View Full Version : Ham Radio on the trail

08-09-2003, 12:39
I am planning a thru-hike NOBO in March 2004.
I will be carrying my Yaesu VX150 2 meter ham talkie.
Wondering if anyone else will be carrying ham gear. Could be interesting / informative.

A great feature of this radio is that it receives NOAA weather broadcasts. It's always best to know what's headed your way!

steve hiker
08-09-2003, 15:26
How much does this ham weigh and will it go bad if it gets wet. I like Virginia smoked ham myself.

08-09-2003, 15:38
The humor is appreciated :)

The radio weighs about 1lb (give or take a few oz) with the 6 AA cells.
This is one thing I am not going to compromise on. I will carry it on my belt, so it's not pack weight.
Don't think I'll have a problem with it getting wet. The radio was designed for rough use. But if it rains real bad, I'll be using some sort of rain gear, and the radio can reside beneath it to stay dry.

My favorite is Virginia baked ham. I'll have to be sure I get my share while there. I would imagine that ham (the food) would keep pretty well, since it is cured and smoked.

Maybe I should refer to my hobby as Amateur radio, not Ham radio :)

B Thrash
08-10-2003, 20:58
By the time you get to Neels Gap you may want to send the radio home. One pound with 6 AA batteries will feel like ten pounds at the end of long day. My 2 oz Optimus Radio Shack AM/FA Stereo with two AAA batteries gets heavy. As you hike you will look for every ounce to get rid of to lighten the load. Oh yes, my small 2 oz radio has always picked up the local weather forecast.

08-10-2003, 21:17
You have a point. I have an MP3 player that has an FM tuner. But I have not had much luck getting anything on it while hiking.
I can always get weather at 1-900 WEATHER (a service of The Weather Channel). I will be carrying my cell phone.

Can you really feel 2 oz?

08-10-2003, 21:23
I guess every ounce counts. You hear of people cutting their toothbrushes down.

08-10-2003, 21:26
I've used those cut-down toothbrushes (bought it that way) but only to save space.
Another thing that I am not giving up is my camera. It's not the lightest digital around, but it's a lot lighter than the Minolta I used to carry.

My thinking is that the longer I carry the weight, the stronger I will become. Of course my song may change when I realize that I'm only making 10 miles per day and will not reach Katahdin by Oct <g>

08-10-2003, 21:50
If you really like the radio,carry it. You can always bounce it ahead if you think its too much. Just dont assume that everyone wants to hear it, though. I carried a little radio with a good set of earphones and loved it.

08-11-2003, 07:32
Originally posted by fwassner
I will carry it on my belt, so it's not pack weight.

Anything & everything that you carry other than your naked self makes climbing the mountains harder. It doesn't matter if its in your pack, your pocket, or on your feet.

I'm not trying to discourage you from carrying the radio. I liked to hear the NOAA forcast in the winter - especially in the Smokys. Just letting you know that carrying something on your belt makes little difference to your feet & legs.

08-11-2003, 20:33
If you want to carry it, you can carry it.

I carried a heavy pack (by today's standards) the whole trail. It only got down to about 40 pounds for the last month or so. I started at 72 pounds of pack. It didn't bother me much. I hiked some big days with that pack 24-27 miles. You won't be anywhere near that heavy. A ham radio could be a lot of fun to carry along, but it could also be a pain. By the way, don't count on your raingear keeping it dry. Use a ziplock freezer bag or two for that.

Leave the cell phone at home. You don't need it. If you have an emergency, you'll have better luck getting a signal with the radio. If you don't have an emergency, being in contact with the outside world kind of defeats some of the purpose of the hike.

Just my opinion.

08-11-2003, 22:30
FWIW, you might want to check this out:


If you aren't familiar with the Trail up here, be advised it you will go right by where everyone sets up thier equipment.

Rick B

08-12-2003, 18:33
Yes, I've heard of Greylock. I've worked the repeater up there from home (when I lived in a house with a good ant on the roof <g>) in northern NJ.
Never been up there though. As a matter of fact, if I do the thru-hike this will be the first time I've ever been in the Berks, and I'm a skiier too!
Usually ski in VT, NH and ME if not UT, CO, or WY.
I would probably miss both QSO party's unless I can hike fast and get up there by June, or hike slow and be there in Aug.
I would hope to be well past there by Aug though if I start March 1 in GA.

08-16-2003, 13:20
fwassner: I hike with either my ham gear or my USFS radio 95% of the time I'm out. (Yaesu VX-5 or Motorola HT1000). The Yaesu is lightweight, of course the HT1000 is the opposite of lightweight. I don't plan on carrying anything like this on my thru-hike, other than my tiny Radio Shack AM/FM with earbuds, just can't justify the extra weight (in my mind at least).

Best of luck,

08-18-2003, 00:27
The only hams I have run into carrying HT's were day hikers. I know there is a certificate (from the ARRL maybe) for making QSOs in each state along the trail. A tuna tin transceiver or a NorCal QRP kit and a dipole might do the trick. I am not taking any of my radios with me. I hope you do not want to take the HT1000 along! I cannot think of a heavier radio.


08-19-2003, 03:25
Hey I got a QSO out of Blacksburg at the Rice Field Shelter last week on our section hike...I too carry a small ham radio on hikes for just in case situations...never know when it will happen to you or when you will find someone who has gotten hurt...i use the Kenwood FH-6a which is a tri-bander and also recieves EVERYTHING from TV, airplanes, AM,FM, shortwave, single side band, etc....and at under a pound..it is mil-spec for weather so why not have the insurance, besides on the lonely nights it is way fun to make a QSO with the ears off the trail....with stuff like what happened in the northeast states i.e. blackout, more people should consider ham radio as a mech to stay in touch if something bad happens their way.....not preaching but most think of ham operators as old geesers but there are many chics into it and who knows who you might meet on the air....my girlfriend is even higher classed in liscensure than i am!

03-05-2005, 19:43
I've just completed construction on the ATS-3 (Appalachian Trail Sprint - 3 http://www.qsl.net/kd1jv/ATS3.HTM ) and will be taking it along on my hike this year. It runs about 2.5 watts from a 9 volt battery and operates 80, 40, 30 and 20 meters. It all fits into a small Altoids mint tin. I'm working now on an easy to deploy antenna design and possibly a tuner to go with it. Also, I'll be hiking with a little Yeasu VX-1 dual band hand held VHF/UHF. All of this will cost me about 2 pounds but it's my hike, they're things I enjoy and it's my llife on the trail for the next six months or so. For me it's worth it.

The next thing to do is establish an Appalachian Trail calling frequency and times of the day for likely contacts between hiking hams.

I have downloaded a nice repeater list of those along the trail. I wonder if anyone has put together a list of Echolink nodes that are in range from the AT. Is anyone else trekking radioactive this year on the AT?

By the way, I'm KC8UD.

Lion King
03-05-2005, 19:54
I think its great if you can handle the weight and respect others space by not goofing with it when others are trying to rest or escape from technology for a while.

I really hate cel phones out there...climbing to a Peak and wanting to sit and listen to the breeze and relax and hearing some guy talking to his accountant about bills that need to be covered while he is out for a month is damn annoying.

Its all about doing what you want while respecting others...how it should be everywhere.

One Leg
03-05-2005, 20:58
Can you really feel 2 oz?


I carried an emergency charging system for my C-Leg, which consisted of 8 AA Lithium batteries. This was in addition to the solar charger that I had for normal circumstances. After a couple of weeks toting that blasted thing around, and never using it, I stuck it in the box in case I needed it later. When I did that, it was like a brick had been lifted from my pack. So, to answer the question, yes, you can really feel the ounces. You'll definately feel the weight of the radio regardless of where you carry it on your person. However, if you're able to shave some pack weight from other areas, you could theoretically carry it without noticing the added weight. Without the electronic gear I was carrying (which was all required for my C-Leg), my pack weight was in the low 20's. With the electronic gear, I added somewhere between 3-5 pounds to the overall weight.


03-06-2005, 20:31
When are some of you hams going to be on the trail. I am jumping on at the Unicoi Gap in GA on April 3. Heading North for a couple hundred miles. I broke a foot last year because of too much weight. Maybe I can borrow you rig. LOL
Foot Notes, AKA K8PC