What HT do you carry backcountry/adventuring?

#1
The title pretty much states it all. I'm just curious what people are using and are happy with.

I now have a Tera TR-590 as well as a Yaesu VX-7R. While I have not done a full comparison yet, I'm noticing that the Tera does a MUCH better job receiving the NOAA weather frequencies. The Tera is definitely not as well built as the Yaesu and was something that I was going to consider as my 2nd string radio, but the Tera will bring in a perfectly clear NOAA signal while the Yaesu sitting next to it is silent. While I understand that this shouldn't be the only measure of an amateur radio, and Yaesu gives a disclaimer on what bands they guarantee the radio will perform on (the WX freqs. are not included), getting an update on changing weather is something that is fairly important to me. I was surprised by this difference in receiving performance considering the Yaesu has a dedicated memory bank and shortcut keys for the NOAA weather stations that seem to be part of the firmware.

After poking around a little, it seems that Kenwoods may do NOAA frequencies better than Yaesu in general, not sure about Icom. This has me questioning if I should consider swapping the Yaesu for something different that suits my needs better. I have never loved the VX-7R menus and the finicky programming connection.

And before anyone makes the comment - no, I'm not going to carry any type of dedicated WX radio if the solution is simply a different/better HT. This is something that will be going into a backpack and hauled up the side of a mountain, so ounces count.

Thanks!
 
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#3
I've got a VX-7R, never really found it lacking for receiving NOAA. Are you using the stock antenna they included?
The VX-7R is using the factory rubber duck AND a telescopic Smiley Tri-Band antenna with a SMA-to-BNC adapter. The Tera is using the factory rubber duck. I notice that the Tera antenna has a wider range in the 2M band. Is this a matter of trying a different antenna, like one of these "commercial" specific options tuned to 160 or 165 MHz?

I have a BNC adapter coming for the Tera radio so I can do an apples-to-apples comparison with the Smiley antenna on both radios.
 
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#4
Those long telescopic antennas are murder on BNC and those small SMA connectors. While yes you may notice some increased signal strength it comes with a cost to eventually strain damage to the connectors.

I carry an old solid metal cased Yaesu FT-530. Some of the older hams will recognize this tank. Yes it is bigger than radios today and heavier but I don't think you will find a more rugged radio. Mine has taken a fall from 30 feet up a firetower, hit two steps on the way down, landed face down in the mud, wiped it off and still works just like new.

Now question for those of you that have the off brand radios that can generally be programmed with any VHF or UHF frequency using CHIRP. Have you managed to set up FRS and GMRS frequencies?
 
#5
When I go backcountry skiing (winter) or hiking (summer) I take my Baofeng, as I don't care if it gets wet and / or destroyed. I have a mobile Icom mounted in the Jeep. The Icom is a lot nicer.
 
#6
The VX7, VX8 and FT1 series radios are popular with the SOTA crowd due to size and weight. All are made by Yaesu and the main differences are the bands and modes you might want to use.
 
#8
I'm a big fan of Kenwood's mobiles, and the TH-D74A looks like an amazing HT, but for my purposes I decided to go with a Yaesu VX-8DR with the external speaker/mic and GPS receiver, I like the size and ruggedness of the Yaesu, although it lacks the features of similarly priced modern HT's. One thing to consider, it is not very easy to remember how to use in the field.