If you need to stay in contact with others when skiing, hiking, camping, or hunting then two-way radios can be extremely useful. Most models now offer the maximum 22 FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) channels available. On top of that some offer privacy codes which further subdivides each channel to provide more private channels. There is also personal GPS navigation units with radio functions as well. Users should note that by law they are required to have a license from the FCC to broadcast on the GMRS bands.
Range claims from the manufacturer are based on optimal conditions. Those rarely exist in the real world and users should expect a range between half a mile and up to 2 miles. Some other important features you might want include wattage output, tones/paging/vibrate functions, channel scanning, VOX (voice activated transmission), weather radio, noise filter, headset compatible, and different power settings or at least a low-power battery saving mode.
Below you will find our reviews and list of the best two-way radios.
Our number one choice for the best FRS/GMRS two-way radio is the Midland GXT1000VP4 available for $62. This version is weatherproof that can withstand light rain or splashing water. It has 50 channels with a 36 mile range and 142 privacy codes. Other features include NOAA weather alert, eVox hands free operation, vibrate alert, and low/medium/high power settings. You can use either the rechargeable batteries included or 4 AA batteries.
Overall we highly recommend this Midland model for all users.
For those of you who need a radio that will withstand wet weather then we recommend The Motorola MT350R for about $66. IP-54 rated means it can withstand dust and wet weather conditions – although it is not waterproof. It also provides an emergency alert feature, led flashlight, and NOAA weather alerts. One unique feature we like is that you can recharge the NiMH battery packs with a mini USB cable.
The $517 Garmin Rino 655t is our pick for the best two-way radio with GPS, although it would be better classified as a handheld GPS unit with a 5 watt FRS/GMRS two-way radio function. It has a 2.6″ color touchscreen, comes preloaded with topographic maps of the US, barometric altimeter, 3 axis electronic compass, NOAA weather alerts, and 5 megapixel camera.
At this price if you just need to talk to another user then this unit is overkill, but for true wilderness hiking, camping, or hunting then the extra features of this Garmin model can be of immense value.
The Motorola MH230R is the best selling two-way radio on Amazon and sells for close to $47. It has 23-mile range and 22 channels with 121 privacy codes. You get 10 hours of life with alkaline batteries or 8 house with the rechargeable NiMH battery included. Overall it is a decent model for the price, but does not excel in any one area.
The Cobra Microtalk CXT425 can be had for $47. It is one of the highest rated models available on Amazon with 4.2 stars. It boasts a 25 mile range, 22 channels, and 121 privacy codes. It also has NOAA weather radio and hands free operation (VOX). Each walkie-talkie uses 4 rechargeable AAA batteries.
If you need a cheap two-way radio then we recommend the Uniden GMR1635-2 for less than $25. It has a more limited 16-mile range with 22 channels. They are powered by 3 AAA batteries. These work great for communicating within a very close range, especially for kids that like to play outdoor games. For more serious campers, hikers, or hunters we recommend spending a little bit more money to a more quality model.
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