Be that as it may. The fact is, wireless telephone coverage is so good these days that an everyday wireless phone is a pretty good, pretty cheap safety backup. Mind you, a wireless is a line-of-sight instrument, so must be able to "see" a cell tower. That means you'll need to be on a ridge or peak; valleys will probably eliminate reception. Rescue lore these days is full of wireless-initiated operations, some from extremely remote locales.
VHF radios have the same shortcomings as cell phonesyou need to be in sight of a transmitter or repeater. I've used VHF's extensively in search and rescue work and in a lot cases we would have been better served with long strings and tin cans.
A third option in some parts of the world is what's called an EPIRB, for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. These are what boaters and airplane pilots use to mark their location when they're in distress. And in fact a personal, backpacker-friendly model made by ACR Electronics has existed for about three years. It's available in Canada, Australia, and a few other countries, but in the United States has been held up by disputes over what federal agency would be responsible for responding. I sort of understand the problem; an EPIRB signal doesn't "say" anything, it just screams "help me!" And that's a pretty wide net. "Help me" as in, I'm about to die, or "Help me," as in, I'm tired?
Be that as it may, the only sure bet for two-way communication is a satellite phone. The tradeoff there is the price; still about $1,000 for a phone using Motorola's Iridium system (Iridium went bankrupt, but the system still is operating).
Myself, I'd pack a wireless phone, accept the limitations, and learn to love the freedom - and take responsibility for the consequences. I don't mean to sound like some Luddite hard-ass, but I think there's value to realizing your place in the world and how tenuous it might be.
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