A good two-way radio is hard to beat when communication can mean life or death.
Communication is key and technology makes staying in touch easier than ever. Two-Way radios make it easier to stay connected than ever. While nearly everyone has a cell phone in their pockets at all times, two-way radios provide a unique way for you to speak to people when you need it most. Two-way radios and CB radios are good to have if you travel often.
Two-way radios are indispensable when it comes to reliability. Cellphone coverage may experience outages at the worst possible time. You may be in a remote area and need to speak with your teammates, colleagues or hiking partners. You should strongly consider adding a pair of high-quality two-way radios to your gear bag.
Here are 3 Reasons You Need Two-Way Radios:
- You can easily communicate with your partner or team
- You can use two-way radios when there is no cell-phone reception
- They are easy to carry
The Best Two-Way Radios Covered in This Article:
Motorola Talkabout T402 Rechargeable Two-Way Radios (2-Pack)
Motorola is a name that has been around forever, nearly 100 years in fact. The communications company has made great strides in communication technology. They’ve been a household name for decades and produce some pretty good two-way radios that are affordable and dependable for communicating with your friends. The Motorola Talkabout T402 is weatherproof IP54 rated so you can take it on the rough trips and it has a built-in flashlight for emergency situations or just to help set up camp when you forgot your flashlight. It comes with 22 channels and 121 privacy codes so you can always locate an available channel to speak with your team or friends.
It’s important to have a two-way radio that can broadcast over a large amount of area and this two-way radio can cover a 35-mile range depending on the outlay of the land and terrain. You can also stay informed on real-time weather events with 11 weather channels and 7 NOAA channels. If you spend any amount of times away from home or in the woods, you need to stay up-to-date on possible weather conditions and this two-way radio helps you stay informed. It also comes equipped with an iVOX/VOX feature that allows you to use an audio accessory headset to operate your two-way radio hands-free.
Here’s a few features you get:
- 2 Two-Way Radios
- 22 Channels with 121 Privacy Codes
- 11 Weather Channels, 7 NOAA Channels
- 35 Mile Range (Depending on Terrain)
- Built-in Flashlight
- IVOX Hands free use
- Dual Power
- Weatherproof IPX4
Overall, the Motorola Talkabout T400 is a great two-way radio for outdoor adventures, work, team excursions and more. It comes as a pair and makes any camping, hiking or backyard adventure even better. They’re priced right and make a great addition to your gear bag.
Midland LXT630VP3 36 Channel FRS Two-Way Radio – 3 Pack Long Range
Midland is another two-way radio brand that you’ve likely heard about. They make some of the best two-way radios on the market and don’t cost a fortune. These license free radios have dual power options and 36 channels with 121 privacy codes. This gives you up to 2,662 channel combinations to block out conversations around you. It has a 30-mile range depending on the terrain and obstructions which gives you plenty of space to operate. This particular option comes with a bright yellow faceplate to increase visibility and to ensure you can always locate your walkie-talkie.
The Midland LXT630VP3 comes fully equipped with NOAA weather scan + alert to keep you informed of dangerous weather conditions. It automatically scans through available weather channels to find the strongest connection so you can stay on top of the situation and plan accordingly. Bad weather can hit quickly and leave you in a dangerous situation.
What you get:
- 3 Two-Way Radios
- 3 Rechargeable Battery Packs
- 3 Belt Clips for Easy Carry
- 3 Desktop Chargers
- Dual Charging Plug AC Adapter
The Midland two-way radios allow you to choose different configurations and number of radios you receive. You can get a 2-pack, 3-pack or 8-pack with headsets with this particular model of Midland two-way radios. Overall, the Midland LXT630VP3 30-mile range two-way radios are the perfect addition to your communications gear.
Rivins RV-7 Long Range Walkie Talkies 4-Pack
If you’re looking for a low-cost option for dependable, long-range walkie talkies – the Rivins RV-7 is a great place to start. These two-way radios give you a lot of bang for the buck and have features many walkie talkies don’t have. The Rivins RV-7 are easy to customize and program to fit your communication needs and they have a VOX or Voice Operated Transmit option for hands-free operation.
These UHF radios can reach up to 3 miles depending on obstructions and other conditions. A good rule of thumb is that you can communicate up to 3 miles in open fields, 0.5 to 1.5 miles in densely populated areas and roughly 0.5 to 2 miles in cluttered areas or areas with homes, trees and other obstructions. You get 22 GMRS/FRS channels with 99 privacy codes to give you up to 2,178 channel combinations. That should be plenty for what you need. The screen on the Rivins RV-7 gives you access to a ton of information regarding your two-way radios such as battery status, volume level, signal status and channel number. It also has a built-in flashlight just in case you can’t get your hands on your flashlight.
The 4-pack Rivins RV-7 Walkie Talkies are great for adults and kids as they’re tough, cheap and dependable. They’re fun and come in multiple colors. Many groups bring the Rivins RV-7 on cruise ships to stay in contact with their groups. They’re cheap enough so that if you lose or break one, it’s not a huge issue. You can take these hiking, camping, backpacking, road trips, company retreats and more to stay connected.
Retevis RT22 Two-Way Radios 6-Pack
The Retevis RT22 is an easy to you and compact way to communicate with your group. These two-way radios can cover distance and delivers crisp, clear sound. These even work in plants with metal buildings and nooks and crannies where you normally wouldn’t get reception which is perfect for teams that need to communicate quickly and in areas with little to no cellphone coverage. Featuring one-button talk operation plus VOX function to give you plenty of options.
The Retevis RT22 is a workhorse and designed lightweight and tough which makes them great for personal and business use. It’s easy to wear down your radios with daily use, but these have a durable design and longer than average battery life. You get a six-way multi charger to keep them charged and ready to use at all times.
Here’s what you get in the package:
- 6X Retevis RT22 2 Way Radios
- 6X Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
- 6X Unique Belt Clips
- 1X Six Way Gang Multi Charger
- 1X Six Way Gang Charger Adapter
- User Manual
Overall, the Retevis RT22 2-way radios received great reviews and are widely used for work, outdoor events, group outings, cruise ships and more.
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) Two-Way Radio
BaoFeng is widely known in the radio community as a top player when it comes to the best two-way radios. This version is an upgrade from the previous UV-5R and adds quite a bit of value. You get 2x the output power from the old version which is an increase from 4 watts to 8 watts. This is a much more powerful version and the new design has a hardened radio shell that makes it tougher. You also get a 30% larger battery which is a good upgrade and you get twice the antenna performance. You can’t beat a BaoFeng when it comes to quality and durability.
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP was designed with your needs in mind. Not everyone is a radio expert and this two-way radio is easy to use. You get a huge user manual, warranty and customer support should you have any questions about how to use your new two-way radio.
- BaoFeng BF-F8HP
- V-85 Dual Band Antenna
- Handy Earpiece Kit
- A Powerful 2100mAh Battery
- CH-5 Charger
- Wrist Strap to Secure Your Radio
- User Manual
- Belt Clip for Alternate Ways to Carry
We highly recommend the new BaoFeng 2-Way radio. It’s high-quality, durable, easy to use and has a strong range that is great for anyone.
Arcshell Two-Way Radios with Earpiece 2-Pack
The Arcshell 2-way radios are compact, water-resistant and project clear sound. Each radio comes with a removable belt clip and ear piece for easy use. You get 16 channels with a 16-position mechanical rotary switch channel selector to easily find your channel. You can program a number of channels to fit your needs. Each Arcshell 2-way radio comes with a large 1500mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery plus a charging dock that will give you plenty of power. The battery charger also has an AC wall plug that fits 110v to 240v and will give your radios a full charge in around 2.5 hours. Most users get around 8 to 96 hours of use on a single charge, but the amount you get is largely dependent upon how often you use your radio. You can use them much longer if you simply monitor versus a continuous conversation.
Let’s talk about the Arcshell’s range. Two-way radio communication range largely depends upon factors such as terrain, population, natural formations, etc. You can get up to 5 miles with these radios if there are zero obstructions and you are in a field or similar area. You can probably cut that number in half if you’re working in a densely populated area that has buildings or other obstructions. You can use these on cruise ships and usually get great reception from one end of the ship to the other even through all of the machinery and metal. The Arcshell two-way radio is also great for security detail, camping, road trips and mountain exploration as they are made tough and rugged. You can usually find a pair of Arcshell 2-way radios for around $30.
eSynic Rechargeable Two-Way Radios with Earpieces
The eSynic rechargeable two-way radios were designed for long range use and can reach up to 3 miles in an open area with few obstructions. They have 16 channels with a rotary channel switch operation to change the channels and lock in the one you want to use. The channel frequencies are programmable with up to 50 CTCSS and CDCSS tones and can be used by adults and children alike. They come with a large battery that can hold roughly 8 to 9 hours of continuous use on a single charge which is a long time compared to other brands. You never know how often you will need to use your two-way radios in the field, so it’s good to have a brand that holds a strong charge and will last throughout the day. T
The eSynic two-way radio gives you multiple ways to charge: USB plug for your phone, power bank, USB port from your laptop and charger. They also come with a handy built-in LED torch light so you can see in the dark while using them. These tough little walkie talkies have great range and area easy to use.
Here’s what you get with eSynic two-way radios:
- 4X Two-Way Radios
- 4X Earpieces
- 4X Li-ion Battery Pack
- 4X USB Cable Charger
- 4X The Sling
- 4X Belt Clip
- 2X User’s Manual
The eSynic also comes with a few lesser-known special functions such as; channel scanning function, emergency alarm, VOX operation, built-in flashlight and strong 1500mAh Li-ion battery. Overall, these are great little radios that have amazing range, strong batteries and a ton of special features that makes them some of the best two-way radios in this price range.
Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radios
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line FRS/GMRS Radio, Midland has you covered. The Midland GXT1030VP4 goes above and beyond for your communication needs. It comes with everything you need to get started including the charger base and a 12V adapter to keep the power flowing to your radios. They provide multiple ways to power your two-way radios such as 4 AA batteries or the included rechargeable battery pack. You get access to 50 GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) channels which should be plenty for your team or group of friends and they have the ability to channel scan for activity.
Midland knows you need to occasionally take your two-way radios in inclement weather, so they made these with the JIS4 Waterproof Protection which basically makes them splash resistant. You won’t be able to submerge your radios, but the occasional splash of rain shouldn’t hurt them. These are considered long range two-way radios and you can get up to a 36-mile range. However, keep in mind that it is highly likely that there will be some type of obstruction that will prevent you from getting exactly 36 miles with these radios unless the conditions are perfect.
The Midland GXT1030VP4 radios also come equipped with NOAA weather scan plus alert features that will keep you up to date on possible dangerous weather conditions in your area. The weather scanner will scan through the 10 weather (WX) channels automatically and lock onto the proper channel to alert you of any weather risks. Here’s what you get: 2 radios, 2 belt clips, AC wall adapter, DC adapter, 2 rechargeable battery packs, desktop charger and 2 boom mic headsets for additional ways to use your radios.
Overall, Midland GXT1030VP4 two-way radios are dependable, have tons of features and are made tough for the job. They come highly recommended by those who use them in the field.
Ansoko Long Range Walkie Talkies
You may not have heard of Ansoko two-way radios, but they have a solid product line of two-way radios that have been proven in the field by tons of users. The Ansoko long range walkie talkies are exactly what you would expect at this price – they’re versatile, exceptional value and you get four in a pack.
These 2-Watt handheld radios are programmable and come with 16 channels plus codes. They’re considered long-range and can get up to 3 miles reception, but this varies depending on the layout of the land and population. These are perfect for outdoor/indoor group communication such as work, hiking, cruise ships, security detail, warehouse teams, camping and more. You never know when you’ll enter an area that doesn’t have cellphone service, so it’s a good idea to be prepared with two-way radios. These radios come with metal spring belt clips and hand straps to give you multiple ways to carry them comfortably. Each radio comes with charging base and Li-ion battery with a 1500mAh capacity. They have plenty of power and can support 8-12 hours of continuous use and possibly longer if you use it moderately.
If you’re looking for a 4-pack of walkie talkies for the kids or your work team, the Ansoko long range radios are a great place to start. They’re not too expensive and have loads of features.
Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio 2-Pack
The Motorola T600 Talkabout two-way radios are IP67 waterproof, long-range and can keep you up to date with real-time weather alerts. These are great for use on land or sea and they have a built-in flashlight with powerful red and white LEDs that can power through emergencies like a champ. You get 22 channels with 121 privacy codes for a grand total of 2,662 combinations. You should always be able to find a channel for your party or team.
The Motorola T600 is a great way to stay in touch and can be used in places where cell coverage may be spotty at best. These are perfect for boating, hiking, fishing trips, snow sports, camping, RVing, security detail, work retreats and more.
Here’s what we love about the Motorola T600 – they’re made relatively tough and waterproof. While you may not want to submerge them, the occasional splash won’t hurt them. They have the built-in flashlight with water-activation function for emergencies which we think is a great feature to have. The NOAA weather channels and alerts can get you out of a bind that you hadn’t planned for. Bad weather can ruin any trip and it’s good to be alerted. The Motorola T600 floats which is perfect for boating and swimming. Also, the battery is quite powerful and gives you up to 18 hours with 3 AAA batteries.
What we didn’t like – the flashlight button is easy to set off when you keep the radio in your pocket. You can accidentally turn it on and drain your battery without even knowing. Also, the flashlight button is sensitive to touch and may be set off in your jacket pocket when boating or close to water. It’s possible the moisture sets it off, but this can easily be alleviated by clipping the radio to your belt so you can see it at all times.
Overall, we can recommend the Motorola T600 for users who want a great way to communicate with their group and enjoy the great outdoors without having to worry about cellphone reception.
Two-Way Radio Buyer’s Guide + FAQ
Why You Need a Two-Way Radio
A good two-way radio can improve your gear bag substantially. They’re still one of the best ways to communicate over short distances when cellphone coverage may be spotty or during a natural disaster. They’re easy to use, affordable and can get you out of a pinch.
1. Easy to Use
Two-way radios are super easy to use and can make your adventures better and safer. They’re perfect for hiking, camping and just walking through the woods with a group of friends. They help if you get lost and are perfect for areas where cell phone coverage may not be available. You don’t want to fumble with your phone when you just want to say a few words to a friend a few paces up the trail. Many two-way radios also have a unique hands-free operation that makes them even easier to use while walking or navigating.
2. You Don’t Have to Worry About Cellphone Networks
Two-way radios aren’t reliant on cellphone networks. You’ve likely experienced the frustration of walking somewhere where you needed a cellphone, but couldn’t get reception. Two-way radios alleviate that issue and allow you to speak to your hiking partners with no issues. Two-way radios are more reliable than cellphones in many situations.
3. Two-Way Radios Cover More Ground
Two-way radios allow you to communicate with others over a substantial area. Many radios can cover up to a six-mile radios depending on obstructions and the layout of the land. They’re perfect for working in remote areas or search and rescue teams that must cover ground quickly and efficiently. You can also get licensed to operate two-way radios that go much further.
4. Affordable Communication Option
Two-way radios can be a cost-effective communication means. You can buy enough for your team without breaking the bank and they don’t carry the monthly expenses that cellphones require. Also, you can use two-way radios in remote areas where you may not have cellphone networks. They’re easy to replace if broken and you just charge the batteries occasionally to keep them working properly.
How to Choose the Best 2-Way Radio
You want to make sure you get the best 2-way radio possible. There are a few things to look for when shopping that will ensure you get a great radio that handles your needs.
- Maximum radio range: 2-way radio range varies widely depending on the model you choose. You want to make sure your radio is powerful enough to handle the task you need it for. The maximum range you can get on a 2-way radio is around 6 miles unless you get a professional 2-way radio. Keep in mind that the distance you will be able to achieve is largely affected by your surroundings. For example, you will get better range in a field versus a thick forest or rocky area. You will also have obstructions that limit your radio’s range in a city. A high-quality 2-way radio will give you plenty of range for basic needs.
- Battery Type: Batteries are a big deal when choosing the perfect 2-way radio. Most radios use regular batteries, but others come equipped with rechargeable batteries that you can replace. Your choice depends on your preference as both types work great.
- Channels: Most 2-way radios have up to 16 channels to give you options when communicating with your friends or co-workers. You also get plenty of privacy codes that enable you to speak freely without interference such as when you’re in a crowded place where a lot of people are using 2-way radios. This happens often on cruise ships where there are large groups trying to navigate and stay together using radios.
- Handsets: You can get 2-way radio packages that have a pair of radios or a large set that you can provide to your team. You can even expand your collection to add new headsets as you need them. This is a great feature for startup businesses that continually add more employees and need to add more 2-way radios to their roster.
- Hands-free use: Many 2-way radios today utilize VOX or voice-activated transmit which allows you to operate hands-free. This is a great feature to have if you need to use both hands such as when biking, climbing, exploring or other physical activities. You can always have your hands on your radio and VOX allows you to use your voice to activate and communicate with your team.
- Price: 2-way radios vary widely in regards to price. You may have to shop around to find a pair that fits your budget. You can often find them on sale.
Are Two Way Radios and Walkie Talkies the Same Thing?
If you’ve been shopping for two-way radios, you’re probably wondering if they’re the same thing as walkie talkies. The terms are basically interchangeable and many products use both terms to describe their radios. Walkie talkies are usually thought of as a more basic radio, such as a children’s toy or something you use just around the house. Most companies use the term “two-way radio” to describe their radios as most people associate the terms with a higher quality product.
Walkie talkies and two-way radios are basically the same product and the terms can be interchanged to mean the same thing. There is one particular situation where a two-way radio will not be called a walkie talkie and that’s when it’s mounted to a vehicle such as a CB radio. The term walkie talkie assumes that the radio is handheld, whereas a radio mounted to a vehicle cannot be carried in your hand.
How Far Can Two Way Radios Transmit?
This is a question that comes up often. You will want to know how far your two way radio will transmit before making a decision. Keep in mind, the distance that a two way radio is able to transmit is a rough estimate and will depend on factors such as location, population density and the terrain around you.
You’ve probably seen claims of a two-way radio having a 30-mile range, but you should know that most consumer two-way radios won’t get anywhere near this distance. Most two-way radios will be able to communicate in the range of a half mile to 2 miles. However, there are a few things you can do to extend the communication range of your two-way radio.
First, let’s cover some common factors that will hamper your two-way radio’s communication range:
- Densely populated areas;
- Thickly wooded areas;
These are just a few, but you get the picture. The best type of terrain to get the most range from your two-way radio is simply flat areas that do not have trees or other obstructions. For example, the middle of a field has great reception as does the middle of a lake. If you were able to travel to the top of a mountain you would have great range there as well.
Ways to Improve Two-Way Radio Range
If you’re shopping for the best two-way radios on the market, you may be wondering how you can improve the radio’s range. This can be important if you plan to take your radios hunting, hiking or exploring trails. Here are a few things to get extra range from your two-way radio:
- Charge the battery in full. A fully charged radio battery will transmit stronger and will get you to the maximum range. A low battery will decrease your chances.
- Most two-way radios have a high power and low power option. Choose the high power option to squeeze as much juice out of your two-way radio as possible.
- Switch your two-way radio to the “monitor channel” option as this will allow your radio to pick up incoming messages it would usually filter out.
Are Two-Way Radios Waterproof?
Hunting, fishing, camping and hiking can bring you to places where a cell phone may not be an option. Two-way radios are the perfect way to communicate with friends while in the wilderness because they’re easy to use and will almost always have reception. Simply push a button and you can speak with your group without having to worry about cell coverage. You can also access NOAA weather alerts to warn you about dangerous weather conditions. There’s a good chance you will encounter water at some point of your adventure. While not all two-way radios are waterproof, there are plenty on the market that can take some water and continue working. Most waterproof two-way radios will state that they are waterproof rated at IP67 and can survive for a number of minutes in water. While they can’t last forever, they give you time to fish them out of the water and will still work.
The Motorola T600 is an excellent choice for a waterproof two-way radio and is great for fishing because it floats and turns on the built-in flashlight when it touches water or is exposed to moisture.
What are the Best Two-Way Radios for Business?
Choosing the best two-way radios for your business can be tricky. You have to consider the conditions you may encounter, the distance your team will need to communicate and how many radios you need. Most businesses need long-range two-way radios that are tough, dependable and come with a great charging system. You also want to make sure the battery will last throughout the workday. Ask yourself how often your team will need to use the radios and how far they will be from each other.
We recommend the Retevis RT22 Two-Way radios for businesses because they have stellar reviews and have been field tested by a large number of people. You can get different variations and numbers of radios, but we like the 6-pack because it comes with a 6-way multi gang charger that keeps them powered.
What is the Best Two-Way Radio for Hunting?
Hunting requires tough gear. You probably have to hike to get to your spot and you face environmental conditions such as rain, snow and dirt. Your two-way radios need to be rugged and able to handle the outdoors. You probably want to find a waterproof two-way radio just in case you cross a creek or have to use a boat to get to your stand.
We like the Midland 50 channel waterproof GMRS two-way radio for hunting. They’re long-range and can handle the elements. They also have NOAA weather alerts and weather scan which is extremely important when you’re in the woods and may not have cellphone coverage. Bad weather can be dangerous when hunting and you need to be able to scan weather channels for inclement weather. Midland makes a great two-way radio and we think this one is great for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and anything else done in the outdoors.
Jerome is an avid outdoorsman who moonlights as an attorney when he’s not creating the world’s greatest online content.