Looking for make/model suggestions. Basic user

I am looking for a radio to use to talk with my Dad when hunting in the mountains. So far my search has lead to the Midland GTX1000 and the Motorola T800 (leaning towards the t800 for battery life and one review said it worked at a longer distance when real-world-tested). Price, battery life, and ease of use would be at the top of the list. What do you all like? Is there a different make/model I should look at?

Range is a wild card in the mountains simply because the terrain is a huge factor. The article below explains what you can expect from any radio in mountainous areas.

The Best Two Way Radio for Mountains

In terms of license-free FRS radios, the Motorola T800 is lower power compared to the GXT1000, which is a GMRS radio with a couple of watts higher.

Although power isn’t the largest factor, it does have some bearing on range. There are models that have more power than the either the GXT1000 or the T800. Wouxun has both an FRS and ad GMRS version of its 805 Series with higher wattage. The KG-805F is a full 2 watt FRS radio and the KG-805G is a 5 watt GMRS radio.

I’d second most of Rick’s observations, especially the range/LOS aspect (as with VHF/UHF it’s pretty much LOS limited range or entirely - hence why commercial radio systems built for repeater based and long-range direct simplex comms have Tx power upwards of 20W, 50-55W being more common and around .75 of (3/4) of those TX figures at UHF where there are more EMC and absorption rated based safety restrictions and caution employed.

Most short range VHF/UHF comms much over 10 miles and in built up areas it’s more like 5 miles - tends to be more Repeater relay based than simplex direct. In mountainous terrain, your a victim of two evils, it works in your favour when inclines face each other as effective distance and LOS makes the link very efficient (you can get some good distance out of mW ERP at lower VHF frequencies under those conditions as I’ve done countless times with 49mhz mW rated handhelds).

But when there’s effectively high ground blocking the LOS or restricting the LOS, the combination of the wavelength being very inefficient for indirect paths (highly at VHF, very much an mandatory evil at UHF) and higher signal loss per foot/metre at VHF and UHF means this attenuation will seriously affect received SIG strengths and on FM mode, heavily impact the readability of transmission, hence why FM isn’t really the optimal choice of mode for harsh variable conditions and mountainous use - where AM/SSB/Digital Voice becomes more effective.

However, given you’re probably limited to fixed consumer or commercial licensed systems, you’ll want to err towards systems that permit radios with higher end power output, scope for a choice of antenna types, and notably for transportable and handheld gear, high efficiency power saving tech and high capacity battery power with exchangeable power sources that allow for emergency fallback to alkaline battery power and very restricted conserved use.

Now of what’s been suggested vs what you’ve looked at, equipment wise, I’d opt for equipment that’s built (even if locked down to a low tier type restricted service) around a serious commercial or commercial focused radio chassis. Aside from there being a better degree of equipment reliably exceeding the minimums any IPxx rugged ratings require, they are far less near-rated as they are inherently capable of performance that’s locked down and hence a healthy margin of better receiver performance and PA modules in Tx being under driven which makes for a better service life.

Rick mentions a Wouxun unit. Whilst an obscure player in the US ham and LMR world, primarily build for commercial usage radio services hence their equipment is self-promoted as professional to define the fact the non-pro market equipment shares the same underlying qualities in how they are built and quality of circuitry.

So despite being low-rung priced, don’t let the cost define their scope. I use Wouxun gear for my HH and based setup modern analogue FM VHF and UHF ham use, keeping the older high and very high power multi mode ham stuff for contesting and long range work. I’ve no reason to condemn the brand, and at low-rung prices level, they are easily a rung or two quality up on other Chinese radios. Add in they are cheap to replace if damaged/wrecked to beyond serviceable repair, and their value speaks for itself.

As I said elsewhere, Wouxun to me are the Zenit camera brand equivalent in the radio world. Experience has born that out without question.