How to Choose, How to Use a Backcountry Radio
Communication is paramount when considering safety in mountain terrain. That’s why, whether you’re on skis, snowboarding, riding a snowmobile or snow bike, the BC Link 2.0 two-way radios are the go-to device for staying in touch and informing your group about snow stability, route finding, and hunting down the best conditions while out in the field.
Communication is paramount when considering safety in mountain terrain. That’s why, whether you’re on skis, snowboards or splitboards, snowmobiles, or snow bikes, the BC Link 2.0 two-way radio from Backcountry Access is a go-to device for staying in touch and informed with your group about snow stability, route finding, and hunting down the best conditions while out in the field.
The crux component of BC Link radios is the Smart Mic, a remote speaker microphone that you attach to your shoulder or sternum strap, with all the controls at your fingertips. The base unit, with the antenna and battery, can be stashed in your backpack, where it’s kept warm and out of the way. The two are connected by a cord that can run around the outside or through the hydration sleeve now found in most modern backpacks and airbag packs.
Unlike the BC-Link, Talkabout-style radios, when stashed in a pack, can be hard to locate when needed. Another key advantage of the BC Link 2.0 is the long-lasting, built-in lithium-ion battery. The long battery life will keep you connected for those days when your mission proves longer than expected. The backcountry-specific design of the BC-Link is designed to withstand the elements. And when compared to more powerful UHF/VHF radios, the BC Link 2.0 stands out for its GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) classification, meaning that to operate a BC Link 2.0, the user doesn’t need permission from the FCC to gain access to a specific radio frequency.
The BC Link 2.0 boasts 2 watts of power for increased range and clearer transmission than the BC Link 1.0, providing an approximate useable range of 6 miles or 9.5 kilometers with a direct line of sight (this distance can vary based on weather and terrain). The Smart Mic’s recessed on/off dial switch protects against changing channels by accident and the speaker is designed to shed snow and ice for clear communication. Also included: the BC Link 2.0 has an earphone jack so you can use it for clear audio in noisy situations. The volume on the mic is loud enough, however, so you can hear your partners over the rumble of a snowmobile engine.
To hear more about uses for the BC Link 2.0 two-way radio in the field, we caught up with a few guides and snow professionals to hear what they look for in a radio to help improve their communication and safety in the backcountry.
Here’s what they had to say:
“The thing I value about the BC Link 2.0 is the ability to communicate more effectively as a team. I have direct communication with my clients or students or friends who are at the top of a slope, even after I’ve descended and am tucked into a safe zone. It’s a much more effective communication tool than waving a ski pole or yelling upslope.”
—Sarah Carpenter, AMGA guide and Co-owner of the American Avalanche Institute.
“The BC Link radio has become a favorite of mine, a mandatory piece of gear for a variety of activities. Some examples of activities when I use my radio are snowbiking, dirtbiking, boating, road trips, side-by-sides, and rafting. Communication is key, and the BC Link makes communicating easy. The easy-to-use mic and speaker combo is simple and effective. Incredible battery life and long-range make the BC Link a true standout winner in the radio market.”
—Brock Bolin, Safety Director for the Flathead Snowmobile Association and Manager at Penco Power Products
“The BC Link 2.0 is ready to go right out of the box. Long battery life, easy to use, and all the controls are on the mic. I don't know how people ride without them.”
—Mike Duffy, motorized avalanche instructor, Avalanche1.com.
“For me, the radios are best used for putting my partners into better lines or tree slots. I use them a ton for that. They are absolutely there for safety, but I find I use them for finding the best lines moreso.”
—Trent Meisenheimer, Utah Avalanche Center Forecaster