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Solo, Off-trail, Injured.....Best communication device?

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Solo, Off-trail, Injured.....Best communication device?

Postby curiousgeorge » Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:31 pm

Would like to do more solo off-trail hiking but my wife says N-O unless I have a way to call for help if I get injured. PLB is too expensive. Are there any hand-held radios which work?

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Postby copeg » Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:03 pm

PLB's or Satellite phones seem the way to go. Both alone to purchase are quite expensive, but they both can be rented online as well (since I've never rented I can't recommend a site to do it through, but there are several).. Ham radios could be another option, but I personally wouldn't rely on one, although I really don't know much about them, it just seems to me that getting reception and finding someone on the other end could be dicey. I used to always carry a cell phone, and almost never had reception (this includes on top of many passes and peaks).
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Comm device

Postby frediver » Tue May 01, 2007 1:29 pm

Well if she is with you then she can get help, If not then why worry?
Don't do stupid stuff, accidents do happen but don't let the idea control your life.
Now one of my buddies carries some mild fireworks for just an occasion as you describe, Whistling Pete's I think. He tells me you can hear them for miles. Set on or two off and the Ranger person will be along shortly to write you a ticket or take you to jail, rescue accomplished ! He tells me just be absolutely sure where you use them, no combustibles close by.
A few years ago an Alaska hunter saved himself by using a ground to air radio communicating with a commercial jet 35K overhead. A bit heavy, IMO.
A small FRS radio might work, just about everyone has one. Maybe when you sign the trail register you should say you have a FRS radio and will monitor and use a certain CH. as a emergency channel. I'm really surprised that no organization has promoted this aspect yet. With most having a 1.5-2mi range all t would take to locate someone is a slow overflight. If the FRS was designed with a "beep" function it would be even easier and be able to work 24/7.
The only drawback to this would be not having a requirement for a large electronic network to back it up, like cell towers or satellites.
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Postby Rosabella » Tue May 01, 2007 9:22 pm

There was a discussion on Satellite vs. cell phones a few months back... you might want to check the information posted on that thread: ... php?t=1492

My experience is that the satellite phones available to us right now leave a bit to be desired up in the mountains.... but if it makes your wife comfortable in this situation, then it may be worth it.
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Communication in backcountry

Postby gdurkee » Thu May 03, 2007 7:08 pm

If you're going to carry something, there's no question it has to be a satellite phone. Even then, the ability to transmit is marginal. Cell phones won't work at all in canyons, which will be a lot of the terrain you're going through. Many years ago, the daughter of a commercial pilot used a radio her father gave her to call for help (for another party) to a commercial airliner going overhead. That would be great, but the frequency is restricted and you have to override the programming capabilities of the radio. Ham radio frequencies work in certain locations, but often only in evenings and night.

Check on satellite phones but be aware they also have marginal abilities in deep canyons. Still, going up a few hundred vertical is often enough to get a signal.

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Postby dave54 » Thu May 03, 2007 8:22 pm

During the height of summer a large smokey campfire will put an airplane or helicopter over you pretty quickly. But that could be an expensive rescue.

My better half also has reservations about my solo off-trail jaunts, but does not veto them. I believe she is resigned to them. I think she also has a bit of confidence in me, since I did a lot of it for 30 years on the job. I am more cautious and more conservative about what I do when I am alone -- take a lot fewer risks. I know I do rougher stream crossings and traverse tougher terrain when I am with someone. Alone I hike way around to find easier going.
Log off and get outdoors!
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Postby maverick » Thu May 17, 2007 3:21 pm

I started carrying at sat phone 2 yrs ago because my wife wanted
to know I was still alive.
She was fustrated that she couldnt get in touch with me for weeks.
My experience has been good with my phone. Ive been able to get
out from Kaweah Basin, Red Spur Basin, Lakes Basin, Muro Blanco,
Northwestern Yosemite ect.., too name a few places.
There not meant to be used for long conversations espcially in areas
with not much view of the sky(canyons).
I inform my wife where Im camping for the night and my intended
route will be for the next day.
She checks the Hanford Weather site to inform me about incoming
weather and we talk about personal issues.
Maybe 3-5 mins max.
For this purpose they work great.
Do I like carrying it, no, but it gives her peace of mind, and it could save
my or someone elses life.
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