I operate hf only with very little vhf only when mobile. Modes are generally cw and ssb.
Nothing beats hf. Simple wire and you can get out into the world. It is rare to hear ap though i get regular qsos into Uzbekistan, tajikistan; so no reason why ap should be so quite.
A simple 2 el delta quad (wire spread out using a single top boom or even like a fan on 20m will give extremely good results.