What's worse than being up the creek without a paddle? How about being stuck without a good walkie talkie to call for help? A quality two way radio isn't just fun and practical – it can save your life.
But what is the best two way radio of 2017? In this guide, we’ll talk about the different kinds of features you need in different situations and then talk about our top picks for the best walkie talkies of the year.
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There are a lot of walkie talkies on the market that make some pretty bold promises. Whether you’re looking for the best urban walkie talkie or the best survival walkie talkie, you want to make sure you are getting something that lives up to its promises. So we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite options for those looking for the top rated walkie talkie. Checkout the short walkie talkie reviews below to learn more about the kinds of options you can find:
If you’re looking for a reliable and durably built two way radio, Cobra is definitely a brand you want to consider. These are a set of long lasting and powerful walkie talkies that are great for a number of purposes. Check out the key specs below:
While this is a versatile walkie talkie, it’s definitely designed with rough use in mind. The rubberized grips and water resistant casing makes it suited to outdoor use or use on a construction site. But there’s no reason you can’t use these for less rugged settings.
You get 22 channels and 142 privacy codes so you’ll have quite a wide range of options here. And the integrated flashlight adds another level of functionality that will really come in handy on camping or hunting trips. And the vibrating alert feature means that you will be aware of any incoming calls even in a noisy environment where you might not here the beep or in a quiet environment where you don’t want to make too much noise.
They also make a cobra 32 mile 2 way radio but considering all the different obstructions that can shorten the real range of a walkie talkie, you will almost certainly be just as well served by this 28 mile range walkie talkie.
Overall, these are a reliable set of walkie talkies. If you’re trying to outfit a larger team, you might want to look for a bulk set (like the 10 pack below) in order to save money. But if quality is a top priority, these are definitely worth the investment.
A great two way radio can get very expensive, especially if you are trying to buy them in bulk amounts to supply a team or an event. A lot of the bulk sets that you do find end up being cheaply made and hardly good enough to even last through a whole event. That is not true of these two way radios from Retevis.
They combine the perfect balance of functionality and affordability. So for those in need of a bulk set of quality two way radios, this is one of the best deals you can find. Check out the key specs below
Basically, this package is a complete set of 10 fully functional two way radios which each come with their own ear piece, belt clip, and drop in charging station. That means everybody on your team is fully equipped with a quality walkie talkie and the essential accessories that they need to customize it to their own needs.
Not only are you getting such a comprehensive package with everything you need, you are also getting it at a surprisingly affordable price. Plus, they are simple enough that everyone on your team will easily learn how to use them. The design is focused on only the most important features so you won’t have to deal with a bunch of unnecessary buttons or settings that you are never going to use.
If you have ever tried to coordinate a 10+ member team before, you will know how invaluable that simplicity is. We don’t all have the same level of intuition for technology so it’s reassuring to know that these two way radios are simple enough that even your least tech savvy members will be able to get the hang of them.
With that said, some people may find that the design is almost too simplified. If there are certain custom or specialized features that you need, you might not find them in these walkie talkies. They are designed to perform the essential functions as effectively as possible, not to wow you with cool extra features and capabilities. So if you need more than the basics, you are unfortunately going to have to go with a more expensive model that has built in those extras.
But if what you are looking for is a solid, fully functional set of basic but high quality two way radios, these are the ones for you. The price is fantastic for this number of radios and the quality is more impressive than you would expect for something so affordable.
When you are looking for solid and reliable two way radios, you are probably going to be heading for something from Midland. They make a fantastic two way radios designed for outdoor use in the woods as well as mountainous regions. They are not only very reliable and practical but also super durable and heavy duty in construction (but not in weight!).
So if they aren’t already at the top, you should definitely move Midland up to one of your top choices for potentially buying. Their two way talk radio is surprisingly affordable for how powerful and high quality it is. Check out the key specs below:
If you’re looking for the absolute best choice of two way radio for your next hunting trip, camping trip, or other outdoor or wilderness activity, this Midland GMRS radio is definitely one you want to strongly consider buying.
There are a lot of features that help this stand out as one of the best choices for outdoor and wilderness activities. First of all, the SOS siren can be a literal life saver if you find yourself lost, stranded, or injured with nobody around. The two way radio sends an emergency alarm sound to every walkie talkie on that channel so you will be able to call for help even if they are too far away to hear you in person.
On top of that, the casing of this two way radio is water resistant. That doesn’t mean you should go deep sea diving with it. But it does mean you can still use it even if gets splashed on or during light rainy weather. This is definitely useful if you’re going outdoors in less predictable weather.
whisper. And it also boasts a direct call feature so that, when needed, you can communicate directly with just one other radio rather than transmitting across the entire channel.
The range is a bit exaggerated. You have to consider that this is the potential range of the radios. In most environments, you’ve got a lot of objects and obstructions standing in the way (walls, buildings, trees, and so on) which will not block the signal but will significantly shorten it.
One important note of caution that we should mention regards the range of these walkie talkies. It advertises a 36 mile range maximum. But the keyword here is maximum. In order to actually get the full 36 mile range, you need to find 36 miles of completely flat terrain without a single obstruction between you and the other radio.
Since that is extremely unlikely in most everyday situations, it is extremely unlikely that you will ever experience that full range. This is true of every single walkie talkie you find no matter what maximum range they state or how well they are built. Because this is just a reality of radio waves. They are easily blocked by objects like trees, walls, mountains, and buildings
And no radio, no matter what it advertises is going to be able to send a signal through 36 miles of walls and other obstructions so this drawback does not reflect the quality of this particular product. It has more to do with customers misinterpreting the claims of the advertisement and setting their expectations too high.
A more realistic estimate of the range you will actually see in your normal usage is something between 2 to 4 miles. And while that sounds like a lot less than 36 miles, it is still very impressive. On a lower end model, you would be lucky to reach 2 miles.
And on higher end models, you are realistically looking at 6 miles or below. So this is a perfect middle ground. And overall, we would highly recommend this for our outdoorsy or woodsy readers out there!
If you are looking to invest in a walkie talkie that will last and perform exceptionally well throughout its lifetime, you definitely want to check out a Motorola handheld radio because it will definitely be one of the best investments you could make.
They offer a high quality design that is both very durable and highly functional. These are the premium products in the two way radio market.
While they aren’t the absolute cheapest options out there, they also aren’t the biggest ticket items either. In fact, for the level of quality, you would probably expect to see a much higher price tag. Check out the key specs below:
One of our favorite features of these two way radios is that they come with two power options. You can opt for using regular, disposable alkaline batteries which have an average lifespan of about 10 hours in these walkie talkies. Otherwise, you can use the included rechargeable batteries which have an average life span of about 8 hours.
In our opinion, you should get the best of both worlds. Start on the rechargeable but bring a spare set of alkaline batteries with you so that if the rechargeable runs low, you can pop it on the charger and continue using your walkie talkie with the alkaline batteries!
All that being said, these might feel a little too expensive for buying in bulk to supply a whole team. And that is especially true if your team is prone to dropping them or losing them. If a team member breaks or loses a Motorola two way radio, you are probably going to be angry. If they were to lose a cheap, more or less disposable walkie talkie, on the other hand, you wouldn’t be so stressed.
So if you are trying to supply a large team and you aren’t prepared to take the risk on every single team member treating their walkie talkie with the care it should be getting, then you might not want to bother investing the quality that Motorola offers.
However, if these are for personal use or for a team that you have full confidence in, then they are definitely a worthwhile investment because they will last much longer and perform much better than your lower end two way radio models. And that is because they are built so much better and designed to be so much more efficient. So they definitely come highly recommended to those who are prepared to treat them right!
If you are looking for a two way radio that is a little more versatile or something in the middle ground of the spectrum, then BaoFeng is a name you should remember. They make very affordable two way radios that are still functional and reliable enough that you can depend on them for most of your needs.
And more importantly for those looking to supply a team on the smaller side, these radios are sold at a bulk rate so you are getting an even better deal. Check out the key specs below:
After looking through these specs, it is easy to see why they are often regarded as the best Baofeng radio 2016. Not only are you getting the quality of other more expensive BaoFeng radios, you are getting them at a discounted rate by buying them in this bulk 6 pack. And to sweeten the deal even more, each two way radio comes with an ear clip, belt clip, and wrist strap to completely maximize their versatility and functionality.
And before you start to look for where the catch is, you can be reassured that it’s not found in the Baofeng radio range. With a realistic range of up to 3 miles in urban or wooded areas, this is a surprisingly strong walkie talkie.
If we had to pick a downside here, we would have to say it is the lack of quiet mode. Walkie talkies have a tendency to be loud or at least not very discreet. However, some of the new models have taken steps to minimize that noise or build in features that allow for more privacy. That is not the case here. So if you are hoping to have private or discreet conversations with them, you are out of luck.
Overall, this is a great set to buy because the price is low enough that it is not going to be a high risk investment and you aren’t going to be stressing about people losing or damaging them. Plus, they are well-built and durable enough that they can last much longer than you would expect at this price range.
There are many different uses for two way radios and each use comes with their own requirements. The best walkie talkies for hunting may not be the best for coordinating large teams. Let’s take a look at how you can use two way radios and when you would want to use them.
When using radios outdoors, your main issue is going to be range. The best long range walkie talkies aren’t necessarily the ones boasting the longest possible range. You want to look for ones that have a strong enough signal to be usable even with a lot of obstructions around. In the woods or mountains, you might have trees and rocks or even mountains between you and the other radio.
For coordinating teams, your main priority is probably going to be finding enough walkie talkies at a reasonable enough price. You need to strike a balance between budget friendly and high quality. To do that, your best bet is to sacrifice fancy extra features so you can find something that manages to be affordable by focusing on including only the very best essentials rather than tacking on a bunch of features but designing it so cheaply that they barely work.
If you’re getting walkie talkies to play with your kids, you want something that’s durable and can withstand relatively rough treatment. But you also want something that’s not so expensive that you’ll be constantly stressing about having them be broken by your kids. Since you won’t need a very wide range in most cases, focus on durable construction and low cost.
The main thing you want to think about when you are shopping for two way radios is: how many do you need and what do you need them for? If you need a lot and you plan to use them in tough circumstances where they are prone to breaking, you probably want to go for something a little simpler and more affordable. But if you just need a couple, it’s better to splurge on a couple of very good ones that can do more than just act as basic walkie talkies.