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1) Handheld range depends on where you are. It isn't uncommon for me to go 10-12 miles without a repeater. Any ham worth anything has more than one battery and many have a small solar setup to charge batteries or charge from a car. I can listen for a week on the same battery. 2) Many repeaters have solar. Some in my area aren't on the grid and I don't recall them going down. 3) Yes, you have to have a radio. I hope so. If everyone had one it would end up like the cell networks in an emergency.

300 mile is a challenge. I'm happy being able to talk in my community and my wife. I won't be able to talk to extended family because if distance and that pesky problem that they don't have radios, but knowing I can find out where my wife and kids are and let them know where I am - that is priceless.

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