Ortovox Zoom Review

The Ortovox Zoom is new transceiver this season. We are expecting our winter stock any day soon, but I’ve had a production sample to test.

First impressions are good. With this unit Ortovox appear to be concentrating on search simplicity over complex search features. I think this is a great move, most recreational skiers don’t realistically do that much training and even experienced searchers benefit from a simple to use model when under stress.

So it just has one search button, and that’s it. It’s also a nice size and the casing seems very robust and well made.

So how does it operate in search mode?

Single burial search is the most likely search feature someone will use in real emergencies. The zoom works really nicely here, guiding you through search in a simple an intuitive manner. I thought it was very good without any confusion.

Zoom serching for a single victim:

Multiple burial search. Again it does this quite well, displaying an icon to make you aware there is a multiple burial situation. Searching for multiple burials is always tricky, but I think it works well with this unit

Zoom searching for multiple victims

Overall I liked this transceiver it offers good value for money and a simple intuitive search process for all.

See our page for the Ortovox Zoom

3 thoughts on “Ortovox Zoom Review

  1. Hi Jake,
    Thanks for the 3 circle method article. I learnt a similar technique with an analog Arva and found it really effective for close burials. I’ll give it a try next time we’re out both with a Pulse and a Zoom.
    I had a Zoom to test again last weekend and we did some double burials at medium distance(10-20m). I have to confess to be warming to the Zoom now as a novice device. I do like the simplicity of the device, and by teaching a small bit of technique you can teach beginners to find more Arvas quite effectively – but I want to try some close burials before making a final judgement. I’m still sticking with my Pulse…for now at least 🙂

  2. Hi Julian,

    Thanks for the comments. It’s an interesting point, I think there are pro’s and cons to masking functionality.

    Multiple close burial situations are just too complex to expect a novice to perform perfectly. I’d only expect those with lots of practice and a technical interest in these things to perform well.

    In the situation described of 2 or 3 novice rescuers and 2 victims the reality is that it would be a good result to rescue 1 person alive. I would suggest for such a group the tactic would be to locate victim 1, dig him out quickly (searching elsewhere whilst the first victim is still buried will slow things down for them) and put their transceiver into search mode, then locate the 2nd person.

    In a group with more resources and an experienced leader then I can see the point of a masking function that works. But I don’t think it applies to novices because a) They probably won’t know how it works. b) The extra button / menu might confuse a normal search. c) They probably haven’t the resources to dig out 2 people simultaneously.

    However I see your point about it being preferable to have the option to use a masking function whilst still having a simple search feature (Such as Element, Pulse or Tracker 2).

    With training the Zoom (and all other models) you can perform multiple close burial location, but I’d recommend using the 3 circle method.

    This is definitely worth a read: https://s3.amazonaws.com/BackcountryAccess/content/papers/ISSW06SteveChristieV5.pdf

  3. Hi Jake, Thanks for the review of the Zoom. I had some students last weekend on our ski touring course who turned up with new Zooms. My first impression was positive, with the speed and ease using the device. The students were using them for the first time and found them relatively straight forward. Now I realise that this device is aimed at a client that has little time to learn the ropes about avalanche rescue, and it is correct that the product people at Ortovox have targeted this category of client with a specific product, but I feel that the absence of the ‘marking’ function really is a huge flaw, as it is a function that with v.little training can be learnt to put into practise and could (however low the probability) eventually save more lives. In you demonstration for multiple victim searches, digging up the first victim found is the correct approach if you’re the only person searching. But imagine the scenario where there are two or three skiers with little rescue training searching with Zooms for two victims and all pick up the same beacon signal. I doubt the secound victim would be reached in the 15min window as the inability to exclude the first signal would create total panic. As a ski touring school we’re going to get hold of a Zoom to play with over the coming weekends, so we won’t exclude the Zoom just yet from our recommended gear list. However I do think that for 60pounds extra the Mammut Element is a much more complete package for the novice (although not 100% perfect as Facewest has already documented) with the ‘marking’ function.
    Julian (www.scuolasucai.eu)

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