Best Equipment Investment of 2016: BC Link Radio!

When you can simply reach down with one hand and call your buddies, it is unbelievably comforting and convenient.

Please note that we have no vested interest in BCA or BC Link Radios–if we ever do, we’ll clearly state any connection we have. We will stay as unbiased and neutral as possible. We simply want to pass on what we’ve learned. We also hope that you’ll share your experience with the products we review in a comment at the end of the review. 

How it works

First, you’ll need to find a space to place the base radio unit. Depending on the pack, you can place it in a pouch on your waist belt or in your main pack. If your pack has a hydration sleeve, you’ll want to place the base unit in the main pack and send the cord through the sleeve. The smart mic will then be clipped to your shoulder or chest strap. The clip can be rotated to any angle.

The smart mic is the part you’ll speak into, so make it readily accessible. Best case scenario is when the cord between the base unit and the smart mic is concealed through the hydration sleeve. The Stash 20, Stash 30, or Stash 40 backpack are set up perfectly for this. The pack I am currently using is not, but it still works great. I
connect mine like this. img_0945

Next, choose a letter A-F for your group to use. The unit is preset with a channel (the large number) and a privacy code (the small number) for each letter. You can change these numbers to whatever you want once the unit is powered on.

Note that “channels 8-14 transmit at 0.5 W, while all other channels transmit at 1.0W.  While battery life is longer when using channels 8-14, the range of transmission is shorter” (BC Link Manual, 2016). Just ensure that your group is on the same channel. The one problem I have experienced with this product is that the letter knob will occasionally be changed inadvertently while riding. Check this periodically throughout the day or if you would expect a response and none comes through. 

Now, simply turn the power/volume knob to the highest volume. Press the orange button to talk. I’ve heard complaints that the orange button is too small with gloves on, but I have had no problems whatsoever with this, regardless of the gloves I’ve worn. Wait a few seconds after pressing the button before talking, otherwise you’ll be cutting yourself off. You may have to educate your buddies on this…  Also note that radios will not transmit closer than 5 feet, so when testing in the morning, put more than a few feet between you.

While you are riding you’ll almost always be able to hear when someone is speaking. If motor is churning, you may not hear the content of what they are saying, but you’ll know to stop and call back. radio-6

Charging is really simple. Connect a mini USB to the base unit here.

Quality

I’ve had this product for a relatively short time, but I am more than satisfied with it’s performance. It has been wet, warm, really cold, and constantly used throughout my rides this year. It has held up well and seems to be extremely well designed and built. As mentioned previously, the only problem I’ve encountered is the channel knob changing inadvertently. I’ll update this section if I run into anything contrary to what I’ve experienced to this point.

Warranty: From BCA “Backcountry Access, Inc. (BCA) warrants that for a period of three (3) years from the date of purchase, this product will be free from defects in material and workmanship.”

Why the BC Link is so awesome!

I really didn’t plan on purchasing this radio until there was a deal I couldn’t pass up at a dealership on an avy class night. I had heard people talk about them but thought it was just chatter. I’ve used the handheld radios in the past. I thought, “what’s the big deal?” Probably like many of you are thinking right now. This is kind of a weird thing. You don’t realize how useful and convenient these devices are until you use them. When you can simply reach down with one hand and call your buddies, it is unbelievably comforting and convenient. Here are the benefits I have found.

1. Gives confidence to venture out a little and find your own lines.

2. Increases the safety of your whole group.

3. Increases communication in general.

4. Gets you unstuck quicker 🙂 (because you can call for a quick ski pull, etc.)

Important Notes
Battery Life: 80+ hours, but I’d never count on over 40 hours. I’ve ridden for three straight days and two bars of power still remain, but I personally wouldn’t push beyond that. After riding with this product, I never want to ride without it! I’ll stay on the safe side as far as charging.

Range: Up to 5 miles unobstructed, but under most backcountry conditions plan on 2 miles.

Product Manual: Backcountry Access BC Link Radio Manual

Price: ~$150, Backcountry.comEvo.com

I can’t say enough about this product and concept. It is without a doubt the best investment I’ve made in snowmobile equipment in a long time.

 

Tell us your experience with this product in a comment below!

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Photo Credit: H Reutzel Photography

 

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