When I was in law enforcement people believed the most powerful piece of equipment I had was my firearm. That thought could not have been furthest from the truth.
The radio was the most important and vital equipment we carried. From my time in Patrol, Traffic, SWAT, Sniper, and Detective I valued the radio the most.
Radios provide the opportunity to obtain or provide information, get assistance, and in the most stressful of situations not feel alone.
When traveling in remote areas or adventuring in the outdoors it is important to have the means to communicate to others for varying reasons. Should you need assistance due to medical emergency, recovery, or find yourself lost; radios give you the ability to reach people when other forms of communication may not be available.
There are several articles on-line that speak about all the different types of radios and their strengths and weaknesses. I have also written about making sure when traveling to understand what is used commonly in that area for communication and making sure you have the means to communicate should an emergency arise. https://www.switchbacksafety.com/two-is-one-one-is-none/
Not to negate the use of many other radio options, there is one radio system I use regularly in conjunction with Amateur Radio and I want to talk about directly.
GMRS has been gaining popularity among off-road enthusiasts and those in the touring/overlanding groups the last few years. The reason for this growth is multi-faceted.
The first I believe is Ease of use. GMRS radios are practically plug and play. When you purchase the radio you buy an antenna that is designed and pre-tuned for GMRS frequencies. Once powered and connected to the antenna there is nothing left to do. CB requires tuning, proper grounding. Most CB users do not take the time to properly setup their equipment. In doing so they degrade the lower quality to even lower.
The second reason, the voice quality is much higher than Citizen Band radios. When talking to someone on GMRS the voice transmissions are more clear and have less noise accompanying the transmissions.
The third reason for the growth in GMRS has been the FCC changing the power limits for GMRS frequencies. GMRS now can operate at 50 watts. The change to allow for more power has allowed GMRS to have greater range.
The fourth reason is ease of licensing. Obtaining a license requires a fee to the FCC. Your license is good for 10 years. The license is allowed to be used by your immediate family.
Lastly, I believe with the rule changes some companies recognized many peoples wants/needs for communication could be fulfilled if someone took time to develop quality radios in the GMRS frequency spectrum.
When traveling in the back country with a group I find GMRS radios to be easier to get people to use. The complexity is not there. People can purchase these radios in many stores and online. Again the ease of licensing is also not difficult or expensive.
It is also nice when we must travel in separate vehicles to have communications readily available besides a cell phone. Making calls or texting takes to long to initiate and is too distracting. If I need to advise of a hazard I can quickly do so with the mobile in my truck and a handheld given to my wife in her vehicle.
One company I believe has done more for GMRS than any other company is Midland Radio. Midland has expanded their radio lineup aggressively over the last couple years. They have added two way radios, mobile radios, and new accessories for a growing market.
Each of these radios has unique features. Many people wanting a smaller mobile radio now have several to choose from.
The biggest radio of them is the 40 watt MXT400. This radio has excellent range. I personally use this radio and have found it to be of good quality. The body of the radio made of metal components. The radio never gets hot due to the integrated heatsink. The mic fills the hand and is comfortable when used for long periods. The large control knobs makes for easy changes when wearing gloves.
The smaller format mobiles provide users radios that tuck away. They are easy to hide and take up little space. Choosing the MXT275 you can place the radio body anywhere and still control the radio due to the intelligent mic controls.
The handheld radios are of rugged design. Many work with FRS and GMRS. These radios operate on lower watts. They are great for walking away from camp and keeping communications with a mobile unit. The handhelds are also great for spotting while off-roading. I keep four of these radios in my door pocket of my vehicle. I can easily give them to my family while camping or traveling.
Midland has released new mounts for vehicles and antennas.
This particular mount is similar to a ditch light mount. The hole is larger to accommodate a NMO antenna. In this picture is the new 6db “shorty” antenna. This design is excellent for tracks where there is overhanging limbs. The appearance is very appealing also. The antenna is tucked away and does not oscure the driver’s vision.
Though there are many options for radio communications I believe GMRS will continue to grow and evolve. GMRS I believe will become the most dominate communication for off-roading and outdoor activities overtaking the former king, CB.
Plan, Prep, Explore