Written by 3:40 pmCommunication, Outdoor Gear

Best Two Way Radios For Mountains Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Two-way radios come in the shape of portable, powerful devices that promise to keep you connected with the outside world when your cell phone can’t.

As the name suggests, a two-way radio enables communication in two directions by sending and receiving messages. Asides from being popular with truck drivers cruising cross-country, they’re a great investment for hikers, campers, and mountaineers, and they’re a must-buy for those planning on venturing anywhere the need to send out an SOS could arise.

Certain models even allow for tracking features and peer to peer positioning. Should you need to be rescued, this is a handy tool to have in place and one that will guarantee your safe rescue.

When you’re browsing the market for the best two-way radios, there are several factors you should take into consideration. Our handy two-way radio buying guide will help you discover what you need to know…

Why Are Walkie Talkies Essential For Mountain Exploration?

In the unfortunate case of an emergency, whether a member of your group has slipped and fallen, one of your party has become injured or there is some uncertainty surrounding the track ahead, a two-way weather radio will allow you to alert the rest of the group quickly and efficiently – sharing instant, cautious messages.

In terms of mountain exploration, two-way radios ensure ease of communication between you and your group. From informing others of your location to letting them know of your progress or any unexpected changes in plan, these handy devices assist both independent hikers and groups of hikers when it comes to staying safe and connected.

Two-way radios boast numerous useful features, including the likes of LED Torches, which help hikers find their way back to their group in the dark or assist them in reading a map. Another handy feature? Lengthy battery life (or rechargeable batteries), meaning you’ll stay connected with the outside world as long as your mountain adventure lasts.

Many also come equipped with a panic button, which sounds like a loud alarm should you need to alert others of danger or attract attention to yourself. Then there are voice activation features to take note of, which enable hands-free communication, an asset to those mid-way up a mountain!

The Best Mountain Walkie Talkies Reviewed

When shopping for your next (or first) two-way radio, there are many factors you should consider. Some of which we’ve listed below:

Reliability: Even with cellular towers dotted across various terrains, achieving a strong phone signal isn’t always possible. Of course, you could invest in a satellite phone, however, these are hugely expensive and often impractical, especially if embarking on a lengthy journey.

A two-way radio on the other hand is an easy and convenient way to stay connected with the outside world, even if tackling some of the most daring mountain terrains.

Clarity: Contemporary radios have come on leaps and bounds since their launch. Today’s plentiful options boost voice whilst avoiding static. They also boast backlit displays that are easy to read in dark.

Connectivity: Many of the two-way radios on the market today come with the option to connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth connectivity. Top models even boast various channels (some of which have privacy codes). What does this mean for the user? It allows you to speak freely without unwanted interruptions.

From monitoring more than one channel at once, to receiving pre-storm NOAA weather alerts, this is a handy feature to have.

Build Quality: Another important feature, especially if you intend to use your two-way radio in rough conditions or out in the rain.

Battery Life: This is dependent on how long you intend to be away from a power source. If the answer to this is lengthy periods, you’ll need to choose a model that allows for refueling on the go or boasts a low power mode.

Rechargeable walkie-talkies are ideal, particularly those with USB connectors (which allow them to be connected to a remote charger) or battery-powered versions.

All in all, the best models boast an average of 15 hours.

Requirements: it’s important to check your local laws and requirements before buying a two-way radio. Why? Certain models or locations may necessitate that you have an FCC license to operate this device.

With these tips to hand, discover our top two-way radio models on the market today.

Retevis RT46 Rechargeable Two Way Radios

Dimensions – 1.93 x 1.06 x 6.89 inches ‎ | Weight – 125 grams | Range – UHF:400-480MHz or VHF: 136-174Mhz

These compact radios are ideal for those looking to invest in an inexpensive, quality yet lightweight device that boasts incredible noise filter and an impressive range, even in extreme weather conditions.

Pros

  • lightweight
  • Channels can be locked to avoid disruption
  • Compact
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Two ways to charge; batteries and USB provided as standard
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Excellent range, clear sound

Cons

  • requires an additional data cable for VOX, although this is easy to get ahold of
  • Not suitable for pros

Motorola CLS1110 Two Way Walkie Talkies (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – 1.1 x 2 x 4.1 inches‎ | Weight – 1.76 Pounds | Range – 200,000 square feet (equivalent of 15 floors)

Ideal for a wide range of business applications, whether connecting with colleagues in a warehouse or teammates on a mountain trail, these lightweight walkie-talkies are easy-to-use and boast an impressive range in all weather conditions.

Pros

  • perfect for both outdoor and indoor use
  • Each radio comes with a 12 hour lithium-ion battery, a single-unit charger, and a swivel belt holster as standard
  • Impressive 200,000 square feet range (the equivalent of 15 floors)

Cons

  • One channel only (a pro for some as it means everybody hears everybody)
  • Better suited to smaller footprint businesses.

Motorola T265 Talkabout Radio (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – 6.42 x 2.13 x 1.24 inches ‎ | Weight – 6.4 Ounces | Range – 25 miles

Motorola’s renowned features and toughness integrate to make this a device walkie-talkie fans can’t get enough of.

Pros

  • Durable, powerful and weather-resistant
  • Can be connected to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, allowing the user to pinpoint their location on an offline map and access apps
  • Snazzy color – this is one walkie-talkie you certainly won’t misplace

Cons

  • Great value, although expect to pay a little more for this high-end quality product
  • To take advantage of all this model’s capabilities, you will need to have access to a phone

SAMCOM Long-Range Two Way Radios (Set Of 3)

Dimensions – ‎ 1.19 x 1.18 x 11 inches | Weight – 0.9 pounds | Range – five miles

The perfect companion for hunting, hiking, and climbing, this two-way radio boasts an impressive range, a nifty ‘low mode’ to save on battery usage, 5W strong penetration, and 20 channels.

Pros

  • Ideal for outdoor activities and harsh environments
  • Features a high and low mode
  • 20 channels
  • Built-in speaker and mic for clear communication
  • Easy-to-use
  • 50 hours of standby time
  • FCC certificated

Cons

  • Only supports PC (not Mac)
  • Long antenna

Midland GXT1050VP4 Two-Way Long Range Radio (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – 9.75 x 2.5 x 1.75 inches ‎ | Weight – 0.3 pounds | Range – 36 miles

This particular walkie-talkie is a consistent, powerful option perfectly suited to a wide range of radio communication needs. It’s a great choice for those looking for a sturdy, far-reaching model with Xtreme Range Technology.

Pros

  • 50 GMRS channels
  • Waterproof protection
  • Five animal call alerts – perfect for those who enjoy hunting
  • Vibrate feature
  • Camouflage exterior
  • A range of privacy codes
  • NOAA weather scan and alert technology – helps those out and about to learn of severe weather updates
  • Comes with headsets, rechargeable battery packs, desktop charger, belt clips, DC adapter, AC adapter, and owner’s manual as standard.
  • LCD display

Cons

  • Larger, bulky case – although this is what ensures this model’s ultimate weatherproof ability
  • Better suited to pros

Retevis RT29 High Power 2 Way Radios (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – ‎5.9 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches | Weight – 2.25 pounds | Range –

This ultra-high power two-way radio features extreme penetration, which allows for clear communication in dense forests and mountainous areas. Notable assets include lengthy battery life, a nifty power-saving mode, and an alarm, which reminds you to charge the device!

Its durable, sturdy casing can withstand an impressive drop of two meters, whilst the remote emergency alarm is sure to keep you and your party safe whilst on a mountaineering adventure.

Pros

  • Impressive standby time of 250 hours
  • High gain antenna
  • Notable battery life (with in-built alarm that reminds you to charge the device)
  • Sturdy design
  • Remote emergency alarm
  • VOX function
  • Bold, eye-catching orange design
  • IP67 waterproof microphone and shoulder speaker

Cons

  • Hefty, robust design that some may struggle to carry / pack
  • Only available in one colour

Topsung M880 Long Range Walkie Talkie (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – ‎ 6.3 x 1.97 x 0.98 inches | Weight – 2.9 ounces | Range – 16 miles

Featuring a smart system, 22 key channels, and the latest FCC certification, the palm-sized Topsung M880 FRS Two Way Radios are an ideal choice for a wide range of abilities, whether a first-time mountaineer or a pro.

Pros

  • Smart System: Auto monitor and memory function, Auto squelch and scan system, Auto power-saving mode, and low battery alert.
  • 22 key channels, comprising 121 privacy codes
  • The ability to offer long-range in various terrains
  • Lengthy standby time (three-four days in total)
  • Palm-sized for ease of transportation
  • Created using environmentally friendly and durable materials
  • A good option for children

Cons

  • AA batteries are not included in the initial purchase

Ansoko Long Range Walkie Talkies (Set Of 3)

Dimensions – ‎ 4.72 x 1.97 x 1.18 inches | Weight – 100 grams | Range – three miles

These 2 Watt Programmable two way radios boast an impressive frequency range and a maximum of three miles reception. This model does what it says on the tin and can be used straight from the box. Included in the purchase are three walkie-talkies, a charging base, battery pack, earpieces, belt clips, antenna, hand straps, and a user manual.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Long-range
  • Easy-to-use, straight out of the box
  • VOX compatible
  • 16 channels
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • CTCSS/DCS
  • Three-mile reception (even in open fields)
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Emergency alarm feature

Cons

  • Basic design
  • Arrives in two retail boxes

Motorola Talkabout T402 Rechargeable Radios (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – 7.54 x 2.26 x 1.37 inches‎ | Weight – 0.43 pounds | Range – 35 miles

Boasting an impressive 121 privacy codes and 22 channels, which equate to 2,662 combinations, this easy-to-use, rechargeable two-way radio is ideal for outdoor usage, whether exploring throughout the day or evening.

Pros

  • Real-time weather conditions complete with a nifty alert feature, through an impressive 11 weather channels (plus 7 NOAA channels)
  • Built-in flashlight
  • Weatherproof IP54
  • Hands-free option
  • iVOX/VOX feature

Cons

  • Available in one color only
  • The charger must be purchased separately

Midland X-Talker Two Way Rechargeable Radio (Set Of 2)

Dimensions – ‎11.1 x 9.37 x 2.24 inches | Weight – 1.67 pounds | Range – 40 miles

These two-way radios are not only hands-free, but they also boast a tech-savvy NOAA weather scan alert feature, a massive 40-mile range, and 14 additional privacy code channels.

Pros

  • 22 GMRS channels and an additional 14 privacy code channels
  • Hands-free option
  • Belt clips, rechargeable battery packs, desktop charger, headsets, and micro USB cable included in the purchase
  • 121 CTCSS privacy codes
  • NOAA weather scan ability

Cons

  • Require NI CAD instead of lithium-ion batteries
  • Battery life is less than that of other models

Mountain Walkie Talkie Buying Guide

So, you’re about to set off for a weekend of skiing, hiking, off-roading, or camping? You’ve packed your waterproofs, hiking boots, food, and more but do you have a good communication plan in place?

If you’ve only packed your cell phone, you’ll likely run into some signal issues! This is when a good quality two way radio comes into play. Having this device to hand will ensure you’re connected to the group you’re traveling with and more importantly, with rescue crews should an emergency arise.

Before you invest in such a device, let’s learn more about the factors you should take into consideration before making a purchase. From power output to licensing requirements to GMRS radios, noise filter frequencies, LED flashlight extras and rechargeable batteries, we have listed a few of the basics, all of which will help you to choose the best two way radios for mountains.

Range

A crucial, consideration to make when choosing two-way radios is the range. After all, there is little use in these devices if they’re unable to operate over an enhanced range, especially if you’re planning on taking them up a mountain.

luckily, there are few obstacles (such as high-rise buildings and people) in the way when mountain climbing, especially at high altitudes,.

The majority of two-way radios available on the current market use the PMR446 frequency, which allows for a range of up to 10km when using a transmit power of 0.5W. This is only when the conditions are perfect, which is an important factor to remember.

If using in a built-up environment, the max range will be a great deal lower. All in all, if you choose a good quality device, you will be met with an adequate range, one that is suited to most user’s needs.

If you’re looking for a model that offers extreme range, you may need to invest in a device that requires a license to use.

Durability

Depending on where you will be using the two-way radio and your reputation of caring for such a device, durability is an important factor to consider. Most of the latest two-way radios have been designed with rough treatment, bad weather, and uneven terrain in mind. Opt for a waterproof device if you intend to use it in all weather.

Size & weight

The last thing you want to be doing when on a mountain exploration is to be carrying a large, bulky radio around. Choose one that fits neatly into your palm (and backpack when not in use) for best results. Many radios are similar sizes to your cell phone.

When considering size, also take into account the antenna length, as this can add or take away inches.

Weatherproofing

Irrespective of where you live, no one knows when a freak storm is about to take place, neither a random shower nor torrential rain, knowing your two-way radio can withstand a weather beating is a must. Similarly, if you’re exploring terrain with lakes, it’s important to have a waterproof device to hand.

Weather alerts

This is massively important and something two-way radios can provide, notifying you of any incoming bad weather or accidents ahead. They do this through NOAA weather notifications as opposed to general mobile radio service or GMRS channels.

Sound clarity

Contemporary radios have come on leaps and bounds. Today’s modern two-way radios can cut down on boost voice and static. They also boast clear backlit displays (that can be viewed in the dark) and VOX, which enables users to operate two-way radios at the maximum range in hands-free operation mode – a must if you are on a motorbike convoy or mountain climbing. Activating this mode means the radio is on at all times, allowing you to use your voice alone to control it. These models tend to come as standard with a headset or mic.

Battery Life

Certain two-way radios are fuelled by standard alkaline batteries, whilst other models boast plug-in power in the shape of a charging dock or rechargeable batteries. If you wish to use two-way radios over a substantial period, where regular access to a power source won’t be possible, such as on a mountain climbing expedition or camping trip, then a device that allows for regular batteries is a good choice, as you will be able to replace any dead batteries on the move.

If you’re planning on using your two-way radios regularly, an option with rechargeable batteries is recommended. Not only are battery replacements costly, but used batteries are also bad for the environment. Try to opt for a model that offers a solar charger or a battery saver mode.

Frequency range

Although cellular towers are popping up left, right, and center, getting a phone signal in certain environments, such as on top of a mountain, isn’t always an easy feat. Without a signal, should you encounter danger or require help, you could end up in some serious trouble.

Satellite phones can be hugely expensive and bulky, whilst two-way radios come in all shapes, weights, and sizes and offer both peace of mind and a solid frequency maximum range.

The maximum range is an important factor to consider when deliberating over two-way radios, thankfully many of today’s models boast an impressive frequency range complete with location coordinates, strong radio signals and same channel radio waves.

Number of channels

Contemporary two-way radios can connect (via Bluetooth) to your smartphone and boast numerous channels (some of which feature none of the same privacy code channels). This allows the user to speak freely without any interruptions from other conversations. Certain devices allow the user to monitor two channels at one time and receive NOAA weather notifications before storms hit.

The main channel (or base satiation) is something you can lock into place to avoid losing it when you next use your two way radio hands free operation.

Price

An important consideration and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Thankfully there are many quality affordable two-way radios on the market today. If you’re looking for a robust model that stands the test of time, it may be worth investing in one that is slightly higher in price and fees a great guarantee.

Conclusion

When it comes to investing in two way radios, it’s hugely important you do your research. Not all models are equal and some will suit certain individuals more than others. Think about what it is you want from a two way radio before investing in a particular model or style. Read reviews, watch videos and speak to friends and family who may already own such a device.

FAQs

What’s the best two-way radio for mountain use?

This is entirely dependent on when and what type of terrain you will be acquainting. If you’re a beginner mountaineer, the Topsung M880 Long Range Two Way Radios, which come as a set of two as standard, is a great option.

It’s easy-to-use, boasts smart features, and is suited to a wide range of abilities.

If you see yourself as a pro (or you’re gifting someone more advanced in terms of hiking, climbing, and skiing), the Motorola Talkabout T402 Rechargeable Radios, which also come as a set of two, is an ideal choice for mountain use.

Notable features include a built-in flashlight, a weatherproof rating of IP54, a hands-free option, and a weather alert feature.

How much range do you need for a mountain two-way radio?

A crucial factor to consider when investing in two-way radios is the range. In general, the utmost range provided by a consumer 2-way radio on a transmit power of 0.5W, via the PMR446 frequency, is up to a distance of 10km.

However, to achieve this range, you’ll need to use the radio in perfect, dry conditions at a high altitude. As soon as obstacles are placed between the two radios, this is when the range lessens its reach.

Thankfully, mountain tops tend not to have any obstacles, which means a good range is easy to acquire. The more powerful versions with incredibly impressive ranges are those you will require a license to use.

What are NOAA weather alerts?

The National Weather Service’s utmost goal is to “Protect Life and Property.” To ensure they achieve this goal, they’re able to send out a special notification or tone. This notification is sounded over NOAA Weather Radio.

The reason for this? It alerts those using these devices, including mountain climbers and explorers of potentially dangerous situations. These alert tones are transmitted over the NWR.

During exceptionally bad weather, general mobile radio service and normal frequencies can be interrupted by NOAA weather band stations. These stations release SOS broadcasts or emergency announcements in the shape of an emergency bulletin. These announcements can avert you and your group away from danger by notifying them of the local forecast.

Are affordable walkie talkies good enough for professional use?

This is entirely dependent on when and how you will be using two-way radios. There are numerous quality, pocket-friendly options on the market today, all of which are ideal for mountain use, many of which feature an enhanced range.

To ensure you pick the best option for your needs, it’s important to do your research. For example, if you’re planning on taking two-way radios to other countries with extreme temperatures, it’s important to ensure your chosen radio works in such an environment.

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