Best FRS/GMRS Two Way Radios For Camping and Back Packing : Walkie-Talkie Reviews

Being out in the great outdoors is healthy and invigorating. From camping to backpacking, from hiking to boating, and from skiing to fishing, the forests, the wilderness, the hiking trails, and the ski slopes are a great way to exercise, to take in the crisp air, and to bond with friends and family or anyone in your group.In this guide,we will be covering about Best FRS/GMRS Two Way Radios to keep in touch with your group while you are camping or back packing.

Here’s the deal:

With these outdoor sports and recreational activities, you will almost always be in need of a communication tool. That’s where two-way radios or walkie-talkies come in.

Why?

Two-way radios are important devices that you need to bring on your excursions. They are reliable ways to talk to your companion or parties if, for some reason, something happens to them along the way, such as a backpacker falling behind on a hiking trail and you need to locate him or her. They are devices that help you to stay in touch, to find people in your party, to communicate to others important things you need to convey to them, such as inclement weather up ahead or elevation gains. In fact, the use of FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies can mean the difference between living and dying.

UNIDEN GMR3055 2CKHS 30 Mile two Way Radios Camping Back Packing

UNIDEN GMR3055 2CKHS 30 Mile two Way Radios Camping Back Packing

You might be wondering:

Aren’t two-way radios the same as the ones you had when you were a kid? When you wanted to talk to your friend who is up on your tree house and you’re down on the lawn below? Or was that soup cans with strings attached?

In any event, the latest GMRS/FRS recreational radios are not just fun toys; rather, they are important safety gadgets. They are designed for outdoor excursions and are decked out not just for long ranges, but also for rugged durability, meaning that they can take a beating in all types of weather and conditions.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

There’s obviously a lot to consider when purchasing your first set of two-way radios or upgrading to newer, more powerful models. The fact is, there are so many products out there that might stymie you from selecting the right one, or the one that will benefit you the most.

So where should you start?

You need to know not just about range and safety and battery life, but also about privacy codes. You also should consider whether or not a GMRS two-way radio comes equipped with such things as a flash light in case you accidentally find yourself caught in the dark on a trail or in need of light inside your tent in the middle of the night.

Another thing to consider is whether or not a walkie-talkie has a weather radio, a useful function to have since the weather can often quickly change while in the boonies or in the wilderness. You should also look for GMRS two way radio models that are water-resistant or waterproof. When you’re out hiking and get caught in the rain, it’s just a good idea that your device can stand up and not get damaged from the water.  Or, if you’re crossing a stream or a river in the woods and you drop your device in a body of water. A good walkie-talkie to have, then, is one that will float.

So we’re here to help:

To get the most out of two-way radios, we’ll let you know their benefits. We’ll break down and explain all their functions so you know what to look out for.

There are hundreds of two-way radios on the market. There’s not enough space to review them all in this article. But we’ve given you the lowdown on seven different GMRS two-way radio models that are worth looking into due to the fact that they are exceptional for their price point or have some great, indispensable features. These kits are the Motorola Talkabout models T100, T200, T400, T460, T605, and Uniden models GMR3055-2CK and GMR5095-2CKHS.

A Quick Jump Menu:

1.      Who This Article is For
2.     How to Choose a FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio for Camping and Backpacking: A Buyer’s Guide
2.1      Two-Way Radio vs. Smartphone: What’s Your Choice?
2.2     More Benefits of a Two-Way Radio
2.3     Performance
2.4     Convenience

3.    Two-Way Radio Features
3.1    The Antenna
3.2    Privacy/Interference-Eliminator Codes
3.3    Weather Radio
3.4    GPS
3.5    Scanning
3.6    Flashlight
3.7    Voice Activated Transmission and Headsets
3.8    Ring Tone or Vibration Mode
3.9    Noise Filter
3.10    Keypad lock and Keystroke Alert

4.    Limitations
5.    Help and Support
6.    Recommended Two-Way Radios for Camping and Backpacking: Product Reviews

6.1    A Word About the Manufacturers
6.2    MOTOROLA T100 16-Mile Talkabout T100 2-Way Radios
6.3    MOTOROLA T200 20-Mile Talkabout T200 2-Way Radios
6.4    UNIDEN GMR3055-2CK 30-Mile 2-Way FRS GMRS Radios with Dual Charging Cradle
6.5    MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T400 2-Way Radio
6.6    MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T460 Rechargeable 2-Way Radio
6.7    MOTOROLA T605 35-Mile Talkabout T605 2-Way Radios
6.8    UNIDEN GMR5095-2CKHS 50-Mile 2-Way FRS GMRS Radios

7.    WRAP-UP AND DECISION TIME

1.    Who This Article is For

This lowdown is meant for anyone. It’s meant for the outdoor enthusiast, as well as for those who are planning an outdoor excursion and are considering buying a two-way radio and need to read up on them to make an educated decision. This article is also intended for those who have kids and want to know what features in two-way radios will help them stay safe—whether it’s in the backyard, a friend’s house, in the mall, in the park, or on a busy camping ground.  For kids especially, two-way radios can replace cell and smartphones and are fun to use. On road trips using two or more cars, for example, kids can be entertained—no more, “Are we there yet!”—by communicating with other passengers in different cars.  Kids can make a game out of contacting others to pass the time using these FRS radios.

It gets even better:

This roundup and review is also to educate those who want to be prepared for emergency disasters, power outages and blackouts. Think of the next time your cellphone won’t work because cell towers are down. If you have two-way radios ready as backups for cellphones, and they are charged, you can talk to family members, loved ones, and others during times of distress.

2.    How to Choose a FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio for Camping and Backpacking: A Buyer’s Guide


2.1 Two-Way Radio vs. Smartphone: What’s Your Choice?

Most well-informed and expert hikers, backpackers and campers know the value of GMRS two-way radios or walkie-talkies.  These devices provide communication with range in the safest manner possible. They are family and user friendly, able to be operated easily by kids.

You might be asking:

Can’t I just get away with using a cell phone or smartphone to interact with family or friends?

Well, when you are out in the wilderness or on a ski slope, those devices will fail. Only two-way radios as forms of communication will do the job.

Cell and smartphone signals are unreliable in the wilderness. In fact, you might not pick up any signal at all, or it might be spotty, especially if there are natural obstacles in the way like trees or mountains.  Most camping areas have limited or no cell phone coverage. The last thing you need while hiking is having your partner or partners try to connect with you and their voices keep breaking up because there’s so much interference. And, unlike smartphones, you can interact by voice with more than one person in your team, especially helpful if there are more than two people in your party. In fact, we can’t overemphasize how important this feature is. A two-way radio is simply just a necessity when you are camping or backpacking in a group of two or more.

Here’s something more to take into consideration:

While out in nature, you’ll most likely be gone for more than a day. Everyone knows that just a few calls on your smart or cell phone can deplete your battery life. What you don’t want is not being able to communicate because your device has lost power. Two-way radios—the best ones—have a long battery life or run on disposable batteries that you can quickly change when they run low.

2.2 More Benefits of a Two-Way Radio

That two-way radios are relatively inexpensive, incredibly easy to use and are rugged and able to take a beating and, in some cases, can withstand that accidental spill or a submersion in water, are just some of the reasons why you should invest in them.

Which begs the question: what are the benefits of two-way radios or walkie talkies?

First, two-way radios give you security and peace of mind. This is the most important aspect of carrying one because, with just a press of a button, you can call for help or inform your buddy if you’re in danger—say if you’re rock climbing and you can’t get a grip or say you’re behind your partner while hiking and your boot gets stuck in some rock formation. What’s important is that you can feel comfortable knowing that one call—or an SOS signal—is all that it takes to reach out.

So buying a two-way radio can not only save your life if you are in a tough spot, but can also be the most effective manner of communication.

Second, two-way radios are also useful for such things as pace. If you are hiking or mountain biking, you might have to slow down to keep close to others in your group. When you use a walkie-talkie, you can set your own pace.

Third, two-way radios are inexpensive. They typically come in a package of two and cost around $100 or less. That’s it. Two-way radios carry no user charges, contracts, or monthly plans.  Talk is cheap: there are no cell phone bills, no minute plans, and no roaming worries.Some sites in internet offer bundles deals like 10 pack two radios or 4 pack two way radios.

Fourth, consider also how multi-purpose two-way radios are. They’re not just ideal while hiking or camping. They’re great for hunting. They’re great while you’re on a boat while fishing and you need to connect with someone else in another boat. They’re great while communicating on the ski slopes. They’re even great on a construction site.

Two-way radios are also useful when there are loud and large crowds. You might lose track of someone, and this is definitely true at sporting events like baseball or basketball games. You might not hear your friend’s ring, but if your two-way radio has a vibration mode, you won’t have to remain lost for a very long time.

Similarly, they’re very reassuring for parents who bring their kids or tweens to amusement parks or malls. You can let them wander around (as long as they’re in your line of sight!) without having them be tethered to you at every moment. And two-way radios are also super useful for caregivers. Maybe you’re taking care of an elderly patient with limited mobility. If you’re in a room, you can always be assured that you can talk to him or her in another room and know that you are ready at a moment’s notice in case they fall, have an accident, or need emergency care.

Here’s the deal:

Use your imagination and you’ll find that two-way radios can help you in so many occasions.

Also Read:   Uniden Two Way Radio – Latest Buying Guide,Reviews & New Uniden Walkie Talkie Roundup

And because they’re relatively small, able to fit snugly in your hand, as well as lightweight, weighing mostly less than a half a pound, they’re ideal for most outdoor activity sports—whether they are strenuous or not.

When shopping for a two-way radio for hiking or camping, the following are important:

2.3    Performance
2.4    Convenience

2.3    Performance

All two-way radios have a designated coverage area. While some might claim a range of 20 to 50 miles, this is often exaggerated and only valid under optimum conditions. That’s when you’re in an open area, such as on flat terrains like plains, a valley or a desert with no interference, or in good weather. That’s because range varies in the environment you are in. Camp sites are often heavily wooded.  If there are obstructions such as mountains, hills, trees, buildings, metal surfaces, and topography, the actual range might be a mile or less regardless of the radio you end up choosing. Weather and electromagnetic interference (such as lightning) also plays a role. Obviously, if you’re on the slopes and get caught in a blizzard, don’t expect much range.  A good thing to look out for is higher-powered models because you’ll be squarely within a mile or two of range. (A weaker-powered model will put you in a quarter-mile-or-less range.) And know that your very own body can interfere with your range.

What is FRS Radio?

Further, you should be on the lookout for a two-way radio that is a hybrid, or that has both FRS and GMRS frequencies. FRS or “Family Radio Services” are frequencies that have shorter range but are free to use. They do not require a license. It is for this reason why some two-way walkie-talkies are solely FRS radios. FRS radios have an integrated antenna and might transmit at a maximum power level of 500 milliwatts and have a maximum range of 5-6 miles. (The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, has a ruling that FRS/GMRS two-way radios may not transmit or receive above 500 milliwatts). FRSs work best on flat land but are not great when you’re hiking and are in rough terrain or surrounded by a lot of trees and foliage.

What is GMRS Radio?

GMRS means “General Mobile Radio Service,” and is the most powerful option. They require a license (originally, they were only available for commercial use) if you plan to use them in the United States. The FCC mandates that GMRS-equipped radios need to be registered and have a (renewable) five-year license that not only covers the adult using them, but also their family members. The license is easy to get (go to: www.wireless.fcc.gov). GMRS radios transmit at a higher power level—around one to five watts—and have a maximum range between 8-to-25 miles.

Midland GXT860VP4 42-Channel GMRS

Midland GXT860VP4 42-Channel GMRS Radio

At that higher power, you’ll see a drastic improvement to the overall quality of your signal.  The reason why GMRS radios need a license to operate is because of their higher wattage.
However, know that as you increase the watt, the more battery power you will use and the more the device will be in terms of price. This means that you should really consider what your use of the walkie-talkie is, and decide whether range is more important than battery life.  You might find that all you need is a FRS model, especially if your primary goal is to keep track of your family on the trail and you’re not separated by miles. Or say you need to distribute radios to employees on a ski lodge that you operate. Since the radius covered might only be within a small square, FRS radios will be enough to do the job.

2.4    Convenience

When hiking or backpacking, you need to be comfortable with the weight you are carrying. That’s why you should purchase a two-way radio that is compact and light and won’t interfere with your comfort. Remember, the more you hike, or walk, the more weight will end up mattering to you. And you should look for a walkie-talkie with a slim or sleek profile design so that it can be easily held in your hand in a comfortable manner.  If, for example, you’re a skier or mountaineer, an ergonomic shape means you can hold it while wearing (often) bulky gloves.The new GMRS radio models introduced by motorola and uniden have sleek design and light weight and easy to carry in a backpack.

Also look for models that have an attachable belt clip or have ones attached. While this might seem obvious, it needs to be reinforced so you have quick and easy access to your walkie-talkie in case there’s an emergency. If you’re scaling a mountain, hanging a walkie talkie on your belt is a safe and handy way of keeping it near in hand. Storing your unit in your backpack is simply inconvenient, and holding it in the palm of your hand during your excursion is just not ideal.

Just as important is looking out for a radio with an extremely long battery life. Most walkie-talkies run on rechargeable batteries. If not, then they should be able to run easily on disposable alkaline batteries—usually AAs or AAAs. Extra batteries are very light to pack and to forget about. If you are out a day or more, disposable batteries are the best choice to keep your radios working before you return to civilization and have access to power outlets. Note that rechargeable batteries tend to be depleted quickly, more so than alkaline batteries. It might be best if you also find a walkie-talkie with a solar charger, which is ideal in the wild. Also convenient is a walkie-talkie with a battery-saver mode that will reduce it to a lower powered mode when you’re not using it. So too is a low battery alert so you know exactly when to replace your fuel.

3    Features of Two-Way Radios


3.1    The Antenna

Choose a model where its antenna length is similar or the same as the length of its body, which means you’ll have enough power built into a small package. Keep in mind that the larger the antenna, the better range you’ll get.

3.2    Privacy/Interference-Eliminator Codes

Most radios have 22 channels available on either the Family Radio Service (FRS) band or the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) band. But in busy areas, such as a ski resort or a camping park ground, you might have interference and 22 channels can fill up quickly.  That’s why many two-way devices come equipped with privacy codes. Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) or CDCSS (Continuous Digital Coded Squelch System) allow you to use the same channels for your party without interference. So, rather than using Channel 5 to speak to a friend, privacy codes let you communicate with a combination of channel and code (such as Channel 5 and Code 3.) Each channel has a set of subchannels that subdivide the channel to use privately.
However, it should be noted that the use of CTCSS or CDCSS codes do not necessarily mean that you won’t receive unwanted chatter. They can only minimize what you hear. The goal here is that you will only hear transmissions that include the code. However, if someone else nearby is using your chosen frequency with a higher power, a glitch is that you might not be able to receive or transmit even when you have a privacy code.

Also, a privacy code doesn’t necessarily make your talk to someone entirely private. Your conversation can be heard by other users not in your party. They can easily call up your channel and code and hear what you and your party are discussing.  Privacy codes work only to filter out every transmission that isn’t sharing your code and channel combo.
If you are adamant about privacy, fear not. Look for two-way radios that use the term “interference-elimination” codes and noise filters.

A reminder: the fewer the channels you use, the better that everyone in your team will be tuned to the right one. Also, try and use one channel so that multiple people can hear you.

3.3    Weather Radio

A two-way radio that sends weather updates or a radio that has a built-in NOAA ((National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio (assuming NOAA broadcasts in your area) from the National Weather Service is great for knowing local forecasts and conditions like winter storms, flash flooding, and severe thunderstorms.  If you are in the backcountry, this feature is very important, especially if severe weather or unexpected emergency situations come into play in the vicinity that you’re in. You should also look for a two-way radio that can be used as an SOS signal to help you in the event that you find yourself in an emergency situation.

3.4    GPS

Radios that have GPS are an easy way to track where you are or where you are going. You can broadcast your position to inform other users in your group of your location. What’s great about GPS is that it’s a safety feature. You’ll easily be able to locate people in your party if you are hiking and someone falls behind, gets lost, or ends up too far ahead.  These walkie-talkies fall under the RINO (radio integrated with navigation of the outdoors) term and are, as expected, more expensive than those that don’t have this feature.
N.B.: The products reviewed here do not have GPS as a feature.

3.5    Scanning

If you face difficulties in locating a free frequency, scanning allows you to scroll through channels in order to find one that is free. In this way, it’s quick and easy to find an empty channel for your team to use.

3.6    Flashlight.

It’s crucial to be able to see where you’re going or what you’re doing when night settles in. While a flashlight on your talkie-walkie won’t illuminate your whole camp, it’s a handy feature if you’re accidentally caught in the dark on a hiking trail or need an instant light in your tent. It’s also helpful for reading maps in low light. It’s not just a vision aid, but also a communication device.

3.7    Voice Activated Transmission and Headsets

You don’t always have hands free during your outdoor expedition or it’s just not convenient to be pressing that talk button. That’s why voice operated Transmit (iVox/Vox) is important. It turns your device into a speakerphone instantly, allowing for hands-free communication. With iVox/Vox, you can speak in the direction of the radio without using your hands. This is most useful if you are a skier or you’re on a mountain bike. When in VOX mode, your two-way radio will start transmitting when you start to speak.

Moreover, units with jacks for headsets or headphones allow for more hands-free operation. This is useful when you might not be able to stop and answer a call, like, say while cycling or kayaking.

3.8    Ring Tone or Vibration Mode.

Look for models that can ring but also have a vibrate mode where ringing can be intrusive. If you’re hunting, obviously the vibrate mode won’t scare off your prey and is of the utmost important.  If you’re at a noisy campground or sporting event, you might not hear your ring tone. So vibrate or silent signals are important features.

3.9    Noise Filter

When you have noise filter, your signal will boost and your conversations will be clearer and more enhanced.

3.10 Keypad Lock and Keystroke Alert.

To safeguard from pushing the talk button accidentally, a keypad lock and keystroke alert is also important. Also, a keypad lock allows you to lock your setting so that you don’t change it by accident.

Also Read:   Cobra microTalk CXR925 Two Way Radio Review

4    Limitations


Manufacturers of two-way radios often claim that their ranges are up to around 30 miles or more. Then, when you test the device in an area, you might find that you only get a mile or under and that anything over is just static.

The fact is:

Ranges are extremely exaggerated and can never be achieved in the real world. The high range estimate is based on optimal conditions, when the radios are in the same line of site and where there are no obstructions. That is how, after all, the way the radios communicate. Thickets of brush, trees, rocks, and mountains while in the wilderness will greatly impede your range. Similarly, walls and buildings and houses in urban areas can also impede your range.

So, just be realistic about the range you get. Also, if range is important, look for a long range two-way radio.

What’s a long range radio?

A long range two-way radio is an FRS/GMRS radio that can send signals over long distances. This means that you might get 5-6 miles; however, to be realistic, the most you might get is 2-3 miles and you should be content with that range. So that lower range is what you’ll get when you have a long range radio. It might not be a lot, but it’s definitely better than a radio that’s not designated as having a long range.

5    Help and Support

Look for two-way radios with a long warranty as outdoor conditions and use can take a beating on them. While one-year warranties are the standard, some manufacturers employ three-year warranties. (N.B.: All 2-way radios covered here have 1 year warranties).  Also, make sure the manufacturer includes in their kits a user guide, which all the models reviewed here do. If not, look for radios that have a website dedicated with downloadable user manuals for your reference. An FAQ section also helps.

These are important precautions; knowing how to use your your two-way radio, and being able to understand all its features to get the most out of it, will help while you’re out on your adventure. You don’t want to be caught in an emergency situation and you don’t know how to properly call for help or use the weather radio. Lastly, note from the website the company’s telephone contact number and/or email address in case you find that your device is not working properly. These support features will erase headaches when you are using your device that, for some reason, starts to malfunction.

6.    Recommended GMRS Two-Way Radios for Camping and Backpacking: Product Reviews


6.1    A Word About the Manufacturers

The product review round-up for two-way radios consist of two manufacturers: Motorola and Uniden. That’s because they are the top names in two-way radios for camping and backpacking.

Motorola Talkabout Two-Way Radios are dependable forms of communication for anyone who spends time outdoors. They are dummy-proof, easy for kids and amateurs to use, and not only that, they’re extremely affordable.  In fact, if you plan on purchasing a two-way radio, chances are Motorola Talkabouts will show up on your search and will be a top choice.  Motorola makes one of the most reliable two-way radio units on the market. All Talkabouts have more than 16 miles of range under ideal conditions and in perfect weather.

Uniden has been making solid two-way radios for outdoor enthusiasts for several years. They are a great brand to trust because they are known for making stellar communication devices: not just two-way radios, but also cordless phones, marine radios, and scanners to name a few.

We’re partial to Uniden and Motorola, but you should know that there are other brands out there that make great two-way radios. These include Midland, Cobra, Kenwood, and BaoFeng.

6.2 MOTOROLA T100 16-Mile Talkabout T100 2-Way Radios

COST: $29.99

The Motorola Talkabout T100 16-Mile Two-Way Radio is an affordable, low-end radio that is compact, easy to use and has a great battery life. There’s a 1-year warranty and the device weighs only .25 pounds (with batteries). The unit includes 2 radios, 2 belt clips as well as a user guide (The T100TP includes 3 radios).

While the T100 boasts a range of up to 16 miles, this is obviously based on optimum conditions where there is an unobstructed line of sight. When there are trees or mountains, you’ll hear some static and you might only get a range of about 2 miles.

MOTOROLA T100 16-Mile Talkabout® T100 2-Way Radios

MOTOROLA T100 16-Mile Talkabout® T100 2-Way Radios

Like most two-way radios, it operates on up to 22 FRS and GMRS channels. There are 1-14 lower power channels for the FRS that anyone can use and 15-22 higher power channels that require an FCC license. A ringtone is available for use to alert another person that you plan on conveying a message, and it also works to locate a missing or lost device. In addition, there’s also a scanner. A scanner is useful to quickly locate an empty channel for you and your partners to use. It is also used to go through channels in order to find the one that your partners are using.

Great Price: At only $29.99, the T100 is on the lower side of two-way radios, which often range in the $80-100 price point. That price is why the T100 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as the other models covered here do. It doesn’t have weather channels, a built-in flashlight, or dual charging (NiMH rechargeable batteries as well as alkaline batteries), for example.
Still, the T100 Talkabout is compatible with other two-way radios regardless of brand, as long as your group is using the FRS/GMRS standard. Just flip to the same open channel and you’ll be ready to go! And finding an open channel is easy with a 3 second press.

Features of MOTOROLA T100 16-Mile Talkabout:

•    22 channels
•    Up to 18 hours with 3AAA Alkaline Batteries.
•    Battery Alert:
A flashing low battery alert reminds you that you batteries are running low.
•    Auto Squelch:
Your radio will automatically cut off weak transmissions and unwanted noise as a result of range and terrain conditions.
•    Keypad Lock:
The keypad lock prevents your personalized settings from being inadvertently changed.
•    Keypad Tone
•    1 Call Tone
•    Talk Confirmation Tone

6.3  MOTOROLA T200 20-Mile Talkabout T200 2-Way Radios

COST: $49.00

The Motorola T200 is a low-to-mid-range priced walkie-talkie that is featherweight, compact, and has a great battery life.  Included are 2 units, 2 belt clips, 2 NiHM rechargeable batteries, 1 Y cable adapter with dual micro-USB connectors, 1 single cable adaptor, as well as a user guide.  There’s a one-year warranty and the device weights .4 pounds (with battery). TheT200 has a reported range of up to 20 miles, and up to 6 miles away on the open water, perfect for fishing.  In addition, there’s also a scanner to determine which channels are already in use.
Like the Motorola T100 Talkabout, the T-200 is compatible with other two-way radios regardless of brand, as long as your group is using the FRS/GMRS standard.

Also like the T100, the T200 is affordable, at only $49.00. But note that it isn’t water or weatherproof and doesn’t include a built-in flashlight.

MOTOROLA T200 20-Mile Talkabout® T200 2-Way Radios

MOTOROLA T200 20-Mile Talkabout® T200 2-Way Radios

Features of MOTOROLA T200 20-Mile Talkabout T200 2-Way Radios:

•    22 Channels (Each with 121 Privacy Codes)
•    Frequency Band: FRS/GMRS 462 – 467 MHz in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Band
•    Two ways to power the T200: NiMH rechargeable batteries (included) for up to 12 hours. 3 AAA batteries for up to 29 hours.
•    Battery Alert
•    20 customized call tones:
Call tones are what people calling you can hear instead of the normal default ring. You can select from 20 audible call tones for callers to hear you before you even start speaking.
•    Eco Smart:
The units consume less power during idle conditions.
•    Low-battery alert
•    Auto squelch
•    Keypad lock
•    Keypad tone
•    Backlit display monitor

Video about Talkabout T200 Series: Two-way Radios Designed for the Active Family

6.4 UNIDEN GMR3055-2CK 30-Mile 2-Way FRS GMRS Radios with Dual Charging Cradle

COST:  $69.99

The Uniden GMR3055-2CK, at $69.99, is a mid-to-upper priced walkie-talkie that includes 2 radios, 2 belt clips (with carabineer loop belt), 6 AAA batteries, rechargeable NIMH batteries, 1 AC adapter/single micro USB cable and a dual charging cradle with USB adapter. There’s a 1 year warranty and the device weighs 11.2 ounces.

The GMR3055-2CK has a 30 mile range.  While the GMR3055-2CK is light in features, it does have 7 NOAA weather channels with alert. It has no flashlight and is not water or weatherproof.

UNIDEN-GMR3055-2CKHS-30-Mile-two-Way-Radios-Headsets Close Up

UNIDEN-GMR3055-2CKHS-30-Mile-two-Way-Radios-Headsets Close Up

•    22 Channels (Each with 121 Privacy Codes)
•    Frequency band: FRS/GMRS dual power
•    Power Source: 3 rechargeable nickel metal-hydride AA batteries
•    10 call tones
•    Roger beep:
This is an audible tone that your listener will hear when you release the talk button. This alerts the other party that you are finished talking and it is OK for them to speak.
•    Headset jack. Optional speaker mic
•    VOX operation
•    Scanner
•    Channel monitor
•    Silent mode
•    Auto squelch
•    Keypad lock
•    Backlit LCD display
•    LCD battery meter

6.5  MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T400 2-Way Radio

COST: $79.99

The Motorola 35-Mile T400 is very light, weighing 0.43 pounds (with battery). It includes 2 radios, 2 NiMH rechargeable batteries, 2 micro-USB wall charging cables, as well as a user guide. There’s a 1-year warranty. The T400 has a range of 35 miles.

The radio is IP54 weatherproof, which means that it’s impervious to dust and the wettest weather conditions you’ll likely face (like rain and snow) when you’re out on your expedition  (and when all ports are sealed using rubber flaps).

MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T400

MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T400

It gets even better:

There’s a built-in LED flashlight. And, with an alert feature and11 weather channels—7 of which are NOAA—you’ll be on top of the weather situation at all times.
The T400 is similar to the Motorola T460, reviewed here. But the T400 doesn’t have an emergency alert button, VibraCall, Push-to-Talk (PTT) or Power Boost. The T460 has all of these things. Also, the T460 has a battery life of 26 hours on alkaline (3 AA) batteries or 10 hours on NiMH. The T400 is shorter, with 21 hours on alkaline (3 AA) batteries or 8.5 hours using NiHM.
The Motorola 35-Mile T400 is compatible with other two-way radios regardless of brand, as long as your group is using the FRS/GMRS standard.

Features of MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T400:

•    22 Channels (each with 121 privacy codes)
•    Frequency band: FRS/GMRS dual power
•    Rechargeable NiMH batteries for up to 8.5 hours from a single full charge. 3 AA alkaline batteries for up to 21 hours.
•    Quiet talk (QT):

Exclusive to Motorola Talkabouts, Quiet Talk permits nonstop communication with other Motorola radios that have this feature. It also enables the walkie-talkie to filter out interference or annoying transmissions to the frequency from non-Motorola radios, which is very good in congested or busy areas. This allows for clearer, more high-quality calls.

•    Eco Smart
•    Low battery alert
•    iVOX/VOX:

Say you’re cruising on your mountain bike and your friend is far off behind you and calls you to ask where you are. You don’t have to stop or wait until you aren’t riding. iVox capability means that your radio senses your intention to communicate according to the direction of your voice. All you need to do is speak—without using your hands—and your message will be delivered on that bumpy trail. And what if you want to wear a headset? With a VOX headset, you’ll also be able to talk hands-free.

Also Read:   Top Marine VHF Radios & Buying Tips for Choosing the Best Marine VHF Radios for your Boating Needs

•    20 call tones
•    Auto squelch
•    Keypad lock
•    Keypad tones
•    LCD battery meter
•    Low battery alert
•    Scanner
•    Confirmation tone
•    Time-out timer
•    Headset and mic capability (headset and microphone are not included).

6.6  MOTOROLA 35-Mile Talkabout T460 Rechargeable 2-Way Radio

COST: $89.99

The T460 is an upper-priced radio that includes 2 radios, 2 removable belt clips, 2 NiMH battery packs, 2 Micro-USB battery charger cables, as well as a manual. There’s a one-year warranty and the device weights 0.43 lbs (with battery). It also has11 weather channels (7 of these channels broadcast directly from NOAA) with real time weather alerts and is weatherproofed to IP-54 standards. Realistically, the 35-mile range will give you clear reception for about 2 miles.

The handy flashlight isn’t super bright, but it’s enough to read a map or locate the path before you. The four main buttons include the flashlight, Push-to-Talk (High), Push-to-Talk (Low), and the Emergency Button. The interface includes multiple icon settings such as Battery life, Keypad Tone, and Weather Alert. The emergency alert button transmits an alert siren, allowing others to know that you are in danger or need help.

Motorola Talkabout T460

Motorola Talkabout T460 Two Way Radios

Features of Motorola Talkabout FRS/GMRS T460 Two Way Radios:

•    22 Channels (Each with 121 Privacy Codes)
•    Frequency band: FRS/GMRS 462 – 467 MHz in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band
•    Two ways to power the T460: NiMH rechargeable batteries (included) for up to 10 hours. 3 AA batteries for up to 26 hours.
•    PTT Power Boost :
Extends the transmission range by increasing the transmitter power output while saving battery life.
•     iVOX/VOX
•    Headset jack
•    20 call-tones
•    4 battery-conservation sleep modes
•    QT (Quiet Talk)
•    Incoming message vibration alerts
•    Keypad tones, with talk confirmation tones
•     Keypad lock

6.7  MOTOROLA T605 35-Mile Talkabout T605 2-Way Radios

COST: $119.99

The Motorola T605, at $119.00, might be pricey, but boy does it pack a lot of features in its small .54 pound weight (with battery). Included are 2 units, 2 whistle belt clips, 2 NiHM rechargeable batteries, 1 Y cable adapter with dual micro-USB connectors, 1 car charger with 2 USB ports, 2 USB charging cables, as well as a user guide. There’s a one-year warranty. TheT605 has a range of up to 35 miles.

MOTOROLA T605 35-Mile Talkabout® T605 2-Way Radios

MOTOROLA T605 35-Mile Talkabout® T605 2-Way Radios

Here’s what’s great about the T605:

It’s IP67 waterproof. It repels even the heaviest rain and can withstand submersion in water of up to 1meter for 30 minutes. That’s a long time! It can also float and, thanks to the water-activated flashlight, it’s easy to find in the water. (It should be noted that the T605 radio will float when it’s packed with its NiMH battery and that it might not float with AA batteries).
That’s the difference between the lower priced T460 and the higher priced T605. The latter is solidly water resistant while the former is only weather proofed.

But that’s just part of the story:

The built-in LED flashlight is perfect for nighttime use. It has two modes, a white LED for seeing your way in the dark, and a red LED setting that enables you to read something at night, like a map. The emergency alert button, which will emanate an alert siren, is, as Motorola claims, “[F]ollowed by transmission of spoken or incidental sounds. This allows you to send the signal to other radios and warn of impending danger.”

There are 11 weather channels (7 NOAA) for real-time weather conditions.

Like the Motorola T100 Talkabout and the The Motorola T200, the T-605 is compatible with other two-way radios regardless of brand, as long as your group is using the FRS/GMRS standard.

Features of MOTOROLA T605 Radios:

•    23 Channels (Each with 121 Privacy Codes)
•    Frequency band: FRS/GMRS dual power
•    Two ways to power the T605: NiMH rechargeable batteries for up to 9 hours. 3 AA batteries for up to 23 hours.
•     iVOX/VOX
•    20 call tones
•    Push-To-Talk (PTT) power boost
•    Scanner
•    Low Battery Alert
•    Auto squelch
•    VibraCall vibrating alert
•    Low-battery alert
•    Time-out timer
•    Emergency alert
•    Keypad lock and keypad tone
•    LCD battery meter

6.8  UNIDEN GMR5095-2CKHS 50-Mile 2-Way FRS GMRS Radios

COST: $119.99

The Uniden GMR5095-2CKHS, at around $119.99, is also pricey, and is comparable to the Motorola T60. Included are 2 radios, 2 gear clips. 6 rechargeable AA NiMH batteries, 1 dual-docking charging cradle, 1 AC adapter with mini USB connector cable, and a user guide. There’s a 1-year warranty. The Uniden GMR5095-2CKHS has an incredible range of 50 miles, the highest of all the kits reviewed here. (On FRS channels, you’ll get a distance of 5 miles.)

The radio is JIS level 7 waterproof and submersible. If you drop it in a river, it can stay submersed under 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, as long as all the ports are covered and the rubber seals are in place. And fear not if you can’t find your unit in the water. The Uniden GMR5095-2CKHS will bob back to the surface and will float. All of this is just like the Motorola T605 35-Mile Talkabout!  In addition, there’s a built-in LED flashlight with an emergency strobe light that can light up the dark or flash an SOS signal to alert people in your group of your location.

UNIDEN GMR5095-2CKHS 50-Mile 2-Way FRS/GMRS Radios

UNIDEN GMR5095-2CKHS 50-Mile 2-Way FRS/GMRS Radios

A nice feature is Direct Call with name display. This allows you to call anyone in your party while everyone else’s unit stays quiet. Just select a 4-letter nickname for the person you want to interact with and his or her radio will ring just like a phone. In this way, your conversation will be private from the rest of your group.

Also, the Uniden GMR5095-2CKHS includes 2 VOX earbud headsets with inline mics and volume controls that make hands-free or voice-operated transmission very easy and simple. The weather alert gives you access to 7 NOAA weather channels.

Features of MOTOROLA T605:
•    22 Channels (284 Privacy Codes: 142 standard, 142 exclusive group mode)
•    Frequency band: FRS/GMRS dual power
•     6 rechargeable AA NiMH batteries for up to 10 hours from a single full charge.
•     Auto Power Save mode
•    10 call tones
•    Power Boost PTT
•    Vibrate call alert
•    Roger beep
•    VOX

7.    WRAP UP & DECISION TIME

THE WRAP UP

Skilled hikers, backpackers, campers, skiers, mountaineers, fishers, and those on construction sites, know how important it is to remain in contact with their party during these outdoor excursions. In such cases, especially when you’re backpacking and camping in forests, the wilderness, or in the mountains to name a few, you just cannot trust cell and smartphones and really should find the best two-way radios/walkie-talkies that will help you keep in touch with friends, family, and people in your group. You need two-way radios or walkie-talkies to communicate, to warn of impending danger, to be rescued, to be found, and to alert others where you are at that hiking trail or in a crowded, dense area.

Now that we’ve broken down what you need to look for in two-way radios for camping and backpacking, as well as given you a few choices by top manufacturers like Motorola and Uniden, we hope that we’ve given you some detailed guidance, assistance, and information that you can put to use on your next outdoor sport, adventure, or trip.

We can’t stress enough that the top reason of purchasing and using a GMRS two-way radio is for safety. It can save your life if you find yourself in a tough spot.

DECISION TIME

Before we go, you must be wondering:

Which two-way radio should you get? These seven radios come equipped with different features and are all at different price points.

The Motorola Talkabouts come in a range of costs, starting with the T100 that comes in at under $30. But the T100 is basically no-frills, without a lot of features like weather channels, and it lacks dual charging while out in the wilderness—either by NiMH rechargeable batteries or by alkaline batteries. If you don’t want to invest too much money on a radio, and if you only plan on using it only for light, day excursions, then the T100 will do.

The T200 is similar. It costs under $50 and doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that other, pricier Motorola Talkabouts have. However, it does have dual charging, which is a step up.

The T400 and T460 both have IP54 weatherproofing and a handy LED flashlight. They might look indistinguishable at first glance, but all features from the T400 can be found in the T460, and the T460 has more features. As discussed, the T460 has a longer battery life, as well as Power Boost and Push-to-Talk. Both of them come in at almost the same price point, which makes it difficult to choose.  But if you’re looking for safety, the T460 is clearly the winner, as it has an emergency alert button to alert other radios, which is an instantaneous way to let others know that you need help.

A step up is the Motorola T605. It has all the features that the T400 and T460 have, but rather than be weatherproof, the T605 is waterproof and can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. This is a great feature worth having, which is why the T605 comes in at a slightly higher price point.

If you had to choose from all the Talkabouts, the T605 is the clear winner. But if you don’t want to shell out much, and don’t need your device to be waterproof, the T460 is a good, mid-range choice with more features than the T400, the T200, and the T100.

For the 2 Uniden models, the GMR3055-2CK and the GMR5095-SCKHS, the latter is clearly the winner. The GMR3055-2CK is not weather or waterproof, and it doesn’t even include a flashlight. At a higher price point, the GMR5095-SCKHS, like the Motorola T605, can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes and will bob back to the surface and float, which is important if you can’t find your unit in the water. Also, unlike the GMR3055-, the GMR5095-2CKHS includes 2 VOX earbud headsets, which means that you don’t have to shell out more for accessories, especially when they are essential.

As for picking between a Uniden or a Motorola, both the Uniden GMR5095-SCKHS and the Motorola T605 are comparable in terms of features and price, making it hard to distinguish between the two. The Uniden, though, stands slightly apart from the Motorola because it has a reported range of 50 miles. The Motorola clocks in at 35 miles.
However, these seven radio kits combined are all great deals. Each of them clock in at different price points, which is why the higher priced models have more features.

So, which features do you need? Which ones can you live without? These are questions you need to answer; only then will you be able to make an educated decision.

Whichever radio you choose, rest assured that each one of them will stand up to your outdoor adventure and will be effective means of communication.

We hope you enjoyed learning all about two-way radios—or walkie talkies—for camping and backpacking. So the next time you’re out in the wilderness, think of how convenient it is to have those gadgets on your belt or near at hand, ready to be used to talk to your pals or your loved ones!