
I recently purchased a pair of the BCA transceivers. Their range is around 48m without being buried. Direction works great and sound change as you reach the target. Robust casing however bulkier than other smaller models but without causing discomfort. The shoulder strap is not comfortable though. no test function that I am aware of. Picks up multiple signals (2 transceivers).
In an emergency situation you need a device that is tough, reliable and above all: really simple to use. The BCA Tracker 2 ticks all of these boxes.
I chose the Tracker 2 because I also own two Ortovox F1s and wanted to be sure of compatibility, given the concern about frequency drift with older, analogue models. The Tracker 2 works well with the F1s. It is also very simple and reliable to operate. Battery life very good. I've just used it for more than 2 weeks continuously and have about 80% battery left. Nice touch: it bleeps after 12 hours continuous use to remind me to switch it off if I'm in the bar by then. Drawbacks? I'm having to re-learn 'put on, switch on' after years with the fool-proof F1. It is also bulkier and heavier than the older kit.
I recently purchased the Tracker 2 from Facewest after spending a while trying to decide whether the extra cost over the original Tracker could be justified.
This weekend I was able to test out the transceiver in the snowy Cairngorms. The Tracker 2 is comfortable to wear, and most of the time I didn't notice I was wearing it at all.
I performed a test where my friend buried his transceiver and I then searched for it. The distance readings appear to be very accurate, and because of this I found my friend's transceiver far more quickly than I did in a similar test with a Tracker 1 last year.
I do think that having 3 antennas rather than just 2 does speed up the search in the last few metres, telling you exactly where to start probing very rapidly.
My friend's transceiver was an 8 year old analogue Pieps 457, and the Tracker 2 had no problems picking up this signal. I have read that some other digital transceivers struggle to pick up the signal from older analogue devices.
Overall I'm glad I spent the extra cash over the Tracker 1, as this one will locate your buried mates more quickly and improve their chance of survival.
Decided it was about time I bought a beacon and after a bit of research settled on this new one a couple of weeks ago. Have been practicing quite a bit with it and it seems just the ticket, very simple to use, and allowed for quick dummy finds with directional arrows and distance indicators. The arrows donít always take you in a straight line to target, sometimes you curve around a little, but this is no problem (and with practice seems like you can cut the corner and go straight to target). Havenít had opportunity to play about with multiple targets and so havenít messed with the "hidden" button. Very much like the switch-to-search operation - a proper reassuring "click" as you pull out the button/toggle. Overall top notch, the harness feels a little uncomfortable when first on but it's not noticeable and feels fine once youíre underway. If you're a giant then the harness may be too small - it just about fits me, but that's more a review on me than the product! Operation on/off and switch-to-search works well without having to remove from harness - maybe only saving seconds but they all count, also like the lanyard from the main body that clips onto harness belt independently so that when you grab it out of the holster, you can search with it still secured to your person. Hopefully I will never need to use it in anger, but if I did I'd be confident it's going to give me every chance to be successful in a search. Have always found BCA stuff to be great.
I order and received my tracker2 through Facewest a few weeks ago for a tour in April. It was chosen after many hours of research and it is definitely value for money. I must say it is a simple and robust piece of kit. I have tested it in the field (well a snow covered field in north Wales!) and the search time was great considering I have never used a transceiver before! It is easy to use with gloved hands and has no gimmicks or unnecessary features. I would recommend this piece of kit to anyone from novice to guide!
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3 antenna digital unit with advanced features.