Running Interference: How Candy Affects Your Beacon

At October’s International Snow Safety Workshop in Banff, Alberta, Ilari Dammert, Mammut’s electronics product manager, and Edwin Meister, a project manager with the Swiss electronics manufacturer CCS Adaxys, presented startling findings on beacon interference. Backcountry users have long known that electronics, particularly cell phones, can interfere with a transceiver’s function, but the level of interference and range of culprit gadgets hasn’t been known until now.

Beacon bafflers: keep this stuff away from your beeper. [Photo] David Crothers

Beacon bafflers: keep this stuff away from your beeper. [Photo] David Crothers

The pair tested beacon ranges in “send” and “receive” mode when placed at various distances from metallic objects, digital cameras, smart phones and watches. They concluded that electromagnetic noise dramatically increased with proximity, and developed a few suggestions.

“As a general recommendation for a search, hold the device at least a minimum of 50cm away from interfering objects and turn off any electronic devices, if possible,” they wrote in their paper titled “The Effect of Consumer Electronics on Avalanche Transceivers.”

Metal objects, like shovels, belt buckles and candy packaging can reduce strength in “send” mode, too, particularly when placed within 30mm of a beacon. Therefore they recommend traveling with any metallic objects more than 20cm from a beacon. Note to self: no more Twix in high-consequence situations.

For more on topics like this, join the editors of Backcountry Magazine at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort from March 7-8 for the GORE-TEX Backcountry Basecamp Tour, presented by Voilé, Marmot and AIARE. All weekend, Backcountry Magazine staff will showcase the newest backcountry equipment, AIARE educators will conduct demos and classes, and Jackson Hole Guides will take visitors on complimentary backcountry tours. For more on the event, including the party and raffle to benefit Teton County Search and Rescue, visit


  1. Has any research been done with regards to interference from Internet-connected pacemakers or insulin pumps? What about conventional pacemakers and pumps?

  2. I wonder then how much a GPS watch can interfere with the device…

  3. Here’s a quick study on the topic of candy (or Gu) wrappers and your beacon:

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