What is BCA and its scope
Avalanche transceiver set and avalanche backpack from BCA put to the test
“A rush of ski tourers expected in the Alpine regions”! Such and similar news are currently rolling over all media channels due to the given occasion. Many thoughts go through my head on this subject, but are interrupted by the question from my nice colleague Lisa whether I would like to test a complete avalanche transceiver set for ski tourers. Everything is included, from avalanche backpacks to avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes is the motivating announcement - who can say no to that.
The basic avalanche equipment
Off-piste, from freeriding to ski touring of all kinds, the basic safety equipment of avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe has actually been in place for a long time. Does an avalanche backpack also come with it? Rather less. Most of the time, costs, weight and complexity are a deterrent.
For many newcomers to ski touring, a complete set of basic equipment could still be of interest because it significantly increases the probability of survival in the worst-case scenario. Especially when knowledge and practice are not yet so refined, staying halfway on the surface of the snow can ultimately be life-saving.
Mick tests the BCA avalanche set consisting of an avalanche backpack, avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe.
BCA Float 32L avalanche backpack
A backpack with an avalanche airbag is designed to prevent the skier from being buried in the event of an avalanche. The basic task of a backpack, however, is to transport equipment, clothing and food that is needed on the go. If the fun and experience are not to be impaired, the backpack must have a certain volume and be comfortable to carry that leaves no back pain.
An ice ax has to be attached on the front of the backpack.
The BCA Float avalanche backpack is tight and stable on the body thanks to its carrying system.
The BCA Float 32L is a daypack (purists can also manage a weekend) that fits me right away. The wearing comfort advertised in the description is quickly noticeable. The height-adjustable hip belt, which takes different back lengths into account, is decisive here. The shoulder straps are well positioned and fit comfortably around your shoulders and upper body. This is important because an airbag backpack has to be tight and stable on the body in order not to be torn away in the event of an emergency.
The main compartment with an all-round zipper includes the separate space for the release unit and compressed air cylinder, a glasses and small parts compartment and enough additional space for further equipment. The separate front compartment easily holds a shovel, probe and skins. I can easily place a bivouac sack and the first aid kit in it. This is cool because it means that you can access all of the quick things you need without opening the main compartment.
Shovel and probe find their place in the front compartment.
The other fastening options such as helmet net (in a small outer compartment, possibly a tad too small), ski / snowboard / snowshoe holder and ice ax holder are well and partly hidden.
Danger: The ice ax must not be longer than 52 cm so that they cannot prevent the activated airbag from unfolding or even injure it. Snowshoes or snowboards are fixed vertically on the front, skis diagonally. This is uncomplicated and does not interfere with the airbag.
The skis are fixed diagonally on the front.
We activate the deployment of the airbag using a deployment handle located in the shoulder straps (left or right), the unparalleled ergonomics of which I had already heard. That's right, it's really great and that's important. When it has to be done quickly, with whatever glove, “finding” the release handle shouldn't be a problem.
The handle integrated in the shoulder strap guarantees quick release in an emergency.
After the airbag has been activated, the compressed air cylinder must be changed. This process is not really complicated, but a little time consuming for my taste. That should also annoy fans of drinking systems who want to position the drinking tube in the free shoulder strap. Hopefully the air cylinder will not be changed too often, except for the seasonal function test.
After activating the airbag, the compressed air cylinder must be replaced.
Float 32L avalanche backpack
BCA Tracker S avalanche transceiver
The Tracker S avalanche transceiver is the “slimmed-down” version of the Tracker 3 and therefore interesting for all users who want an uncomplicated device and / or do not want to deal with training, course operations, etc. It is important to know at this point that the USB port of the top-of-the-range devices is also missing and therefore no independent upgrade of the software is possible. In my opinion, it can be neglected, as it is only due after years and then possible by sending it in.
Here are the most important ones first Equipment features:
• 3 antenna technology (standard)
• Range approx. 50 m
• Multiple burial display
• Signal suppression in the event of multiple burials
The BCA Tracker S avalanche transceiver impresses with its uncomplicated operation.
BCA Tracker S in practice
Unpack the device, insert the supplied batteries and the device is ready for use. A rotary knob with a safety lock and a blue button on the front are the only controls.
The controls of the Tracker S avalanche transceiver.
If you activate the device in the Send mode, the device beeps, all LED displays light up briefly, the percentage of battery charge is displayed. Then only a red LED flashes at the bottom right and shows that we are in send mode.
After unlocking the rotary knob and continue turning into the Search modeWhat works well with gloves, either SE (Search) lights up if no transmission signal is received yet or the distance of the buried transmitter device measured by the device.
The device shows the distance to the sender of the victim.
The direction to the sender of the buried subject is indicated by arrows.
If several transmitter devices are found (Multiple burials), these are shown by symbols on the display and can be hidden with the blue button if necessary.
The display shows from the beginning of the Signal acquisition the direction and distance to the transmitter are shown in red. From about two meters remaining in the fine search, the directional arrow disappears in order to direct your concentration to the last few meters of the fine search. The acoustics of the search also change the closer we get to the transmitter.
I have the Tracker S in all of them Functional areas tested and compared with other popular brands. Here The Tracker S does not have to hide and meets all requirementsthat are put to him. During the coarse search, it behaved somewhat erratically when the transmitter device was positioned vertically. However, at a distance of 20 m and in the fine search, the display values were very stable and responded quickly. As a trainer, I always give the motto: Slow and precise progress in the fine search brings a faster result!
Tracker S avalanche transceiver
BCA Stealth 270 avalanche probe
The Point search A LVS course always brings a big surprise for many participants. Most people can imagine that digging up a localized victim will be one more intense act in the rescue sequence. But the search for points with a probe, what is the problem?
The more precisely we know where the victim is, the more accurately we can dig and the faster we can get there. So, with the avalanche transceiver, determine the crossing point using the cross-line method, place the probe there and immediately start probing with it at a distance of 25 cm, time is running out. It's true, you can use the probe very quickly and precisely locate the location of a buried subject. But you have to get there. At the latest when the avalanche comes to a standstill, every snow is solidly solidified. The snow gets hard, chunks of ice and rocks can get in the way. If the probe is not stable enough, not long enough or even dismantles when it is pulled out, we are driven into despair - so close to the goal of finding the victim.
The probe has a compact format even when pushed together.
The Stealth 270 avalanche probe has a working tip and is quick to eject and cock. The tension can also be readjusted.
Important features of a probe
- Minimum length (approx. 240 cm)
- Stable pipes
- Functional tip
- Safe and functional bracing
- Quick release fastener
- Length and depth marking
The BCA Stealth 270 avalanche probe fulfills all of these characteristics perfectly. It is 270 cm long, has a working tip, is quickly ejected and cocked with a few jerks. The tension can be regulated and then offers absolute rigidity. This probe can be used effectively. Yes, it is heavier than other probes, but we're talking about differences in the range of a few grams.
Stealth 270 avalanche probe
BCA B1 Ext avalanche shovel
We have reached the last point in an avalanche rescue operation. The victim is located and “only” has to be dug up. We already learned while probing that in the avalanche cone we are dealing with compacted snow, which can be heavy and hard. So here too, the shovel must be functional and of high quality. Imagine you're so close to your goal and then your shovel breaks or you can't get into the hard snow with your blade - a disaster!
Important features of an avalanche shovel
• Robust construction
• Sufficiently large shovel blade
• Telescopic handle
• Can be dismantled to find space in the backpack
• Functional operation when assembling and disassembling
• Can be operated with gloves
The handle of the shovel is 34 - 51cm long.
The area of the shovel is 22 x 25 cm.
The BCA B1 Ext avalanche shovel was designed and manufactured without compromise. It has a shovel measuring approx. 22 x 25 cm, the handle is 34 to 51 cm long, the construction is stable and all functions are ready for use even in cold and snowy conditions. The handling when shoveling is excellent and it also has a plus: a low weight of 587 grams. Yes, I noticed a small downer: women with small hands can have problems with the somewhat large size of the grip.
B1 Ext avalanche shovel
Test conclusion: perfect all-round package
Actually, I'm not the type of person who likes to buy sets. I prefer to put my ideal products together individually. But if you are a freerider, snowshoe or ski tourer who wants a perfect all-round package quickly and easily with a complete avalanche transceiver, you are well served with this BCA set. The quality and functionality are right, the volume of the backpack is sufficient for ski tours up to weekend tours. The sometimes slightly higher weight is due to the quality and ultimately only scares the performance-oriented user.
Please remember that the best equipment does not replace learning and practicing with it!
An ideal all-round package.
The volume of the backpack is sufficient for ski tours.
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