Best Walkie Talkie
Two-way radios, or walkie-talkies if you prefer, are one of the least expensive ways to communicate between parties. You can rely on them when cell phone service is spotty, they can keep families in touch with one another, and they're a crucial tool for staying safe in the wilderness or even on the water. There are two-way radios for every budget, with some of the cheaper models running a mere $20 for basic call capabilities; while the more expensive versions come with a whole list of additional features like weather radio channels, privacy codes to prevent unwanted outside interference on your signal and even GPS receivers.
The best two-ways offer greater talk range, and while most manufacturers claim such range abilities in the 20 mile range, or further even, these potential communication distances are only realistic on open water or flatlands with little to no obstacles to the signal. In more common surroundings, be it urban or rural, everything from trees to concrete will hinder your signal's true power and thus talk range is lessened greatly. The average range in this case is about two to four miles, and if your two-way is making clear, static-free transmissions at this distance, then you've got a good product.
Best Walkie Talkie Overall:
Two-way radios are the best way to communicate when cell phone service is difficult to come by, or if you'd rather not pay those monthly service bills. These radios claim long distance ranges, but you'd be hard-pressed to actually experience such communication range unless you're on the water, with no major obstacles in your way. But that doesn't mean you can't contact other parties over great distances. The average area for good, clear transmission on these types of devices is about two to three miles, before some static starts to impede the quality of the call. Obviously, less obstacles in the way between both points will improve signal strength, but that's just not a reality in many instances. Most of these radios offer twenty-two frequency options with privacy codes that give you a few thousand available channels for clear, consistent conversation. Extra features on many of these types of radios include channel scan, assignable tones, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) weather monitoring, hands-free capability, and call alerts. The five picks on our list represent some of the best two-way radios you can buy at the moment, each one chosen along the following criteria: size, ease of use, channel options, extra features, sound quality, communication range, battery life, and price.
Motorola's Talkabout series has two products on our list, and the first one, the MH230R has fantastic range and a strong enough signal to back it up, no matter what environment you find yourself in. The radios are also equipped with NOAA weather channels and over a hundred privacy codes for un-interrupted conversation. For added convenience, there's even a hands-free option for easy communication. Read Full Review
The most available channels of any pick on our list, the Midland GXT1000VP4 offers up to 50 possible frequencies and over double the amount of privacy codes of the other guys. They are also splashproof and come with NOAA channels for the latest weather and warning updates. eVOX technology gives these radios hands-free capabilities as well. Read Full Review
Twenty-two channels along both GMRS and FRS spectrums and an advertised 16 mile communication range, the UnidenGMR1635-2 radios are designed to transmit with little interference. These are pretty basic radios that come with transmission alert capabilities and channel scanner. Read Full Review
Cobra makes our list with these compact, hand-held radios that are capable of up to 20 miles of transmission range, over 2,000 channel combinations, NOAA radio monitoring, and hands-free communication. They come with rechargeable NiMH batteries that can give you up to 8 hours of talk time with average use. Read Full Review
Our second pick from Motorola's Talkabout line doesn't make a lot of the same claims as the bigger models. These are also well-suited for use by kids and families, either around the house for fun or to stay in touch when you know they're nearby. These radios are incredibly lightweight, come in blue, and have basic functionality. Read Full Review
Best Budget Walkie Talkie:
We get it, times are tough. Money's tight. But you still need a good two-way radio and you don't want to spend a fortune. Luckily you won't have to, not with the wide range of choices available to you right now. We've found five great two-way radios from leading manufacturers, all priced under $50. These two-ways offer clear transmissions over lengthy distances, with basic features that make them convenient and easy to use. They offer channels over both GMRS and FRS frequencies, the first of which requires a license for use by the FCC. There are models we spotlight here with only the essentials and others that have more bells and whistles for further functionality and convenience. Check out what we've found, each one chosen based on the following criteria; portability, call quality, communication range, channel options, added features, functionality, ease of use, battery life, size, and price.
The MIdland LXT500VP3 has the perfect combination of everything you could possibly want in a budget two-way radio. A range of up to 24 miles, 22 channels, dual power sources, channel scan, and a three year warranty for protection. Did I mention that they're also water-resistant? But wait, there's more. Read Full Review
Uniden's GMR1636-2C radios offer good functionality for the money, featuring GMRS and FRS channel frequencies along with the basics you'd expect on a unit at this price point. But perhaps the most useful function here is the battery meter, to alert you when the power is low. Read Full Review
At a retail price of about $25, these basic two-way radios from Motorola are perfect for the kids to play with around the house, or keep with them for easy contact when they go hang out with their friends. There are no fancy bells and whistles here, they don't even come with rechargeable batteries, but they do provide good, clear communication without much interference Read Full Review
Among the more expensive picks on our list, the CXT145 boasts a couple of additional features like the inclusion of an NOAA weather channel receiver and a power saving feature that cuts out weak transmissions to preserve battery life. These radios are compact enough to take along in your backpack and have a very simple user interface, requiring just four buttons to access every mode and channel. Read Full Review
The second of our picks from Motorola offers the most features of any product on this list. You get all the standard functions you'd expect in addition to the NOAA weather receiver, as well as privacy codes for a wider range of channels, and an alert siren if you suddenly find yourself in some kind of urgent trouble. Read Full Review
Best GPS Walkie Talkie:
Two-way radios are great for communicating between two parties, but add GPS capabilities to the equation and you've got a unit that does double duty in keeping you informed, safe, and always in touch. These units offer multiple channels of communications, with long range capacity, and extra features such as weather radios for up to the minute alerts and codes to prevent channel interference. The GPS functions on these types of radios vary; with the abilities to chart maps, store waypoints, find your location or that of someone else, even broadcast your location to other radios in the area and on social networks, you'll never be lost...but if you are, these radios can get you back to familiar ground safely.
There aren't a lot of manufacturers making these types of radios, but those who do have put a lot of time and planning into making good quality products that may be called on to save your life someday. Check out the ones we've determined are worth a look based on the following criteria; communication range, channel options, GPS capabilities and functions, functionality, ease of use, and price.
Garmin is the industry leader in GPS devices and applications. So it's no surprise the Rino 655t takes the top spot here. It's their top of the line model two-way radio, featuring 22 channels of GMRS and FRS frequency communication, a highly sensitive GPS receiver preloaded with full coverage of the entire United States. You also get a long list of additional features, like a camera, weather radio and an easy to use touchscreeen display even with gloves on. But that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface here. Read Full Review
Motorola's MOTOTRBO line of radios are geared towards use by security firms and businesses who require a radio unit that will do the job everytime, without fail. When the stakes are high, they want a radio that communicates under any circumstance and the 6580 is that unit. This portable is available in 800 or 900 MHz frequency bands, comes equipped with an integrated GPS receiver, and is designed for use by whole teams of personnel. These radios have exceptional call clarity, battery performance, and the ability to connect with mobile phones and landlines as well. Read Full Review
The Lifeline from Nautilus is completely submersible with a 2-6 mile communication range along all marine channels. You can talk for up to four hours on its battery life with a simple user interface that involves three primary buttons to control just about every function of this VHF radio. GPS lets you store up to 30 waypoints along your intended route. Read Full Review