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John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Whistles on 03/03/2008 19:39:53 MST Print View

Has anyone tested whistles to see which ones can be heard the farthest away, and are still easy to blow ?

I'd heard the tri-tone Fox40 carries significantly farther than a standard ACME model 60.5 Thunderer "pea whistle". However, I bought a Fox40, and thought the ACME 60.5 was at least 33% louder... The Fox40 was also 33% harder to blow and only sounded 50% as loud as the ACME 60.5 when I was tired & winded. The Fox40 was also only 50% as loud as the ACME 60.5 when my 10 year old kid blew it, and not very loud at all when my 8 year old blew it.

However, the ACME 60.5 worries me since it's pea can freeze, and it may not work in the rain if water is getting inside...

So I'm thinking about ordering a mini-Storm, an ACME2000, a Rescue Howler, or a JetScream. The Mini-Storm says their frequency is optimized for human hearing (but is pretty huge), the ACME2000 is a tri-tone whistle that looks like a direct competitor to the Fox40 (but maybe blows easier), the Rescue Howler is a miniture flat version of the Fox40 (that I hear is even harder to blow), and the JetScream is a direct competitor to the Rescue Howler.

Does anyone have any experience with these whistles - or know of any better whistles ? Since I have to order each of them from a different company, I'd rather not pay for all the shipping and be stuck with a bunch of whistles that don't work very well...


Edited by JohnG10 on 03/03/2008 19:41:40 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Whistles on 03/03/2008 20:49:44 MST Print View

Does anyone know how loud a whistle is in decibels?

And does anyone know what impact it has on ones hearing?

Being a little deaf, rather than dead, isn't a bad trade-off, but it is something I wonder about.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Whistles on 03/03/2008 21:11:26 MST Print View

I have not done any testing myself.

According to

As for loudness, when measured in the same manner to the same weighted db scale (there is no industry standard), the Rescue Howlerâ„¢ achieved a db rating of 110. This compares to the Fox 40 Classic and Mini-Fox 40 at 115 db and the Acme Tornado at 107 db.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Decibels on 03/04/2008 06:46:56 MST Print View

I think using the decibels (sound volume) to rate a whistle's performance is misleading without considering the frequency (tone) most of those decibels are produced in. For instance, I don't doubt the Fox40 manufacturers decibel measurement - but the classic ACME Thunderer 60.5 (chrome plated brass "pea" whistle) seems significantly louder to me, my wife, and my 2 kids. I suspect this is because some of the Fox40's decibels are in frequency so high that only dogs and labaratory equipment can hear them ;)

Interestingly, although I tested the two whistles I have in flat fields, I didn't get significantly different results when I tested them in rolling hills, in terrain with middling density vegitation, or in light winds. There was a little bit of difference when the listener is near a babling stream - then a slightly higher pitch was more noticeable.

ps: I found a SAR commentary that said the dogs are trained to search using scent - and to ignore other things so that they don't get side-tracked. So I don't think a frequency only dogs can hear is a benefit in a "safety" whistle.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Decibels on 03/04/2008 10:06:13 MST Print View

I would recommend you NOT test these whistles with your kids (or yourself for that matter) without having them use hearing protection. Or at least stick your fingers in your ears. No kidding. 115dB is a very dangerous sound level... even for a few seconds.

Edited by davidlewis on 03/04/2008 10:07:28 MST.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Re: Decibels on 03/04/2008 10:40:32 MST Print View

I agree on the hearing protection. I've got a rescue whistle that had a warning regarding serious hearing damage if used without hearing protection. Be very careful with your ears. Hearing damage may be permanent.

kevin kim
(keunjungkim) - F
Re: Whistles on 02/24/2009 17:17:51 MST Print View

There is new whistle coming out 2-5month.
Called Hammer Shark M419.
It's been US Patented. NO.7,428,878.
Unlike todays whistle, new whistle send sound forward by
having sound opening on front of the whistle.
whistle on the market today sends sound upward by having
sound opening on top of the whistle. which is very closed
to user's ear drum.
louder it is more damage to user's ear drum.
with same db level sending forward make more sense it
would travel farther.
If you want to know more about the product
call me since I am in VA
kevin 571-277-8967

Jonathon Rogers

Locale: East TN
Name... on 02/24/2009 17:58:09 MST Print View

Hammer Shark M419 is an awesome name for a whistle...or really for any product. That is all.

Heather E
(packthewhistle) - F
the Hart Tew Whistle on 03/19/2011 02:20:59 MDT Print View

The Hart Tew Whistle is new on the market as of 2011 and has an appearance similar to Military "dog tags", but can belt out as loud, clear sound in many pitches, tones & levels of volume. Due to it's design, getting this whistle wet doesn't create a problem. It is MADE IN THE USA. The U.S. Patent# is 6,489,545 and is not yet available in stores, but is sold through a Sole Distributor in Texas for about $10.00-$11.00 for a single unit or it can be sold in bulk orders of 50 or 100 at a discounted rate. There is an instructional video on You Tube under the name Hart Tew Whistle that was made a few years ago before this whistle was actually put on the market. The Distributor's info is on the comments as well (I noticed there was a number for the owner but someone besides the owner obviously put it there...common sense based on the user name). The e-mail address to the Distributor is and they ship within the US (48 States). It's one of the loudest whistles on the market and great for ultra light packing!

b willi jones
(mrjones) - F

Locale: NZ,,, best place in the world !?
whistles on 03/19/2011 03:16:12 MDT Print View

you should check out

brians backpacking blog, he does a head to head test with a few different whistles, includes a bit of a movie, cant get more exciting than that... can ya?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Whistles on 03/19/2011 03:22:55 MDT Print View

Personal opinion: a useless device. If it doesn't deafen you immediately it won't be heard far enough away. A good call is better.


JJ Mathes
(JMathes) - F

Locale: Southeast US
whistles on 03/19/2011 04:13:19 MDT Print View

I'll second Brian Greens blog review on whistles

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: whistles on 03/19/2011 06:36:22 MDT Print View

Last whistle I heard someone use, it sounded exactly like a marmot and I paid it no attention at all. The fool woman ran uphill and finally caught up with us to ask us where the trail down was. We were standing on it and the freeway could be seen below along with the parking lot where she had obviously parked her car...

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: Whistles on 03/19/2011 07:45:03 MDT Print View

Roger said;

"Personal opinion: a useless device. If it doesn't deafen you immediately it won't be heard far enough away. A good call is better".

Did everyone notice like I did that the dB difference between all of the tested whistles was only .4 dB! How many grams does a dB weigh? ;-)

Has anyone ever gotten a group of of 6 hikers together to have a screaming contest?

We could have a tall skinny, short heavy, medium build and a body builder type just for some examples of differing body types. Add in Brian Green's idea of a borrowed decibel meter and let the screaming commence.

We may find out that we could go acapella & ultralight(er).

I've had a sternum strap style whistle and an ACR WW3 style whistle every time I've gone hiking. I have never had to use either one. I prefer to hike with a buddy or a group. I carry an ID tag and a cell phone. My theory is one or more of us will be able to administer aid and/or find help. Yes the cell phone service may be spotty at best but I have used it to call home during hikes to let the family know that I was OK. The ID tag's use is obvious. It would only be useful if I am alone, unconscious or worse.


How can you tell black bear scat from grizzly bear scat? Black bear scat has lots of undigested berries in it. Grizzly bear scat has little shiny bells in it and it smells like pepper.;-)


Unless it is required by a park permit I'll probably not be carrying whistles, bells or spray on future hikes.

Party On,


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
whistles on 03/19/2011 10:00:42 MDT Print View

while it's very possible they are not as loud as advertised, I think they are worthwhile item to carry- in two different searches (both involving lost hunters, both in a snow storm) we were able to locate them by the sound of the whistle. I think that while a loud scream could be very effective, it will eventually give out

<-- feel perfectly justified in my 5 gram indulgence :)

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Ear Protection on 03/19/2011 10:46:14 MDT Print View

A 2 year old can puff hard enough into a Howler to make my ears ring for 20 minutes. You can guess how I know this. Keep your whistle locked up!

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Whistles on 03/19/2011 11:01:23 MDT Print View

I carry an Acme Tornado because it's small, light, and "loud enough." It seems louder and easier to blow than a Fox Micro 40, which is a similar size.

A New Zealand SAR group tested how far (in meters) whistles could be heard in the dense NZ bush:

Honker 413
Yell/scream 410
Storm 400
Acme Thunderer 400
Black Pea 338
Windstorm 270
Turbo 2 SAR 263
Fox40 238
Lifejacket 138

Note the limitations of the yell or scream in someone else's tests:

--- quote
Human Scream (pees after coffee or soda)
Adult Average: 107 db
Child Average: 104.3 db
*NOTE* Our adult tester, Kevin Estela (aka Estela216, a Moderator at KnifeForums), screamed three times the first at 110db, the second at 107db, the third at 104db. After the third scream, his voice was notably affected. By the next morning, he suffered a slight case of laryngitis from the event. Important to note! CARRY A WHISTLE!

Our young adult tester, Becky Two Knives, screamed three times, the first at 101db, the second at 107db, the third at 105db. During her second scream, she belted out a change in tone that didn't even register on the decibel meter. That scream damaged the hearing of all present and scared the coyotes off Marty's property for a night.
--- end quote

Edited by AndyF on 03/19/2011 11:07:36 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Whistles on 03/19/2011 11:47:56 MDT Print View

A whistle with alternating tones may not register all the force on a decibel meter. Some whistles use dual tones (like the ACR), which can help attract attention. Anyone signaling with a whistle should use three blasts in succession--- the universal distress signal. I guess you could be a dilettante and do an actual SOS. That will help differentiate from a marmot or bird too. I would plug one ear and put a finger in the other and *listen* for calls between blasts. If the whistle is good, you won't hear faint calls after a good loud session of signaling.

I use the ACR whistle on my pocket survival keyring. It is light, compact, cheap, and *there.*

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
STORM whistle on 03/19/2011 12:54:54 MDT Print View

The STORM whistle has long been standard equipment with many sea kayakers. And yes, you do need hearing protection to use it safely.

I carry one on a lanyard when ski patrolling. It appears even young snowboarders with earbuds blasting away can hear the STORM and get out of the way as I bring an accident victim down the mountain! (Well, they HEAR it at least. Having the common sense to get out of the way is another matter. After all, it's all about them, isn't it?)

The STORM whistle is great for winter use as there is no "pea" to become frozen after blowing it.

. Callahan

Locale: Stoke Newington, London, UK.
Honesty! on 03/19/2011 19:06:55 MDT Print View

Kevin Kim Quote:

"If you want to know more about the product
call me since I am"

...The patent holder and seller!


At least have the honesty to say that its actually your patent for your product before you start to try and drum up sales!

From the patent application:

Kim, Keun Jung (6823 Union Mill Rd., Clifton, VA, US)"