August 24, 2021

6 Best Two-Way Radios

August 24, 2021

6 Best Two-Way Radios

The best two-way radios help in effective and seamless communication when you are hiking, trekking, biking, or doing any outdoor activities. With these radios, you will be able to talk to your group anytime without any interruptions. 

Keep in mind that smartphones aren't reliable during these off-grid adventures. You would really need the service of these two-way radios to inform people about your location and status. You can also call for help on any of the radio channels. 

The following are some of the top two-way radios in the market today. They are structurally solid and compact, allowing them to tackle different outdoor settings and conditions. 

6 Best Two-Way Radios

 Range (Under Optimal Conditions) Battery LifeCompatibility
Motorola T600 Talkabout Two-Way Radio Up to 35 milesUp to 23 hoursFRS/GMRS
Motorola T460 Talkabout Two-Way Radio Up to 35 milesUp to 26 hoursFRS/GMRS
Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Radio Up to 36 milesUp to 24 hoursFRS/GMRS
Cobra RX680 Two-Way Radio Up to 38 milesUp to18 hoursFRS/GMRS
Baofeng UV-5R Two-Way Radio Up to 20 milesUp to 8 hoursVHF/UHF
Motorola T800 Talkabout Two-Way Radio Up to 35 milesUp to 24 hoursFRS/GMRS

1. Motorola T600 Talkabout Two-Way Radio

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Motorola is a household name when it comes to communication devices. Hence, it isn't that surprising if this manufacturer offers a superb two-way radio for you. Specifically, the Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio is a favorite two-way radio for leisure and outdoor purposes. It comes in pairs so that you and your companion can have compatible units. The radios have a waterproof construction so that you can use them in watery conditions. They also have a keypad lock to prevent your setting from being changed accidentally. 

This radio features twenty-two channels and 121 privacy codes. Hence, you can have up to 2662 combinations of secure and traffic-free channels where you and your company can talk. It also has eleven weather channels and an NOAA band that update you with the latest weather information. But keep in mind that its NOAA radio service is not available in all areas. 

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Number of channels - 22
  • Number of privacy codes - 121
  • Battery life - Up to 23 hours
  • Power output - Up to 5 watts
  • VOX feature - Available
  • Compatibility - FRS/GMRS
  • Effective range - Up to 35 miles (under optimal conditions)
  • Item dimensions - 7.78 inches x 2.4 inches x 1.5 inches
  • Item weight - 0.54 pounds

2. Motorola T460 Talkabout Two-Way Radio

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The Motorola T460 is an excellent alternative to the T6000 Talkabout. It provides a seamless means of communicating with other people in your group or company. It is built for outdoor adventures due to its rugged shell. It has an ergonomic body that lets you hold it even if you're wearing gloves. Similar to the T600, this two-way radio has a range of up to 35 miles under suitable settings. But in most cases, its effective range is at one to three miles. 

Moreover, this radio has multiple privacy codes so that you can have a channel where there are no unwanted chatters and interruptions. Its emergency alert button and built-in flashlight are extra useful in emergencies. You don't have to worry if it gets wet; after all, it has an IP54 waterproof rating. It can survive splashes of water thanks to its rugged and seamless body. 

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Number of channels - 22
  • Number of privacy codes - 121
  • Battery life - Up to 26 hours
  • Power output - Up to 2 watts
  • VOX feature - Available
  • Compatibility - FRS/GMRS
  • Effective range - Up to 35 miles (under optimal conditions)
  • Item dimensions - 1.37 inches x 2.26 inches x 7.54 inches inches
  • Item weight - 0.42 pounds

3. Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Radio

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You should also check out the Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Radios. These units can provide exceptional two-way communication. Furthermore, their signal and reception can persist even in unfavorable weather conditions. They also have a weatherproof construction, but without the extra weight or bulk. This radio has up to 50 channels to choose from. And believe it or not, it includes up to 387 privacy codes. Hence, there's always a secure and traffic-free channel where you and your companions can converse. 

Similar to the two Motorola two-way radios, the Midland GXT1000VP4 can communicate in both GMRS and FRS radios. Interestingly, the radios automatically reduce their output by half if you are in FRS-only channels. Keep in mind that these devices have a powerful 2-watt output. Under optimal conditions, these two-way radios can receive transmissions from up to 36 miles. 

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Number of channels - 50
  • Number of privacy codes - 387
  • Battery life - Up to 24 hours
  • Power output - Up to 2 watts
  • VOX feature - Available
  • Compatibility - FRS/GMRS
  • Effective range - Up to 36 miles (under optimal conditions)
  • Item dimensions - 1.4 inches x 2.5 inches x 7.75 inches inches
  • Item weight - 4.8 pounds

4. Cobra RX680 Two-Way Radio

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Another durable two-way radio that is worth recognizing is the Cobra RX680. This unit has an IP54 rating, which makes it both waterproof and dustproof. You can take it on your hiking and backcountry trips without worrying about its structural integrity. The radio is also a long-range communication device; based on its manufacturer, it can pick up signals as far as 38 miles. Moreover, it has 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, giving you access to its 2662 channel combinations. You can easily find a line where there are no interruptions from other radio users. 

With this two-way radio, you will be able to get the latest weather information. It has been equipped with a NOAA band receiver so that you can get alerts of incoming storms and weather disturbances. It has a decent runtime, too. A single charge lets you use the radio for up to 18 hours. Furthermore, the device includes a voice-activated transmission for hands-free operation. 

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Number of channels - 22
  • Number of privacy codes - 121
  • Battery life - Up to 18 hours
  • Power output - Up to 2 watts
  • VOX feature - Available
  • Compatibility - FRS/GMRS
  • Effective range - Up to 38 miles (under optimal conditions)
  • Item dimensions - 10.91 inches x 7.44 inches x 3.23 inches
  • Item weight - 1.23 pounds

5. Baofeng UV-5R Two-Way Radio

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The Baofeng UV-5R Two-Way Radio has been a popular outdoor radio used by hikers, sportsmen, and other enthusiasts. Equipped with 128 channels, it can certainly give you a dedicated line with minimal traffic and chatter. It also has a strong reception, thanks to its strong output. Specifically, the Baofeng UV-5R is a 5-watt two-way radio, so there's a guarantee that it can work under unfavorable conditions. Moreover, the radio has a busy channel lock-out capability so that you can easily scan "empty" usable channels. 

Of course, the device also has a rugged construction. It is waterproof and can resist the entry of microscopic elements such as dust and moisture. It also includes a LED flashlight and emergency alert. Programming this two-way radio is pretty easy, as it has a user-friendly interface. The keypad lock feature also prevents you from accidentally changing it. 

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Number of channels - 108
  • Number of privacy codes - Unspecified
  • Battery life - Up to 8 hours
  • Power output - Up to 5 watts
  • VOX feature - Available
  • Compatibility - VHF/UHF
  • Effective range - Up to 20 miles (under optimal conditions)
  • Item dimensions - 6.77 inches x 4.29 inches x 3.98 inches
  • Item weight - 1 pound

6. Motorola T800 Talkabout Two-Way Radio

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The T800 Talkabout is among the latest two-way radios that Motorola has produced. It is more ergonomic than its predecessors, as it features multiple features such as Bluetooth connectivity, offline location sharing, off-grid broadcasting and messaging, and emergency location function. This unit also includes 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, giving you 2,662 combinations. You and your group will indeed find a free channel that you can use here. 

This two-way radio has a maximum range of 35 miles, but it only depends on the condition of the terrain that you are in. It has a NOAA alert feature and eleven weather channels, as well, so that you can get the latest weather updates. Surely enough, the Motorola T800 Talkabout is rugged enough to be taken in any outdoor setting. It can withstand water splashes and is impervious to the elements. 

DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Number of channels - 22
  • Number of privacy codes - 121
  • Battery life - Up to 24 hours
  • Power output - Up to 2 watts
  • VOX feature - Available
  • Compatibility - FRS/GMRS
  • Effective range - Up to 36 miles (under optimal conditions)
  • Item dimensions - 7.52 inches x 2.2 inches x 1.28 inches
  • Item weight - 0.47 pounds

A Guide In Choosing The Best Two-Way Radios

These are the features that you need to check whenever buying a two-way radio.

  • Channels - Many two-way radios these days have 22 channels. They can either be compatible with the Family Radio Service or General Mobile Radio Service. The more channels you have, the more "platforms" you have where you and your group can communicate.
  • Privacy codes - Even if your radio has 100 channels, it is still not enough, especially if you are in a crowded area. The channels can get packed with chatters and conversations from other people. Hence, there's no privacy at all. To solve this problem, these two-way radios have been integrated with privacy codes in the form of Continuous Digital Coded Squelch System or Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System. With a privacy code, you can create a sub-channel within a channel. The more privacy codes you have, the more sub-channels the channel can establish where you can communicate with your team without unwanted chatter. For example, channel one code 7. 
  • Size - If you are picking a two-way radio for your outdoor trips, then size matters. Go for those that are small, compact, and lightweight. They are easier to carry even if you are backpacking. It should have an ergonomic structure so that you will be able to hold it even if your hands are clad by gloves. The antenna should be long, however, so that it can receive and transmit reception easily.
  • Durability - Since you are going to take these radios in outdoor settings, it is essential that they have a rugged construction. Of course, they should be waterproof and dustproof. Otherwise, the sensitive parts of the radios would be compromised by water, moisture, and other elements. It will also be beneficial if the radio has impact resistance so that if you drop it accidentally, it will not get damaged. 
  • Weather channels - It is somewhat essential that your two-way radios have weather channels and weather alert systems from NOAA. These channels are essential so that you can monitor the latest weather updates and atmospheric conditions. It might save you from potential emergencies and SHTF situations. 
  • Keypad lock - When it comes to two-way radios, those that have keypad locks are way better than those who don't have them. Usually, there's a big chance that you mess up the settings of your two-way radio if you stash it inside your pockets or packs. With a keypad lock, you can prevent these accidental presses and keypad mashing from happening. 
  • Range - It is also essential that you determine the maximum range that two-way radio can reach. Most of the manufacturers of these radios claim that their devices can reach anywhere from 20 miles and 35 miles. However, keep in mind that such a capability is only possible if the conditions are favorable. And in the real world, In everyday settings, the capacity of these radios lets them communicate with other compatible radios from 2 to 5 miles. 
  • Power output - The wattage of these two-way radios has an impact on their performance. You see, the more powerful your two-way radio, the better the reception it gets. Even if there are obstructions around you, these radios can overcome them. Most FRS-only radios have two watts of power, while GMRS-only radios have five watts.

In Summary

The best two-way radios enable outdoor goers to communicate with their companions and groups while treading the wild. In off-grid applications, these radios are more effective than smartphones. After all, they don't rely on satellite signals for them to operate. 

If you are going to buy these radios, buy a pair of the same model and manufacturer. In this way, you wouldn't fuss over syncing setups and troubleshoot compatibility settings. 

That's it for now. If you have questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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