The 5 best Walkie Talkies for Hiking

Communication is key; there is no doubt about it, especially during outdoor activities like hiking, where people undergo a powerful cardio workout while reconnecting with nature, loved ones, or other hikers. When a group is traveling outdoors, keeping in touch is indeed crucial to ensure everyone’s safety. As such, walkie talkies are a fun way to talk and extremely helpful for places where mobile reception is not readily available.

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Bringing them on family and even friend hikes can keep everyone updated and motivated. The device has been around for a long time, but it is not as appreciated as it should be. The market is constantly innovating and making sure that outdoor adventures are as fun as they are safe, but which ones are the best for specific activities? Below are the top five walkie talkies for hiking in the market.

 

5 best Walkie Talkies for Hiking

#1 Motorola Talkabout MR350R

First up on the list is the Motorola Talkabout. The two-way radio, which contains a transmitter and receiver, is a go-to communication tool. This particular Motorola is for the extreme outdoors, which could be due to it being lightweight but having a bunch of features. Depending on where you’re hiking, this model is one to look into. If the optimum weather and terrain conditions are met, the Talkabout’s range can go up to 35 miles with minimal to no interference.

This model also has a design that features buttons to help you operate, even with gloves on. It has a frequency range that covers 22 different channels, and each one has 121 privacy codes. A notable feature is the VibraCall vibration alert, or you can choose from 20 different call tones. Other specifications include NOAA weather channel alerts, built-in LED flashlights, hands-free communication iVOX operation, and so much more. The MR350R is specifically created for the challenging outdoors.

Specifications

  • Brand: Motorola
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Power output: 0.5-1.5 watts
  • Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
  • Battery: NiMH rechargeable battery or 3 AA Alkaline batteries
  • Size: 7.6 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Weight: 0.32 lb
  • Waterproof: yes (IP51)
  • License needed: yes,  if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)

Pros of the Motorola Talkabout MR350R

  • Long battery life
    The MR350 has a standard battery that lasts 23 hours. It comes with spare rechargeable batteries that last eight hours.
  • LED Light
    The walkie talkie has an integrated LED light, a great addition to use when skiing in the dark.
  • Large buttons and dials
    The Motorola Talkabout MR350R has large buttons and dials. When you ski, you’re using bulky gloves. The large buttons make it easier for you to dial and manipulate the device.
  • Wide range
    The maximum capacity of this device is thirty-five (35) miles. In case of emergencies or extreme weather disturbances, the MR350R can easily catch signals and help you communicate for help. That maximum range packs a lot of power for such a small device.
  • USB Charging Option
    The MR350R comes with a dual charger. It also has a USB Charging option, making it a practical choice since you can charge it using a wall plug, a power bank, and with your car.
  • NOAA Weather Channel
    The MR350R receives weather alerts from the NOAA Weather Channel. That gives you time to seek shelter in case of incoming weather disturbances in your chosen ski area.
  • Hands-free Communication
    The walkie talkie has a VOX function and a headset connector, so you can use it hands-free.

Cons of the Motorola Talkabout MR350R

  • Motorola has stopped the production of the MR350R 2-way radio.
  • The belt clips that come with this radio can break easily.
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#2 Midland GXT1000VP4

The next model on the two-way radio roster is the handy Midland GXT1000VP4. This model is filled to the brim with features but remains completely convenient for hikers. Whether you’re going to trek with family and even a different group altogether, this is definitely among the most powerful walkie talkies on the market. This is attributed to its JIS4 splash-resistant feature coupled with the X-treme Range spec. This means that depending on where you plan to hike, the walkie talkie has a range of almost 58 kilometers.

This walkie talkie is designed with the most reliable push buttons for effective communication. It consists of 22 available channels and 28 pre-programmed privacy channels. The model has features like silent and hands-free operation, weather and vibrating alerts, and multiple power settings that allow the conversation of battery life. If you plan on hiking on a possibly rainy day, this is a great walkie talkie to bring along.

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

  • Wide Range
    Similar to the MR350R, the GXT1000VP4 has a maximum wide range of thirty-five (35) miles. It works perfectly for ski resorts or snowy mountains. However, it won’t work well near the buildings.
  • Boom Headset
    The GXT1000VP4 walkie talkie comes with a boom headset specifically designed for it. The altitude affects the sound. The headset is vital in protecting the ears of the speaker to hear the audio clearly.
  • Water/Snow-resistant
    This walkie talkie is JIS4 certified. That means that in case of light rain or snow, the GXT1000VP4 will still work well, and the signal will not be affected.
  • Alert Siren
    The alert siren is a wonderful addition to the Midland GXT1000VP4. In case of emergencies, such as an avalanche or a skier getting lost, the SOS siren will catch rescuers’ attention within a designated radius.
  • Private Communication
    The walkie talkie comes with privacy codes. In the case of search and rescue operations, the privacy codes make the interaction nonpublic.
  • Weather Alerts
    The GXT1000VP4 receives weather news broadcasts to alert skiers if it is a good day to ski.
  • Hands-free Communication
    The walkie talkie has a VOX function and a headset connector, so you can use it hands-free.

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

Contender number three is another model by Motorola. The T600 is the two-way waterproof radio you and your fellow hikers can count on. It is effortless to find an available channel since there are 22 ones to choose from, with 121 privacy codes per channel. The T600 dons a rugged design and all the features walkie-talkie enthusiasts love to see. It also has buttons that enhance grip, perfect for when you’re out and about.

Furthermore, the Motorola T600 is compatible with any radio. This top-of-the-line feature means that you can reach out to any other Family Radio Service (FRS)/ General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radio. This is regardless of the brand as long as you are on the same channel and utilize equivalent privacy codes. The contraption is suitable for hiking outdoors in parks and especially popular trails. The range of this model goes all the way up to 35 miles depending on if you’re on a mountain, in a valley, or taking a hike around the neighborhood.

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

  • Long battery life
    Similar to the MR350R, the T600 has a packing battery life of twenty-three (23) hours. It also comes with two rechargeable battery packs.
  • Broad Compatibility
    The T600 can communicate with other walkie talkie models, along with FRS/GMRS radios.
  • Waterproof
    There are times when you might drop your walkie talkie on the ground. Dropping the T600 will not give you a heart attack as it is waterproof and, in a sense, snowproof. It also floats and can survive submersion.
  • Wide Range
    The T600 has a staggering range of thirty-five (35) miles. Unlike the GXT1000VP4, its signal is not affected by nearby buildings.
  • PTT Power Boost
    The Push-To-Talk (PTT) power boost temporarily increases your transmission range, which you can use in case of emergencies.
  • Alert Features
    The T600 comes with a radio alert button that you use to activate the alert siren. It also comes with a whistle belt clip.
  • Weather Alerts
    Like the MR350R, the T600 comes with the latest updates from the NOAA.
  • Hands-free Communication
    The walkie talkie has a VOX function and a headset connector, so you can use it hands-free.

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 UV-5R

The following walkie talkie is from a manufacturer that develops products and solutions built to last and perform outstandingly. The BaoFeng UV-5R is a combination of top-notch research and development as well as heritage. The company has a deep understanding of the walkie talkie industry, which is why the model made it onto the list.

A great feature that this model has is the Kenwood connector. Hikers can connect headphones with a microphone (included in purchase), micro speakers, or shooting protectors to your BaoFeng. It can also be programmed from the keyboard or a computer. The UV-5R allows you to customize channel names and the boot display. The compact handheld transceiver has improved modulation and noise immunity too. It’s also really cool because you can listen to the FM Broadcast radio. Any incoming call you get during a hike will be given priority, so you never miss anything important while listening to your favorite radio channel. Finally, this versatile radio is great even for amateur use.

Specifications

  • Brand: Baofeng
  • Range: no information
  • Power output: 4 watts
  • Frequency ranges: 136-174 MHz , 400-480 MHz (TX/RX)
  • Battery: rechargeable batteries
  • Size: 3.94 x 2.05 x 1.26 inches
  • Weight: 0.55 lb
  • Waterproof: no
  • License needed: yes (amateur / FCC license)

Pros of the BaoFeng UV-5R

  • Price
    It has a very low price compared to similar walkie talkies.
  • Hands-free Communication
    The walkie talkie has a VOX function and a headset connector, so you can use it hands-free.
  • Long battery life
    The BaoFeng UV -5R has a packing battery life and comes with rechargeable battery packs.
  • Wide frequency coverage
  • It covers a wide frequency range from 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz.
  • Broad Compatibility
    The UV -5R can communicate with other walkie talkie models, along with FRS/GMRS radios.
  • FM Radio
    You can listen to the FM Broadcast radio with this device.

Cons of the BaoFeng UV-5R

  • No information about the range.
  • Not so user friendly.
  • Needs programming that it can be used.
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#5 Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios

Finally, the Arcshell Long Range Two-Way Radio (rechargeable) as my final contender. The last walkie-talkie is small and convenient, perfect for the palm of your hand while trekking into the unknown. The Archshell model is water-resistant and also user-friendly, no matter what age the user may be. This makes it easy to communicate with younger or less-experienced hikers.

The Archshell has really high-quality built-in speakers that provide loud and crystal clear communication. It has the ability to block out possible white noise from the outdoors and has a noise reduction feature. The long-range two-way radio has intelligent charging, overcharge protection, and offers English and Chinese voice prompts, whichever you may prefer. Other specs to note are the battery saver and low battery alert, perfect for lengthier hiking trails. It also includes a built-in LED flashlight, channel time-out timer, a busy channel lock, channel monitor, and of course, a scanning function. If you’re planning on packing a heavier backpack or looking for a more minimalist-friendly walkie-talkie, this one’s the one to keep your eyes on.

Specifications

  • Brand: Arcshell
  • Range: 5 miles
  • Power output: 2 watts
  • Frequency ranges: 400.025-469.975 MHz
  • Battery: rechargeable batteries
  • Size: 4.53 x 2.36 x 1.30 inches (without antenna)
  • Weight: 0.39 lb (with battery and antenna)
  • Waterproof: yes
  • License needed: yes (amateur / FCC license)

Pros of the Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios

  • Extremely low price
    Compared to other walkie talkies, these from Arcshell have a meager price.
  • Works out of the box
    The devices are programmable. Also, they work out of the box with 16 different channels.
  • Hands-free Communication
    The walkie talkie has a VOX function and a headset connector, so you can use it hands-free.
  • Scope of delivery
    It is delivered with all things you need to use the walkie-talkie.
  • Easy to use
    The device is easy to use because it has not that many functions.

Cons of the Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios

  • It has no display to show information.
  • The radio feels bulky.
  • The walkie talkies have not the greatest range.
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How to Choose the best Walkie Talkie for Hiking

Before even buying a new walkie-talkie, I recommend doing your research. There are many things to keep in mind, such as the environment that it will be used in, what type of frequencies is needed, your budget, and if you really need to buy one.

 

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Transmission Range

For any outdoor activity, the transmission range is an important factor to look for in a walkie-talkie. Hiking in an unknown terrain or a new hiking trail is even more difficult if someone gets lost because they have no one to turn to.

Checking out the range specifications on a prospective radio is one of the first things to do, depending on the type of hike you are looking forward to. Luckily, different walkie-talkies are specially made for specific domains. Whether you need something more weatherproof and waterproof,  there is definitely something out there on the market for you.

 

Battery Life and Durability

Secondly, the lifespan of your walkie-talkie. This is vital since charging ports aren’t really found out in the wild. Different radios charge in various ways too. Some may require batteries, while others can be charged via USB port. Never depend on the existing battery only; always have a spare (maybe even two) on-hand. It never hurts to be prepared.

Since the radio will be exposed to various terrain and weather conditions, it is important to make sure that the walkie talkie can last. It’s even better if the radio you buy is waterproof (in case of unwelcome rain) as well as withstand being dropped. Hiking can be unpredictable, and more often than not, having a radio that can last is the way to go.

 

Design

When powering through a hike, the gear you wear is also something to keep in mind before buying a new radio. Most out there are designed for glove-wearers. The different models have slightly bigger buttons or have groves that enhance grip. These features are great for hikes since you’re constantly moving and now no longer have to worry about dropping your walkie-talkie.

A lot of models out there also have hands-free modes. These specifications are made for more experienced trekkers that, for example, do longer hikes with more extreme altitudes or terrains. A lot of walkie talkies with this mode can transmit communication when a certain volume has been exceeded.

 

Emergency and other important Alerts

You can never really predict what can go wrong on a hike; keeping in mind warnings beforehand is always beneficial. Manufacturers know just how important features that promote safety are, so they are a function they emphasize and what you should definitely always look for.

Various designs make sure to include the NOAA weather channel, which can give you a heads up on the possible change of weather by giving you alerts. Even if you check out what the weather report is, natural disasters can come out of nowhere. This is why the LED flashlight that most walkie-talkies have is also an essential feature. The flashlight is also great for when hikes run a little longer and later into the day. It is particularly useful when paths are part of a large trail that requires an overnight stay.

 

Licensing

A lot of walkie talkies on the market will require a license. For you to operate a licensed radio, you are legally required to purchase one within your state. Purchasing one will allow you to operate under more secure radio frequencies with little to no outside interference. Family Radio Service (FRS) radios share various frequencies with the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios but do not need a license. FRS radios are more than enough for most walkie talkie users.

Especially for those in the U.S., check out what radio services need a license to operate by reading about the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations and rules (FCC.) Keep in mind that currently, the FCC charges a $70.00 fee for GMRS radio licenses, and they are valid for 10 years.


Conclusion – The 5 best Walkie Talkies for Hiking

Even with the rise of the mobile phone, walkie-talkies are still the reigning champs for outdoor communication. My top five walkie-talkie models are ones to take into consideration the next time you’re looking for gear for that hike. Not all radios are designed and created equally, so make sure you’re completely sold on which make and model to get. Whether you’re an experienced trekker or about to go on your first hike, this list has a walkie-talkie perfect for you.

Keep in mind that whichever walkie talkie you choose will be a bonus on your hiking trips. These devices can make the hike more worthwhile since communication is easier, and cheering on fellow hikers is made possible. The two-way radio is also great for consistent updates on the trail or each other. Remember to consider the elements of your adventurous hike before investing in a quality walkie-talkie.

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