Eveready seems to be the sole maker of lithium primary AA cells. They're pricey, but the shelf stability and power output are also exceptional. They're the only thing I'd use for long-term storage
And having seen a lot of leaky Duracells, and some (but way fewer) leaks
from other brands, I'd consider stowing the batteries separately in ziploc or sealed baggies, and also putting silicon grease on the battery
terminals/contacts in each device. I've found that ensures good contacts over the years.
Sanyo makes a NiMh battery under their "Enerloop" brand which is supposed to hold an 80% charge after a year on the shelf. That's incredible, also a one-of-a-kind. If you used those in the ditch bag, and rotated them out against others you used everyday, that could also be a good way to get some extra value out of the batteries.
With a VHF, unless it has a dedicated NiMh tray (and sometimes even then) you'll get better range from primary cells, simply because their voltage is higher by more than 1/2 volt per cell.