Summary: The Mammut Element Barryvox is the little
brother to the Mammut
Pulse. It includes all the core features of the Pulse,
including three-antennas, a long
reception range, marking of
burials, solid spike handling,
indication, a group check
mode, and it supports
firmware updates. It
also retails for $140.00 less than the Pulse.
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Pulse versus Element:
Mammut is targeting the Element at the "occasional
user, beginner, and group participants" and the Pulse
at "intensive users, beginner with ambitions [ya gotta
enjoy that translation], ski guides, and tour leaders."
Do not let the "occasional user" or "beginner"
terms mislead you, the Element is an extremely capable avalanche
transceiver that ranks solidly in the top tier. And it's
a strong competitor with the similarly priced
BCA Tracker2, and
Ortovox 3+, and the
lower-priced Pieps DSP
The above Summary mentions many of the features the Element
shares with his big brother. Let's look at the differences
and what they mean.
- One Button. Whereas the Pulse has
buttons on either side and the action of buttons depends
on what's displayed on the left and right side of the
screen, the Element has a single button. That's all
most people want, or need, during an emergency.
- LCD Screen. The Element has an
LCD screen with an arrow that can point in 9 different
directions. That's fairly similar to other digital transceivers
with the exceptions being the ARVA Pro W, Pulse,
and Ortovox S1 which have fully graphic screens. Those
graphic screens (in conjunction with internal compasses)
allow the direction indicator to freely point in any
direction as the transceiver is moved. Although the
Pulse's graphic screen is cutting edge, the Element's
display is no laggard.
- Digital Only. The Pulse can be
toggled between digital and analog modes. That's nifty
for old-schoolers who've spent years learning how to
search using an analog tone and it allows the Pulse
to have a tremendous range its an analog-only mode.
It's also a feature that the vast majority of Pulse
owners never use. (Note that the Pro W's little
brother, the Axis, does include both analog and digital
- Multiple Burial Features. The Element
shares the ability to suppress a receiver during a
burial search. Additionally, the Pulse displays
the number of victims as a number, allows you to scroll
through a list of transceivers, lets you select the
individual transmitter that you'd like to suppress,
and lets you un-suppress a transmitter. It's personal
preference whether you want the Element's simplicity
or the Pulse's power.
- Hardware Differences. The Element
does not have an earphone jack or screen backlighting.
A backlight is useful at night (i.e., when the rescue
team arrives), although a headlamp is much more helpful.
- Configurable. The Pulse allows
you to set numerous
options including the language (the Element uses
icons), a basic or advanced
(the Element uses a basic profile), enable or disable
tones, tweak the pin-point search graphics, specify
the time before the unit
reverts from search
to transmit (the Element is fixed at 8 minutes), optimize
the group check mode for skiers or snowmobilers, enable
data (the Element does not transmit W-Link data),
customize the startup screen (a nifty feature if
you misplace your transceiver).
- User Manuals. The Element comes
with a scant "Quick
Reference" manual versus the Pulse's
60 page manual.
If any of the above options are important to you, then
by all means consider the
know that the Element is a sweet avalanche transceiver with
a great heritage.
Searching: Although I haven't formally measured
the Element's reception range,
it should be identical to the Pulse's range in digital mode
(the Pulse's range can be extended in an analog-only mode).
In my informal tests, the Element consistently had a longer
reception range than the Ortovox 3+ and Tracker2. The Element
has the same recommended
signal strip search
width as the Pulse (50 meters).
If you're headed in the wrong direction while searching
(which can easily happen, since transceivers simply align
you with the transmitting beacon's
flux lines) the Element
displays an intuitive U-Turn symbol to tell you to turn
around. (The ARVA Axis, Pro W, and Neo also display
a U-Turn symbol. The Pulse and Ortovox S1 graphically point
behind you. All other transceivers require you to see that
the distance is increasing.)
The Element has excellent
(increasing cadence, pitch, and volume). The Element and
the Pulse are the only avalanche transceivers to change
the audio tone based on the direction you are headed using "directional
The only feature that doesn't
impress me (and I am very impressed by the Element), is
that when you
within three meters of the transmitter (i.e., during the
fine search), rather
than simply turning off the direction indicator, the Element
displays a stationary forward/backward arrow that Mammut
calls a "landing strip." This indicates that the
searcher should only move forward and backward until they
find the lowest reading—which is also what the Element's
Personally, I'm unconvinced that the "landing strip"
approach is appropriate for anyone. In my experience, it's
very helpful to also move side to side during the fine search.
Conversely, Mammut feels that "Beginners waste too
much time with poor grid searches." In my limited
tested of the "landing strip" approach, it was
easy to end up a meter or more away from the transmitter
(especially during shallow burials) which resulted in several
minutes of needless probing.
The display of the "landing strip" isn't a
deal-breaker, because you can still perform a
fine search regardless of the display. I understand
that Mammut knows that they're doing when it comes to designing
avalanche transceivers so I'll keep an open mind, but I
expect that the one minute of side-to-side movement that
would be "wasted" during a fine search, even by
a beginner, will save many minutes of probing. FWIW, the
Pulse allows you to
select either the "landing strip" or "cross
Spikes: Spike handling
should be as flawless as the Pulse (although I have not
specifically tested the Element's spike handling).
Multiple Burials: The handling of multiple burials
is similar to most digital transceivers (you press a button
to ignore the closest beacon and advance to the next). Read
Controls: The Element's
controls are simple:
sliding switch that changes between Off, Send, and Search,
and one button that selects an option that is displayed
on the screen.
Group Check: During
startup, the Element displays Group Check in the
display. As with the Pulse, it's slightly confusing
(i.e., are you now in group check mode?). In fact, the Element
is giving you five seconds to press the sole button at which
time you will enter the group check mode and the words Group
Check will blink. (The initial display might be a little
clearer if it asked, "Group Check?").
During the group check mode, the Element will only
receive signals if they are at the
proper frequency and within
one meter. You can press the button a second time to exit
the test mode (if you forget to exit the group check mode,
the Element will do so after several minutes—and beeps).
You can read
complaints about the Pulse's group check mode.
Revert to Transmit: The Element will automatically
switch from search mode to
transmit mode after eight minutes pass without receiving
a signal. This is done to ensure that you will be transmitting
if you get buried by a second avalanche. The Element gives
an audible signal before reverting. You can prevent the
unit from reverting to transmit by pressing the side-button
during the audible "about to revert" tones. (The
Pulse doesn't revert until several minutes pass without
motion. That's a better approach than strictly
basing the changeover on time.)
Comfort: The Element has the same
harness as the Pulse. It and the Pulse remain the
smallest of the
multiple antenna avalanche transceivers.
Updates: The Mammut Element supports software
updates. You can read about updating transceivers
View the comparison table for
more information regarding the Mammut Element.