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Backcountry Access Tracker2 (Preproduction model)
Search-strip Width: 40 meters
Editor’s Note: The Tracker2 we tested [for January 2010] was a prototype, so final production performance may vary significantly. The production model was later tested and a complete review can be found in the January 2011 issue of Backcountry.
Backcountry Access Tracker2
The much-anticipated Tracker2 improves upon the popular Tracker DTS with a third antenna, smooth pinpointing, significantly increased range, multiple-signal indicator, plus updateable software.
In our testing, the range was 8-10 meters greater with the Tracker2 than the long-lived and popular Tracker DTS. With an average range of 40 meters and the average of the lowest 10% at 24 meters, the Tracker2 is competitive with any of the longer-range beacons.
Testers found the increased range of the T2 over the DTS comforting, allowing them to start their secondary search sooner. The distance and direction were consistently displayed, and, as the professor commented, “smooth, with no pausing at all.” The avy pro felt his searches were faster overall with the Tracker2 than with the DTS (his personal beacon).
With the third antenna, the Tracker2 pinpoints far more reliably than the DTS, and as well as any other three-antenna beacon: the lowest distance number is displayed directly above the burial. Nearer than two meters, the directional arrows disappear, reinforcing the need to pinpoint—a small, but crucial refinement, as at least one tester found the jittery arrows of the DTS distracting while pinpointing at close range.
The Tracker2 recognizes multiple signals, but won’t specify how many, nor will it allow you to mark, or mask found signals. The function worked consistently, and the signal indicator LED was easy to see. It is designed to flash when multiple transmitters are within five meters, but this feature was hit or miss. With three beacons 1.5 to 3 meters apart, the Tracker2 would not stay locked on to one signal. Finding the beacons required drastically slowing down the pinpoint search.
With three transmitters separated by 4-6 meters, testers found them easily with common multiple-burial techniques like the Three Circle Method. Testers repeatedly commented positively that there were far fewer “missed” or not displayed pulses than with the DTS, which led to faster search times.
The Tracker2 uses an intuitive push/pull, transmit/receive switch. Like the DTS, the Tracker2 displays the direction and distance with red LEDs. Testers found the high-contrast display “easy to see, and therefore, easier to understand.” The pouch-style harness has been redesigned to be lighter, with comfortable, low-profile straps.
The Tracker2 improves on the widely used DTS with better range, more accurate and smoother pinpointing, and far fewer missed pulses for overall faster searches. The $335 price tag is also lower than some of the competition.
The Tracker2 doesn’t have masking/marking for multiple-burial assistance, and battery consumption was significantly higher than other beacons. Production performance remains uncertain.