Radio Use on the trail – Clarification

Hello everyone. To me this whole radio business is confusing. I have a Rugged hand held (RH5R-V2, the new version is V3). The following blog may help clarify what GMRS and FRS is (https://www.ruggedradios.com/blogs/news/gmrs-radios-communication-for-everyone) and why it is generally advocated for ATV/UTVs. If you go to Walmart and buy a set of walkie talkies, they generally are operating on a GMRS frequency. The difference between what you need out on the trail and what a walkie talkie will give you, is that the the walkie talkie has only a two watt power, which limits the range, making it not very useful on the trail. When asking around, many people find that the 5 watt (as shown in the RH5R-V2 name) will work. Of course the higher the wattage the further the range so some people opt for the more powerful mounted radios. Rugged has radios in the 25 and 40 watt range (with an external antenna). For me, I opted for the cheaper handheld, however, I would like to have a more powerful radio.

Anything 5 watt and above requires an FCC license (https://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog/2020/12/fcc-approves-new-ham-and-gmrs-license-fees.html). Most people using a radio while out on the trail did not bother to get one. But $35 for 10 years is not bad. I paid $70, so it has been reduced by half.

When I purchased my RH5R-V2, because of the licensing requirement, it did not come preprogrammed with GMRS channels (https://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/FRS/GMRS_combined_channel_chart).  So if you are out on the trail and unable to talk to anyone that is generally the reason.  I purchased the software so that I could program my radio with the GMRS channels through my computer.  Many times on a ride people say we are using channel 5 to communicate. That is at 462.6625 frequency and is the same frequency preprogrammed in walkie talkies (except they are only 2 watt). For anyone in the club, I will volunteer, for free, to program your handheld, providing the software still works with new models.

Hopefully, this will provide a little clarification.  A radio is very handy and I would not be without one.  Also, I would highly recommend the Rugged Head set. I just ordered a longer whip antenna (Dual Band Ducky Antenna) which is supposed to boost the range up to 30%. We will see.

Hope to see everyone out on the trail soon. Any questions come up feel free to email me.

Take care!

Keith Menasco (keithmenasco@cox.net)

1 Comment

  1. Just to further clarify, the “Big-Box” stores generally sell the FRS walkie-talkies and are indeed only 2 watts or LESS! To operate at a higher output will require a GMRS radio and the associated license. Don’t be afraid of getting the license as there is no test involved as you would need to take for HAM radios. I am a big advocate of changing the requirements while riding on the trail to using a GMRS radio and losing the FRS since they simply can NOT provide the range with 2 watts through mountainous terrain. I personally would like to see the use of 25 watt up to 45 watt radios for trail riding.
    Steve F.

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