Live in hilly mountainous area we currently are using motorola talkabouts for hiking and hunting not cutting the mustard. Need something that will reach out. We are thinking about purchasing some new radios…not sure if we what to go with ham radio and get licenced. Any thoughts about this…Thanks
For situations similar to yours I always suggest MURS radios…that is a VHF radio programmed to MURS. MURS is a license free group of 5 frequencies that can be used for leisure or business, and is generally less crowded than FRS/GMRS because little to no manufacturers produce a MURS specific radio. Just recently Motorola released the RDM2020 and RDM2080 which are specifically made for MURS use- I can give you more info on this radio if you like.
MURS does have a 2 watt output limit wheras GMRS can be up to 50 watts? However, here is why you will see better results from a 2 watt MURS (VHF) radio than the FRS/GMRS radios you are currently using.
Radios waves have different propogation paths/characteristics depending on the frequency range. Lo-band and VHF radios (136-174mhz) do well outdoors, around foliage and trees, and in hilly environments. The VHF waves do a better job at bending around objects in the woods, and contouring to hills and valleys. On the contrary, UHF (450+ mhz) and 800mhz radios do best in buildings and line-of-site. The UHF radio waves do not bend as easy, they penetrate materials such as concrete, steel, and other building materials and operate in a more “straight-line” fashion. In my own personal use, I have seen a 2 watt MURS VHFportable (Kenwood TK-2100) outperform a 25 watt GMRS UHF repeater (Motorola Desktrac) when using external antennas.
Cheap MURS radios are used Kenwood TK-2100 available on eBay quite often. They are limited to 2 channels and few battery options. The Motorola RDM series I mentioned are great because you may choose between 2 and 8 channel models, with/without display screen.
Be forewarned: these radios are more expensive initially but will prove their worth in the long run. You will not be disappointed.