We have repeaters 60 miles distant I easily get on "full quiet" with a 5 watts Wouxon handheld. I have a 5db gain Larson NMO antenna on my truck running ICOM 2710H mobile, which is optimum for the prairie, with low hills up to and including the edge of The Continental Divide. I think the 5 watts Wouxon is doing so well because the distant repeaters have been improved by a local radio amateur: antennas, power, range. I run the ICOM on "low" 5 watts because 5 watts is all I need, since the improvement to our repeaters. If you need "big guns" watts to get in to repeaters, "get active" in supporting the repeaters. We did: our club, our individuals, donations of time and equipment flowed in because people wanted better coverage of this area.