The 5 best Walkie-Talkies for Camping

With the sheer amount of two-way radios available in the market today, the task of choosing the right walkie-talkie for your next camping trip can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many models to choose from with various features and designs.

In this review, I listed down five walkie-talkies that work best for camping trips. I described here the key features for each walkie-talkie that make them a good choice for outdoor activities. I also pointed out the main advantage for each walkie-talkie for better comparison to help you decide better on which model will serve your needs the most.

 

5 best Walkie Talkies for Camping

#1 Motorola T460

The Motorola T460 is a pretty straightforward two-way radio. Beginners will not find it difficult to use this walkie-talkie because setting it up is quite intuitive and using it is even more simple. With an IP54 rating, the Motorola T460 is weatherproof and water-resistant. You can use this walkie-talkie even in extreme weather conditions with heavy precipitation like rain or snow.

It has features like auto-squelch and Motorola’s signature Quiet Talk (QT) feature, which help filter out noise during transmissions. Another special feature is the VibraCall that disables ring tones on the handset and makes it vibrate instead to alert you of incoming calls. It also has an iVOX/VOX hands-free feature that lets you use voice command to operate the walkie-talkie, and a built-in LED flashlight.

Specifications

  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Power output: 2 watts
  • Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
  • Battery: NiMH rechargeable battery or 3 AA Alkaline batteries
  • Size: 7.54 x 2.26 x 1.37 inches
  • Weight: 0.43 lb
  • Waterproof: yes (IP54)
  • License needed: yes,  if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)

Pros of the Motorola T460

  • Batteries can last up to 26 hours according to Motorola.
  • The Motorola T460 has a lot of helpful features.
  • It has a functional design with a low weight.
  • Everyone can use it due to its easy setup.

Main Plus: Emergency features

The Motorola T460 comes with an emergency alert button that, when activated, broadcasts a loud distress signal followed a 22-second long transmission. This will alert your companions that you are in need of urgent assistance and help them find your location.

You can also access 11 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather channels on this walkie-talkie and receive weather-related updates such as flash flood alerts, tornado alerts, or emergency evacuation announcements.

Cons of the Motorola T460

  • The range depends highly on the circumstances.
  • The icons and buttons on the walkie talkie may take some getting used to.
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#2 Midland GXT1000VP4

The Midland GXT1000VP4 is a walkie-talkie that is packed heavy with features. Similar to the T460, the Midland GXT1000VP4 also has an eVOX hands-free feature and a vibrate function that disables ring tones for incoming calls. It also has a “whisper function” that enables you to speak in softer tones into the walkie-talkie.

It has emergency features similar to the Motorola T460, such as the emergency alert button that can also send out a distress signal and a short transmission, as well as a built-in, LED flashlight. You also have access to NOAA weather channels on this walkie-talkie, making it a good addition to your emergency preparedness kit. The Midland GXT1000VP4 has a JIS-4 rating, which means that it is splashproof but not waterproof, so be careful when using this walkie-talkie near open bodies of water.

Specifications

  • Brand: Midland
  • Range: 36 miles
  • Power output: 5 watts
  • Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
  • Battery: NiMH rechargeable battery or 4 AA Alkaline batteries
  • Size: 7.9 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.3 lb
  • Waterproof: yes (JIS4)
  • License needed: yes,  if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)

Pros of the Midland GXT1000VP4.

  • The walkie talkie has an excellent range.
  • It has crisp audio quality.
  • It. has an SOS siren feature that sends out a location.
  • The radio can access NOAA weather channels and reports.
  • It has silent features like the whisper function and vibrate mode.

Main Plus: Group communication features

The Midland GXT1000VP4 has features that enable group communication. Its group call function allows you to form a group connecting all the compatible walkie-talkie units you want to include for this. Upon successful configuration, you can send out messages directly to the other walkie-talkie units that you included in the group.

Cons of the Midland GXT1000VP4

  • It is not so user-friendly.
  • The walkie talkie has average battery life.
  • It is expensive compared to other similar or more simple radios.
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#3 Motorola T600

The Motorola T600 shares some similar features with the Motorola T460. It has an auto-squelch function, the brand’s signature Quiet Talk (QT) feature, and the VibraCall function.

It also has an iVOX/VOX hands-free feature so that you can use your voice instead of your hands when operating the walkie-talkie. A difference in one of their shared features is that the flashlight of the Motorola T600 has a red-colored LED option, which helps with night vision.

Specifications

  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 36 miles
  • Power output: 0.5-2 Watts
  • Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
  • Battery: NiMH rechargeable batteries or 3 AA Alkaline batteries
  • Size: 7.78 x 2.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.40 lb (without batteries)
  • Waterproof: yes (IP67)
  • License needed: yes,  if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)

Pros of the Motorola T600

  • The T600 is waterproof (one of the best in terms of being waterproof).
  • It is easy to use.
  • You can use the walkie talkie in a large range.
  • It contains a belt clip.
  • The Motorola T600 can communicate on plenty of channels.

Main Plus: Waterproof features

The Motorola T600 is not only weatherproof but also fully waterproof. It has a rating of IP67, which means that even if it accidentally gets plunged in water, it will still work just fine. In fact, it can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes in up to 1 meter of water and it will not suffer any malfunctions after you recover it.

The handset is also made of materials that prevent it from sinking underwater. Plus, when it hits the water, the LED flashlight automatically lights up. All these features make it easier for you to find it and retrieve it when you drop it in the lake or river, for example. And all these waterproof features definitely add to your peace of mind when using this walkie-talkie near open bodies of water.

Cons of the Motorola T600

  • The radio feels bulky.
  • iVOX/VOX function is not as good as other devices in the same category
  • The user interface is not the best.
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#4 Baofeng BF-F8HP

If you have enough experience operating an amateur radio or ham radio, the Baofeng BF-F8HP is a solid, reliable choice. This walkie-talkie has similar standard features found in other feature-heavy two-way radios such as the VOX hands-free feature, a built-in LED flashlight and a frequency scanner that allows you to search through VHF and UHF frequency bands. It also has group call features.

You have three power levels options for the Baofeng BF-F8HP: you can set it to high (1 watt), medium (5 watts), or high (7 or 8 watts). Doing so will help in increasing the range. However, take note that transmitting beyond 2 watts over non-FRS channels requires a license as per the guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission.

Specifications

  • Brand: Baofeng
  • Range: 25 miles
  • Power output: 8 Watts
  • Frequency ranges: 65-108 MHz (FM radio reception), VHF: 136-174 MHz (Rx/TX), UHF: 400-520 MHz (Rx/TX)
  • Battery: 2,000 mAh Li-ion Battery
  • Size: 3.75 (+ 6.5 inches with the antenna) x 2 x 1.25 inches
  • Weight: 0.49 lb
  • Waterproof: no information
  • License needed: yes (amateur / FCC license)

Pros of the Baofeng BF-F8HP

  • Great value for your money; affordable price for a high-quality device.
  • Easy setup: It comes with a well-detailed user manual.
  • The radio has many features that make the device a powerful tool to use.
  • The Baofeng BF-F8HP has excellent sound quality and a reliable battery.
  • It has commendable transmitting power and wide coverage.
  • You can select multiple power levels.
  • It is built with a voice command for easy and convenient usage.

Main Plus: Range and Audio Quality

The Baofeng BF-F8HP is a ham radio and has a High Gain V-85 antenna. Because of this function and feature, the Baofeng BF-F8HP has a far better range compared to FRS/GMRS dual-service two-way radios such as the Motorola T460 and the Motorola T600.

Under normal conditions, the range of the Baofeng BF-F8HP can expand up to 10 miles. Under less than favorable conditions, the range of this two-way radio can reach up to 2 miles. Compared to a lot of two-way radios in the market, these numbers are impressive. The audio quality of this walkie-talkie is also very crisp and clear.

Cons of the Baofeng BF-F8HP

  • It may not be waterproof
  • Complicated use, especially for beginners.
  • Software is needed to configure and program the device.
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#5 Baofeng BF-888S

The Baofeng BF-888S is another walkie-talkie with a simple interface and is quite easy to use once you are done with the initial configuration. It also has great battery life since it does not have many features, not even a display to consume battery life.

It is made of lightweight yet durable materials, so you do not need to worry too much about instantly or badly breaking this walkie-talkie after numerous accidental drops. It may suffer a few scuffs and even a crooked antenna, but it will still function well enough.

As with all Baofeng walkie-talkies, the Baofeng BF-888S needs re-programming with a software to be downloaded from a computer before the initial use — something that you absolutely have to do if you do not want to break any FCC regulations. This is because most of the default frequencies of the Baofeng BF-888S are not license-free when used in the US.

Specifications

  • Brand: Baofeng
  • Range: 4 km
  • Power output: 3-5 Watt
  • Frequency ranges: 400-470 MHz
  • Battery: 1,500 mAh Li-ion Battery
  • Size: 8.4 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.44 lb
  • Waterproof: yes
  • License needed: yes (amateur license)

Pros of the Baofeng BF-888S

  • The walkie talkie has a meager price.
  • It is easy to use.
  • You can program it.
  • The device should be waterproof/weatherproof.

Main Plus: Low Price

The Baofeng BF-888S falls within the low price range from $10 to $16 per piece. You can even buy a package of 20 handsets on Amazon for $153. This walkie-talkie is a good choice if you want to deploy a lot of walkie-talkies to your team without constantly worrying over replacing any of the handsets, in case they get lost or broken, compared to when you use more expensive models.

Cons of the Baofeng BF-888S

  • It has not the biggest range.
  • You need a license to use it.
  • Software is needed to configure and program the device.
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How to Choose the Best Walkie Talkie for Camping

When browsing through numerous walkie-talkie models, it is important to check whether their built-in features and functions suit your needs. I have listed some of the features and functions that you should be checking to help you make better purchase decisions.

 

Walkie talkies are great to communicate with friends on a camping trip.

 

Range

It is important to verify whether the range of a walkie-talkie you are looking at fits your needs. Do not just look at the manufacturer’s guarantee, as indicated in the product features. The fine print that goes with the maximum range that manufacturers guarantee for their products is achieved when their product is used in ideal conditions. Ideal conditions cover various factors like using the walkie-talkies within a clear line of sight or with hardly any obstructions, and in the best weather. This rarely happens. So, make a habit out of looking for practical reviews of walkie-talkies before buying them to ensure that you get a realistic and honest appraisal of the product.

 

Battery

You have to check the battery performance and features of a walkie-talkie if you will need it for activities that involve you being outside for a long time and not having access to electricity for charging your handsets. Some walkie-talkies have a much better battery life compared to other walkie-talkie models. Some walkie-talkies also have dual power options. So, when the rechargeable batteries of your walkie-talkie run out of charge, for example, you can put in single-use alkaline batteries as back-up. In addition to this, some walkie-talkies come with chargers that can be connected to car chargers.

 

Design

You have to check the design of walkie-talkies to see if these are suitable for the nature of the activity for which you need them. Some walkie-talkies are designed for use by hunters, so they come with silent features and accessories like whisper functions, vibrate features, and headsets. Some walkie-talkies are built for use over open bodies of water and will not malfunction even they accidentally get plunged into the water. Some walkie-talkies are designed to be kid-friendly and very easy to use and include a keypad lock so that the kids will not accidentally change the settings you configured.

 

Emergency features

If you are looking for a walkie-talkie that you can add to your emergency preparedness kit or one that you can use for emergency response operations, then you should check the emergency features that come with the walkie-talkie. The emergency features of some walkie-talkies are more advanced than others. There are even some walkie-talkies that do not have emergency features.


Conclusion – The 5 Best Walkie-Talkies for Camping

All five of the walkie-talkies that I included in this review are great for use during camping trips. So, which should you choose? It will depend on the nature of the activity that you need to use them in. If you do not use all of the extra functions, a walkie-talkie jampacked with features may not necessarily be the better purchase over the cheaper model. If you are not engaging in activities that involve being near bodies of water, a fully waterproof walkie-talkie may be too much. Ultimately, you will get the most out of your money if you buy the walkie-talkie that matches your needs.

 

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