It may be hard to believe in our smartphone-centric world, but there are times when your smartphone isn’t the best way to stay in touch. That’s especially true for teams that need to enable instant communication without worrying about data limits. If you often push out into areas where cell phone reception isn’t particularly reliable, or if you need to stay in touch with a physically dispersed team in the same region, you may want to consider investing in long-range walkie talkies.
While a set of walkie talkies may not be the first thing to come to mind as an answer to short or long-range communication, they are actually a highly versatile answer which can be used in a number of situations. Security services, law enforcement officers, construction workers and public utilities all depend on these devices. Some benefits walkie talkies have over smartphones include:
- Unlimited call time
- No dependence on cell-phone signal
- One-to-one or group conversation at the push of a button
- Ease of use
- No monthly plans
When it comes to choosing the best two-way radios or walkie talkies for your needs, it’s important to take a couple of factors into account. The first is deciding whether you want to be using FRS or GMRS frequencies. This, in short, boils down to the distance you expect to have between the transmitting and receiving devices. Let’s look at why this makes a difference.
In the United States, there are two bands of radio frequencies, namely licensed and unlicensed. And since the FCC’s revision in 2017, all of these frequencies now fall between 462 MHz and 467 MHz.
What Is FRS?
FRS, or Family Radio Service, falls under the unlicensed banner, meaning it’s free to use so long as your device falls within an ERP (Effective Radiated Power) allowance of a maximum of two watts. In general performance terms, this means you can expect a range of around two kilometers maximum.
What Is GMRS?
Devices using the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) require a license. However, this license allows for an increase in your ERP (Effective Radiated Power), up to 50 watts (compared to the two allowed for FRS), and the ability to utilize external antennas and repeaters. The layman’s translation? You can expect far greater communication distances with GMRS devices.
So, if you think your walkie talkie needs are going to fall outside of the two-kilometer maximum radius offered by FRS, you’re going to want a GMRS device (and a license).
Below, you’ll find a selection of the best GMRS, long-range walkie talkies as well as a couple of FRS-specific devices.
1. Motorola T470 2-Way Radios
The T470 is a powerful option from Motorola; it boasts an up to a 35-mile range, and it has 22 channels and 121 privacy codes to more easily stay in touch with your party. The channels include FRS and GMRS. The radios have an IPX4 water-resistance rating and can be used hands-free, so they’re great options for outdoor use. There’s also a built-in LED flashlight that can illuminate your path in a pinch. The sleek and stylish design may not make it perform any better, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
2. COBRA ACXT645 Walkie Talkies
COBRA makes a variety of long-range walkie talkies, and the ACXT645 model boasts an extra-long range of 35 miles. The walkie talkies themselves are rugged and IPX4 waterproof. These two-way radios also have a number of useful features: a built-in LED flashlight, vibration feature to notify users of incoming transmissions, rechargeable batteries and voice-activated transmission for hands-free use in the field. These are the most powerful COBRA long-range walkie talkies in stock right now, and a great option for two-way communication.
3. DEWALT DXFRS800 Heavy Duty Walkie Talkies
With six individual walkie talkies included in the set, these DEWALT DXFRS800 Heavy Duty Walkie Talkies are an ideal choice for businesses, building sites or any other commercial setting with multiple users. These rugged radios are IP67 waterproof, but they’re also dust and shockproof for extra durability. They can even withstand drops from up to two meters and include a lifetime warranty.
They also have an impressive range, supporting communication within a field of 300,000 square feet or up to 25 floors. A wide range of channels and privacy codes provides plenty of communicative flexibility. Each device also comes with a holster that can swivel up to 180 degrees for a more customizable storing position. Furthermore, the six-radio dock charger acts as a handy place to keep your radios when they’re not in use.
4. Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios
The Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios sport a compact size that makes them highly portable and easily stored. These water-resistant radios come with 16 pre-programmed channels found between the available 400-470MHz UHF frequency range. Each radio is also supplied with a dock for recharging the internal 1500mAh Li-ion battery as well as an ear-hugging earpiece and microphone for handsfree use. In unobstructed areas, you can expect up to a five-mile range, although some users report a lower range.
5. Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Radios
These 2-way radios from Midland come in a pack of two, and they include a convenient charging dock to ensure you keep the rechargeable batteries powered up. The set also comes with an adapter that allows you to charge the radios in your car. There are 50 Gmrss channels 142 privacy codes, letting you create thousands of channels for secure conversation. Like the very best long-range walkie talkies, these powerful radios have a range of up to 36 miles, putting them among the elite. Not only do these Midland 2-way radios come with an affordable price tag for their feature set, but they’re also backed by thousands of 5-star reviews.
Finally, the radios can receive NOAA channels and transmit an SOS signal in case of emergencies. If you’re in a group, you can use the direct call feature to transmit to one member of your party.
6. SAMCOM Programmable Commercial Walkie Talkies
FOR COMMERCIAL USERS
For a straightforward, user-friendly pair of walkie talkies that are ready to go right out of the box, it’s hard to look beyond these SAMCOM Programmable Walkie Talkies. The well-reviewed devices come with 20 GMRS channels already programmed into them, meaning you don’t have to get involved in programming if you don’t want to. The ergonomic design is comfortable to carry during the workday, and you can purchase up to 19 walkie talkies in a single order if you need to buy 2-way radios for an entire work crew. These devices also include a handy group call button for wide-reaching communication with other SAMCOM users and a keypad lock button to prevent any accidental setting changes.
7. Motorola – Talkabout 20-Mile 2-Way Radio (Pair)
Motorola offers a wide range of two-way radios, which are numbered in ascending order to indicate their range. The T470, our Best Overall selection featured above, has an extra-long 35-mile range, while this option, the T200, has a 20-mile range. The device has a backlit display that makes it easier to use in dark conditions. There are 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, making it easier to find an available channel to keep in contact with your partner. You can also access 11 weather channels. Included belt clips make this a great hiking option.
For commercial users, the Motorola T200 comes in a variety of configurations and with optional accessories such as headsets and microphones. We recommend heading to Amazon if you want to select specific features for your business. However, these are also great long-range walkie talkies for more casual users who are looking for the best walkie talkies for hunting trips or similar outings.
8. COBRA ACXT390 Walkie Talkies
COBRA makes some of the best long-range walkie talkies in the world, which is why they earned two of the top spots in this shopping guidie. This particular model doesn’t have as wide a range as the ACXT645 model featured above, but it does still boast an impressive 23-mile range, which is more than sufficient for most users. These walkie talkies come with rechargeable batteries, 22 channels, 121 privacy codes and IPX2 waterproofing.
9. KOMVOX Handheld 2-Way Radios
If you want something affordable that’s better suited for camping trips rather than commercial uses, then this option offers several top features at a reasonable price. There are 121 privacy codes and voice activation for hands-free use. It has up to 10 miles of range, so it’s best suited for closer contact rather than extreme long-range communication. The radio can be recharged using a USB cable as well.
10. Motorola T100TP Talkabout Radio
BEST ON THE GO
With their impressive 16-mile range, compact design and long battery life, these Motorola T100TP Talkabout Radios are a solid choice for anyone looking for a versatile walkie talkie option. Whether you’re heading out to a remote area, part of a convoy or simply heading to the park, these radios are a reliable way to stay in touch. In addition, they are available in either a two or three-piece pack, come in a choice of pink or blue and include belt clips for hands-free carrying.
11. Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios
These Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios only have a 5-mile range in ideal terrain, but they’re a solid option if you need an affordable set of walkie-talkies. The set includes six water-resistant and compact walkie talkies that are built to withstand the rigors of everyday life, including use in the field. For carrying comfort, you’ll find a removable belt clip, while the included wired earpieces and microphones let you use your radio hands-free. Inside, the rechargeable 1500mAh Li-ion battery delivers impressively long life, while the built-in, high-quality speaker provides crystal-clear sound for confidence when speaking and listening. Additionally, out of the box, you’ll have 16 pre-programmed channels to work with along with the ability to program your own channels when needed.
12. SAMCOM FWCN30A Two Way Radio
What makes the SAMCOM FWCN30A Two Way Radio stand out from the crowd is that you do not need a license, as they only include FRS radio channels. While this may limit their transmission distance, it means you do not need to fork out money for your radio license. Each of the walkie talkies in the four-piece set comes with 22 programmed channels, includes voice-free talking and even sports a built-in flashlight for nighttime illumination. Access to the official NOAA weather stream broadcast is another handy feature, especially for users heading out into more remote areas.