>Is 350mW transmit power enough for rallying in the woods of
>the Northwest, or should I been looking at the more
>expensive 5W handhelds?
350 mW is not enough to do anything, unless you are standing next to a repeater (ask me how I know). But it makes a great scanner to listen to the net while in the car or as a worker (and it cost me only $75.00 because it was the demo model). Go with the 5W.
Correct. 5 watts is the least you should consider. You should also consider a larger aftermarket antenna (mag mount for the car or a bigger whip for the HT). Those little short ones are cute but are very inefficent. Also, 2-meters (and above ie 440/UHF) is very line of sight. If you are blocked from "seeing" the repeater or the other station communications will be take place.
Skye, I have found my 5 watt handheld to work well at NW rallys. I can almost always talk to Mt. Top with 5 watts. Now my car has a 25 or 50 watt rig these days with a good ant. It works, well better.
Line of sight is funny, with my handheld here in my 45th floor office I have no problem talking to the Mt Constitution Repeater some 75 miles away... line of sight, even with the crapy rubber ducky ant.
1/3watt seems to be a little light on power. Esp since a 5 watt 2m/440 radio is cheap on e-bay or www.qrz.com
I swapped out the stock rubber duckie style antenna on my VX-150 with a Pryme RD-98 (SMA connector). This thin whip can make you motion sick watching it but it just about doubled the receiver sensivity - wait a minute I mean halved...oh, you get the idea. It done good.