I'll add a few more comments on my FT-857 recommendation. For purely mobile use I prefer the Icom 705MKIIG over the FT-857 because the noise blanker, audio DSP noise reduction and transmit audio is better on the Icom.
For battery portable use or a transitional radio between mobile and portable I think the FT-857 is a good choice. I had a Yaesu FT-897 before I got the 857 and I found it great for base station use but its way too heavy for portable use and way too big for mobile use, except for occasionally tossing on the passenger seat.
When equipped with the internal AC power supply the 897 does make a great grab and go radio, otherwise its the exact same radio inside as an 857 and you can equip an 857 with small power supply or batteries that are superior and cheaper than what Yaesu offers for the 897 and it will be smaller and lighter than the 897.
I think I sold my FT-897 for $750 including the matching LDG antenna tuner bolted to the side, a couple of internal batteries and the Yaesu battery charger. My FT-857 was $400 used in perfect shape, so there are lots of good used radios out there for less than your budget of $950. Don't forget a tuner for HF, that's an entire topic in itself.
Originally Posted by JackDaniels7
I think the same way you do, Ramal. I want to get all the same stuff together, but getting my basic qualification is the first step. It looks like Yaesu beats Icom for mobile. The FT-857 was recommended above, but you have the FT-897. I'm sure the 897 is better in a vehicle. Would you carry it around instead of the 857, or is it less practical? I'm not a minimalist, but sometimes reality bites me down to size, and I can't argue. I figure, if I'm going to spend $950 for something that's important to me, I may as well spend the extra $150 to get something really worthwhile. I see the $950 as a waste then.
I haven't bought a sac yet, or a backpack, so I need some guidance on that. I'm referring to what gewecke said at the top. I can't wait to join the local club and go through this in person.