I have an ic-7000, ic-290h, and kenwood tm-255a. The antenna/feedline is really what matters and is where your money and engineering should be focused. Solely based on its versatility I'd have to recommend the 7000 if you're interested in operation other than as a base. There's very little activity in my area on vhf ssb so don't be surprised if it's hit or miss, in fact I can't recall talking to someone without being the one to call cq. Congrats for trying something different though, weak-signal work is a lot of fun, especially mobile.