The Freeride is a single-antenna digital transceiver. This
is definitely the smallest avalanche transceiver (it is
less than half the size of the
Searching: As a
transceiver, the Freeride cannot display a
that points you to the victim. Instead, you must manually
locate victim by using the Freeride's
to find the shortest distance. The lack of a direction indicator
is a significant disadvantage relative to
transceivers. The range of the Freeride is very short (only
33 meters in the six tests I've performed).
The display contains an arrowhead that grows when the
transceiver senses a strong signal. This is similar to the
arrowhead displayed by the
M2. The arrow can be a little misleading, as it indicates
signal strength rather than direction.
Multiple Burials: The Freeride displays three
little dots on the screen if there is
more-than-one victim (the
distance to the closest victim is always displayed). You
will need to use the
expanding circle or
micro search strip techniques to locate the additional
victims (which is a little challenging without a direction
indicator). The Pieps Freeride can be suppressed using the
Spikes: The Pieps Freeride has only
as such, it suffers from spikes
(i.e., the strongest signal may not be directly over the
Controls: You turn the Freeride on/off by twisting
the battery door. It looks like it might be possible
to unintentionally turn on the Freeride via a bump in your
car or luggage.
You switch the Freeride from transmit to search mode
by pressing a lone "Send-Search" button three
times. That is similar to the
Barryvox 3000 (an otherwise great transceiver) and is
By default, the Freeride does not automatically
revert from search to transmit
mode. To change this setting, turn on your Freeride
and wait until a "P" and a number is displayed.
Then press-and-hold the Send-Search button to cycle between
P0 (never return to transmit), P3 (return after 3 minutes),
P5 (after 5 minutes), or P8 (8 minutes) is displayed. When
you see the value you want, release the Send-Search button.
Each time you turn on your Freeride, this P number will
be displayed on the screen for a few seconds. If you use
the default mode (never return to transmit), press and hold
the button for 2 seconds to return to transmit. (Shall I
add, "Less than intuitive?")
If you press the Send-Search button while in Search mode,
it turns on the screen's (somewhat weak) backlight. Press
it a second time and the "transmission check light"
(the little LED that normally blinks to indicate that the
transceiver is transmitting) turns on so you can use it
as a tiny emergency light.
Other: The Freeride (as with
of the Pieps DSP) supports the
iProbe. The Freeride
has the shortest warranty of any of the beacons (two years).
The user manual
was improved significantly in the Fall of 2009.
Conclusion: The Freeride might be a reasonable choice
for people who want a tiny transceiver (e.g., for racing)
or who already know how to search without a
indicator (and who are willing to do very narrow
but it is not appropriate for people who are purchasing
their first transceiver or who have been using a multiple
antenna transceiver. These folks won't understand the additional
practice required to search using a single-antenna transceiver.
Please don't skimp on price and give this as
a gift to a novice.