Almost every piece of winter gear features a RECCO reflector these days. Not meant to replace personal backcountry transceivers but used as a companion tool by organized rescue teams, this avalanche rescue system can quickly locate a buried person and is considered standard equipment with most ski resorts, mountain rescue teams, and parks worldwide. But what about finding people lost or hurt in an extremely wide search area? Enter RECCO SAR 1–a helicopter search and rescue detector with a substantially greater range and one that can be used year-round.
The new RECCO SAR 1 application enables a helicopter search and rescue team to fly at speeds up to 80 mph (130 km/h) and search 650-foot-wide corridors of forest, mountain terrain, rivers, and shores. The system can search roughly 0.4 square miles (1 square km) in 3-4 minutes, the equivalent of 30 soccer fields per minute. Compare that to the 65-foot-wide corridors searched with the avalanche system.
In the past year, successful tests have been conducted in Sweden, Norway, and in Switzerland where the first SAR 1 has been operated with Air Zermatt. The project plan is to have detectors placed in key regions by the summer of 2016.
Anyone who purchases apparel or equipment with an integrated RECCO reflector will become searchable in these areas. Just like the avalanche rescue system, brands play a key role in getting reflectors out. Reflectors have been adapted to enable integration in more summer oriented apparel and equipment. For the launch in summer 2016, a handful of brands will release RECCO SAR 1 products including a lightweight climbing pack line from Ortovox called the Trad.
The Ortovox Trad line weighs a minimum of 730 grams and comes fitted with a light, flexible, and removable aluminum frame. The main compartment can be accessed via a circumferential zipper on the front or via the lid. All packs in the line feature both rope and ice axe holders and come equipped with RECCO SAR 1 reflectors as standard.