The Tracker2 is a three-antenna transceiver from
Backcountry Access (BCA).
The Tracker2 offers several improvements over the popular
Tracker DTS including
an easier to use interface, a slightly longer
reception range, a larger display, better
spike handling, a
multiple burial indicator
light, and it can be upgraded with new features.
It's also 18% lighter and 13% smaller.
NOTICE: On January 10, 2010, BCA announced a
software update to resolve a potential malfunction.
official announcement here. From what I've heard, this is a worthwhile
update but it isn't urgent. If you already own a Tracker2, you might want to
until the end of the season before updating it.
Searching: The Tracker2 indicates direction with five directional
LEDs. As with its predecessor the Tracker DTS, the Tracker2's direction
indicator is quick and accurate.
In my testing of several units, the Tracker2's
range was 5.5 meters longer than the
Tracker DTS. Another
difference between the ranges of the two beacons is the Tracker2 displays the
distance to the transmitting beacon before it displays the
direction indicator (as does
the Ortovox Patroller).
This adds to the perception of a longer range, but the
range chart shows the actual measured distances
when the direction indicators on both the Tracker DTS and the Tracker2 were
displayed. (Note that BCA increased the
recommended search strip
width of the Tracker2, from 40 meters to 50 meters, during 2010. The 2010/11
Tracker2 user manual still states that
the maximum distance is 40 meters, but the manufacture has informed me that
they now consider the maximum to be 50 meters.)
As with most transceivers (the exceptions being the
Ortovox S3 and the
Mammut Pulse), if you are headed in the
wrong direction (which can easily happen, since transceivers simply align you
with the transmitting beacon's flux lines)
you will need to notice that the distance is increasing and turn around.
Multiple Burials: The Tracker2 indicates when there are
multiple victims by illuminating a small light. If there are two victims
within 5 meters of the Tracker2, the light blinks. I've seen the light illuminated
when searching for older analog transceivers, which confused me as I attempted
to search for a second, nonexistent, transceiver. (I've seen other digitals
display "phantom" multiple burials when searching for older analog
The Tracker2 does not have the ability to
suppress a transmitter so you can search for multiple victims whereas the
Ortovox S1, Pieps
DSP and Pieps
Tour, do have this feature. The BCA folks
feel strongly that multiple burials are rare and the that the problems caused
by the overlapping signals are too significant for any transceiver to consistently
manage. They encourage people to learn the
multiple burial techniques rather than rely on transceivers to sort out
the multiple signals. The Tracker2 does have a "special mode" button
that can aid in multiple burial searches.
Learn more about the
Tracker2's handling of multiple victims.
Spikes: The Tracker2 has
three antennas. In exhaustive testing,
the Tracker2 resolved spikes flawlessly. The addition
of a third antenna is one of the major improvements over the original Tracker
Backcountry Access (BCA) stuck to the core principle of the Tracker DTS
when they designed the Tracker2—ease of use. The Tracker2 does not have any
extra buttons, menus, or extra features.
The Tracker2 has an obvious on/off dial and a well-labeled and intuitive toggle
between transmit and search (you pull the triangular block on the "tail"
of the transceiver). If you inadvertently bump the switch and return to transmit
mode, the Tracker2 will notify you with a series of loud tones. (I've had three
reports of people doing this unintentionally, but the tones seem pretty obvious
The Tracker2's on/off switch prevents you from turning on the unit in search
mode which ensures that you won't head into avalanche terrain while you're unknowingly
There is a multi-purpose "special mode" button on the front of
the transceiver. The button is smaller and much less obvious than on the Tracker
DTS, which is good because it reduces the likelihood that people will press
it without understanding its function:
- If you hold the "special mode" button pressed while turning
on the Tracker2, the transceiver will automatically
revert to transmit after five minutes of
searching without receiving a signal (and it'll make plenty of noise
for 30 seconds before reverting).
- If you hold the "special mode" button pressed while entering
search mode (until "LO" is displayed), the Tracker2 will search
with the speaker turned off (handy during trainings).
- If you press the "special mode" button while in transmit mode,
the battery level will be displayed.
- If you press the "special mode" button while searching, the
search area will be narrowed as explained
Comfort: The Tracker2 is approximately 12% smaller than the Tracker
DTS and 18% lighter. The weight savings comes from a lighter harness.
Other: The Tracker2 has a larger screen that is easier to read in bright
sunlight, a stronger (rubberized) case, and is
BCA did it right with the Tracker2. This no-frills, no-confusion beacon builds
on the strengths of its predecessor.