Best Five Waterproof Two Way Radios for Camping and Outdoor Adventures
Digitalnerds blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. we never accept free products from manufacturers.Learn more.
Today, we have become so reliant on our cell phones for communication and we view cell phones as the primary method of contacting others. While cell phones may be effective when we are at home or at work, they are most likely useless when we are on a camping excursion. Whether it be in the deep forest, in the mountains, or anywhere else we adventure, cell phone service is essentially non-existent. This is where water proof two way radios come in.
When immersed in the great outdoors, communication is absolutely vital. We need a reliable, efficient method of communication that will not be burdensome on our trip. Regardless of where we are adventuring, two way radios come in handy in almost every outdoor scenario.
Two way radios, or walkie talkies, are able to both send out and receive content. This means that we are able to speak into the radio and whatever we say will be transmitted to any other radio that is programmed to the same radio frequency, or channel. Others will be able to hear everything you say and once the content has been fully transmitted, they can send content back to you in response. Two way radios make communication quick and almost instant.
In the wilderness, the elements are constantly a factor. We make an effort to ensure that all of our other equipment is protected from the elements, and our two way radios deserve the same protection. Thus, various manufacturers have developed waterproof two way radios. These walkie talkies are designed to resist any sort of moisture that we encounter.
Before the advent of the waterproof two way radio, the weather presented all sorts of problems to the walkie talkie. Any sort of rain could irreparably damage the two way radio, A trip across the lake on a canoe could have been the end of our walkie talkie, as dropping it into the water would completely ruin the radio, rendering it useless. Today, waterproof two way radios give us the opportunity to fully explore the world and not have to worry about losing our radios to the elements.
Waterproof two way radios have varying degrees of water resistance. Some are better suited for light water exposure while other can handle being completely surrounded by water. When planning an excursion, it is important to have the right equipment and having a radio with adequate protection against the elements should be one of the higher priorities on our lists. As a way to give consumers an idea of the degree of protection that their devices have been designed with, the International Electrotechnical Commission and the group known as Japanese Industrial Standards have each developed a framework for protection with a series of codes that signify different levels and types of protection. Seeing the word “waterproof” on the packaging of a device is all well and good, but many consumers are unaware of exactly how waterproof the device may be and thus be prone to misuse the device. When it comes to waterproof two way radios, this is especially the case.
First, let’s look at the International Electrotechnical Commission’s framework:
|1||Protected against solid objects up to 50mm³|
|2||Protected against solid objects up to 12mm³|
|3||Protected against solid objects up to 2.5mm³|
|4||Protected against solid objects up to 1mm³|
|5||Protected against dust, limited ingress|
|6||Totally protected against dust|
|1||Protection against vertically falling drops of water|
|2||Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees from vertical|
|3||Protection against direct sprays of water up to 60 degrees from vertical|
|4||Protection against water sprayed from all directions|
|5||Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions|
|6||Protected against low pressure jets of water|
|7||Protected against the effect of immersion between 15cm and 1m|
|8||Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure|
One of the more common codes seen in waterproof two way radios is IP67. The “IP” signifies Ingress Protection, and the two following numbers are in reference to different types of protection. The first number is a particulate matter protection level of 6. In looking at the table above, we see that the particulate matter protection level of 6 signifies that the device is completely protected against any sort of particulate matter, namely dust. The liquid protection level of 7 signifies that the two way radio will still be protected if it is immersed in water up to the depth of one meter. Essentially, the IP67 code tells us that the waterproof two way walkie talkie in question will hold up under harsh conditions.
Devices that have been developed in Japan fall into the Japanese Industrial Standards framework. Companies like Samsung and Uniden have introduced their own waterproof two way radios to the market, but consumers need to be aware of these devices’ protection levels just like the Ingress Protection levels of American-made devices. Below is the Japanese Industrial Standards framework:
|1||Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect|
|2||Dripping water at an angle up to 15 degrees from vertical shall have no harmful effect|
|3||Falling rain at an angle up to 60 degrees from vertical shall have no harmful effect|
|4||Splashing water from any direction shall have no harmful effect|
|5||Direct jetting water from any direction shall have no harmful effect|
|6||Direct jetting water from any direction shall not enter the enclosure|
|7||Water shall not enter the enclosure when it is immersed in water under defined conditions|
|8||The equipment is usable for continuous submersion in water under specified pressure|
These device codes are simply comprised of JIS, an abbreviation for Japanese Industrial Standards, and a number on the scale above. One of the more common codes that are assigned to waterproof two way radios is JIS4. This code signifies that the device is protected against splashing water from any direction. While walkie talkies with a protection code of IP67 are able to be completely covered in water with no damage accrued, walkie talkies with the protection code of JIS4 can only handle limited to exposure to liquids. Translating this into the context of use in the great outdoors, we know that a two way radio with a protection level of IP67 would be better served for use on a canoe trip while a two way radio with a protection level of JIS4 would be best suited for a camping trip when rain is expected.
Now that we have gone over some common protection level codes, let’s look at some top-of-the-line models of waterproof two way radios that you can use on your next excursion:
Top-of-the-line models of waterproof two way radios:
MOTOROLA MS350R 35-Mile Talkabout Waterproof 2-Way Radios
• Protection level: IP67
• Average Cost: $67.84 From Digitalnerds
• Description: This cost effective waterproof two way radio is the perfect solution if you are looking for a high performance two way radio with exceptional durability. This radio has incomparable communication abilities. In mountains and valleys, two Motorola MS350R radios are able to communicate in distances of up to 35 miles apart. On the open water, the radios can communicate in distances of up to 6 miles apart. Closer to civilization, the Motorola MS350R radios can communicate in distances of up to 2 miles apart. This waterproof two way radio has a repeater function, meaning that the radios can connect to local channels that repeat the signal coming from your radio as a way to better connect to its counter part. It even has access to seven different channels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), giving you an idea of upcoming weather changes during your trip.
• Protection level: JIS4
• Average Cost: $62.96 From Digitalnerds
• Description: This radio has a 36 mile communication range with 22 different channels. One of the cheaper options on the market, it is a simpler model that brings the user maximum utility. The Midland GXT1050VP4 has ten different alerts that signal incoming calls from other users as well as a SOS Siren that you can use if you find yourself in danger. Not only does it provide you with ten different NOAA channels to prepare yourself for any environmental changes, but it has 285 privacy codes that block out any other conversations that are occurring on your set radio channel. The Midland GXT1050VP4 even has animal call alerts for wolves, turkeys, cougars, ducks, and crows, giving you an idea of any surrounding wildlife’s presence.
• Protection level: JIS7
• Average Cost: $109.99 From DigitalNerds
• Description: This waterproof two way radio by Uniden has a connection range of up to 50 miles. In addition to its extensive communication abilities, it has 15 GMRS channels for long range communication and seven FRS channels for shorter distances. An interesting feature of the GMR5099-2CKHS is its direct call ability. This feature allows a user to use the two way radio like a phone and directly call another user. Simply type in the four-letter nickname of the user you would like to call directly and their radio will ring just like a phone. The Uniden GMR5099-2CKHS can be submerged in water depths of up to three feet for 30 minutes with no problems. This feature makes the GMR5099-2CKHS desirable for canoeing, kayaking, or any other exploration on the water. Several NOAA channels also give you an idea of any sort of changes in the weather patterns.
• Protection level: IPX7
• Average Cost: $399.00
• Description: The Garmin Rino 650 uses GPS to help you determine your exact location as well as the location of all other users of the device. You are also able to send text messages in conditions that make it difficult to hear, like intense winds. If you are using multiple Rino devices, the user can connect the devices to a computer and turn it into a sort of control center where he or she can locate all devices on the network. The Garmin Rino 650 comes complete with a variety of NOAA weather channels, a battery life of up to 14 hours, and has a port for micro SD cards. This all comes in a compact 11.3 oz.
Garmin Rino 650t
• Protection level: IPX7
• Average Cost: $549.99
• Description: The Garmin Rino 650t has many of the same features as the Rino 650 but includes enhanced GPS capabilities. Its preloaded 100K maps give you the most accurate location data, and the micro SD card slot allows you to upload a variety of your own maps, including topographic, marine, and road maps. There is also compatibility with the BirdEye Satellite Imagery system, giving you actual satellite images of your location. The Rino 650t has both FRS and GMRS frequency channels for many different communication distances, as well as the capability for 10,000 tracking points. It has much more memory that the Rino 650, with 4.5 GB of built-in memory compared to just 1.7 GB of built-in memory in the Rino 650. This allows users to upload more maps and store more contact notes.
Planning a trip into the great outdoors can be a daunting task. One of the more overwhelming aspects of planning a trip can be procuring and organizing all of the equipment you may need. When it comes to securing a level of safety during your trip, communication is key. Using a waterproof two way radio can give you the utmost sense of safety and security. These devices allow you to communicate with members of your group across varying distances and ensure that you are aware of their location.
Like any other piece of equipment you will consider purchasing for your trip, it is important to do adequate research and make sure that when you have selected a waterproof two way radio, it matches your needs to a tee. Different radios can endure different conditions, and we need to guarantee that our radios will be dependable in any scenario. There are many options other than the ones listed above, but the aforementioned waterproof two way radios comprise an elite group of devices that are a cut above the rest. Next time you venture into the wild, equip yourself with a waterproof two way radio and experience the great outdoors along with others, even if they are miles away!