Whether you’ll be adventuring with a small group into the woods or you’re going on as a solo adventurer, it’s crucial to keep track of your location. After all, there’s a reason why you need to let someone know about your destination and how many days you plan to be on the trails.
By using a two-way radio, which requires extra training and, in some cases, additional governmental certifications, you can achieve stable, constant communication with your team or the nearest communication station. There’s no need to worry about a cell phone signal or carrying a power brick for your phone while you have a reliable two-way radio packed among your essentials.
At first glance, it might sound like it’s an overreaction. Why should I need a simple “walkie-talkie” if I could just use my phone? The reality is that, when you’re in a life-threatening situation during a disaster event, there are few technologies that are as reliable and resilient as a dual-band two-way radio.
During catastrophic natural disasters, like hurricanes or earthquakes where critical infrastructure got heavily compromised, and power outage was inevitable, communicating through radio signals became the primary option to coordinate rescue efforts and update nearby communities. Therefore, even if you don’t end up bringing a two-way radio in your backpack while you’re camping, by having one placed in your home, you’re already more prepared than most people in the events of another disaster.
Ideally, in an outdoor scenario, you should be able to carry a two-way radio if you’re going on a mission that will require more than a day to complete. If the area is known for having poor cell phone signal, it’s always good to have the radio as a backup in case you need emergency communication with the closest station available. Your group should coordinate beforehand which channels you’ll be using to stay in contact, as well as any signals for more efficient communication and emergency situations. This way, if someone takes a bit longer to complete their tasks, they can keep talking to their partners to update their status before anything worrisome happens to them.
A radio can be catalogued as dual-band when it allows operation on two separate frequency bands. In this particular case, it would allow for ultra-high frequency, abbreviated as UHF, and very high frequency, also known as VHF.
The UHF ranges from 420 to 450 MHZ, while the VHF band ranges between 144 and 148 MHz. Of course, these numbers are only references and, what’s most important, there are some two-way radio frequencies that are allocated as license-free for personal use. Otherwise, you would need to go through certification processes with your respective authority if you’re looking to dive into the amateur radio hobby.
For survivalists and people who want to have a survival kit prepared in the back of their car, it’s ideal to have both options available in a single piece of equipment. Ultra-high frequency can easily penetrate through densely wooded areas or buildings, at the cost of having a lower distance. On the other hand, the very high frequency is normally reserved for outdoor situations and rural areas since they can cover more distance. Having the ability to switch frequencies accordingly is crucial to maintain contact with your group or your nearest safe point.
Before settling down with a specific two-way radio model, it’s important to know how many headsets are included, especially if you plan to use them in a group. Some manufacturers can offer a pack of four or more headsets unless you’re just planning to use a pair for a reduced range.
Most dual-band two-way radios have the option to program channels according to the user’s needs and incorporate some common features across all models, no matter what manufacturer you end up choosing. For example, license-free two-way radios can transmit on PMR446 in the US, so another factor to consider before purchasing is the number of channels you’ll be able to communicate with each handset, usually either 8 or 16. Survivalists will benefit from a radio with a removable antenna to switch and upgrade it for better performance in more isolated areas as well. If you’re interested in using your radio while in more extreme situations, like mountain climbing, a Voice Activated Transmit (or VOX) will keep the radio’s microphone on at all time and will transmit your voice automatically when you start speaking. These models should also come with a throat mic or a socket for a headset to complement the VOX system.
Although amateur dual-band two-way radios, also known as “ham” radios among the enthusiasts, might require a license to operate depending on where you live for more complex tasks, a good alternative could be using the regular walkie-talkies.
The biggest disadvantage for these simpler devices is that you cannot communicate outside of your channel if something goes wrong and you need help from any authority. And, finally but not least, no matter what decision you end up making, it’s crucial that you end up purchasing a device that is waterproof or uses a protective gear to ensure that your radio can withstand harsh weather conditions.
BF-F8HP is a dual-band two-way radio is designed in the USA with the support and concierge based in the USA. Frequency range VHF (136 – 174) MHz, 88 – 108 MHz, UHF (400 – 520) MHz
UV-5R 8W – High Power Dual-Band Two-Way Radio is a super inexpensive bundle with everything you need. Output 4-5 watt version is very popular with airsoft community. This radio is able to transmit over 5km radius within the suburbs, less in the urban setting with a range of 1-2 km. This radio performs best on the open ground with the antenna extender you can transmit the signal in the over 20km radius. Long battery life easy to program different frequencies VHF (136 – 174) MHz, UHF (400 – 480) MHz.
Keeping a two-way radio in your backpack is the best way to stay safe and stable communication in remote areas. In addition to other communication gadgets that can ensure other people know about your current location and can direct emergency rescuers to where you are if needed, the two-way radio is the best way to maintain your hiking group coordinated and united. No matter the situation you’re in, your prep skills and knowledge will keep you safe and alive if you know how to use your tools correctly. And, even while you’re staying at home, having a two-way radio can become a crucial resource of information and help in case of a disaster.