The best walkie-talkie should offer two things that phones don’t. The ability to communicate in areas with little to no mobile coverage. And the ability to chat with a group of people simultaneously in specialized locations.
So, whether you’re someone who likes to go hiking or camping with people in areas outside of cell service, or if you work in a busy warehouse where reliable communication is vital, a good walkie-talkie will come in handy.
The classic walkie-talkie setup requires every user to have a matching radio on the same channel. One person can occupy this channel anytime by pressing the talk button. The other radios play what they hear through their speakers.
With walkie-talkies, you’re supposed to say over and release the talk button when you’re done talking.
Read our article on the best walkie-talkie to stay in contact.
General walkie-talkie terms
Before we get to our list, here are a few general terms you should know:
The maximum range for a walkie-talkie is usually 5 miles. However, some designs can cover up to 36 miles when transmitting between two high points or a line of sight. That said, any further than the designated range, distance, bad weather, or curvature of the earth gets in the way.
Normally, some walkie-talkies are explicitly designed for construction or search and rescue. But generally, they all work similarly with multi-channels and frequency ranges.
Channels are like different rooms along the radio wave that you can pop into for a more private conversation. The more channels you have access to, the more likely you find a channel that no one is using. This access will help you communicate relatively privately without being interrupted by strangers.
The battery life of each walkie-talkie differs. Some have an average battery life of 14 hours, while some have more. Ideally, most walkie-talkies have rechargeable battery life, but some are made with disposable batteries.
Walkie-talkies are made to survive the wear and tear that constant use can cause. A basic walkie-talkie has slip textures. But, the best walkie-talkies typically have non- slip textures and, in many cases, are water-resistant and shockproof.
The excellent news about walkie-talkies is that they have many great options and cost little. We’ve compiled a list of the best walkie-talkies and their features.
Motorola Talkabout T800
- Channel: 22 (121 privacy) FRS
- Power: 2 watts
- Range: 35 miles (line-of-sight), 6 miles (outdoors)
- Battery: 14h (rechargeable) 25h (alkaline)
- Water protection: IPX4 Water resistant
- Weight: 214g
- Dimensions: 191 x 56 x 36mm
The Motorola Talkabout might just be the king of versatility. It has twenty-three channels, and it comes with 121 privacy codes. That gives you 2,662 chances to have your own private communication channel.
In addition to receiving NOAA weather alerts, you’ll be able to pair this radio with your phone. You can do this with the Motorola app. This allows you to navigate and access text messaging without cellular service.
The T800 is sleek, water-resistant, and has a reverse backlit LCD. It also has raised buttons that are easy to feel without having to look.
- Users can use it with disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries.
- Texting and vibrating alerts are used in silent communication.
- It comes with a reverse backlit LCD.
- Capable of location sharing off-grid.
- Its actual range is shorter than its specified range.
- The Motorola app that it pairs to could be better.
- IPX4 rating is underwhelming as it is only water resistant.
Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-Way Radios, 2 Pack, Black/BlueList Price: $109.99Price: $97.99You Save: $12.00 (11%)Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
- Channels: 128 channels,
- Tuner: VHF + UHF (GMRS)
- Power: 8 watts
- Range: over 15 miles
- Battery: 1800mAh rechargeable
- Weight: 219g
- Dimensions: 109 x 32 x 58mm
The Baofeng BF-F8HPis a capable and fully featured radio. But it legally requires a ham radio operator license to use it in the US. This walkie-talkie provides scanning receiver functionality on VHF/UHF frequencies and an FM tuner.
All its thirty GMRS channels, including the eight repeater channels, are supported in receive and transmit mode. It also comes with PTT(Push-to-talk) buttons, making it easy to take advantage of the semi-duplex function. The PTT monitors two channels at once, giving priority to the one with an active call.
Its high power also makes it capable of transmitting further and through more obstructions like hilly terrain and severe weather.
- Choosing multiple channels and privacy codes is relatively easy.
- It is one of the best cheap two-way radios.
- Built-in radio frequencies for listening.
- It has long battery life.
- It covers a remarkable range.
- To avoid penalties, you have to know all its local regulations.
- Requires specific license(s) to operate in most areas.
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF…Price: $69.89Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
Backcountry Access BC link 2.0
- Service: FRS
- Transmission power: Two watts
- Channels: 22
- Weight: 11 oz
- Dimensions: 2.5 x 1 x 6.5 inches
As the name implies, this radio is built for backcountry skiers and snowboarders. This should pretty much show that harsh weather and significant impacts won’t even faze it. Also, the BC Link 2.0 displays an impressive range when using the radio across steep landscapes and during a blizzard.
In addition, the radio is dust and water-resistant; therefore no sign of wear and tear when used in harsh weather conditions.
Although the Backcountry Access BC link 2.0 can fit into a backpack, it is heavy. Mainly due to the bulk of the external microphone and body. You might want to house the body of the walkie in your bag. And then clip the microphone on a shoulder strap to avoid the unnecessary weight. The Backcountry Access BC link 2.0 c also lacks the features of higher-tech radios. Like the ability to connect to non-FRS frequencies or the option to add more range.
- It is built for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Dust and water-resistant.
- It handles snow and lights precipitation well.
- Longlasting rechargeable battery life.
- It is quite bulky.
Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 Radio,Black/Gold,One SizeList Price: $179.95Price: $142.11You Save: $37.84 (21%) Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
- Tuner: UHF
- Batteries: Two AA batteries.
- Channels: There are 22 channels in total.
- Weight: 8.4oz.
- Dimensions: 2.5 x 1.5 x 7.5inches.
The Motorola T600 has very high water resistance and can survive for up to 30 minutes underwater. Although it’s unlikely to get that deep because it floats. It has been tested in free straight line range, which is ideal for a long-distance conversation on water. The Motorola T600 walkie-talkie also comes with a led that lights up in the water. This makes it easier to read the frequencies.
- It floats for a considerate period.
- It is expensive
- It is heavy and oversized.
Motorola Talkabout T600 Two-Way Radio, 35 Mile,12 Pack, LimePrice: $539.99Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
- Range: 36 miles
- Power output: 5 watts
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
- Battery: NiMH rechargeable battery or four AA alkaline batteries
- Size: 7.9 x 2.5 x 1.8 inches
- Weight: 0.3 lb
- Waterproof: yes
- License needed: yes, if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)
The Midland comes with incredible features and a three-year warranty. It is said to be specially designed for outdoor activities. This radio has five animal calls and a quiet mode that disables all sounds. The Whisper component allows subtle communication. While the clear calling skills enable you to notify one team member without disturbing others.
During extreme weather conditions, you’ll get weather warnings. When combined with the SOS siren alerts, the device prioritizes your safety. Also, the general hands-free setting enables you to interact freely.
- Splash resistant.
- High quality.
- There are numerous amount of channels available.
- Plenty of unique features.
- Considerable communication range.
- It is a rechargeable model.
- Physical obstructions may disrupt the communication range.
- It is water resistant, not waterproof, which means it is not submersible.
- Charging takes too long.
Midland GXT1050VP4 Long Range Walkie Talkie – 50 Channel GMRS Two Way Radio (Mossy Oak Camo, 6…Price: $239.97Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
Midland x talker T10
- Number of Batteries: 6 AAA batteries.
- Tuner Technology: UHF
- Dimensions: 2 x 1.2 x 5.5 inches
- Water Resistance Level: Waterproof
- Battery Life: 10 Hours
Although it has a limited range, the Midland x talker T10 is lightweight and compact. It is easy to carry it in a backpack or a side pocket. Unlike some cheap walkie-talkies, the T10 comes with a fair water resistance. The midland x-talker T10’s case and antenna is rugged and can withstand a bit of use and abuse. It is recommended when looking for a straightforward yet, cheap walkie-talkie.
- Simple, small, and lightweight.
- Longlasting battery life.
- Limited range.
Midland T10 22 Channel FRS Walkie Talkie – Up to 20 Mile Range Two-Way Radio – Black (Pack of 4…Price: $59.98Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
- Range: 35 miles
- Power output: 2 watts
- Frequency ranges: 462-467 MHz (FRS/GMRS)
- Battery: NiMH rechargeable battery or 3 AA Alkaline batteries
- Size: 7.54 x 2.26 x 1.37 inches
- Weight: 0.43 lb
- Tuner Technology: UHF
- Waterproof: yes (IP54)
- License needed: yes, if GMRS channels will be used (FCC license)
The T460 was built to take a heavy toll. With a waterproof and sturdy casing, you won’t have to hide when the weather turns bad. In the case of an emergency, additional AA batteries could burst. The battery life of the T460 is impressive.
Stay updated with real-time weather conditions by turning on the weather channel or initiating weather alerts. With these capabilities, you will always be prepared for the unexpected.
The Motorola Talkabout T460 is one of the top candidates for a long-lasting walkie-talkie with a reasonable price. With its intuitive design and lightweight, it can be used by anyone. Its greatest strengths are convenience and capabilities, with various alert systems to choose from. It has a built-in flashlight which makes night journeys an easy experience. The hands-free is one of the additional features.
You can charge the batteries via USB or a charging station. This radio also has noise filtration, which is a great feature. Motorola Solutions’ radios, which also have this feature, ensure continuous communication.
- According to Motorola, batteries can last 26 hours.
- It has a functional design with a low weight.
- It is easy to set up.
- The icons and buttons on the walkie-talkie might take some getting used to.
- The frequency range depends highly on your environment.
MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS Talkabout T460 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio Pair (Dark Blue)List Price: $89.99Price: $79.00You Save: $10.99 (12%)Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
- Batteries: 3 Lithium Ion batteries are required.
- Dimensions: 82 x 2.28 x 3.06 inches
- Noise Level: 40 dB
- Weight: 1.81 Pounds
- Voltage: 3.7 Volts
Quite frankly, It’s hard to find a better bargain than this RB18 three-pack from Retevis. Not only does this bundle save you money, but it’ll also provide you with more than you paid for.
The RB18 can access 23 channels and 10 NOAA weather channels. This makes it suitable for tracking incoming storms while there’s still time to prepare. Its illuminated screen displays the current channel selection and battery life. It also has a microphone jack that lets you get the most out of the radio’s voice-activated capability.
These are excellent features, and the RB18’s low prices make this a great deal.
- Voice activation is included with nine sensitivity settings.
- There is a built-in flashlight for emergency use.
- NOAA weather alerts keep you alert
- Disposable batteries cannot be used as a backup.
- The construction is nice, but it is not rugged.
Retevis RB18 Walkie Talkies Rechargeable,Long Range Rechargeable Two Way Radio for Adults,Dual…Price: $44.99Buy NowAvailable from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
Types of walkie-talkie radio services
Family radio service (FRS)
FRS radios have limited range and signal strength. Mostly because their transmitting power cannot exceed two watts. But, there are easy and inexpensive to use as it does not require any license. They’ve become widely used by people who love outdoor activities and like to communicate on the go.
General mobile radio service (GMRS)
The general mobile service uses FM radio frequencies, like the family radio service. Doing this results in more apparent signal quality than what you’d get from a CB radio.
That said, the difference between FRS and GMRS is in the power output. A GMRS radio will give you access to a better signal, increased range, and less chatter from other radios. The con of GMRS is that you must be licensed to use it, which is a complicated process.
What is the best inexpensive walkie-talkie?
The best inexpensive walkie-talkie is Motorola’s Talkabout T200 series. It’s meant for families and friends who want simple and easy communication when hiking.
What’s the difference between a walkie-talkie and a two-way radio?
All walkie-talkies are two-way radios, but not all two-way radios are walkie-talkies. A walkie-talkie is a portable two-way radio that users can hold in hand. A two-way radio is a transceiver that transmits and receives radio communications.
What is the longest distance a walkie-talkie can reach?
Some walkie-talkies can work over 100 miles. However, these kinds tend to require a license from the FCC.
Why do people still use walkie-talkies?
People still use walkie-talkies because they allow cheap and instant communication: regardless of location or cellular service.
Do walkie-talkies work anywhere?
Yes, walkie-talkies can work anywhere in the world.
How many walkie-talkies can be on the same channel?
You can put any number of walkie-talkies on the same channel. However, only one person can talk at a time.