I've been going round and round what to get for communication on trails. Can you recommend the "A basic UHF/VHF radio"?
A 2m/70cm transceiver. A decent mobile chinese model like I have will cost you about $100. I have the Anytone AT-778UV, which has a full color display and 25w of output. Paired to a good antenna with a good setup, you can reach WAY out there compared to CB (I get 40 miles out of my Anytone, and maybe 4 miles with my legal CB)
The antenna I use is a pricey, but good, Comet 2x4SR. It both folds and has a built in spring. The thing is made of thick steel rods, and does not like to bend. So The spring and fold over feature are rather necessary for use in the woods. There are smaller, cheaper, and more flexible options out there, but I doubt you'd get anywhere near the performance as this 3' Comet. Its marketed for search and rescue vehicles. Antenna choice is almost more important than radio choice.
$65 for the base model, and the spring is an extra $30.
Other radios are available without the pretty display, and with the addition of the 1.25m band for about the same price. That way, you have three entire bands to legally talk on with your Technician license. 1.25m is an odd duck band, as its only legal in north america, so the japanese manufacturers don't really make radios for it, but its starting to become popular since its "the best of both worlds" between 2m and 70cm here. Chinese radios are becoming fairly common now thanks to Baofeng. These chinese radios are "more open" than they should be, and will allow you to transmit outside of the HAM band limits. My Anytone is pre programed to disallow transmissions outside of band, but the lockout can be disabled when you program the frequency list.
I leave mine "unlocked", as the unit can talk on anything from FRS (the cheap walkie talkie band) to GMRS (the nice/ business band walkies) to MURS to Marine, and even the upper portion of the Air band (specifically ATIS and center control frequencies), the NOAA weather band, as well as search/ rescue, and un-trunked police and fire. Keep in mind, I DONT talk on those bands, but I have the ability to if I need to (emergencies).
- just a word of warning...... the JL is EXTREMELY noisy in the 2m band when its running and in drive. I think the ECU or BCU throws out a lot of interference. Because of this, I almost always run UHF (70cm) when driving around, and only jump on VHF (2m) when Im stopped.