I am looking for a radio that would serve two roles. First, I?d like to have a robust radio for when my family and I go hiking. Second, I have an Assistive Technology camp coming up in which I am one of the instructors that teaches blind and low vision students how to access computers and other devices (I am legally blind myself). I also work with our nurse, main gofer, and camp coordinator to keep these students safe and accounted for. That being said we are going to be expanding the camp this year and are taking in 51 students at last count. This doesn?t include student mentors, instructors, staff, etc. which would put the number to well over 70 at least. Unfortunately, those above our heads don?t believe radios would be worth the cost, and that cell phones will suffice. Personal experience proves otherwise, but we are hoping that by putting radios in four key spots we can prove their worth and justify expanding them in the future. As a fellow instructor pointed out having purpose built devices can be useful at times. Since, a multi use device is worthless if you need to do more than one thing at a time or have let the battery die from using it for too many things.
The radio would need to work short distances along the trail. And, it would need to work indoors and short distances outside within a college campus. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. And, please let me know if I?m being too ambitious and would need to use two different types.
To support your argument for radios, they are commonly used for your specific type of application and they are generally a better fit for hiking and summer camps than cell phones for a number of reasons, aside from battery life.
Radios provide instant, PTT communications, whereas a cell phone requires time to make and connect a call. This can be very important in wilderness areas during an emergency.
The reliability of cell phone service may be an issue or non-existent between provider networks in more remote areas, whereas radio-to-radio communication only has to contend with range.
If your cell phone has a limited calling and data plan, it costs more.
Many radios are tougher and more resistant to the elements than a typical cell phone. Chances are a radio made for outdoor use is a much more sensible economical investment in the long run than expensive mobile devices.
Many radios include instant emergency notification and alarm features that do not exist on cell phones without installation of an app.
Radios do not have monthly use or roaming charges.
Here is a more complete comparison between two way radios and cell phones.
As for the best type of radios for your application, you may have several options, depending on your definition of “short distance”. What is the general area of coverage?
All great points and ones that we?ve tried getting across to management. I think they?ll catch on when they see them in action.
The distances on campus would be under .5 miles, but likely through at least one building. While hiking they?d be up to about 2 miles. Granted the hiking is a bit of a guess. I?d like to have the ones with the weather radio feature built in, too. I check the weather every day, but when you?re on the trail you learn real fast that nature doesn?t adhere to a forecast.
Depending on the terrain, you may be able to get that with 2 watt FRS radios, and there are options available with weather channels and alerts. They are inexpensive, easy to operate and anyone can use them. Best of all, they are license free.