Two way radio for MTB and hiking

Hi guys,
I now just very little about radios, but as I’m starting my adventure travel business I will need to get some and would like to ask you to help me to choose the right one. Obviously it is gonna be used in mountains and I’m planing to have two hand held radios for guides in field, plus one in back up car. Now the car won’t be always close and there might be quite few hills in between guides and car. What would be your recommendation? If I can ask, for the best radio for use in mountains, than good one and economy version.
I appreciate your help, thank you very much.

If it’s for business, then maybe you should consider a little more sophistication? If you know the area you are working, as it’s where you constantly take people, then why not consider putting a repeater into use? I’m thinking of a battery powered unit (perhaps like the purpose made Hytera RD96X) - with a slot together pole system, or better still, an ex-forces proper mast in a bag. You find a sensible place, high up in the area you want to work, and use this. It’s going to cost - they’re not cheap, but it’s a business expense. If you want to go cheaper, then something similar, secondhand might get you a repeater (analogue, of course) with a second hand mast and aerial system for maybe ?500 or so?

Second best, a slot together/pump up mast on your vehicle, assuming it’s in a sensible place, with maybe dipoles to concentrate the working area into a worthwhile direction.

In mountainous areas, peaks are good, valleys bad and no radio is really much better than others. The ground topography is the key. Valley to valley won’t work. Peak to peak works great. Peak to adjacent valley ok in the main.

Cheap radios work nearly as good as expensive ones. The secret to reliable comms is height. A repeater up high improves the general working range massively. That’s where your money needs to go.

thanks :slight_smile: I had to read it few times to understand what you are talking about :)))
soo, if I got it correctly, you are supposing to put something like a booster on higher point. unfortunately this isn’t gonna work, as we are everyday in totally different area. We can use something in the car, but that’s about it.
What is your view on VHF and UHF frequencies? I was reading, that VHF works much better in mountains, while UHF is better in cities, is that true?

VHF is better for resilience, and the longer aerials usually mean slightly better performance. UHF tends to get blocked more easily. It’s performance characteristics are different. In cities with an aerial very high up on a tall building UHF has advantages, but it’s radio to radio capability is less - attenuation and reflections seem to get in the way.

Repeaters are range boosters. They listen on one frequency and then transmit it back out again on a different one. So the range is always from the users to the repeater - not user to user - so with the repeater on a hill top, it can hear people in the valley both sides, the people at the bottom have trouble hearing each other.

You can have a mobile repeater in your car or vehicle - it is where this repeater is that sets the performance. Getting the antenna up an extra 20 feet makes big differences to range.

I don;t know where in the world you are, as there are country specific licenses for these kinds of use. Here in the UK it’s possible, with some restrictions on license types, but I have one out at the moment that is giving coverage over a small area where radio to radio is just unreliable. The repeater is up in the air at about 8m giving good coverage downwards. It covers a very small footprint with solid comms. If I took it up to the roof, then the range might be perhaps a circle 6-8 miles around the antenna. Take the same system up to the top of a 75m grain store down the road and the range could go up to perhaps 12 miles in some direction.

If your area is mountainous, then height is critical. If comms needs to be reliable then parking the repeater in a vehicle as high as you can go could be the only solution. Can you describe the scenario?

yeah the scenario is, I am in Ecuador, so very mountainous in high altitude(up to 4000m) on some tracks, support vehicle can follow, even thou we keep it at distance, it should be fine to be in range, but there are situations when it simply isn’t possible, the only help will be I guess have repeater in the car, even thou just as well, it isn’t always possible to park it up high. As I mentioned before, we are moving everyday to different location, some trails are just single tracks, so quite difficult situation :slight_smile:

I see the problem. If you can find a topographic map of the area with the heights on it, you can probably do a reasonable job at predicting the best sites to park and set up. I doubt there is any cheap system that will give good coverage. Maybe the map will give a clue?

go with some DOT radios either in VHF for longer distances

or UHF for shorter range

however teh power output will be limited to only a couple of watts

for most services this is fine


How does that help - the problem with radio to radio is that it is unreliable, and if safety is involved, then comms has to be reliable. In hilly terrain - just being on the other side of a ridge is often enough to wreck the system - even when physically quite close.
What’s a DOT system - I’ve not heard this term before?

Business radios in the USA were, for ease of understanding, assigned “color dot” channels. I guess there was a painted color dot on the radios at one time. a certain frequency was say, green… another, red.