We all love our mobile phones, but we appreciate their limitations. While your phone could serve you well in the city, it might prove inadequate when you go to the wild, where mobile coverage is limited. In addition, most mobile phones cannot withstand the adversities of the elements — rain, ice, snow, and scorching sun could destroy your delicate mobile device.
When you have to operate in areas with inclement weather, the best way to keep in touch with family and friends is by using a walkie-talkie. Walkie-talkies are known for their hardiness. While some of these gadgets have limited features, others are created to stand up to the most adverse weather conditions — you’ll find walkie-talkies that operate perfectly in rainy and snowy conditions.
Some walkie-talkies have outstanding battery life and a great range. Moreover, with your handheld radio, you can talk to groups of people simultaneously. This is a matter not to be trivialized, as you can imagine what would happen if you went for a mountain adventure and then lost contact with a colleague — your walkie-talkie could be the only way to find out where the lost colleague is.
Today’s market is awash with thousands of different walkie-talkie brands and when you go shopping, you might be overwhelmed by the diverse choices. To help you make the best purchase decision, we have compiled the following list of the 6 best walkie-talkies you can buy today.
- Best Overall: Motorola Talkabout T800
- Best for Winter Activities: Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0
- Best Walkie-Talkies for Hunting: Midland X-talker T10
- Best Budget Option: Motorola T600
- Best Range: DEWALT DXFRS800
- Best-Looking Walkie-Talkie: Cobra ACXT645
Best Overall: Motorola Talkabout T800
When you go hiking or camping in remote areas with no cell phone coverage, the Motorola Talkabout T800 could be your best companion. The radio boasts a range of up to 35 miles and, depending on the terrain, this gadget will keep you connected when your cell phone fails.
Communication using the Motorola Talkabout T800 is clear and interference-free as the radio has 22 channels and 121 privacy codes. Its built-in flashlight makes it ideal for nighttime activities.
Moreover, the T800 is designed to be waterproof and dustproof, with an IPX4 rating, which means that it can withstand splashing water from any direction. The radio will come in handy during emergencies as it enables you to ask for emergency assistance using its emergency alert button.
The Motorola Talkabout T800 operates on FRS and GMRS frequencies and has a maximum power output of 2 watts. It also comes with a rechargeable battery that provides up to 10 hours of continuous use. Courtesy of its in-built Bluetooth feature, you can pair it with a smartphone, enabling you to communicate with your team even when they are out of range.
For a radio with a host of great features, the Motorola Talkabout T800 is also competitively priced. The price, together with its long battery life, high durability, and emergency features makes the Motorola Talkabout T800 the best overall walkie-talkie you can buy today.
Check out the Motorola Talkabout T800 on Amazon.
Best for Winter Activities: Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0
For lovers of backcountry skiing, the aptly named Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 is the two-way radio to go for. With a six-mile range and operating on FRS and GMRS frequencies, the Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 ensures clear and strong communication even in remote areas.
One of the most notable features of the BC Link 2.0 is its Smart Mic, which is equipped with push-to-talk functionality and allows users to control the radio without having to remove it from their packs. The device also has a large LCD display making it easy to read and navigate through the menu options.
Made for the harsh outdoors, the BC Link 2.0 has a waterproof rating of IP56 and its rugged construction means that it can handle drops and impacts without breaking down. It has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides up to 12 hours of continuous use to help you stay connected through long trips.
For its durable construction and user-friendliness, the Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 is one of the best walkie-talkies that you can buy today.
Check out the Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 on Amazon.
Best Walkie-Talkies for Hunting: Midland X-talker T10
When you’re going hunting and are not certain about how the weather will behave, bringing the Midland X-talker T10 with you would be a great idea as the radio is designed to alert you about adverse weather conditions in your location.
It’s not surprising then that this radio is beloved by hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts who operate in areas of unpredictable weather. The X-talker T10 has 22 channels which allow users to communicate with others who are using the same channel.
Additionally, the radio has 38 privacy codes, which help to prevent interference from other radio users. Boasting a range of up to 20 miles, this radio is ideal for use in remote areas.
Its backlit display helps you operate optimally in low-light conditions, and its 26-hour battery life means that you can continue with your activities for a long time away from a power source. A reasonably priced product, the Midland X-talker T10 is also highly portable as it weighs a mere 3.9 ounces and stands 5.5 inches tall.
Check out the Midland X-talker T10 on Amazon.
Best Budget Option: Motorola T600
When you require a high-performing two-way radio at an affordable price, you can’t go wrong with the Motorola T600. Meant for outdoor enthusiasts, this is a durable and waterproof gadget that you could take with you for hiking, camping, or on construction sites.
The Motorola T600 has a range that can reach up to 35 miles, depending on the terrain and weather conditions. This makes it ideal for use in remote areas where cellular reception is not available. The radio comes with NOAA weather alerts, allowing users to stay updated on severe weather conditions in their area.
A highly durable product, the Motorola T600 is IP67 rated, meaning that it is waterproof and dustproof, making it ideal for use in all kinds of weather conditions. In addition, it has a built-in flashlight for use in emergencies.
The T600 also offers a number of other useful features, such as 22 channels, 121 privacy codes, and a keypad lock. The radio is compatible with other FRS/GMRS radios, making it easy to communicate with other users who may have different types of radios.
Priced at $98.99 on Amazon, the Motorola T600 is a budget product because it has features that you would normally expect to find in pricier radios. This makes it one of the best walkie-talkies you can buy today.
Check out the Motorola T600 on Amazon.
Best Range: DEWALT DXFRS800
One of the most outstanding features of the DEWALT DXFRS800 is its range. At about 300,000 square feet, this is one two-way radio that has an astounding range and, conditions allowing, would be ideal for large-scale projects.
The use of the DEWALT DXFRS800 ensures secure transmission thanks to its 22 preset channels and 121 privacy codes. The radio also features a bright backlit display and a keypad lock to prevent accidental button presses.
This walkie-talkie is a durable product that will withstand harsh conditions. It has an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. It is also designed to meet MIL-STD 810 standards for shock resistance. This means that it can withstand drops and impacts without getting damaged.
The radio also comes with a belt clip and a rechargeable battery that can provide up to 18 hours of talk time. While it’s pricier than other two-way radios on the market, its long battery life, durability, and range make the DEWALT DXFRS800 a worthy investment.
Check out the DEWALT DXFRS800 on Amazon.
Best-Looking Walkie-Talkie: Cobra ACXT645
With Bluetooth connectivity, the Cobra ACXT645 is a two-way radio that can be connected to smartphones. This way, the walkie-talkies ease communication in remote areas. The radio has a GPS tracking mechanism to assist users who might be in distress. It’s, therefore, a great companion for outdoor activities in the wild.
It has a range of up to 35 miles, making it easy to communicate with others even in remote areas. The radio has 22 channels, including 10 NOAA weather channels that provide real-time weather information.
The radio’s weather alert function ensures that you are always aware of any severe weather conditions in your area. This is essential for outdoor activities. To help you continue activities in low-light conditions, the radio has a built-in LED flashlight.
The radio has a rugged and durable design and a water-resistant exterior to ward off light rain. Thanks to its in-built VOX feature, you can use the radio hands-free. This feature is particularly useful when you are engaged in activities that require your hands, like rock climbing.
In terms of battery life, the Cobra ACXT645 has a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 12 hours. It also has a battery saver mode, which helps to conserve battery life when the radio is not in use.
The radio comes with a micro-USB charging cable that allows you to charge the battery easily. At 5.1 ounces and available in Black and Orange, this radio is both portable and quite good-looking.
Check out the Cobra ACXT645 on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Walkie-Talkies: Step by Step
Given the vast diversity of features in the walkie-talkies available on the market today, there are some considerations to take into account to acquire a gadget that will serve you well. The most crucial factors to consider include:
When you’re out hiking with friends, you need a handheld radio that covers a wide enough range to make sure that you stay in touch. While the figures advertised on some products tend to be rather huge (over twenty miles, for example), the reality on the ground is quite different.
Owing to obstructions from rocks, vegetation, and even weather changes, the range of your walkie-talkie could be highly limited. One sure way to increase the range of your gadget is to opt for a walkie-talkie with a long antenna.
While some of the gadgets with long antennas might have limited power, this might be the trade-off you could be forced to consider if the range is important for your activities.
When you’re engaging in activities that take you away from a power source, you want to have a walkie-talkie with substantial battery life. A gadget with a good battery might cost you a lot upfront but, in the long term, it saves you money since you will spend less on batteries.
While good battery life is important, if you end up with a walkie-talkie with limited battery life, you should consider investing in an alternative powering solution, such as a power bank or a solar panel, that you could take with you when you spend substantial time away from a power source.
When you engage in activities in the wilderness, there is a very high chance that your walkie-talkie will be exposed to some form of a water hazard. For this reason, you want a gadget that’s fully waterproofed.
Waterproofing is a critical measure of a walkie-talkie’s durability and failure to obtain a gadget that meets this requirement might mean that you’ll need to replace your walkie-talkie sooner than you expected.
The best way to find out whether a walkie-talkie will meet the required durability requirements is by looking at its IP rating. Ideally, you should opt for a radio with a high IP rating.
While your walkie-talkie performs the critical function of keeping you in touch with colleagues and the outside world, its usefulness will be determined to a considerable degree by its portability. When a walkie-talkie is too heavy, moving around with it could prove inconvenient and tiring and it helps to invest in a lightweight gadget.
There are organizations that use walkie-talkies to enable communication between groups of workers in different locations. Should that be the case, you want to ensure that the communication between the groups is perfectly clear by investing in gadgets with high sound quality.
And while your walkie-talkies could have been serving you well in the past, should you notice that they have lost their clarity, it might be time to conduct some maintenance. If your radios are not cleaned regularly, the speakers and microphones could be stuck with dust and debris, and cleaning them could improve communication.
What to Know Before Buying the Best Walkie-Talkies
Your walkie-talkie is an important investment that could serve you well for many years. For some organizations, normal operations might be greatly hampered without the use of these gadgets and this will adversely affect the organization’s bottom line.
Given the crucial role that these gadgets play, it’s important to realize that the walkie-talkies you buy will need regular maintenance if you want them to remain in tip-top condition for a long time. Neglected and abused, walkie-talkies break down prematurely, and depending on the number of gadgets you have, replacement costs could be crippling.
Before parting with your money for a walkie-talkie, it’s also important to note that there are countless brands on the market and that some have better reputations than others.
While products from the big brand names might look expensive, these are products that have been tried, tested, and trusted for generations and you’re therefore safer with products from companies such as Motorola, DeWalt, and the others we have reviewed above.
Using the Best Walkie-Talkies: What It’s Like
While the walkie-talkie is a crucial gadget, your experience with it will ultimately depend on how well you use it and how much routine maintenance you give it. Should you experience poor reception from your gadget, before seeking help from a technician, you first need to confirm that you’re positioning your walkie-talkie properly.
Are you, for instance, holding your gadget upright? When you try to communicate with a walkie-talkie that’s lying on a flat surface, you limit the radio’s signal; hence, the poor reception.
Damaged or improperly attached antennas could also distort communication. Should your troubleshooting efforts identify a broken antenna, replacing this critical part of the radio might be the only option. In many situations, walkie-talkies are life-saving gadgets.
When you’re out in the wild and can’t physically locate a colleague, this precious gadget could be your only hope. In some workplaces, people work alone. For the management to be confident that these workers are safe, they rely on walkie-talkies.
Two-way radios have advanced safety features that enable the lone worker to send emergency messages. Moreover, in an emergency, GPS tracking can be used to locate a missing person.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Kabardins photo/Shutterstock.com.