Recently, we received a request to do a net on wilderness communications, and since its been a few years since we've covered this topic, it seemed like the right time to revisit the area. The subject matter here is large, so we hold out the possibility of a second net, if necessary.
This week, we intend explore the many options for communication once you have traveled beyond the range of the trusty cell phone. In our experience, it seems like cell phones quit working just about the time we hit dirt. To some extent, that has changed, but the reality is that no cell phone carrier who cares to make a profit, is going to provide coverage to vast areas of land on which there are never more than a handful of people.
That means, of course, that the well prepared traveler carries the means to communicate regardless of where the trail takes him. Some communication options work better than others, some are expensive, and some are meant for very specific applications, but you should never leave home with out the ability to reach out for help. While cell phones may be adequate for short trips, near cell towers, it is the remote location adventures where trip plans must include the right equipment.
While we know that it is not safe to travel alone, we know it happens, and in those cases, the ability to get help is most important, assuming that your injuries are not such that you cannot make the call. Although it may seem obvious, it bears repetition that when you travel in a group, there (hopefully) will be others who have the means to make an emergency call when you can't.
Having the ability to get help in emergencies is clearly the most important reason to have the right equipment, but there are many others. Here are some examples:
- vehicle to vehicle communication on the highway and on the trail
- keeping track of vehicles in caravans
- assisting late arriving members of the group to find camp
- communicating with other Hams in the areas traveled
- sending pictures and trip reports home
- keeping family members advised of your trip progress and location
- preparation for emergencies at home
- requesting and receiving information, (e.g. radio operation, , weather, menus, vehicle repair info, etc.)
- For the HF crowd, the ability to appreciate the benefits of night time operation
1. New developments in communications
FRS / GMRS
2. Ham Radio
VHF / UHF
4. Satellite Comms
Spot, In Reach
5. Value of redundancy and having multiple options available (including multiple users)
6. Trip prep
7. Value of radio operation knowledge, operators manuals, spare parts, radio programming software, analyzers, etc.