I’ve been bringing my handheld 5 watt tri-band with us on our trips for the past few years. A Nagoya UT-72 mag mount antenna adds some distance for transceiving.
Using 52 call each day of travel — probably 150 days in the past two years — has resulted in 1, yes 1 response. I can hit repeaters in a lot of places, but that’s not as much fun as old school analog.
My experience in off grid communication started with a Sat phone for our long kayak trips in Baffin and our previous home in Southeast Alaska. That was replaced with a SPOT when the satellites were all moved to assist communication during the Iraq invasion — Alaska got 10 minutes of iffy reception per hour. VHF was more reliable.
Over the years cell towers were being placed along the Inside Passage allowing us to be only a long days paddle — or a longer bushwack up a mountain — from a tower.
A three-year road trip showed us that one cell provider isn’t going to cover everything from the NWT to Mexico, and since AT&T isn’t that great in the southwest, I got back into amateur radio. The SPOT is still my fall back to let our friends know where we are and we aren’t dead yet. I may explore DMR later this year.