When hiking in back county situations, communications over even short distances can be desirable. Even if separated by a only a few hundred feet, the loneliness can suddenly be unbearable – especially if one is injured or hurt. Or off the trail and disoriented in directions. By instantly connecting with another member of the hiking party, a hiker can rejoin the group without making the situation worse by heading off in the wrong direction.

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Two way radios for hiking and back packing are generally more rugged then those you might find at a local department store for the kids to play with in the back yard. They will also be rechargeable with longer battery life then might be expected with the hobby ones. And most importantly – you can get them with greater range, the maximum 5 watt authorized without a license by the FCC. Even still, in rough and rugged back your range can still be very limited.

While radios can be bought individually or commonly in packs of 2 or 3, there are also matched sets of 4 and 6 available. This is a great way to go as you can have multiple people with a radio plus one or more left at base camp for emergencies – or to simply let the hiking party know it is supper time and they should start back.

Units are also available with GPS, flash lights and other extra features built in. Some even have multiple channels so if other hikers are on the same channel you can switch off to another one. It is recommended that you always establish a fall back channel in the event you can not locate each other on another channel. Such as if no contact in 1 hour, revert to channel 1 or another agreed to channel.

Some of the more expensive units even have a voice scrambler to encrypt your communications. A problem with this as if you are calling for help and you are encrypted, other people on the same channel would not be able to understand your communications.

If you join a hiking club/group, they may have units you can borrow or rent. On major organized hikes, the club members will often have units that they are carrying just for the purpose of maintaining group coordination to keep everyone relatively together or for calling for assistance in emergency situations.

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Courtesy T. Turner – New day dawning