Written by 2:13 pmCommunication, Outdoor Gear

Best Walkie Talkie Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Walkie-talkies are a cheap, reliable alternative to mobile and regular cellular communication. They are perfect for trips into the wilderness, hunting, search and rescue missions or just connecting with family and friends.

To help you find the best walkie-talkies in 2021, we reviewed some of the most popular models and will be looking at the pros and cons of each. The benefit of doing this is that it can help you make a more informed decision.

We found that many other review sites focus only on the positive aspect of the walkie-talkies reviewed. Reading and watching reviews is a great way to find out the benefits, but picking up on any weaknesses will make it easier for you to find the perfect model.

Who Are Walkie Talkies Designed For?

Walkie-talkies are designed for all kinds of communication. There are lots of different types of walkie-talkies to choose from, depending on your needs.

To give you a better idea of who walkie-talkies are designed for, here are some of the most popular types of the walkie talkie.

Walkie talkies for kids

Kids walkie talkies are designed to be played with and do not have a long-range. They are usually lightweight, plastic, and brightly covered. They are great for children to communicate while out playing or in their homes if they live close.

Long range walkie talkies

More powerful walkie-talkies will be able to reach greater distances. They are used in several professions, from law enforcement to construction and public utilities. They are great for people going into areas with poor cellular reception.

Hunting walkie talkies

Two-way hunting walkies are a great way to stay in communication when hunting. Not only does it help you speak to one another, but it also offers security should you get into difficulty. Hunting walkie-talkies should be robust, weatherproof, and with good battery life.

Waterproof walkie talkies

If you are going to be using a walkie-talkie when camping, hiking, or walking in the wilderness, you will have to ensure they are equipped to deal with the elements. They are an excellent option that offers a better signal than mobile phones and are, more often than not, more durable.

When searching for a walkie-talkie, it is essential that you know what its primary use will be. This will help you narrow down your search and better understand what prices you will be paying.

The Best Walkie Talkies Reviewed

SANZUCO Rechargeable Two Way Walkie Talkies (Set Of 6)

The SANZUCO 5 Watt Two Way Radios come with a large, easy-to-read LCD screen, high definition speaker, and easy to set programming capability.

You will have access to 16 channels, and the long aerial helps to reach other units up to 2 miles in built-up areas and 5 miles in woodland.

An excellent feature for this pack of 6 is the ‘Group’ button that contacts all devices when pressed. This is perfect for announcements. You can also personalize the name or code on each unit.

It comes with 2 2000mAh batteries, long detachable antennas, headsets, belt clips, and a 30 day no reason return policy.

We found them very easy to set up and quick to charge so they would be ideal for beginners or shops whose staff are not experts on this kind of technology, they also hold a charge well. We did find the positioning of the volume dial to be a bit troublesome as it can be easily knocked and altered.

Dimensions – ‎15.3″ x 8.2″ x 7.8‎” | Weight – 8.13lb | Range – Up to 5 miles

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Quick charge
  • Great value for money when buying in bulk

Cons

  • Volume knob easily knocked
  • You only receive two clips and headsets
  • One charging dock for six walkie-talkies can cause a backlog.

Pxtn 16 Channel 2 Way Walkie Talkies (Set Of 4)

The pxton ‎PX-888S 4-pack offers excellent value for money. Each unit has 16 preset channels, a power-saving mode, flashlight, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack that can be used for as long as 96 hours on a full charge and 8-12 hours continuous use.

The fast charging facility only takes between 3-4 hours to charge fully and to make it easier, you get four charging docks with the walkie-talkies.

These are easy-to-use products that require no set-up, meaning you can use them straight from the box.

As well as the flashlight function, there is an emergency alarm that contacts all other units on the same channel.

The pack you receive comes with four walkie-talkies, four earpieces, 4 Li-ion batteries, four chargers, four belt clips, four slings, four detachable antennas, and two user manuals. It is worth noting that we found the clip quite tricky to attach, which was quite frustrating.

We found quite a limited range in built-up areas on testing these, probably about half a mile. It worked a lot better without obstructions and could reach almost 3 miles which were relatively good for the price.

Dimensions – ‎8.34″ x 1.89″ x 2.36″ ‎ | Weight – 2.72lb | Range – Up to 3 miles

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Long battery life
  • Good emergency features

Cons

  • Not a great range
  • Difficult to attach the belt clip
  • No display

Topsung M880 FRS Long Range Walkie Talkies (Set Of 2)

Although the Topsung M880 is marketed as an adult walkie-talkie, it is also a good option for kids thanks to its handy size, bright colors, and straightforward controls.

These are battery-powered and require 3 AA batteries. There are pros and cons to battery-powered walkie-talkies, but it does give you the option to carry spares, so you are covered.

There are 22 channels that can be protected with privacy codes and the keypad lock helps keep you safe from accidentally turning it on and waiting for your batteries.

The backlit LCD screen makes it easy for you to see what you are doing, and the Smart System automatically reduces background noise, scans for active channels, switches to a power save mode when not in use, and reminds you when you need to change batteries.

We found the range to be fairly limited. The advertised range will be for clear and unobstructed use, but we were hopeful we would have got close to the numbers advised. The instructions are not too clear either, and having some background knowledge will help with the setup.

Dimensions – 6.3″ x 1.97″ x 0.98″‎ | Weight – 2.9oz | Range – Up to 4 miles

Pros

  • Great smart features
  • Lockable keypad
  • Backlit LCD screen

Cons

  • Poor instructions
  • Exaggerated range
  • Uses batteries quickly

COTRE Rechargable Walkie Takies (Set Of 2)

The first thing to mention about these Cotre walkie-talkies is that the maximum range of 32 miles, as impressive as that is, is fairly specific in terms of being on two peaks without obstruction. This is still very impressive but is not a true reflection of day-to-day use.

That being said, the maximum range of 14 miles at sea, 3 miles in built-up areas, or 5 miles in wooded areas is still very impressive.

The easy-to-use units have an LCD screen and an LED flashlight, USB charging port and sound, and voice activation.

Access to weather alerts will keep you up to date with any severe weather news, and it is powered by rechargeable AA NiMh batteries that come with it.

The IPX4 waterproof keypad makes it ideal for outdoor use, and those that like to make the most of boating or kayaking will also find this a great choice.

As always, we will address reviews that are unimpressed with the real-life range capabilities. The maximum range advised will always be unobstructed and the best-case scenario. In use, you will have to accept that the range will, more often than not, be considerably less.

Dimensions – 10.75″ x 10.67″ x 2.44″ ‎ | Weight – 1.61lb | Range – Up to 32 miles

Pros

  • LED light
  • Waterproof keypad
  • USB charging with included USB cable

Cons

  • Unlikely you will ever have a range of the advertised 32 miles
  • Screen not backlit
  • Poor battery life when in regular use

SAMCOM Portable Handheld Radios (Set Of 4)

With only FRS channels, you won’t need to apply for a license making it a great way to cut costs.

They feature 22 channels, ten call tones, and a key lock button to stop accidental channel changes. You will be able to tune into broadcasts by United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which is ideal if you want o keep up to date on the weather or sailing conditions.

The easy-to-read LCD screen and large keyboard make it easy to use, and the LED lights are perfect for emergencies. The walkie-talkies are powered by a rechargeable 1250mAh Li-Polymer Battery, and low energy modes when not in use help to prolong battery life.

Dimensions –1.57″ 1.1″ 7.08″ ‎ | Weight – 2.61lb | Range – 5 miles

Pros

  • Emergency Light
  • Key lock
  • Weather and sea reports

Cons

  • Range easily obstructed
  • Bland design
  • Small interface not good for gloves

Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio (Set Of 2)

This is another battery-powered walkie-talkie option that takes 2 AAA batteries and can run up to 18 hours. This is a straightforward option that comes with a flashing low battery alert.

We found that the range is questionable, and any obstruction will significantly reduce the advised 16 miles. The battery casing is very difficult to remove in order to replace the batteries as well, and, going by other reviews, this tends to be an issue with the model.

There are plenty of plus points, though, and this small, durable walkie-talkie is really handy for family trips and simple to use.

Dimensions – 1.1″ x 1.91″ x 5.22″‎ | Weight – 0.25lb | Range – Up to 16 miles

Pros

  • Low price
  • Compact
  • Durable

Cons

  • Difficult battery compartment
  • Poor range
  • Basic features

Retevis RT22 Rechargeable Walkie Talkies (Set Of 6)

The Retevis RT22 Walkie Talkie is a very slim, compact unit that is perfect for business use. Select from 16 channels and make use of the alarm to alert team members of any issues.

The charging unit is designed to fit all six chargers at one time and has built-in overcharge and over-voltage protection.

It is powered by a 1000 mAh rechargeable battery that will advise you if the battery is running low. Use the battery save function to prolong battery life, and there is no need to worry about dusty storerooms as it is dust-proof.

The maximum range is up to 8 miles at sea, but you would be looking at closer to 0.5 miles in built-up areas. This is more than enough if you are planning on using them in the workplace.

Dimensions – 13.5 x 5.5 x 2.1 cm ‎ | Weight – 113g | Range – Up to 8 miles

Pros

  • Great value
  • Simple to use
  • Great charging unit

Cons

  • No screen
  • Short-range
  • Bland design

Midland GXT1000VP4 Long Range Walkie Talkies (Set Of 3)

The Midland GXT1000X3VP4 is a fantastic walkie-talkie that has a lot to offer. Dual power allows the use of the rechargeable 6v NiMH battery pack that comes with it or AA Alkaline batteries. The benefit of this is that you can carry spare batteries as a backup if you are going to be away from a power source.

The powerful GMRS two-way radio uses 50 channels and can reach up to 36 miles. It is JIS4 waterproof and can withstand being submerged for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water.

Weather alert technology will help keep you aware of any bad weather heading your way, and call alert and vibrate will keep you informed of any calls.

These units are also compatible with all other Midland FRS and GMRS walkie-talkies and accessories.

As you might expect for a high-powered walkie-talkie like this, the battery life can be pretty low. Having spare batteries is a good idea if you are going to be using them a lot.

Included in the box are the three radios, three rechargeable battery packs, three boom mix headsets, three belt clips, as well as a 120V dual desktop charger, AC adapter, and DC adapter. The sizing of the headsets is relatively small, so you might want to look at alternatives if you find they don’t fit comfortably.

The range of 36 miles advised would be a best-case scenario at sea with no obstructions. You are more likely to get from 2 up to 20 with partial obstruction out in the wild and under 1 mile in built-up areas.

Dimensions – ‎2.44″ x 1.52″ x 7.91″ | Weight – 2.64lb | Range- Up to 36 miles

Pros

  • Weather alert system
  • Dual power
  • Great build quality

Cons

  • Not entirely waterproof
  • Poor battery life
  • Small headsets

Walkie Talkie Buying Guide

Range

Knowing the range you will need will play a big part in how you shop for walkie-talkies. To be able to communicate over greater distances, you will need a powerful walkie-talkie. This will impact how much you have to pay as long-range walkie-talkies can be expensive.

Durability

Outdoor use will require a durable walkie-talkie. Whether you plan on using a walkie-talkie for camping expeditions, walking, hunting, or for work, you will want the security of knowing it will be able to handle bumps and knocks.

Specific models are designed to withstand rough conditions. If you rely on a walkie-talkie as your only means of communication in cut-off areas, this will be a priority.

Size

They are designed to be as small and lightweight as possible while still having enough power for their intended use. Their planned use will determine the size and weight of your walkie-talkie. Weatherproofing and protection can also bulk up the walkie-talkie, so deciding your needs should determine what size you should be looking at.

Sound clarity

The range and clarity advertised by manufacturers will depend on many factors. You should consider the environment you will be using the walkie-talkie in to understand its capabilities better.

Product descriptions will tend to advertise their maximum range. This would be over flat, unobstructed terrain in good weather. If you are going to be using the walkie-talkies in built-up areas, hills or mountains, or inclement conditions, it is unlikely that the range and clarity will reach this.

One good way to find out more about how suitable a walkie-talkie is for your intended use is by checking reviews by people in a similar industry or using them for similar purposes.

More often than not, reviewers will have tested the product in the field and will be able to report on any positive or negative aspects that may help to shape your decision.

Battery Life

Battery life will be a big part of how good your walkie-talkies are. If you are out in the wilderness and go to use them and are out of power, you could get in real trouble.

Rechargeable batteries are a popular option, and it is sometimes possible to get spares or power packs as a backup. The greater the range and more powerful the walkie-talkie, the quicker it will use power, so checking reviews and the manufacturer’s advice on estimated battery life will come in very useful.

Walkie talkies that use disposable AAA or AA batteries are still common and are handy for people that might not have the opportunity to recharge or want to carry spares.

Switching off the walkie-talkie when not in use and only using it when you have to will help to prolong the battery life.

Frequency range

The two major walkie-talkie categories are FSR (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service).

The cheaper and less powerful are FSR radios. They have a short range with a maximum of around 2 miles and are suited for general day-to-day use and outings. They are limited to 500mW and do not require a license to use.

GMRS walkie-talkies have a long-range that can cover anywhere between 5 and 30 miles. They have at least 15 channels, and a license is required to be issued by the Federal Communication Commission.

You will also have to consider which frequency you want to use and which suits your purpose best. VHF (Very High Frequency) is great for long-distance communication and can work through trees or foliages. They are not as effective if the distance in between has interference from buildings.

UHF does not work over long distances as effectively, but it can penetrate buildings, making them highly versatile.

Weatherproofing

The level of waterproofing your walkie-talkie has will be important for outdoor trips at any time of the year. You will be able to check the manufacturer’s specifications for any waterproofing the walkie-talkies may have, which would usually show as an IP rating.

Ingress protection ratings (IP) indicate how effective the sealing of the item provided is against the likes of water, dust, or dirt. The first digit represents the level of intrusion protection and goes from a scale of 0-6;

0 – No protection is offered at this rating

  • 1 – Protection is offered against solid objects that are over 50mm
  • 2 – Protection is offered against solid objects over 12mm
  • 3 – Protection is offered against solid objects over 2.5mm
  • 4 – Protection is offered against solid objects over 1mm
  • 5 – Protection is offered against dust limited ingress
  • 6 – Totally protected against dust

The second digit represents moisture protection from a scale of 0-9;

  • 0 – No protection is offered at this rating
  • 1 – Protection is offered against condensation
  • 2 – Protection is offered against water spray below 15°
  • 3 – Protection is offered against water spray below 60°
  • 4 – Protection is offered against water spray from all directions
  • 5 – Protection is offered against low-pressure water jets from all directions
  • 6 – Protection is offered against high-pressure water jets from all directions
  • 7 – Protection is offered against immersion up to 1m
  • 8 – Protection is offered against long term immersion up to an advised pressure
  • 9 – Protection is offered against steam-jet cleaning

 

Number of channels

Having a walkie-talkie with multiple channels is handy for contacting multiple people without causing confusion, talking over each other, or wasting battery power if you are not part of the conversation.

FCC regulations state that both GMRS and FRS users can use most channels between 462MHz – 467MHz. GMRS users are permitted more range and can use channels 15-22, while FRS walkie-talkies are limited to 2W on channels 1 to 7 and 15 to 22 and 0.5W on channels 8-14.

Walkie-talkies with more channels can operate across a greater frequency and are more expensive. Knowing what you will be using the walkie-talkie for and how many people you will be contacting on it is crucial before you start shopping for a new one.

Number of handsets

This is dependent on how many people you plan to use the walkie-talkies with. Any walkie-talkie can communicate with another as long as they are operating on the same frequency, regardless of manufacturer. It is important to mention that any additional features a walkie-talkie may have will only work with another that has the features.

Price

Walkie-talkie prices will vary depending on the manufacturer and model. The quality and features will also play a big part in how much you will have to pay. It is possible to purchase a good walkie-talkie for $50. As you start to go up in power, range, and durability, you will find the price beginning to rise too.

Walkie talkie features

When shopping for a walkie-talkie, there will be many features that you will have to consider. These include;

  • Vibration feature – Great for hunting, the vibration feature will alert you without giving away your location.
  • Keypad lock – This is a great feature that will stop you from accidentally turning the walkie-talkie on and wasting your battery life.
  • Backlit keypad and LCD screen – Essential for nighttime use to help you see what you are doing and keep track of your battery life.
  • Jack for mic or headphones – This is handy for hands-free use.
  • Channel saver – Being able to save channels will help you stay in contact without any effort.
  • Weather alerts– Keep up to date with all the latest weather updates to prevent getting caught in severe weather.
  • Out-of-range alert – Staying notified if you stray out of range of your partner is essential for communicating when you need to.
  • Built-in flashlight – We all know how essential a flashlight is for outdoor use. If you have forgotten yours or run out of battery, a built-in light could be a lifesaver.

Conclusion

We hope we have made buying walkie-talkies easier by giving you as much information about the best walkie-talkie brands and features.

The most critical aspect of choosing a walkie-talkie is knowing what its primary use will be. This will help you narrow down the features and range that you require.

Whether you are looking for a long-range walkie-talkie for work or expeditions or are on the lookout for a budget walkie-talkie for communicating on camping trips or with friends, doing a bit of research on the product itself should help to highlight any strengths or weaknesses.

FAQs

What is the best walkie-talkie brand on the market?

While different brands have features that set them apart, one brand that consistently comes up with top-quality, durable walkie-talkies is Motorola.

That being said, we would not discount the other brands that feature in this article as there are some very impressive models available.

What walkie-talkie range do I need?

The range you will need for your walkie-talkie is dependent on the intended use. Only you will be able to decide what you will need, but it is always better to have a greater range and not need it than find yourself out of range when you need to get in touch with someone.

Why are Motorola walkie-talkies expensive?

The walkie-talkie price is dependent on how powerful it is, as well as its durability and features. Motorola has a vast range of walkie-talkies to choose from that should be able to suit most budgets.

Can I improve the sound quality of my walkie-talkies?

Your sound quality will be determined by factors such as the range, obstructions, weather, and how many people are using the same frequency.

You cannot do much about the weather, but ensuring you have a powerful enough walkie-talkie to handle the range you use it for, moving to higher ground with fewer obstructions, and changing channels may help your sound quality.

Are two-way radios the same as walkie-talkies?

Most walkie-talkies are two-way radios, but not all two-way radios are walkie-talkies. A walkie-talkie is a mobile device, while some two-way radio options are too large to be considered portable.

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