I first got into amateur radio in January 2016. I wrote a blog post about how that went.

Goals

The idea of a pack portable radio along with solar power sounds interesting. I'm not sure how much that limits you. Maybe effectively doing a lot of HF doesn't make sense with those restrictions.

I'd also like to get into ARES. The local amateur radio club is starting up some ARES capability. The constraints of that are similar but you need more of a go-box as opposed to something purely pack portable.

Gear

UHF/ VHF

I have a few Baofeng UV5R radios. They are the gateway radio into HAM radio. As of right now anyways they are just $25 on Amazon. That's a cheap way to get into the hobby.

I got a couple antennas for the UV5Rs. The Nagoya NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip makes the radio work better while mobile. And the Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna is good when I'm not moving around. Of course you can't stop there, you need a USB cable and extra batteries.

HF

I finally got an FT-817ND. I really was looking at an FT-857 but there was some supply disruption and I got impatient. So I did what they tell all new HAMs not to do, start out with QRP. I also got a Mini Buddipole. My experience is limited to just a little bit of 20M listening.