Being able to communicate with an individual or a group is important in both outdoor and urban environments. Another place that walkie talkies come in handy is on waterborne adventures. However, it’s always risky to bring electronics into an environment where they can be submerged in water. The Motorola Talkabout T600, however, is a waterproof walkie talkie that aims to fix that problem. But, does it?
In the past, you only had a few options. You could place the radio in a zip lock bag to keep it handy, but let’s face it, zip lock bags are not that reliable. Alternatively, you could store it in a hard-sided, waterproof container where it would be safe, but then it becomes too hard to access and likely wouldn’t be used.
Motorola has come up with a different option in the Talkabout T600 H2O, a waterproof two-way radio with all the extras that you would reasonably expect. I have been using the T600 for the past month on trips to my local reservoir, hiking trips in the rainy Pacific Northwest, and even on runs to high alpine lakes. This was all part of a quest to see if it’s a viable solution for your communication needs and, most importantly, to see if it would actually survive being thrown into a lake.
Spoiler alert: I have thrown it into several lakes, and it still works just fine.
Motorola Talkabout T600 H2O at a Glance
The Motorola T600 H2O two-way radio, with its mid-range price, offers excellent range and clarity. It’s easy to use and set up, but the best part is that it’s waterproof, making it ideal for beach or paddleboard trips. The main downsides are a weak clip and no leash attachment.
- $130 for 2 pack
- 7.5 ounces (measured on my scale)
- License free FRS frequencies
- IP67 waterproof and dustproof
- Rechargeable with Micro USB Charger
- Will also take 3 AA batteries
Pros: Waterproof, floats, easy to set up and use
Cons: Not the lightest or smallest walkie talkie, no place to attach a leash for backup, subpar clip doesn’t secure it well
Is the Motorola Talkabout 600 H2O For You?
Whether or not the Motorola T600 makes sense depends on how you plan to use it. Frankly, if you have no realistic need for a waterproof walkie talkie, then there are other two-way radios at similar prices or cheaper that I’d pick over these based on other features and conveniences. Check out our full review of the best walkie talkies for alternative ideas.
The Motorola T600 H2O is best for:
- Those needing a fully waterproof walkie talkie.
- Those requiring a durable radio.
However it is not ideal for:
- Those seeking cheaper options that don’t need to be waterproof.
- Those who want the most feature-packed radio.
- People needing to securely attach the two-way radio.
What is the Range of the Motorola Talkabout T600 H2O?
The Motorola Talkabout T600 H2O uses the FCC’s maximum of 2 watts for Family Radio Service (FRS) radio transmissions. Under optimal conditions, this provides about 30 miles of direct line-of-sight communication. However, you’ll typically get significantly less under most conditions.
Motorola T600 Range in Real Life
During my testing, I was pleased to achieve a range of 0.5 to 2 miles, depending on terrain, with heavy trees and ridges decreasing the range. On hikes, I was able to hear and talk to my kids unless they went into a ravine or around a mountain shoulder, where reception was quickly lost. In town, which in my case is pretty flat and treeless, the range extended to about 3 to 4 miles, allowing me to reach my wife from anywhere in my neighborhood without issues.
The T600 H2O offers average clarity. It’s definitely easy to hear and understand, but not as clear as the BCA BC Link or the Rocky Talkie.
Ease of Use
The radio’s features are user-friendly. I programmed the walkie talkie and used its functions without having to consult the owner’s manual or YouTube.
There are a plethora of buttons on the front and side of the Motorola Talkabout T600 H2O. With some experimentation, I was able to figure out what they were for. I encountered no issues with accidental channel or function changes. There’s also a button lock function, if needed.
The radio has two push-to-talk buttons; one uses the full 2 watts of power (on channels that allow it), while the other only uses 0.5 watt. This saves battery life but reduces range. I found this cumbersome as I never knew which one I was pressing, especially while wearing gloves. If I really wanted to know I had to look each time.
The clip is a disappointment; it’s plastic and feels cheap. While I didn’t break the clip, I always felt like I was about too. It lacks a spring, so it must slide over a belt or strap, a design I found less preferable than the spring-loaded clip on the BC Link radio by BCA. In fact, I had the radio slip off several times, so I was happy that it was durable enough not to break.
The T600 H20 has a clear and easy-to-read digital display that turns off about 10 seconds after use to save battery life. The display provides all the necessary information at a glance.
Can You Throw it in a Lake?
The answer is yes. Yes, you can. The Motorola T600 really is a waterproof walkie talkie. It has an IP67 rating, meaning it’s impervious to dust and tested to be waterproof down to 1 meter for at least 30 minutes.
For the Motorola T600 H2O test, I took it to my local lake and threw it in. Bystanders looked at me like I was an idiot, but the radio still works after multiple submersions. However, it’s not designed for deep or prolonged submersion, and I’d be hesitant to put it in situations with high water pressure, like letting it float through whitewater rapids on its own.
How Long Does the Battery Last?
The Motorola T600 H2O comes with a NiMH battery. My radio included Micro USB chargers, but the latest models have USB-C chargers. Its stated battery life is 9 hours, and in my testing, I easily got two days of use at the lake and hiking with limited usage.
Heavy users should probably charge it after each use. It takes several hours to fully charge, so plan accordingly. If you’re a procrastinator like me, the T600 H2O can also use three AA batteries, extending the standby time to 25 hours. I never used the radio like this so I can’t speak to how well they work, but I appreciate the option.
Does It Have Good Extra Features or Just Gimmicks?
Besides being waterproof, the Motorola T600 H2O includes all the features you’d expect in a walkie-talkie in this price range. Some features I liked, others seemed gimmicky, but it depends on personal expectations. The nice thing is that the base radio features work well and the extra features do not get in the way.
Small Flashlight: There’s a small flashlight at the bottom of the walkie talkie. It’s not super bright but can be turned on when the radio is off. It has a regular light and a red light. The regular light also blinks when it gets wet – useful if dropped in a lake at night, or in an emergency if you fall out of the boat and have it on your person, but it’s a bit annoying in a rainstorm. Remember to turn off the light to save battery life. Ultimately, I like this flashlight feature and see how it could come in handy in a lot of different situations.
iVOX/VOX: VOX is a voice-activated system. It opens the mic when you start talking, rather than being constantly open. You can adjust the sensitivity. However, it often didn’t activate until I was halfway through my first word, causing it to be cut off.
Weather Channels: The Motorola T600 H2O features 11 weather channels, including 7 from NOAA, and can receive weather alerts. This feature is not unique to this radio, but I love that it’s a more practical way to get weather reports compared to trying to use a smartphone offline in the wilderness.
Distress Signals: You can send distress signals to other radios in the area.
Floats: The Motorola T600 H2O also floats face up. I’ve tested this multiple times, and it works as advertised. That is quite convenient and not found on all waterproof walkie talkies including the DeWalt DXFRS800 or the Rocky Talkie 5 Watt radio which I have also used and tested. The latter two are great in the rain, but if they slip from your grip from a boat, raft, or canoe, they’ll sink like a rock whereas this T600 will be easy to retrieve. So if you are looking for a waterproof walkie talkie to use for water sports, the T600 has a leg up on the others.
Do You Need a License to Use the Motorola T600 H2O?
No. The Motorola T600 series operates on FRS frequencies and doesn’t require a license in the United States.
What is the Difference Between the Motorola T600 Series and the T800 Series?
There are two major differences between these series. The T600 is waterproof and floats – I haven’t tested whether the T800 floats. The T800 series walkie talkies have Bluetooth and an accompanying smartphone app that allows linked radios to send text messages without coverage. The T800s are also more compact and more recently developed, so there are a few tech upgrades in there compared to the T600.