For information on our other favorite beacons, check out our Top 4 Favorite Avalanche Beacons.
A beacon is perhaps the most crucial piece of avalanche rescue gear. It is also a piece of equipment that every member of the group should have on their body. Unlike some gear or tools, this is one that you cannot share with anyone. Avalanche beacons have many different names, including transceivers, beepers, LVS, peeps, and ARVAs, depending on where you are located.
When you are out in the alpine landscape, there is every chance of running into an avalanche. Some can be massive mountains of snow, while others can be smaller. Nevertheless, it is not wise to judge the avalanche’s threat from the volume of snow it carries. In the event of avalanche burial, every team member is responsible for the teammate who is buried.
Every responsible alpine climber will do their best to rescue someone from their team who is buried. If you are under the snow, your friends and teammates will use all their knowledge and resources to get you out. But despite their best efforts, they will not be successful if you do not have an avalanche beacon with you. This is because it will be impossible to locate where you are, and therefore it can be fatal.
Sounds stressful? Well, now you understand why these small devices are literal lifesavers. In such a precarious situation, using just any transceiver is not advised. You need to have the best beacons, and if it is lightweight, even better.
Why weight and innovation matter in the backcountry.
Most avalanche beacons are not as heavy as other pieces of rescue equipment. However, when you are in the backcountry trying to navigate dense snow, every ounce counts. When you’re talking about the weight of avalanche beacons, the differences will be a matter of 30 to 60 grams at the most. But these slight differences in weight can make all the difference.
In addition to the beacon’s lightweight property, the addition of innovative features can also differentiate a top-performing one and a substandard one. But since you will be using the beacon in a very cold and emergency situation, it should be effortless to use. A beacon that has all the advanced features but is difficult to use will have no use during a life-threatening situation.
And among the large options of avalanche beacons, the Micro BT Button from Pieps has garnered a lot of interest. It is the most lightweight beacon from the brand. In fact, it is the most compact and lightweight beacon on the market at the time of writing this review.
But its incredibly lightweight property is not the only reason why the Pieps Micro BT Button is becoming a favorite in the backcountry. There are some innovative features in the beacon that make it a standout in many ways.
So in this comprehensive review, we will dissect its features and all it has to offer.
Pieps Micro BT Button Avalanche Beacon Review
Product Name: Pieps Micro BT Button
Product Description: The Pieps Micro BT Button has three antennas and a generous display. It consists of water-repellent components and a hard case. The only manual button on the beacon is the send/search, but it also switches automatically when the user gets buried in the snow. The Micro BT Button is Bluetooth compatible and also has a vibration motor and a proximity sensor.
Offer price: $292.46
Ease of Use
- This beacon comes with triple antenna for picking up signals up to 50 meters.
- It is Bluetooth compatible and has a vibration motor and proximity sensor.
- This product eliminates interface by picking up only verified 457kHz signal.
- It has a large display with send/search manual button.
- The beacon allows equipment check for self and group.
- Small and lightweight.
- Excellent antenna.
- Water-repellent components.
- Outstanding battery life.
- A proximity sensor is not up to expectation.
- Price is on the higher side.
This avalanche beacon was rumored to have game-changing technology when it first came to our attention. But even without this knowledge, this micro beacon easily got our attention due to its tiny size. So let’s take a further look at its design components.
In all honesty, the design of the Pieps Micro BT Button does not fire up the imagination. It may even look gimmicky. It has a skeletal frame with light yellow borders and white buttons. The frame is more of a bracket, unlike the traditional pouch style harness in most beacons. An interesting design in this beacon is that you can see the internal components via the see-through external cover.
The buttons on this snow beacon are also very minimal. The first Micro BT had a flag button above the screen and the on/off button at the bottom. The newer version has a send/search button below the display in addition to these two buttons.
In comparison to its size, the Micro BT has a decent display. It is not large by any degree, but the beacon is not large anyway. However, when you compare this beacon’s display with others in the same size range, the Micro BT’s screen wins by a mile.
Overall this avalanche beacon has an incredibly compact and lightweight design, which is one of its outstanding features.
The Pieps Micro BT Button consists of a hard case and water-repellent components. This is the ideal setup for an alpine gear. We would not say that the build quality is mind-blowing, but it is not shabby either.
The best part of the Pieps Micro BT Button comes from its performance. With a digital range of 50 meters, this is an effective beacon that you can rely on. It comes with three antennas that work with a 457 kHz signal, which is pretty standard. When the primary antenna experiences some sort of electronic interference, the shorter antenna kicks in, which is very convenient. This beacon works with a combination of audio alerts and vibration to relay the signal. The vibrating feature is very subtle, but it is an excellent feature, nonetheless.
The ability to mark multiple burials is not uncommon in many premium avalanche beacons. However, in Micro BT, it works seamlessly. After you locate the nearby beacons, you can mark the nearest one and move on to the next.
An outstanding feature of this beacon is the auto revert. Whenever the beacons are stationary for more than one minute, it automatically shifts to transmitting. This will work whether you are in the search mode or the beacon is on you, and you remain stationary. This is an excellent feature, which can be indispensable when you get buried and have no way to access the beacon. Manually, switching between the two modes through the send/search button below the display is also possible. You can also change the default one-minute period to up to 120 seconds in the settings.
However, the beacon sometimes switches the modes without any alerts that can make it a bit tricky to know whether you are in the search or the transmitting mode. The auto revert can also kick in if you accidentally cover the proximity sensor on the beacon’s right side. This is a bit of a letdown, as you need to familiarize yourself with the beacon before you can take it out on the field.
The group check mode is another great feature that you will love about this beacon. It checks up to four people in the group, which is great. When you switch on the device, the beacon first checks itself before it shifts into the group check mode.
In terms of portability and comfort of carrying, this snow beacon is a champ. Because it has such a lightweight and compact design, it easily fits into the smallest pockets without any problem. This avalanche beacon works with the Pieps app. Therefore, you can also update the beacon’s software with ease. This eliminates the need to ship your beacon to a store or visit a store physically to get it updated. It is also compatible with Bluetooth on both iOS and Android platforms.
This beacon is both a hit and miss when it comes to the user interface. With the minimal design and few buttons, it is easy to carry and access. But ironically, it can also be a bit difficult to get the hang of using this beacon in an effective manner. The auto revert function and the minimal buttons are undeniably their best feature, but they also make this beacon a bit tricky to use.
It is a total winner when it comes to features and speed, but it needs some getting used to. Nevertheless, if you understand how this beacon works with all its features, it is a fantastic rescue gear.
The battery of a beacon can be detrimental to its overall performance. And the Pieps Micro BT Button’s batteries does not disappoint. While it is in the send mode, the battery lasts up to 100 hours, which is a good duration. But if you consult the beacon’s manual, it states that the battery’s life is between 20 to 100 hours, which is a very ambiguous range. But from our experience, we were able to use it for about 88 hours on send, which was not bad at all.
However, the beacon displays the battery life in thirds by default. This can be very misleading and vague, so we prefer changing the settings to display the battery’s percentage.
Is it possible to customize the Pieps Micro BT Button?
Yes. It is possible to customize the Pieps Micro BT Button according to your preference. Below are the options for customizing this avalanche beacon.
- You can turn off the vibration mode for getting alerts.
- The default time of one minute for auto revert can also be customized in the settings. It can be changed between 60, 90, or 120 seconds.
- Customizing the group check is also possible between “regular group check” and “extended group check.” In the latter mode, you can also check the duration of the signal. Additionally, a “professional group check” mode can also be performed to check other beacons in the vicinity.
What is the advantage of lightweight avalanche gear?
When it comes to avalanche gear, gear that is lightweight is always a good choice. This is because you will be carrying a hundred and one items in your backpack. Individually, the weight of the tools may not seem like a big concern. But when you club everything together, they can measure a considerable weight. Lightweight gear is easier to pack and, most importantly, easier to carry.
Since there are some tools such as an avalanche shovel where the weight cannot be compromised, and you can keep the other gears light. And a lightweight avalanche beacon can be a great choice.
Why is it important for avalanche beacons to have software that can be updated?
A phone or a computer with outdated software will not give you the full experience. Similarly, it is important to have an avalanche beacon that come with software that can be updated easily. This will allow you to have the most precise readings and information while you use it.
If you frequent the alpine landscape, take your beacon to a reputable service center to make sure you have the latest software. Alternately, if your beacon has a dedicated app, you can check for updates before every winter.
Why is the information about the Pieps Micro BT Button warranty contradictory?
This is a valid question because the information is different on different platforms. While some say it is two years, others state that the warranty is five years.
The warranty on the Pieps Micro BT Button is indeed two years that starts from the date of purchase. However, the warranty for most products from the brand can be extended for up to three or four years. This duration will vary from one product to another.
In the case of the Pieps Micro BT Button, the warranty can be extended up to three or four years. This will depend on whether you apply for the warranty extension online or at a service center.
For more information on warranty extension, head to the brand’s website.