The Pieps Freeride Avalanche Beacon is one of the most compact single-antenna transceivers on the market today. An easy-to-read LCD screen displays distance and dynamic field-flux strength to aid your search, and an accompanying acoustic signal allows you to look away from the beacon to scan the snow while you continue your search. As a single-antenna beacon, the Freeride offers a different style of search that takes more practice and experience than that of a beacon with two or three antennas. For those who use Pieps' iProbe smart-probe, this beacon offers the unique advantage of iProbe support. Once located with an iProbe, this beacon can be temporarily deactivated right from the probe to limit the number of signals in a multiple-burial search. Small, lightweight, and minimalist when it comes to features, this beacon is ideal for the fast-and-light backcountry skier or snowboarder who already has some search experience under their belt and little room or weight to spare.
- Transmission frequency of 457kHz (EN 300718)
- Maximum elliptical range of 40 meters
- Dynamic field line guiding and distinct acoustic signal
- Dynamic flux line indication arrow and distance indication
- Uses one AA alkaline battery, LR6, 1.5V
- Battery lifetime in send mode of 200 hours
- Single or multiple burial symbols
- iProbe Support deactivation
- Battery level indication
- Search-strip width of 30 meters
- Dimensions 4.3 x 2.3 x 0.94 inches
- Weight with battery 3.8 ounces
- Temperature range -4F to 113F
Share your thoughts
Happy with these
- Gender: Female
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Bought several of these for the family to use skiing inbounds at Jackson Hole. As other reviews mention, these aren't easy to use for searching (single antenna vs. three antennas), though my 8 year old did manage to locate some buried beacons with this thing in the training park. But since we bought these *only* for use in inbounds, patrolled areas (where we don't carry shovels/probes), the search function is really kind of beside the point. The transmit function works comparably to other beacons and the size/weight of these is about half of standard beacons, so in my mind they are ideal for sticking on your kids every single day they ski (they come with holsters but also easily fit in pants' pockets, and the batteries last a very long time). I'll admit I'm neurotic, but these do make me feel a little bit better about my kids skiing in/under some very steep terrain at the resort when the snowpack is iffy.
Time to get a Beacon
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
The Pieps Freeride is a minimalist avalanche beacon that is most appropriate for low-risk situations where no beacon might otherwise be carried. It is also an excellent spare beacon to carry after you loan your high-end beacon to your unprepared partner who showed up without one. Although it's search function is compromised to save cost and size, it's beacon function is as good as any. Don't feel guilty about giving your partner the good one; you improved his/her survival chances dramatically by loaning him one regardless of what you will have to use to find him with, and he/she will need the easiest system possible because of inexperience with it.
The unit is ruggedly built and very compact, about the size of a smart phone in an otter case. It came with a very nice holster which I will probably never use except for with my ipod, since the unit fits so nicely in the front pocket of my powder pants. I will never ski without a beacon again because of this, even on groomers inbounds. With no inconvenience at all and at a cost of less than $150 there is no excuse to anymore.
I took it to our local beacon training range and put it through it's paces. Sensitivity was fine, although the single antenna design slows down the search considerably. You have to march along at a deliberate pace sweeping it side to side, instead of using the multi-directional DSP system of higher end units and moving along at a faster pace. There was a moment of ambiguity that caused me to go 180� away from the target when a signal was first detected, and I had to triangulate twice to find the exact spot. Not what I would want someone to search for me with, but it beats having them blindly poke around with an avalanche pole.
Bottom line; if you are not carrying an avalanche beacon while engaging in low-risk winter sports, get this. If you are engaging in high-risk winter sports, get something better.
Rating reflects fitness for purpose.
Not suitable for backcountry skiing
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I bought the Pieps Freeride a couple years ago. During an AIARE Avy 1 course this weekend, the instructor informed me that the Freeride should not be used to conduct searches because having 1 antenna makes them far less accurate and more difficult to use. The beacon has an arrow on the screen, which becomes larger as you search, but the arrow is not directional - it only communicates signal strength. Super confusing/frustrating (as I've experienced during practice searches) if you think following the arrow will help lead you to your buried buddy. The beacon is still useful for being found, so would work well for a dog or a child that won't be searching. Outdoor Gear Lab has a great review of this beacon, if you'd like more information.
Is there any way to buy a new carry case...
Is there any way to buy a new carry case for this? As mine has ripped.
Unfortunately we don't have just the case available. I recommend contacting Pieps directly to see if they might have just the case.
I wander why this one is quite much cheaper...
I wander why this one is quite much cheaper than the other beacons?
This beacon is cheaper because it only uses one antenna, whereas all the new beacons use three. Three antenna are much better because they are much more accurate, and hone in on the specific location much more accurately.
To clarify the last part of what Carver wrote, this does not use any satellites nor do any other beacons. They all use radio waves to transmit and receive location info. Please be sure to take an avalanche course and most importantly practice with your beacon.
Arthur - I'm worried that your message muddles what Carver was trying to say, as satellites were not mentioned in their post. It should be clear that 1 antenna beacons are a less effective way to search for buried victims (compared to 2 or 3 antennas), especially if the user does not have experience and specific training for their use. Reviews online have said that the only appropriate use would be for someone who would not be conducting a search, like children. I strongly agree with your advice about taking an avalanche course and practicing with your beacon. Thank you for mentioning that.