Planning to spend some time out of town, hiking, skiing, or just enjoying the great outdoors, but need a way to communicate besides your cell phone? Cell phones are not a reliable option: even in today’s world, it can be challenging to find a network in remote locations. So, how can you effectively communicate with the rest of your group and the outside world when things go wrong?
One option is a satellite phone that will work anywhere. But these devices are expensive, as are the monthly maintenance fees. Fortunately, there are much cheaper options available. The good old two-way radios remain an effective and affordable option for standalone communications. There are hundreds of models to choose from, most of which are inexpensive. After consulting an expert and reading dozens of customer reviews, we have selected the best ones.
1. Baofeng UV-5R (average price 1600 rubles)
Just ten years ago, nobody had heard of BaoFeng. And today, the company’s radios are among the best-selling (and most popular). The UV-5R, one of the company’s finest models, has become a favorite among users as a cheap and functional portable radio. It can receive and transmit any frequency between 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz at up to five watts of power and receive the 65-108 MHz range. Other features include dual-frequency monitoring and standby and a built-in emergency siren.
+ Low price
+ Wide range
2. Midland GXT100VP4 (average price 6300 rubles)
Midland has been making walkie-talkies for decades but always innovating. The GXT1000VP4 is a great example: it has 50 channels, 142 privacy codes, and an impressive 36-mile range. The gadget is equipped with a bright LCD backlit screen, offers ten configurable alerts for incoming messages, and includes a whisper mode for communication in quiet situations. These walkie-talkies are also rugged, waterproof, and come with rechargeable batteries that keep them running for hours. In addition to basic functionality, Midland has developed the GXT1000VP4 for emergency use. An SOS siren alerts others when assistance is needed, and NOAA’s built-in radio weather alert keeps users ahead of severe weather conditions.
+ Wide range of functions
+ Durability and moisture protection
– High price
3. Motorola Talkabout T42 Twin Pack (average price 2200 rubles)
A great set of walkie-talkies for kids, the T42 is available in various colors: blue, red, or a choice of three. With a range of up to 4 km, they are an excellent choice for short distances and an indispensable companion for family vacations. They also include a dedicated quick pairing button that makes it very easy to pair all your radios.
+ Ease of use,
+ Low cost
– Limited functionality
4. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (average price 1800 rubles)
If you are looking for power, choose Baofeng BF-F8HP. The F8HP is an upgraded version of the popular BaoFeng UV-5R, which has conquered the market for low-cost, high-power radios. The new BF-F8HP boasts a whopping 8W of power compared to 2W or less of most FRS radios. With power comes complexity, and the Baofeng BF-F8HP is not an easy-to-use walkie-talkie. This is a full-fledged radio with the ability to broadcast on public Fed channels.
+ Large set of functions
+ Full-fledged radio station
+ Low price
– No protection from external influences
5. Midland LXT-425 (average price 4000 rubles)
Midland LXT630VP3 makes our list of the best FRS radios sold now. They are packed with all the features, including 36 channels, belt clip, fast charging, and a range of up to 30 miles. The bright yellow bezel makes it easy to find, and the durable outer shell is ideal for use anywhere. They have weather alerts to alert you when it gets bad. Easy Activated Voice and Sound (eVOX) with three sensitivity levels makes hands-free operation easy. Buyers praise these radios for their impressive sound quality and range. While this radio package only offers two radios and costs a little more than most of the other options we’ve listed, we think the performance makes them worth the money.
+ Sound quality
+ Wide range
– High price
6. Midland GXT1050 (average price 6000 rubles)
If you need to stay connected offline, these are the radios you need – the multifunctional Midland GXT1050 with 50 GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service). GMRS radios are more powerful than their traditional FRS (Family Radio Service) counterparts, so the signal travels for miles without interruption. In this case, the GXT1050 radios cover about 58 km in open areas, with obstacles such as buildings and trees, the range decreases. Since these are GMRS radios, a license is required to operate them.
+ GMRS standard
– License required
7. Motorola TLKR-T92 H2O (average price 7500 rubles)
The Motorola TLKR T92 H2O is identical to its predecessor, the T80 Extreme, boasts a maximum range of up to 10km, a rugged and weatherproof design, and all the same features. Built to withstand external factors, the TLKR T92 is one of the most reliable two-way radios available. It even contains a floating core, making it ideal for kayaking and other water adventures. The gadget comes with a host of other features, including a built-in flashlight to help save valuable space in your kit bag. Combining Durability with a sleek design and a decent 16 hours of battery life makes the TLKR T92 a solid choice that offers good value for money.
+ Durability and reliability
– High price
8.Motorola Talkabout T82 (average price 6400 rubles)
The two-way Motorola T82 Extreme radios are rugged and weatherproof, with an IPX4 rating and a hidden screen that can light up for easy menu navigation. With a range of up to 10 km, they are ideal for hiking, skiing, or other outdoor activities where you need to keep in touch. What’s more, the T82 also includes several handy additional features such as an LED flashlight for professionals working at night. Another advantage of the T82 is the iVox function, with which you can enjoy automatic voice activation and hands-free operation.
+ IVox function
+ Security and reliability
– Limited range
9. Motorola Talkabout T62 (average price 4200 rubles)
Motorola TALKABOUT T62 is one of the latest brand models, which is equipped with many features for an inexpensive walkie-talkie. A simple pairing button instantly syncs your walkie-talkies, and the iVOX feature makes them an excellent choice for hands-free use. The batteries provide up to 18 hours of use, which should be enough for even the most demanding users. Finally, the Motorola T62 offers a range of up to 8km in optimal conditions, which is impressive considering the price. If you want a decent two-way radio kit at an affordable price, then the T62 is worth considering.
+ Affordable price
+ Ease of use
+ iVox function
– Limited functionality and range
10. Baofeng BF-888S (average price of 900 rubles)
BaoFeng BF-888S is very well received in the low cost walkie talkie market. It has many great qualities and is by far one of the most cost-effective walkie talkie options—a decent little radio, incredibly easy to operate. Getting the job done with minimal cost seems to be the core idea behind this walkie talkie. If you want more exciting features like high power, dual-band, or waterproof performance, you should probably consider other options, but the essential elements of the BaoFeng BF-888S will provide.
+ Very low price
+ Good performance of essential functions
– Limited functionality
How to choose a walkie-talkie
Choosing the right walkie-talkie for your needs is pretty simple – it all comes down to how you plan to use it. For practical advice, we turned to the traveler and radio amateur Kirill Tudachkov, who often uses portable radios on his trips.
Radius of action
The most important feature to consider when purchasing a walkie talkie is the communication range of the device. While some models can travel more than 30 km, others can only “finish off” the other side of the country house. Be sure to select a model that can support the range you need when choosing a device.
Nothing can be more dangerous than a discharged radio during an emergency. Depending on your needs, be sure to check which batteries your device needs and how long they are designed for. Rechargeable lithium batteries can work great, but an AA battery pack is best in the middle of a forest.
When buying a walkie-talkie, be sure to consider its overall durability. Some options can be designed to suit children’s needs (with thin plastic surfaces), while others will be covered with thicker materials (such as rubber) to keep them working even after a hard fall.