Is 2m worth it?


I’m relatively new to the ham world and brand new to SOTA. As such, I don’t have much in the way of equipment - a dual band HT [with an almost completed ladder line J Pole] and a mobile 2m only. I’ve seen both hot and cold remarks here regarding 2m in general. My question is thus: I live in the US where 2m seems to be less prevalent and I do tend to travel a bit with work so myriad areas are possible. Is it worth pushing forward with just an inexpensive HT or am I better off just sitting out until I can get a portable HF rig?


  • Sean

You will have more QSOs on the radio you own than the radio you might buy.

Consider finding some local activators and seeing if you can accompany them on some joint activations. You get experience of seeing activations done by the more experienced and you can share carrying the gear up the hills.


In the US 2m activations are more likely to be successful when you’re near a large metropolitan area. So if you find yourself on the front range in CO or in the mountains just outside LA etc. it’s well worth giving it a try.


U be surprised on how far 2m can reach off a summit even with out extra conditions allowing it go further.

May be try out SSB Hoz antennas simple 2m moxon be good small light weight or even run FM hoz now and again as i tend to run 2m FM on Hoz beam and when people turn there antennas on summits to Hoz again you be surprised on where you can reach.

All about finding ya feet and experiment.

This Quagi am looking at for 2m is about 14ft long and 8 elements looking at ways it can break down and carry will be a change in itself to take portable. Me Yagi 6 El breaks into three bits and easy made up again. VHF likes high point take off.

Have fun finding ya feet

karl M3FEH

If you look at the “View Results” section of the database, select “Activator Roll of Honour”, select “All W”, “2 metres” and “2018” it shows that 267 hams were active on 2 metres, the highest score so far is 403, and 27 hams have made 100+ points. For the other half of the story look at the Chaser roll of honour with the same settings, you will see 240 chasers, the highest score is 703, and 40 chasers made more than 100 points on 2 metres so far this year.

These figures suggest to me that you probably would not be wasting your time trying 2 metre activations, and it will probably help a lot if you add a better antenna than the rubber duck, for instance a roll-up J pole made with 300 ohm ribbon on a GRP pole or hung from a branch.

It’s funny you should mention there. I’m actually heading out to CO for work in August and was planning to do some backpacking while I was there. That was part of posing the question. I’m bringing my radio anyway so I figured I’d give it a go.

Ok. Point made. :slight_smile: I guess I just need to learn to filter the occasional negativity towards 2m and realize like MM0FMF said - you make more QSOs on the radio you have than the one you want to have.

I just got some ladder line and this weekend’s project is making a J pole with it.I’ll tell ya though…radios really kill that ultralight backpacking mentality.

Hi Sean,
CO activator here…my first 27 activations were done exclusively with a 2m HT and telescoping halfwave antenna. I’ve made as many as 21 2m contacts on a single activation here. Check out CO activator K0NR. He activates peaks exclusively on VHF/UHF and he’s done 105 peaks to date. So, no worries!

73, Brad

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Depends on what your using radio wise

FT857D or the 817ND good small radios and use a Lifepo4 battery’s are well light also
I have the Lifepo4 8600 running only 10w last many an hour. But there are other means of going lighter take the 1Kg challenge.

M3FEH 73s karl

An 818 or 817 would be ideal and what I really want. Unfortunately, there’s some compromise necessary and I’m looking at an 891. It has more power so I can double it as a base station at home, but I can throttle it back for portable work. Sadly, it’s almost a kg heavier. Everything is a compromise. Hence, why I have my little HT right now to get me through.


  • Sean

I did an activation near Atlanta (where I live) earlier in the year, and without trying all that hard, I made twice as many contacts on 2m as I did on all the HF bands. Full disclosure: band conditions were pretty bad and a number of my ham buddies knew I was doing it and were listening for me, but still…

I would look into making one of the tape measure yagi antennas. I have made one and use it for SOTA and it works tremendously well. I made a contact 90 miles away (sort of an S2S but not officially) and it was a 59+ conversation both ways. I was using my 5W Kenwood HT and the tape measure yagi.

A final consideration is 2m can be used to do APRS, and you can spot through that from the summit. That is another good tool worth having in the tool chest.

Depends on the summit and what is within range for 2 m.

On Wednesday, I was on Mt. Umunhum (W6/CC-052). 20 m and 40 m were just dead, so I made four contacts on my HT. Of course, Mt. Um overlooks San Jose and the entire south bay. I could see all the way up to Mt. Tamalpais on the far side of the Golden Gate.

On the other hand, I took the same HT on a Sierra trek. The mountains were all North/South ridges, so I couldn’t even hear the nearby NOAA weather radio (300 W transmitter).

For me, ultralight backpacking means I have the option of bringing my KX3 and still having a lighter pack that most people.


The drawback for the FT-891 is the current it needs on receive. It takes 2 A, which will drain batteries fast. Compare that to an Elecraft KX3 at 150 mA or KX2 at 135 mA. Those radios use 2 or 3 A to transmit (10 to 15 W). You’ll be carrying much heavier batteries for that Yaesu.


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You could alternatively think of getting an 817/818 and add a linear for home use.

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In that area yes, and further South too. I know of a large SOTA contingent down in the Tri-Cities area, (which is of course a few hours away from you). Good Luck!!

Not sure what it’s like on that side of the Pond, but I’ve been using 2m ssb on as many activations as possible, and have had some good results - not to mention people being pleased there’s someone using it again! :grinning:

I have an 817 for SSB, and an FT70D for FM and digital (C4FM), I use a 3 ele portable beam (elements screw in to main beam) and just mount it vertically on the fishing pole mast for FM - have even used it handheld on both FM & ssb when I forgot the pole! Still worked Don G0RQL in Devon, around 150 miles away on 5 watts :slightly_smiling_face:


The FT-891 is listed by Yaesu as taking 2A on receive, but independent tests have shown that it is closer to 1A, especially if headphones are used and the screen brightness is reduced.

I use an 891 for many of my activations. I’ll admit, the combo of the radio and a battery big enough to power it makes for a hefty pack. There are some ultralight QRP rigs out there (mostly CW only) that can get your entire radio load down close to a pound or so.

As for the initial question, a 2m HT is more than enough to do activations if you are close to urban areas - especially on weekends.

VHF has a longer range than most people assume. Try it, you will probably be pleasantly surprised.

If you consider the KX3 to be an ultralight rig, I shudder to think how heavy the rest of your pack is.

Hi Sean,

I’m primarily a CW activator, but I always take along my H/T and it has saved my bacon on several activations where I wasn’t getting spotted. A bunch of people around here (W7W Washington State) are very successful using nothing but an H/T. The key to FM activations is cultivating your pool of chasers. Get on some local repeater nets and let people know when/where you are going to be. People get a kick out of working you when you are on a summit, and will happily listen for you if you ask them to. Another strategy is to get on a repeater from the summit and ask people to pop over to a simplex freq. and listen for you. It is a bit more social engineering than using CW where we have a fantastic pool of dedicated chasers who are always there for you… but its definitely doable.

Good luck!


-Josh WU7H