When James Bond gets caught in avalanche, he pulls a cord on his jacket and is instantly cocooned in an air-filled Zorb ball.
But the chances are, you’re not James Bond. In which case, you’ll want your friends to have the next best thing – the Ortovox S1 Avalanche Transceiver.
The first unusual thing about the S1 are its looks. It’s like the combination of a Star Trek communicator and an oversized flip phone.
Luckily, it’s very easy to use, thanks to a big backlit display screen with simple intuitive icons. Navigating the menus is also straight forward, with two buttons – one to toggle through the functions and the other to select.
Easy to use
Starting a search couldn’t be easier and this is vital: the last thing you want in a high pressure life threatening rescue situation is to be thumbing through an instruction book.
To fire it into action just press the big orange lock button and flip open the screen and the S1 starts to search automatically.
If it doesn’t detect a signal from a victim straight away the screen displays a stick man walking a zig-zag course. This is to prompt you to do the same to pick up a signal.
Wide search range
The S1 has a very wide 50m search strip, which is an improvement on the 20m most transceivers can cope with.
Once a signal is detected, an icon of a person lying down marks the victim’s position and a vertical line runs down the screen.
If the icon is off to the left of the line, you need turn to the left until the line is directly over the icon. The distance is shown in big digits at the bottom of the screen.
If you are searching for multiple ‘victims’ the S1 really comes into its own. Up to three people can be displayed on the screen simultaneously and are shown relative to you and each other with distances to all three.
One victim is selected as the target and the other two can either be targeted by other searchers with S1s or searched for in turn once the first person has been pin-pointed.
The only caveat is that even though the S1 is very efficient and, in the majority of cases, easy to use, it’s not ideal for first time users. The multi search function in particular can require previous experience of transceivers in order to get the best out of it.