If you’re in the market for an inexpensive and reliable way to communicate with members of your household, colleagues at work, or keep in touch with a large group during a trip, walkie-talkies are a fun and functional piece of technology that can eliminate the need for expensive cell phone bills and a constant line of sight.
Walkie-talkies are a great way to stay connected to friends and family when cell phones aren’t an option. Many purchase walkie-talkies for trips on cruises or camping when cell phones are either too expensive to use with roaming charges or there aren’t any nearby cell towers. Walkie-talkies are also an easy way to maintain contact when on a road trip with a large group, with each car having their own walkie-talkie and eliminating the need to use cell phones.
What To Consider Before Buying A Walkie Talkie
Before discussing walkie-talkies, it’s important to first consider the terminology. Walkie-talkies are often referred to as two-way radios, although the technical difference between the two is that a walkie-talkie is always portable (hence the name) while it’s possible to have a stationary two-way radio. But for the most part, these terms can be used interchangeably.
Two terms to look out for when shopping for two-way radio are FRS and GMRS, which stand for Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service, respectively. For casual use, whether that’s communicating with your family while hiking or checking in with another car on a group road trip, FRS will be the best option. GMRS is more powerful and has a greater range, but that means a license is required to operate on these channels.
What We Looked for When Choosing the Best Walkie Talkies
When picking out the best walkie-talkies, we included both FRS options that can be purchased and used right away, as well as more powerful GMRS two-way radios that can be used in professional settings. GMRS walkie-talkies require an FCC license to operate.
We picked out options ranging from inexpensive options that kids and families could use to more expensive, professional tools for job sites and remote excursions. Whether you’re preparing to hike the great outdoors with a large group, want to keep an eye on your kids or need to add extra security measures to your workplace, we’ve got a walkie-talkie that fits your lifestyle.
Finally, if you’re looking for something a little more powerful, be sure to check out the SPY guide to the best long-range walkie talkies.
1. Motorola Solutions T470 Two-Way Radio
Motorola makes both FRS and GMRS radios, and this option fits into the former category. That means you can use it without needing a license. It features a rechargeable battery, making it easy to keep it topped up before use. It has a built-in flashlight, a sleek design and IPX4 water resistance.
Pros: Sleek look. Can be used without a license. Rechargeable battery and built-in flashlight.
Cons: Other options on this list have a longer range.
2. Midland 50 Channel Two-Way Radio
If you need a pro-grade option, the Midland can handle just about any setting. The two-way splash resistant walkie-talkies (six are included) can reach up to a 36-mile range in areas with little obstruction. The Midland has access to 50 GMRS channels and privacy codes with 3,124 channel options to ensure no one can hear your conversation. This unit also has a NOAA Weather Scan that can alert users of inclement weather in their area. The Midland has handy shortcuts, like direct calls to instantly contact members of your group and different ring tones for different members. It also features a dual watch to allow you to monitor two channels at once and safety measures like quiet vibrate alerts and an SOS siren. The walkie-talkies come with two boom mic headsets and belt clips for easy use.
Pros: Voice and sound activation for hands-free use. A pioneer in two-way radio technology with 50 years of experience, Midland is an ideal choice for those who need a walkie-talkie that can literally go the distance.
Cons: Only comes in multi-pack options. GMRS requires a license.
3. Cobra ACXT645 Waterproof Walkie Talkies
This option from Cobra has up to a 35-mile range, and its rugged design includes IPX4 waterproofing to keep it dry in wet weather. There are 22 channels and 121 privacy codes to keep your conversation secure. Plus, you can access NOAA weather stations to stay aware of the weather, wherever you may be. You can also use voice-activated transmission for hands-free use.
Pros: Rechargeable design. Water and drop resistant. Built-in LED flashlight.
Cons: As with all walkie-talkies, the range will vary considerably depending on conditions.
4. Midland X-TALKER T51VP3
This option from Midland is a good pick for a basic, economical option that you can use camping or hiking. It relies on FRS, meaning you can use it without needing a license, and you get access to 22 channels. You can also use this radio hands-free with voice activation. In addition to the two radios, you get a tabletop charging dock, a USB cable, belt clips and two rechargeable battery packs.
Pros: Voice activation for hands-free use. NOAA alerts for the weather. Handy accessories included.
Cons: Not as many privacy codes as you get with other options.
5. Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio
For a walkie-talkie that the whole family can use, we recommend the small but powerful Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio. Available in bright blue or pink, the T100 has up to 22 channels and can reach a maximum distance of 16 miles without any obstructions in between. The straightforward design of the radios makes them easy to use with clearly marked buttons for sound and menu. The small display tells users which channel they’re using, how much battery life they have left and their volume level. Both radios come with a convenient belt clip and instructions.
Pros: The T100 is a great basic radio that can be used by both children and adults and features an extended 18-hour battery life and up to 22 channels.
Cons: The radios do not have an automatic shut off and if users forget to turn them off, the battery will be drained. The alkaline batteries must be removed and recharged in a separate recharger, which can be cumbersome.
6. COBRA ACXT390 Walkie Talkies
These walkie-talkies from Cobra use rechargeable batteries, which can be recharged using a regular micro USB cable. That way, you don’t need to carry around a special kind of charger just for your walkie-talkies. Voice-activated transmission makes it easy to keep in touch even when your hands are occupied. The walkie-talkies have a range of up to 23 miles. The NOAA receiver allows you to get necessary weather alerts.
Pros: Recharges using micro-USB, eliminating the need for a special adapter or cable. Receives NOAA channels. Voice-activated operation.
Cons: Belt clip could be better.
7. Motorola T200TP Talkabout Radio
These radios from Motorola come in a pack of three, so you stock up to keep your entire party or group in touch. There are 22 channels with 121 privacy codes, giving you 2,622 possible combinations, and the scan feature makes it easier to find an open channel. The radios can be used with either rechargeable batteries or AA batteries, making it easier to ensure your radios are powered up.
Pros: 2,622 possible channel/privacy combinations. 20 call tones. Can be powered with AA batteries or the rechargeable battery.
Cons: Included charging cable could be better.
8. Selieve Toys for 3-14 Year Old Children’s, Walkie Talkies for Kids
If you’re looking for a fun option for children, these colorful walkie talkies are available in a range of vibrant colors that kids will enjoy using. There are pink, red, blue and purple color options. But just because they’re for kids, doesn’t mean they’re not actually functional walkie-talkies — they have 22 channels and a flashlight function. They allow you to keep in touch with your kids without them needing a cellphone; let them know it’s homework time while they’re in the neighbor’s yard, without needing to run after them.
Pros: Fun, colorful options for kids. 22 channels and a decent range, so they’re actually functional. Comes with flashlight.
Cons: Since they use have multiple channels, kids may try to turn to radio channels, you have to ensure your kids don’t end up on someone else’s channel.