Which radio

Could anyone please tell me which one of the following radios they would prefer to use and buy for “rucksack radio” ie; to use when out walking?
Types; Yaesu FT.857D or…Icom 706 MK 2 g. Intended use, approx 20 watts on HF.Also what type of battery is best???
Thanks Malc…Mo MKC.

In reply to MOMKC:

Hi Malc

Without a shred of a doubt the FT-857 run from a 7ah high discharge SLAB, or a higher capacity battery if you can carry the weight to a summit.

The Icom is a super radio, but it is very battery hungry in comparrison to the 857.


In reply to MOMKC:
There’s not a lot to choose between them for performance, but on receive the FT857 uses about a third of the power used by the IC706, so the batteries will last that little bit longer. I like the way you can change the colour of the display on the FT857 but the display on the IC706 is a little clearer.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to MOMKC:
Hi Malc,

I agree with Mike and Brian, the FT857 would be my choice after using both portable in the past for the reasons they both state.

If I remember correctly, the back light can be switched off altogether to save a little bit more battery power. Using headphones will help too.

Roger MW0IDX

In reply to GW0DSP:
Thanks for your reply, very helpful,
73’s Malc…m0mkc

In reply to MW0IDX:
Good evening Roger, long time no see…many thanks for your comments, very helpful.
Regards to yourself and Sue.
73’s Malc m0mkc… remember Bardsey ???]

In reply to MOMKC:
Been a while since we last spoke Malc, hope you and Trish are keeping well.

I don’t have an up to date email address for you, if you’d like to email me at
mw0idx “at” rgdw.fsnet.co.uk (qrz.com) it would be nice to keep in touch.
I got your letter after your house move OK.

Roger MW0IDX

Just wanted to add my vote for the FT-857D.

I have two FT-857Ds and a IC-706 mkIIg. For mobile or shack I would go for the Icom and for mobile or portable the Yaesu. I have used both rigs portable and the 857 wins hands down because it is lighter, smaller and the SLA battery lasts longer. I have used both rigs mobile and although I prefer the Icom, for quality reasons, the Yaesu with the Atas antenna is a 100 times more convenient then the Icom with conventional whips or 10 times more convenient than the Icom with a different screwdriver antenna. In the shack however I find the Icom with the LDG Z100 is nicer to use and has a better sounding received audio.

I use a generic 7aH SLA battery from my local electrical factors which cost me less than half the price of a Yusa off a supposed cheap shop on the Inerweb thingy.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

The ft817 is cheeper lighter and if on the hills will have enought power for contacts. I have just done 100 activations and always made contacts to qualify the summit.
What I do know every ounce counts when climbing.
73 Dave

In reply to G0AOD:

I’m yet to be wholly convinced about the 817. I’ve often struggled to make HF contacts with it - though that may not be the rig’s fault but rather my antenna or operating style (I’m too impatient CQing). It did do OK on 20m on the Monach Islands (IOTA EU-111) (where it was the spare rig after the FT100 broke)

It works fine on VHF, but so should a handheld.

In reply to M0FFX:

The 817 is an oustanding piece of equipment. Mine, in 2002, was near double what you might pay now at £595, but it has been worth every penny, and owes me nothing. Every time I’ve developed a new strand to my interest in amateur radio, it has been something the 817 was capable of doing.

I’ve used it as a base station in the shack, a mobile in the car and of course a portable on summits. I’ve used all HF and VHF bands on it, but just three of the available operating modes, so further development awaits.

I do agree that making HF contacts on SSB is more challenging, but always assumed that was because of the maximum 5 watts power. For me, the answer was to get into CW, but it doesn’t have to me. Operating style and antennas can be honed as you suggest. My mate Sean M0GIA here in Macclesfield has worked many DXCCs using HF SSB on his 817, and without carting it up a hill. Sean is a good operator and keen antenna tinkerer, and he demonstrates just what can be achieved.

The FT-817 is a much better VHF radio than a typical handheld, IMO.


In reply to M1EYP:

Intended use, approx 20 watts on HF.

Malc made a few points in his original post, the point above puts the 817 at 5 watts right out of the frame.


In reply to M0FFX:

Just to reinforce the point made by others, with my 817 I worked five continents on HF, being just short of DXCC when I traded it in for the 857, I had also worked 34 countries on 6m and a fair swathe of countries on 2m. My HF antenna was a low G5RV tuned with a homebrew Z match. It needs a bit of patience and good timing at tailending pile-ups but it is very satisfying!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Just curious Brian, Why did you change the 817 for the 857? I have and use both radios. The 817 is a marvellous piece of gear without a doubt and not to be underestimated, but Malc specifically stated that his intended use is 20 watts HF.


In reply to GW0DSP:

I know, Mike, I was just reinforcing the point that handled well it is a decent DX machine, I know it isn’t what Malc wants.

My FT817 had been used very intensively over the preceding four years, I’d filled three logbooks with it, and it was starting to show the strain. I traded it for the 857 as I wanted to have the option to run more power, and have regretted it ever since, the 817 is a radio with what I can only describe as personality, and I miss it. When I have some beer tokens to spare I will probably get another one.


Brian G8ADD

Nobody has asked why 20W though? What’s special about 20W? Compared to a 5W 817 it’s 1 S-point more at the receiving end.

FT-817 weighs 1.15kg inc battery
FT-857 weighs 2.1 kg no battery

Is the extra S-point worth an extra kg? Especially when you consider that to make extra S-point available you’ll need to carry a bigger battery than the for 817.

It depends on how far it’ll be carried.

My view? An 817 is the better choice out of 817/857 because it needs less battery and weighs less. If you need more ‘poundage’ make a small PA. There’s loads of designs available and with a little thought you can optimise the weight right down. You can split the load amongst anyone else walking with you that way. Or not bother with it. More flexibilty.

Thus you get the satisfaction of not only climbing the summit but using some equipment you made yourself. More amateur radio less Cheque Book radio!

The problem is there is no right answer to this question only opinions.


In my case, I was more responding to M0FFX’s post immediately before mine.


I also have an FT-817 and like Mike says it is a marvellous piece of gear. If I was going up a local summit such as NW-044 which has line of sight to Liverpool, Chester, Manchester and beyond and I knew before I left home that the propagation prospects were good then I would have no reservations taking the 817. I have in fact spent three to four hours working SOTA chasers from Moel Famau and its neighbour Foel Fenlli (NW-051) while using QRP from this rig. On the other hand if I am up a summit 300 miles from home in the wilds of Scotland then I want to make sure I at least qualify it, because I may never have another chance and that extra bit of power from the 857 is reassuring. The extra power increases the chances of working the European chasers considerably and I like to be able to give something back to those who give me chaser points. I Usually run 25-30 watts but if propagation conditions are really horrid I can always try the full 100 watts to get a contact through and ensure I qualify the summit or give someone the summit they need.
On a good day on the right summit a hand held on 2m FM can be as much fun as anything when connected to a decent antenna but for me having the correct tools for the job means I can do a better job and for me a better job is working as many chasers as possible in as many countries as possible on as many bands as possible.

Steve GW7AAV

Whoah chaps, I simply stated that Malc made a point of his intended use of 20 watts HF.

As I said, in my opinion the 817 is fine and dandy but the 857 with it’s 100 watts capability offers more oomph, I think people like Inky have proven that point beyond doubt.


I think the first question to be asked is just what type of operating do you envisage?

Short walks up the nearest bumps, long walks over gentle slopes, or scrambles up mountains?

The main consideration for me is to keep the complexity of the equipment to a minimum by keeping as much as possible self contained (i.e. internal batteries). After that I decide on how much weight I wanted to carry (or distribute among companions).

I had looked at both the 857 or the 706 with external batteries as possibilities but dismissed them because of the above.

That being said I’m biased towards the Yaesu partly because I have one in my camper.

That left two options open to me (both of which I now have); the 817 for the “bigger “ summits and a 897 (capable of 20W) on its internal batteries for the easy walks.

High power capability is nice but is not essential for successful activations; as someone pointed out to me long ago it’s the interface between you and the aether, the aerial, that is the most important.

Carolyn (G6WRW)