High Gear: BCA Link radio system review | SummitDaily.com

High Gear: BCA Link radio system review

Fritz Sperry
Special to the Daily

I've been using the BCA Link Radio, a backcountry radio system from BCA, for about two years and have to say they sure help "giterdun." They are durable, easy to recharge, waterproof and stay powered for days, even in the cold. They also offer some cool features that you might not get in a typical handheld unit. When getting the job done calls for communicating with your team, having a reliable radio at your fingertips sure helps. It beats fumbling around for gear in your backpack or a jacket pocket.

Born in the field

The BCA system is made for the field and integrates pretty seamlessly with any pack. First, charge the unit with the USB charger (same size as a typical Android smartphone charger). This is great, in that you can charge it with your car's 12-volt or a wall charger; I like to use my Goal Zero solar panel.

Once you're ready to go, select one of five presets on the main unit. Begin by selecting the frequency and the privacy code. This option can be locked easily to prevent inadvertent switching while the unit is packed away. Then, feed the cord from the microphone hand unit through the hydration bladder slot in the shoulder strap of your pack and clip it to the strap. Finally, use the secure connector to marry the microphone to the main unit.

The radio controls are oversized and made for operating in the cold: power and volume are both managed with a dial on the hand unit. You can also switch between your five presets by turning a dial on the hand unit. Talking is easy — just use the push-to-talk hand unit like a CB radio.

Quirks in the system

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There are a couple quirks that are particular to using the BCA Link Radio, like a preset switch that sometimes gets changed inadvertently. I never use five presets, so to combat this I set the first two stations to one frequency and the other stations to another frequency. That way, if the switch gets jarred the frequency bumps to the same station.

The only other issue is the clasp on the back of the radio. It often comes unclipped from a shoulder strap, but this doesn't happen when skiing. It takes rougher action, like bushwhacking, and clipping it on thinner fabric helps this.

Verdict

With 20 frequencies and 20 privacy codes there are plenty of stations to pick. These are the same frequencies used by Motorola and others, like the Motorola Talkabout made for rafters and kayakers, so compatibility is great if members of your team have different radios. The BCA Link Radio system is a great tool for those of us who want to get the job done with the least amount of fuss.

Fritz Sperry is a skier, author, photographer and artist who has skied extensively in the Colorado backcountry. He's the author of: "Makingturns in the Tenmile-Mosquito Range," and "Makingturns in Colorado's Front Range, Vol. 1," both available online and at Next Page Books in Frisco or Wilderness Sports in Dillon.

BCA Link radio, $149.99

Weight: 12 ounces

Mic size: 3.3 x 1 x 1.8 inches

Base unit size: 2.5 x 2 x 6 inches

Battery: Rechargeable lithum-ion

Battery life: Up to 4 days in extreme cold

Waterproof: Yes

Features: Pre-set channels, earphone jack and glove-friendly controls for easy handling in backcountry, including exterior volume, channel select, push-to-talk button and on/off switch. Also features mini-USB port on base unit for versatile charging.

For more or to purchase, see the BCA Link radio system online at http://www.backcountryaccess.com.