8 Best Walkie Talkies Reviewed in 2019 ( Hunting & Waterproof Two-Way Radios )

man on mountain holding walkie talkie

Walkie talkies should be used by anybody who ventures into the wild with a friend.

Voices don’t carry very far in the woods, and emergency whistles are easily lost. Plus, they only say one thing:

“FWEEEEEEE!”

Two-way radios, on the other hand, facilitate long-range communication.

Do you see some deer headed toward your hunting partner? Tell him about them!

Do you need to head back to the cabin? Why not radio out and ask people if they need snacks?

And, of course, a walkie talkie is indispensable in an emergency. If you fall and break a leg, shouting is unlikely to bring help. A radio, however, will let you inform your group of your location and plight.

Read our reviews and consider one of the radios below, and don’t lose communication with your fellow hunters.

 

The 8 Best Two Way Radios of 2019: Outdoor Empire Reviews

  1. Best for hunting #1: Midland GXT1050VP4
  2. Best for hunting #2: Motorola MS355R
  3. Best long-range #1: Midland GXT1000VP4
  4. Best long-range #2: Uniden GMR5095
  5. Best for the mountains #1: Motorola MS350R
  6. Best for the mountains #2: Kenwood ProTalk TK-3402U16P
  7. Best waterproof #1: Cobra ACXT1035R FLT
  8. Best waterproof #2: DeWALT DXFRS800

 

CategoryBest for huntingBest for long-rangeBest for mountains
ProductMidland GXT1050VP4
Midland GXT1050VP4

Uniden GMR5095
Uniden GMR5095

Motorola MS350R
Motorola MS350R

Range36 miles50 miles35 miles
Channels22/502230
Privacy Codes142284121
BatteriesRechargeable battery pack or 4xAANiMH rechargeableNiMH rechargeable battery pack or 3xAA
Water ResistanceJIS4JIS7IP67
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

 

1. Best Hunting Walkie Talkies #1: Midland GXT1050VP4

Midland GXT1050VP4

Specs

  • Range: 36 miles
  • Channels: 22/50
  • Privacy Codes: 142
  • Batteries: Rechargeable battery pack or 4xAA
  • Water Resistance: JIS4
  • FRS/GMRS? GMRS only
  • Misc: Animal calls, NOAA weather alerts, SOS siren, and VOX
  • Package Includes: Batteries, headsets, belt clips, desktop charger, and AC and DC adapters

Overview

The Midland GXT1050VP4 is a GMRS-only radio with a maximum range of 36 miles when using the maximum amount of power allowed by the law.

If you don’t need that much power, then you can use the medium and low power settings.

There are 22 channels and 28 extra channels, as well as privacy codes for all of them. You can even monitor two channels at once.

Many walkie talkies are good for taking with you when hunting. The Midland GXT1050VP4 is, itself, a good hunting tool.

That’s because, while most radios focus on communication, the GXT1050VP4 has several hunting-only features. Most useful is the set of five animal calls:

  • Cougar
  • Crow
  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Wolf

Depending on what you’re hunting, you may not need to bring a separate animal call!

Also, there’s a silent mode to prevent any external sound. That way, an incoming transmission won’t spook the animal in your sights. There’s also a whisper mode so you don’t have to speak at your normal volume into the mic.

The biggest downside to this radio is the charger. It doesn’t automatically turn off when the battery is full!

Pros

  • Animal calls and other hunting features
  • Voice activation
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Dumb battery charger
  • Requires GMRS license

Recommendation

The Midland GXT1050VP4 is the best hunting radio out there, but keep an eye on it in the charger!

 

Midland GXT1050VP4 is also available at:

Optics Planet

 

2. Best Hunting Walkie Talkies #2: Motorola MS355R

Motorola MS355R

Specs

  • Range: 35 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Privacy Codes: None
  • Batteries: NiMH rechargeable batteries
  • Water Resistance: IP67
  • FRS/GMRS? Both
  • Misc: Floats, NOAA weather alerts
  • Package Includes: Batteries, belt clips, desktop charger, charging adapter, and an emergency preparedness checklist

Overview

The Motorola MS355R comes in Realtree AP HD camo and is designed to be a hunting two-way radio.

It comes with earbuds and has a silent mode to allow you to stalk a deer without spooking the animal. The push-to-talk button is a bit hard to use with gloves, but thankfully there’s a voice-activation mode.

Warning! Using animal calls will cause the radio to transmit when using voice activation! Make sure to prank your friends!

Two radios come in the package, which is standard for hunting walkie talkies.

You have access to 14 FRS channels and 8 GMRS channels, compatible with a repeater if you need a longer range. There are seven NOAA channels and a weather alert system to keep you from getting caught in the rain.

Pros

  • Floats in the water
  • Voice-activation

Cons

  • PTT button can be hard to use with gloves

Recommendation

The Motorola MS355R can handle all of the rigors of hunting and doesn’t require a GMRS license.

 

 

3. Best Long-Range Walkie Talkies #1: Midland GXT1000VP4

Midland GXT1000VP4

Specs

  • Range: 36 miles
  • Channels: 22/50
  • Privacy Codes: 142
  • Batteries: Rechargeable battery pack or 4xAA
  • Water Resistance: JIS4
  • FRS/GMRS? Both
  • Misc: NOAA weather alerts, SOS siren, and VOX
  • Package Includes: Batteries, headsets, belt clips, desktop charger, and AC and DC adapters

Overview

Five watts is the maximum amount of power legally allowed for hand-held radios to transmit in the United States. Few walkie talkies are that powerful. The Midland GXT1000VP4 is one of the few that is.

It’s very similar to the already-reviewed GXT1050VP4 but with a few important changes. Specifically, you lose out on the animal calls. However, you do gain the ability to transmit via FRS, which doesn’t require a license.

However, you still need that GMRS license to get the full benefit of this radio’s range. You also won’t get a full 5 watts of power unless you use the rechargeable battery pack.

That battery pack provides up to 11 hours of battery life, so these aren’t your best choice for extended forays. Still, they might be a good backup to shorter-ranged walkie talkies.

Pros

  • 5-watt power for long-range transmissions
  • Weather resistant

Cons

  • Lacks range when not using the rechargeable battery
  • Short battery life

Recommendation

The Midland GXT1000VP4, when using GMRS, transmits at 5 watts and therefore is the most powerful handheld radio legally allowed by the FCC.

 

Midland GXT1000VP4 is also available at:

Sportsman’s Guide

Optics Planet

 

4. Best Long-Range Walkie Talkies #2: Uniden GMR5095 GMRS/FRS

Uniden GMR5095 GMRS/FRS

Specs

  • Range: 50 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Privacy Codes: 284
  • Batteries: NiMH rechargeable
  • Water Resistance: JIS7
  • FRS/GMRS? Both
  • Misc: Direct calling, floats, flashlight with emergency strobe, NOAA weather alerts
  • Package Includes: Batteries, dual charging station, headsets, and belt clips

Overview

The Uniden GMR5095 GMRS/FRS claims an impressive 50-mile range. There’s a power boost feature, so you don’t use that full power unless you need to, which saves battery life.

That’s important because the GMR5095 has a relatively short battery life of only 10 hours.

There are 22 channels, of which seven are FRS. Remember, you won’t get the maximum range with FRS transmissions.

You have access to 142 privacy codes and 142 group privacy codes. There’s also direct calling, which functions like a phone: input a four-digit number, and the recipient’s radio rings!

JIS7 waterproofing keeps the radio safe even if it falls into saltwater. It’ll float to the surface and remain usable.

NOAA weather alerts help keep you from running into a storm. If an emergency happens, there’s a built-in flashlight with a strobe setting.

Pros

  • Longest range
  • Waterproof and floats in water

Cons

  • Short battery life

Recommendation

If you need the longest range possible, then the Uniden GMR5095 GMRS/FRS is your best choice.

 

Uniden GMR5095 is also available at:

Cabelas

 

5. Best Two-Way Radios for Mountains #1: Motorola MS350R

Motorola MS350R

Specs

  • Range: 35 miles
  • Channels: 30
  • Privacy Codes: 121
  • Batteries: NiMH rechargeable battery pack or 3xAA
  • Water Resistance: IP67
  • FRS/GMRS? Both
  • Misc: Flashlight, NOAA weather alerts, iVOX
  • Package Includes: Batteries, belt clips, dual charger, charging adapter, and emergency preparedness checklist

Overview

The Motorola MS350R is a rugged walkie talkie with a long range. Mountains are rugged terrain, spaced far apart. This is a good match!

The IP67 rating of the MS350R makes this radio not only waterproof but also resistant against dust and other environmental hazards. It’s also ruggedized and can survive getting knocked around a mountain. However, it’s not as waterproof as a marine walkie talkie.

There are 11 weather channels, of which seven are connected to NOAA. For communication, there are 22 normal channels and eight channels for use with a repeater.

There are NiMH battery packs included. Some users reported they were defective on arrival, but Motorola replaced them with no issue.

Pros

  • Durable design
  • Hands-free communication
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Some users received defective batteries

Recommendation

The Motorola MS350R is a great mountain radio due to its long range, ease of use with gloves, and ability to withstand the rigors of hard terrain.

 

 

6. Best Two-Way Radios for Mountains #2: Kenwood ProTalk TK-3402U16P

Kenwood ProTalk TK-3402U16P

Specs

  • Range: 7 miles
  • Channels: 16
  • Privacy Codes: None
  • Batteries: Lithium-ion
  • Water Resistance: MIL-STD and IP54/55
  • FRS/GMRS? Both
  • Misc: Programmable frequencies, channel scanning, VOX
  • Package Includes: Battery, fast charger, and belt clip

Overview

The Kenwood ProTalk TK-3402U16P is a professional-level two-way radio. It may not look like much, but it’s built to military standards.

Kenwood claims a range of only 7 miles. I’ll talk later about range claims, but suffice it to say, the 5-watt power supply will give you just as much range with this radio as other walkie talkies, if not more.

Unlike the other radios on this list, this one is a UHF radio. It can broadcast in frequencies beyond FRS and GMRS, though it’s capable of broadcasting in those frequencies as well.

The Kenwood TK-3402U16P may only have 16 channels, but there are 90 frequencies which can be set to any of those channels, unlike the locked-in channels of other radios. You can even clone your settings to another TK-3402U16P in the field!

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • MIL-STD environmental resistance
  • Programmable channels

Cons

  • Expensive

Recommendation

The Kenwood ProTalk TK-3402U16P is a professional-level radio that can withstand serious abuse and has impressive features, but at a steep cost.

 

 

7. Best Waterproof Walkie Talkies #1: Cobra ACXT1035R FLT

Cobra ACXT1035R FLT

Specs

  • Range: 37 miles
  • Channels: 22
  • Privacy Codes: 121
  • Batteries: NiMH rechargeable battery pack or 6xAA
  • Water Resistance: IPX7
  • FRS/GMRS? Both
  • Misc: Floating design, NOAA weather alerts, Rewind-Say-Again, and VOX
  • Package Includes: Batteries and dual charging station

Overview

The Cobra ACXT1035R FLT is a rugged, waterproof radio designed to float if it falls in the water. The brightly colored case helps you spot and retrieve it from the water.

Rubber armor protects your radio from drops, and the design is also dustproof.

There is a built-in NOAA weather receiver and alert system to warn you of incoming inclement weather. You also get to use the standard 22 FRS/GMRS channels.

An LED flashlight helps you if it gets dark. You can recharge the batteries or use normal AAs if you need to replace them in the field.

One of the most intriguing features of this radio is the Rewind-Say-Again technology. When used, it replays the last 20 seconds of audio, so you don’t have to fill the airways to understand what was just said!

VOX technology allows for hands-free transmissions, and VibrAlert vibrates so you don’t miss a call.

Pros

  • Audio rewind feature
  • Rugged design
  • Waterproof enough to float

Cons

  • Low maximum volume

Recommendation

If you want a radio that can be used for canoeing and kayaking without trouble, the Cobra ACXT1035R FLT is a great choice.

 

 

8. Best Waterproof Walkie Talkies #2: DeWALT DXFRS800

DeWALT DXFRS800

Specs

  • Range: 300,000 sq. ft. / 25 floors
  • Channels: 22
  • Privacy Codes: 121
  • Batteries: Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery
  • Water Resistance: IP67
  • FRS/GMRS? FRS
  • Misc: Power saving mode, shock resistant, and VOX
  • Package Includes: Batteries, dual charger, and charging adapter

Overview

The DeWALT DXFRS300 is a radio designed to withstand the toughest of terrain, including mountains and construction sites.

It’s also a surprisingly good hunting radio thanks to the silent vibrating alert, anti-slip design, and power saving mode. These walkie talkies can stay on for 18 hours when standing by 90% of the time.

The DeWALT DXFRS800 is not only dustproof and waterproof, but it’s also shock resistant. It can withstand 2-meter drops onto concrete without damage.

You can use the included charging station or plug the radio into a wall charger. It’s also compatible with headset and earbuds, though the package doesn’t contain any.

The biggest weakness of the DeWALT DXFRS800 is the belt clip, which isn’t as strong as the rest of the unit.

Pros

  • All-day battery life
  • Waterproof and shockproof

Cons

  • Lacks emergency features, such as weather channels or a flashlight
  • Poor belt clip

Recommendation

Whether you want a durable two-way radio for job sites or hunting trips, the DeWALT DXFRS800 is a good, waterproof choice.

 

 

Walkie Talkie / 2-Way Radio Overview

walky talky hanging on side

What ARE walkie talkies, anyway? And what makes them different from radios?

To be exact, walkie talkies are UHF handheld radio audio transceivers.

“Transceiver” means that they can both transmit and receive radio signals, which is why they are also called two-way radios. This is opposed to the radio in your alarm clock, which can only receive.

“UHF” means “ultra-high frequency.” This refers to the 462 to 467 MHz frequencies they broadcast. Those frequencies are blocked out for FRS and GMRS use, which will be explained later.

“Handheld” should be self-explanatory. They’re not mounted to a vehicle or building, nor are they backpack two-way radios.

Walkie talkies default to receive mode, which is when the receiver is on and listening for a signal. Once a signal is received, then the radio turns the signal into audio for the speaker.

PTT button walkie talkie
PTT button below CALL

When you press the push-to-talk button, the transmitter turns on and the receiver turns off. Because of this, only one person can talk at a time. The signal propagates throughout the entire range of the radio signal and any radio in the vicinity set to that channel will receive the signal.

Once you release the PTT button, the radio ceases transmitting and enables receiving again.

UHF radio waves basically work over line-of-sight. They can penetrate some light obstacles, such as thin tree cover, but at longer ranges you need to see the recipient in order for them to receive your signal.

 

How to Choose A 2 Way Radio?

various walkie talkies lined up

 

Walkie talkies come in many sizes and powers. All of the radios you read about above are good for hunting, but some are better under different circumstances.

So, let’s learn more about various walkie talkie features which can make a certain model a good or poor choice!

 

FRS and GMRS

First of all, a note about legality.

The FCC has created two personal-use systems, the FRS and GMRS.

FRS—Family Radio Service

Most people using walkie talkies will broadcast using the FRS. This system uses a specific set of frequencies and can be used by anyone for radio use, though other uses are prohibited.

So, if you’re designing a radio-controlled drone, don’t use an FRS frequency!

The only “problem” with the FRS is power. The FCC limits the amount of power you can use to broadcast on an FRS frequency to 2 watts.

GMRS—General Mobile Radio Service

The GMRS uses similar-yet-different frequencies to FRS. The main benefit of using GMRS is that you can use more than 2 watts of power. Transmission can use up to 5 watts, allowing for a much greater range, though not 2.5 times the range.

However, you need a GMRS license with the FCC to legally broadcast on GMRS channels. The FCC is unlikely to prosecute radio piracy in emergency situations, but it’s still highly recommended for you to acquire a GMRS license if you want to use those frequencies.

 

Channels

walkie talkie on hand

Walkie talkies these days are much easier to use than in the dark days of radios. Channels are, for the most part, standardized, and you can almost always communicate with any FRS/GMRS radio with any walkie talkie.

On 22-channel walkie talkies, 8–14 are typically FRS channels, while 1–7 and 15–22 are GMRS channels.

Some radios, however, have programmable channels. These are typically UHF radios which can use frequencies past those allotted to the FRS and GMRS systems. However, you’ll need a more expensive business license to use those frequencies!

 

Privacy Codes

You can also use privacy codes so other people listening to your channel won’t hear what you say, only the intended recipient.

Radios with privacy codes transmit a certain code with their messages, and receiving walkie talkies will remain unmuted unless they are set to that same code.

This provides a measure of privacy, though it’s not perfect.

 

Range and Power

As mentioned before, FRS radios broadcast at up to 2 watts of power and GMRS radios can use up to 5 watts of power.

It takes an ever-increasing amount of power to push the radio signal just a little bit further, so max-power GMRS has only a little more range than max-power FRS.

Many walkie talkies claim a range of over 30 miles. Sounds impressive, right?

Well, you won’t get that far unless one of you is on a mountain and the other in a valley, AND you can see each other!

The real-world range will be much shorter. A 35-mile radio may reach 7 miles across a flat field and 2 miles in a forest or suburban neighborhood.

So, while extra power does grant you extra range, it also comes at the expense of a much shorter battery life. If you expect a range of one mile then you’ll be satisfied with the range of all of the walkie talkies above.

Oh, and radio waves don’t propagate well through solid objects, so don’t expect your radio to work well when your friend is on the other side of a hill.

 

Battery Life

charging walkie talkie batteries

Battery life is both very important and not all that important when it comes to walkie talkies.

A longer battery life will keep you on the air longer before needing to recharge your batteries. However, most walkie talkies can also use AA batteries, and good luck getting to a wall charger in the mountains!

Still, if you have room for the gear, it might be a good idea to carry two radios. One short-range radio for battery life, and a long-range radio for if you get separated from the group and cannot raise them on the other radio.

 

Durability and Waterproofness

hunter with walkie talkie

Rugged walkie talkies cost more than less-protected walkie talkies. However, if you’re camping, hiking, hunting, kayaking, or engaging in any other outdoor activity, improved durability could mean the difference between contacting your partner and holding a dead radio.

As for waterproofness, you don’t always need to pay for that feature. Waterproof radios tend to have a lower maximum volume and cost more. They’re good when you’re on a river, but if you’re in the woods, water resistance is good enough against rain.

 

Extra Features

walkie talkie with flashlight

Most radios come with more features than just transmitting and receiving radio signals.

As an outdoors person, certain extra features are good to have.

Weather alerts? Those can save your life!

Emergency flashlight? You should have a flashlight with you already, but two is better than one!

Some other features are conveniences, such as headsets and VOX. VOX enables hands-free transmissions. Start talking and the radio will start transmitting, though your first words will get cut off.

Whether you want these are up to you. Personally, I won’t buy a walkie talkie without a weather radio.

 

Top Walkie Talkie Brands

Kenwood

Kenwood

Kenwood produces a range of electronic products designed to handle constant, rough use.

They primarily focus on car entertainment and communication. Many of their radios are designed to be mounted in a vehicle. They’re used by airports, businesses, fire departments, and anybody else who needs a two-way radio system they can depend on.

Kenwood also produces handheld radios, mobile radios, and base stations for amateur radio enthusiasts.

Their focus isn’t on the average consumer or outdoorsman. That doesn’t make their products any less worthwhile. It means Kenwood’s products are designed for professional use and can hold up under stress better than the average consumer walkie talkie.

 

Motorola Solutions

Motorola

Oddly enough, Motorola Solutions is not the same Motorola which makes smartphones!

That Motorola is Motorola Mobility. They used to be the same company, Motorola, Inc., until the company split into two in 2011.

Motorola Solutions is the legal successor of the original Motorola, Inc. and is the producer of many consumer two-way radios.

They also produce both small-scale and large-scale radio systems for US government operations. In fact, Motorola was an original pioneer into radio research.

We wouldn’t have handheld radios if it wasn’t for Motorola.

Their technological expertise surpasses walkie talkies, though. They set up communication services all over the world. Motorola is also a leader in advanced video surveillance, for better or for worse.

Various industries such as mines and hospitals all use Motorola’s products to keep people communicating over long distances.

 

Midland USA

Midland

Another pioneering radio company, Midland USA was responsible for bringing CB radios to the public. They also made great strides into FRS technology.

Their focus is not in large-scale communications systems. Instead, Midland supplies radios to the smaller guys; farms large and small use Midland radios.

They are also popular amongst people who need durable and long-range outdoor radios. Campers, hunters, and survivalists all use Midland radios.

Midland is also partially responsible for the proliferation of NOAA-weather-compatible radios, which are a great boon to anybody who is spending more than a brief moment outdoors.

 

F.A.Q.

How do I find the right radio frequency?

walkie talkie showing channel

In this day and age, finding the right frequency is easy with most walkie talkies.

Channels 1–7 are GMRS, 8–14 are FRS, and 15–22 are GMRS again. This has been standardized, though you can still find the occasional non-standard holdout.

In that case, you’ll need to look up the FCC frequency standards for the channel to which you want to connect and compare them to your radio’s user manual. You’ll be able to connect to the right channel.

 

What two-way radios do the military use?

military using walkie talkie

The US military uses walkie talkies, but they are different from the ones usable by civilians.

For starters, they use vastly different frequency bands than FRS/GMRS, often in the 138–144 and 225–400 MHz bands. They also use special military radios such as the Motorola SRX 2200, which are generally not for sale to civilians.

You can monitor military traffic with some receivers, but unless you’re in the military yourself, transmitting on them is a bad idea.

 

Do two-way radios work on airplanes or cruise ships, and are they allowed there in the first place?

walkie talkie in a bag

Walkie talkies do work in large, enclosed vehicles such as airplanes and cruise ships. They may have trouble with dense cabins in the middle of ships, but many people use them to keep in touch with their family.

As for aircraft, they might work within the plane, but it’s very illegal. You won’t be able to communicate with people outside the plane because the plane’s body will function as a Faraday cage and block the signal.

My recommendation is to take out the battery, store the two-way radio in your luggage, and save it for the mountains!

After you have purchased your new radio, you should also get familiar with walkie talkie lingo.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson learned to walk in the mountains and has spent much of his life exploring the outdoors. He is equally at home in the woods, at the range, or on the gunsmithing bench, and loves to build guns almost as much as he enjoys shooting them. His travels have taken him to the four corners of the United States. Though his favorite hunting spot is in Alaska, Kansas deer taste better.

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