Can someone point me to the plans for one of those homebrew tuners? I'm curious to know how complicated it would be for a first-time project
I guess I'm a bit biased since I design, build and sell antennas, and operate 80% portable. I think I've tried most everything at some point and have come to the firm conclusion that any metallic object will radiate when RF is applied and you can have fun doing it!!
That said, if you are not into paying the bucks for someone else to work the magic, an endfed wire will overall out perform most any portable antenna. It is easy to deploy, no magic tuning, settings, counterpoises needed. If it is a half wave of the band operated, no tuner is required. It can be deployed as a sloper, an inverted"L", an inverted "V", a flat top, a half square or a vertical. When properly tuned as a half wave no counterpoise is needed. BUT you are limited to a mono band if it is a halfwave. Using a simple wire (easy home brew) tuner you can make a 33 foot wire work wonders. Everything you need to work the world will fit in a small luch bag. With what you find in your junk box added to 66.6 feet of #26 wire you can build a half wave tuner. Add favorite QRP kit, key, operator and a warm/cold beverage ( weather dependent) and leave that foot locker at home... hi hi Just my thoughts, your mileage may vary.
There are many portable antennas that work well and are easily transported. From a small speaker wire doublet to a standard half wave dipole. I personally prefer the 5 band no tune doublet or my PAR EndFedz 20/40 dual bander. I don't leave home with out them.