I'M A LICENSED HAM AND I HATE YOU!
................just kidding. Throwing that out there for levity. A lot of old codgers come across that way and turn people off.
If you are new to the hobby or are thinking about it, let me say this - Welcome! Welcome to the world of amateur radio.
I've said it before and I'll say it again in case new eyes are reading this for the first time.
There is some phenomenally excellent communication gear available to the public in all price points. BUT! Most of this gear requires a license. And as a licensed ham, I don't care if you have paid your money to take the test just so you could put a piece of paper in your hand. Please, do not mistake that for me not caring if you have a license though. Here is why...
Ham radio - or hell any radio for that matter - is largely based on the antenna and the skill of the user. My off the cuff ratio is that it is 70% antenna and 30% radio. To get technical it is more like 50% knowledge of the operator, 40% antenna, and then 10% radio. As proof, I offer you evidence that MANY hams like to home brew a radio out of spare parts around the house. They can literally McGyver one of these things out of an Altoids can. I've seen them do it.
I'm not saying that to impress you with what these old timers can do, but to underscore the point that the radio is the least critical part of the equation. Just like anything else, the most important piece of hardware is lodged between your ears. You have to LEARN about radio theory and wave propagation and how the radio spectrum is organized - and that is what getting a license does for you. These people that prep by buying a $4000 ham set up and leaving it in the shrink wrapped box until the SHTF are going to be very disappointed.
Ham radio is like one hand clapping - you need a guy (or gal) on the other end to make it of any benefit. And if you don't have the knowledge, you might be the bestest clapper out there but if you can't hit the other hand, what good is it?
You don't wait until the deer is 100 yards out in front of you to learn how to shoot. You don't wait until you fall off the boat to learn how to swim. And jumping out of a plane is a bad time to learn skydiving (if at first you don't succeed, sky diving might not be the hobby for you).
So I encourage EVERY one to learn CPR and first aid and then go get a ham license. It will make you smarter and to this date I've still spent less than $160 for all of my gear, licenses and stuff. That's cheap. You will use that much ammo at the range in one day. $160 is what it costs to take a family of four to Applebees twice in one year. Ham license is waaaaay better than fried mushrooms and jalapeno poppers. Go get it. Even if you never buy a radio, you may "inherit" one after the SHTF one day and you'll need to know how it works.
Oh! And BTW Walter Kilowatt... Welcome to PF! Go give us an introductory post. It helps set the context for your questions and comments if we know a little about you. Have cats? Left handed? Favorite color? Like long walks along the beach? That kind of shtuffs. Good luck and see you around the forums. After that first post, I can't wait to see what you got for the next one.