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2-Way Radios for backcountry

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2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby oldschoolczar » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:45 pm

I was looking into picking up some 2-way radios for backcountry pursuits. Mostly I'd be using them for hiking mountains and skiing at resorts and a little bit in the backcountry. I was wondering if anyone has experience with these cheaper ($50-100 for set of two) radios that you can buy at REI and the like. Looks like there's a few Motorola models <$100... They claim to have ranges of 20-35 miles but this is for unobstructed line of sight transmissions. Can anyone give me some idea of what the ranges are in practice? Like when you are down in the trees and someone else is on the summit.. I don't imagine these transmit very far. Are these things worth a damn in the mountains!?
If you have a radio set that you use and are happy with please let me know what kind it is.. I'm looking for suggestions!
"Tonight I'll shave the mountain
I'll cut the hearts from pharoahs"
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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby edhaman » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:55 pm

Several years ago I bought a cheap set (probably about $30; 5-6 mile range) to use at ski resorts, and they have worked quite well. I haven't used them on mountain hikes/climbs, as the people I'm with are usually within shouting distance. With REI's return policy, they are probably worth trying. As you said, they only operate "line of sight."

Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby Jon Frohlich » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:04 pm

I have an older set of Motorola radios that I'm sure are not sold anymore. I haven't had much use for them recently but I did use them quite a bit for a while. It's definitely true they are only line of sight. They came in handy a few times when we had a large group split up or some people stayed back at camp while others went to a summit. In the right situation they can be very useful and make communication a whole lot easier. No waiting around wondering why people aren't back to camp. In Chicago Basin a few years ago I was on Jupiter talking with a friend of mine on Eolus. In one case we ran out of water and radioed back to camp to ask if the other people could filter some more water for us before we got back.

I also used them at ski resorts a few times but cell coverage is so good now that I haven't done that in a while.

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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby oldschoolczar » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:29 pm

Jon Frohlich wrote: It's definitely true they are only line of sight.


I thought they would still work when out of sight but the range would be drastically reduced? So, if you're only a 1/4 mile away but you are on the other side of a ridge they will not work?
If that's the case I don't know how useful these would be for me...
"Tonight I'll shave the mountain
I'll cut the hearts from pharoahs"
-Tom Waits


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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby JDgreen » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:22 pm

On our farm we use narrow banded UHF 30 watt mobiles with a 40 watt repeater mounted high on a grain bin and can talk 30 miles in flat old Nebraska. To talk that distance on a $50 2 watt mobile is wildly optimistic. Try the highest power family radios made by mortorolla from some place you can return them if they don't meet your expectations. Guesing 3-5 miles line of sight, 1 mile or so with a hill between you.
The world is a changin' and the West is only as wild as we can make it!

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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby jdorje » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:32 pm

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=11958

Camp-to-summit contact shouldn't be a problem with any of these radios.
-Jason Dorje Short

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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby Lindahl » Sat May 11, 2013 8:22 am

For backcountry skiing, big and small lines, I like these:
https://midlandusa.com/two-way-radios/product/lxt118vptwo-way-radio/

Low faff, simple, small, lightweight, cheap, rechargeable. Most radios are HUGE in comparison. These will fit in a small jacket breast pocket. They'd also work well for two climbers in the same party, on the same route.

Though, If you're talking about resort use, where someone's on one side of the resort, with another person on another side of the resort, you'll want something with more range.

Walmart had them for a while, but it seems they're out of stock right now.

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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby dehrlich101 » Sat May 11, 2013 1:40 pm

I've used these radios while on the Colorado Trail to contact our vehicle support.

http://www.rei.com/product/790323/midland-gxt1000vp4-2-way-radios-2-pack

We've never had to use them any farther then 5 - 10 miles from each other. If you're in a canyon or on the other side of the mountain you can hear the person but the reception isn't very good, once you are up higher the reception has been good. I was very happy with them, they can be charged in a vehicle outlet and have a pretty good battery life on them if you don't keep them on all the time.

I think REI is having a sale starting on the 17th, for 20% off might be a good time to buy.

Daniel
I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in - Aldo Leopold

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Re: 2-Way Radios for backcountry

Postby jdorje » Sat May 11, 2013 3:00 pm

Looks like the same set I got, though I recall paying $65 for a pair. Reception hasn't been a problem and charging is easy, but, the battery life isn't that spectacular (not an issue for one day).
-Jason Dorje Short

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