Best radio for emergency use in SoCal Natonial Forests

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by stevekat, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. stevekat

    stevekat Just GSsssing

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    This looks like the best forum for this question since I do not see a sub-forum specific to emergency communication (unless I missed it.)

    We've been riding some of the forest rtes in the Angeles Crest and Los Padres National Forests (before the fires and extreme fire danger.) We expect to explore some other national forests nearby as well.

    On a couple of rides we were 20 - 25 miles in, and that brought up concern about what we would do if we had an emergency. The two-way satellite units like the Garmin 66i are quite useful but expensive and i was thinking they might not be as necessary for our reginoal purposes.

    The question I am posing here is whether anyone can opine as to whether a handheld VHF/UHF radio can fulfill this role, and if so, if there are any recommendations as to what unit to purchase in the low/modest/midrange for cost. I hold an amateur/HAM radio license.

    Was also wondering what frequencies might be monitored in these specific areas for emergency use for the public, if they are consistent between the nearby forests, and what kinds of distance one might get in the terrain, or at the top of a ridge.

    Also, any info if repeaters are present.
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  2. TripleTriples

    TripleTriples Long timer

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    To find local repeaters, I like the Repeaterbook app.

    If you have one in range, a dual band HT might work, but only if they're actively used. The other problem is that you're limited to like of sight. If you're down in a valley with a broken leg, it's unlikely anyone will hear you.

    You might have a better chance with 6m on a good day, but that's equally unlikely.

    If you're on the top of a ridge 2 miles from a repeater, it's still a crapshoot these days because they're not used as much as they used to be.

    As a fellow ham, it sucks. But the reality is that you're way better with a satellite doohickey.
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  3. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    I'm assuming this is for emergency use, not for calling home to say you're gonna be late for supper. IMO a PLB is very cheap insurance for quickest response in life-threatening emergencies. All other systems have flaws that could prove fatal in those circumstances.

    I carry this one: https://www.thegpsstore.com/ACR-292...MI3rCs0tna6wIVHey1Ch3aPwcMEAYYBSABEgLYU_D_BwE

    I paid $250 for it, there is no annual fee. Battery needs to be replaced after 5 years at a cost of $125. PLBs send signals on dedicated world-wide frequencies. The signals are received by the COSPAS SARSAT satellites, the international satellite system for search and rescue (SAR), and local emergency services dispatchers are notified of the location of the beacon.
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  4. stevekat

    stevekat Just GSsssing

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    I'd like to avoid one-way communication for multiple reasons, so a PLB while cost effective, is less desirable. I reached out to a HAM at a local club where I took my exam, and he recommended a very interesting device call a SatPaq. They are $250, and work only in North America. You use them in conjunction with a cell phone and you buy prepaid messages rather than a monthly plan (the smallest package id $55 for 150 messages.) They are two way communicators.
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  5. TripleTriples

    TripleTriples Long timer

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    You might want to check out Zoleo also, if that's your direction.
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  6. stevekat

    stevekat Just GSsssing

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    The Zoleo looks interesting, thanks.

    A difference with it and the SatPaq is that with the SatPaq you buy a bucket of messages, say 150 for $55, and can use them when you want, there is no monthly fee or subscription.

    With the Zoleo, there is a monthly subscription.

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  7. River-Runner

    River-Runner Been here awhile

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    I've really learned to like the two way communication on InReach. Just like email when paired to your phone. Push the panic button and you know somebody is coming. Get the unit with navigation - you can download whole states at one time. They are the old DeLorme maps - really good ones. Good backup for main GPS navigation.
    #7
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