Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Rural Northern California
To the original question, you can used handhelds if you are within range of a repeater but you have to know how to find and hit repeaters. There is a lot of info online about this. I have the UV-5R, UV-5r+, and a few variations of the UV-82. Keep in mind there are several radios out there with the same "model" claiming to be Baofeng that are counterfeit and not quite as good. There are a couple websites you can google to identify them to a point. I prefer the 8 watt UV-82 version. It is more substantial than the 5R. The best one I have found is a bit pricey but the reception and transmissions are the clearest and it feels better made. I cannot post links yet but it is the Mirkit Radio Baofeng UV-82 MK5 MP which you can search on Amazon. I got it on sale for $32. Remember to watch prices as they fluctuate on Amazon. Any of the radios imported by Mirkit seem to be a slightly higher quality. Whatever you get, upgrade the antenna. I like the Nagoya NA-771 or the Retevis RHD-771. There are several knock offs out there on antennas too and they are not as good as the two I mentioned. I bought a 10 pack of the less expensive antennas one time and it was a waste. I have used the Mirkit UV-82 I mentioned above on strike teams (wildland fire fighting) because it is easy to manually input frequencies when we get moved around because our department handhelds do not have all of the Cal Fire or USFS channels programmed into them and require computers to program. No one realized that we were not using an official radio. Get a programming cable and as mentioned above, I use CHIRP which is open source to program my radios. Good luck.