Best Long Range Walkie Talkie Reviews and Comparisons of Top Selling Models
The two-way radio works by receiving and transmitting content. The best walkie talkie can provide a reliable way to communicate efficiently and quickly with others who are operating on the same radio frequency. These models will operate using a half duplex system. This system allows the operator to either listen or talk, but it cannot do both simultaneously on an open line, unlike you can on a cell phone. Phones offer a full duplex system and many models of phones feature a two-way radio talk feature in addition to regular cellphone operation.
Your budget will be a major factor when it comes to determining the set you’ll buy. These prices can range depending on features, battery type, range abilities and channels offered. Lower priced models are often short range walkie talkies that only feature a maximum range of five miles, while walkie talkies feature a range of thirty to fifty miles.
When it comes to performance and range capabilities, we recommend reading walkie talkie reviews in order to get a realistic look at how each set performs and learn what consumers had to say in terms of function, performance and overall quality.
Walkie Talkie Buying Guide
Walkie talkies are designed to offer a variety of options for a number of channels. Some models offer just a couple of channels, while offers offer as many as twenty-two. The more channels a radio has, the higher the price tag. A wide range of channels will allow for more people to communicate either on different channels or the same channel. Isolating a certain channel is also a good way to prevent people from talking over each other.
The most basic models will feature only a few channels on a single frequency in order to make communication easy. These models can be used for simple purposes and don’t allow for a great distance apart for communicating. Systems that are more complex will offer a wide range of frequencies and several channels on each frequency. The user will pick the best frequency that will offer the clearest connection and will then select a channel on the frequency.
Because any walkie talkie user can operate on the same channel and frequency and listen in on your conversation, some radios also come with a lot of privacy codes. A privacy code works by scrambling a signal, minimizing the chances that someone can listen in on your conversation. This means that people who are not operating on the same privacy code will be unable to participate in your conversation. If keeping your conversation private is a major concern of your, then you should buy a set with extensive privacy setting options.
If you want to buy more radios for an existing set, then it’s important to keep in mind that UHF models are unable to communicate with VHF models. For most circumstances, UHF sets are the most practical.
UHF stands for ultra-high frequency and most models will operate on a frequency range of four hundred to five hundred. These radios are usually the most versatile choices because the waves they use are shorter, which in turn makes them more effective at penetrating or getting around obstacles. If you’re shopping for radios that will mainly be used indoors, UHF models are your best bet.
VHF stands for very high frequency and operates on 136 to 174MHz. when covering longer distances, this frequency is very advantageous. Marine and aviation communications mainly rely on this type of signal because the signal is traveling between the sky and ground or over large bodies of water. VHF models are much better at penetrating foliage and trees and usually feature a longer antenna compared to walkie talkies that use UHF.
As we have mentioned, VHF walkie talkies are not compatible with UHF radios. It’s important to check out the frequency first, before you buy, in order to ensure that the walkie talkies will be able to receive and transmit with each other. New consumer grade models will be able to work with each other regardless of the brand. When it comes to buying older models, always be sure you check out the frequencies between all types of radios in order to ensure they’re compatible.
Radios that are not VHF or UHF will either be GMRS or FRS or both. The FRS band of frequencies is a specific band that’s reserved by the FCC for recreational and family use. Because of this, there’s a limitation of frequency and power wattage. These models are not effective enough or durable enough for constant use. GMRS radios operate on twenty-three frequencies. Seven of these frequencies are shared with FRS. The GMRS models are intended for family use and work well over shorter distances in order to facilitate activities between users, but GMRS is best used for activities such as hiking, skiing, fishing, and camping. A license is required to use this type of walkie talkie.
Most models will have a limited range of one to two miles. That’s not to say that communication even at this distance will always be achieved, especially when there’s interference. Any radio that is able to extend beyond this distance will exceed the max wattage that’s allowed by the FCC and requires a license for use. The manufacturer will usually list the range and indicate if a license is required.
Some models will work with rechargeable batteries, while others will use double or triple A batteries. The specs should indicate an estimate of usage time per set of batteries or charge. In the battery life description, a company usually estimates about six percent of transmission time, six percent reception time and eighty-eight percent standby time.
Many higher end models will also feature access to weather channels. These channels provide information that’s broadcasted by the NOAA and can alert the user if hazards or bad weather is headed their way.
Two-Way Radio Extra Features
Many models also offer a lock key feature which will ensure that the radio remains on the same channel when in use and an automatic squelch feature, which will keep the walkie talkie silent except when a signal is received. The channel recall feature allows the user to recall the last channel used by simply pressing a button. This feature is similar to the redial function you’ll find on a cell phone. If you plan on traveling or using the radios in low light conditions, a backlit LCD screen can make it much easier to read, even during the night.
The automatic scan feature works by scanning all the sub-channels and channels for signals.
Incoming call alerts will use an audible tone such as a beep or ring and let the user know when they’re receiving an incoming transmission.
Models that come with a headset and mic allow you to easily communicate with other members of your team, hands-free.
The voice activated feature provides a ton of convenience for outdoor explorers. To use, simply starting speaking and the radio will immediately begin transmitting. You can pair this with a headset for a truly hands-free experience.
When you’re purchasing two-way radios for a large group of people, if you want models that offer an extensive amount of privacy codes, we recommend buying the same models from the same manufacturer because the same privacy codes will not always work between models. Any pair of radios that support the same channels and broadcast on the same frequency band will function together. But in order to get the full use of a walkie talkie’s features, you’ll need to use another model with the same features.
With walkie talkies, size matters. When you’re using one on a hike, or in the office, you’ve probably got enough to juggle without throwing in a bulky, large radio. Fortunately, traditional models come in sizes as small as 5.8 by 4.6. Many of these smaller models only weigh a few ounces. Some of these lightweight models feature an embedded antenna inside the device, which works to cuts down on the weight but also can affect the radio’s range potential. If you need a radio for work use, then this type of walkie talkie should be fine.
Not all walkie talkies are durable and some models can easily crack when dropped. When durability is a concern, look for a model that features the traditional brick format and one that doesn’t have a digital display. The brick format is often the best choice when you know the radios will be treated roughly. Often, warehouse workers, construction workers, hunters, and hikers will choose this design because it has a reputation for being able to easily handle falls.
Models that are built to military specifications are rated for moisture, shock, and dust and can handle harsh conditions. This style is rated intrinsically safe and will not ignite in combustible environments.
If you plan on using your walkie talkies for fishing, skiing or other water related activities you’ll need to pay close attention to a model’s waterproof rating and ingress protection rating. Walkie talkies are packed with sensitive components that react badly to moisture and dust, which is why the industry has set an international standard for a radio’s ingress protection rating. Ingress protection ratings display how well the radio’s housing can keep out debris and moisture. This type of protection is rated with an IP followed by a two digit number. The first number rates the protection against solids while the second determines protection against moisture. This is based on a rating scale that ranges from one to six. Models with a higher ingress rating are often higher in price.
A waterproof rating can tell you what type of water exposure a radio can handle. Some models may only be able to deal with light rainfall, while others are protected against moderate rainfall and splashes of water. Even better, some models are completely submersible. However, these submersible models cannot remain underwater for long, with most featuring a maximum submerged time of thirty minutes and a minimum of ten minutes. Like with many other features, models that offer the best protection will be on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Walkie Talkie Comparison Chart
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Motorola MR350TPR Talkabout Two-Way Radio Review
This Motorola MR350TPR Talkabout two-way radio pack comes with three handsets and features a range of thirty-five miles and a lightweight design that’s perfect for long outdoor adventures. This model also has a reputation for convenience and versatility and can be charged in four different ways. Designed with safety in mind, this set comes with an emergency alert feature, which works by transmitting a siren signal. The unit’s built-in flashlight is perfect for low light conditions when you’re hiking or camping. Users can also stay up to date with weather conditions using one of the NOAA channels.Click Here to Read the Motorola MR350 TPR Two-way Radio Review
Midland GXT2050VP4 GMRS Two-Way Radios Review
The GXT2050VP4 GMRS two-way radios by Midland is our top rated product and it comes with a ton of goodies that will prepare you for several hours traveling in the backcountry. This set offers a range of thirty-six miles and twenty-two GMRS channels. The radios also allow you to remain up to date with changing weather conditions and operates via NOAA broadcasting. Consumers will also receive other types of alerts such as landslide warnings and Amber alerts.Click Here to Read the Full Midland GMRS Two-way Radio Review
Uniden Submersible FRS and GMRS Two-Way Radio Review
The Uniden FRS and GMRS two-way radio system is fully submersible and features an impressive fifty-mile range. This popular setup can withstand full submersion for up to thirty minutes without damage and has a reputation for durability and reliability. This is a set that’s known for power, which is why it’s a little surprising that these radios are so compact and lightweight. For added convenience, these set is also equipped with a backlit display and keys that light up and allow the user to see in low light conditions.Click Here to Read the Full Uniden Submersible Two-way Radio Review