Words from our Communications Committee Chairman:
Whether you are cruising around town or traversing the backcountry, communication is vital. We all rely on our cell phones when around town if something happens and we need help, but what about when we are nowhere near cell coverage? This is a question everyone should ask themselves if they frequent the backcountry, especially if they go alone.
For a long time many have relied on citizen band radios (CB’s) for on trail communication. These can be great for traveling in a group but are limited in the area in which you can contact someone, and depending on the area can be as little as ½ mile. Along with CB’s people tend to rely on their cell phones while out exploring and often times when needed find themselves in a dead zone for cellular service. While both of these can be a good form of communication around town or in groups, they should not be considered a good form of communication when traveling in the backcountry or remote areas.
One form of communication that has been around the longest and for some reason is finally catching on in the OHV Community is Ham Radio. This has been around for a very long time and can be thanked for the inception of all forms of communication. Ham Radio uses High Frequency (HF), Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio waves to transmit communication from one device to another. Depending on which type of radio and equipment you use, your communication distance can range from a couple miles to thousands of miles. This can be very important in when exploring those remote areas.
The only real downside to Ham Radio is the need for a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) License or Ham Ticket as users refer to them as. While this might be an inconvenience to get, as you are required to go to an in person testing session, the basic license is fairly easy to obtain. There are 3 levels of licenses available; Technician Class, General Class and Amateur Extra. Each of the classifications has specified privileges, with each step up maintaining the previous class privileges.
With the different types of communication, which would you feel more comfortable relying on when in times of distress? For me personally, since discovering the capabilities of Ham Radio, it is the one that I will always rely on. While I still have my cell phone and CB, there purpose is not to communicate when around town or in a group where not everyone has a Ham Radio. I am not saying everyone needs to run out and get there Ham Ticket right away, but I would recommend looking into it and consider getting a Ham Radio as it can mean the difference between being stranded some day or the ability to call for help.