How many of the off-grid vanlifers use cb radios? I mean… What if you have an emergency out in the wilderness or stranded with no cell phone service? what do you do for contact?
Satphone of your choise or Spot.
Just guessing I would say that CB radios, HAM radios, and emergency beacon locators are the most popular, and in that order.
CB used to be popular, but now almost nobody uses it. More likely than not there won’t be someone listening within the limited low power range of a CB when you need it.
Ham radio on the VHF frequencies (2-meter band) is still somewhat active as long as you know the repeater frequencies and tones (the tone unlocks the repeater) that are used in the area that you’re in. There’s usually someone listening to the repeaters, but maybe not the simplex frequencies. For a 2 meter Ham Radio you need at least an FCC Technician class license, which is obtained by taking a multiple choice test. Go to ARRL website for more info on that, and don’t get caught using a ham radio without a license.
For personal locator beacons (PLB) I recommend the EPIRB-based beacons because there’s no subscription fee and they’re more powerful and dependable than the subscription-type commercial offerings. Several companies make PLBs, but the program is run by the US Air Force and NOAA. For emergencies PLBs are the way to go because they cover the entire surface of the Earth (no blanks in the coverage area), are more redundant and put out a more powerful signal than the commercial offerings, and as I mentioned - don’t have any fees. They cannot be used for non-emergencies. I carry an ACR PLB.
The commercial products made by Spot and Garmin require a subscription. Spot, in my experience, has terrible billing policies. I don’t know about Garmin. If you need to constantly transmit your non-emergency location to friends and family the commercial subscription products are the easiest option.
You can also transmit your non-emergency location using Ham Radio Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS), but as I stated above you need a license - and it’s not seamless or completely foolproof.
I don’t know, my CB’s have never failed me, HAM only got people far away that were of no help. Most people in the boonies seem to have CB’s.
a cheap, easy, simple, & safe solution." ~ Road Warrior
VD, in some areas yes, CB is still used. But with its very limited power and range - it’s limited. Even most truckers no longer use CB. When you say ham radio only “got people far away” you might be thinking of the HF (shortwave) frequencies with communication over thousands of miles. For relatively short range communications, but far more robust and powerful than CB, VHF (2-meter) ham radio is far better, especially when using the multitude of repeaters that exist on virtually every mountaintop and hill.
Having tried every variation of HAM, for me, my CB has been MUCH more useful. That seems to be what all the truckers still use, the boondockers use, the people four wheeling use, and cops & search & rescue monitor it. I’ve been told, but not confirmed, that many commercial airlines can pick up channel 9 broadcasts as well. A friend once got rescued from the middle of nowhere by flashing an SOS to a commercial plane with a mirror. So whatever works…