Originally Posted by wesintl
Depends on how far away from the tower you are.. QRO bro
You really do want to use just enough power to hold the path because digital modes are more efficient.
If you're trying to reliably get into aprs.fi in the backcountry, more power is probably good but APRS digipeaters handle the packet forwarding and so your messages find their way to INET pretty easily. So well now that most digipeater controllers only handle two hop packets and most packets find an INET gate on the second hop. There's no need to clog multiple digipeaters with packets, you just need to hit one and your packet will get there.
Think of APRS packets more like cell towers than point-to-point, since we all run on 144.390 it could be a couple of seconds of bouncing around before your packet hits it's final destination. That's why most all-in-one APRS trackers are 10W or less, they let the repeaters do the work and then don't eat batteries as fast. Really, there is nothing to be afraid of with repeaters. It's not that life's too short for QRP, it's life's too short for VHF simplex.
I think the most important thing with APRS is use an external antenna, more so than 5W, 10W or 50W.