How far you can transmit is largely determined by power and antenna. Ham radios can do better than GMRS because you can use higher power and use better antennas. My radio is 5 watts. I have used a short stubby antenna and a "long wire" style antenna. The "long wire" performs better. Neither are sufficient for guaranteed communication in the hills.Koda wrote:this is something I'm curious about. Do the portable (compact) Ham radios perform much better than the typical GMRS radios in the terrain (hills and valleys)? Or is it about the same?n.bumppo wrote:I have an amateur radio license and have have friends with licenses. We have used radios in the woods with mixed success. Our last attempt on Mt Adams was unsuccessful. We left for the mountain at different times and planned to connect with radios to help with the rendezvous. We did eventually got to the same campsite. We never did communicate with our radios. Handheld radios operate on frequencies that require line-of-sight communication. The hills and valleys in the mountains interfere with the radio signal.
We have found if you establish communication while you can still see each other and check in regularly with each other, they are helpful if keeping you from getting separated. Meaning you can regularly adjust your positions to stay in contact. If you are separated and want to communicate for the first time, you will have a harder time. Having you a prearranged frequency is critical. Moving to a high point helps. Having a preselected check in time is also very helpful.