Despite what your cell phone provider might promise you, your smart device is not the answer to all of your problems.
Whether you work in a field that requires a stable short-distance form of communication or you despise the outside world and live in parts unknown where cell phone signals dare not enter, walkie-talkies have their uses.
These ridiculously named products serve a purpose that feels exclusive to handheld transceivers – reliable two-way communication with minimal static and delay.
If you are in the market for a walkie-talkie or are looking to upgrade your current collection of communication devices, this article is going to make your life much easier.
This won’t just be a short collection of the best-selling walkie-talkies on Amazon. We are going to take an educated and in-depth look at what goes into a good two-way portable radio and offer choices based on what we have discussed.
Settle in as we cover the best walkie-talkies on the market today!
What To Know About Walkie Talkies
Contrary to what newcomers to the walkie-talkie industry might believe, there is quite a bit to look over when considering which product to purchase. The first thing to know is that you will need to figure out which radio frequency you are able to use and how it affects your ability to communicate over longer distances.
Walkie-Talkie radio communications are overseen by the Federal Communications Commission and they require a license for longer-distance communication. This licensed radio frequency is called the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and covers channels around 462 MHz and 467 MHz.
While a lot of devices will qualify as GMRS devices, should you not have a license you can still use the FRS or Family Radio Service if the device is compatible. The FRS is a series of short-distance channels that allow for private conversations up to about a mile and a half. If you are not willing to purchase a GMRS license then you will be restricted to the FRS regardless of the product you purchase.
Something you will hear quite often when looking at walkie-talkies is the terms ultra high frequency (UHF), very high frequency (VHF), and high frequency (HF). While these all could be explained individually in their own articles, I’ll try to summarize them as succinctly as possible.
Ultra High Frequency or UHF measures between 300 MHz and 3Ghz and works ideally in high population areas with dense buildings. For this reason, UHF is typically made for construction, healthcare, and security jobs and thrives in more developed areas like cities, college campuses, or residential areas. People looking for UHF walkie-talkies are more likely to be looking for equipment for a small business or private operation found well away from the outdoors.
Very High Frequency or VHF sits from 30 to 300 MHz and is typically utilized by the military, businesses, and even television. Primarily it is used for marine radio and air traffic control and continues to be one of the more dependable communication forms from those in private companies to the United States Coast Guard. Typically, VHF is more focused on folks that have a business or activity that is in or near the outdoors, as the radio waves navigate the environment more efficiently.
Lastly, High Frequency or HF Sits from 3 to 30 MHz and is used for intercontinental communication due to its ability to bounce back towards earth off a layer of our internal atmosphere. For obvious reasons, most of the time you will need not this frequency on your walkie-talkie.
If you are looking to purchase a GMRS license you do not have to test for it – there is a fee of $35, however. The license lasts for 10 years (used to be five) and won’t be a process you will have to repeat yearly. There is a list of resources to help you navigate the process (and the nightmare that is federal websites) but know that it is relatively painless outside of the application process and paying the initial fee.
What To Look For
If you had to form a mental checklist in your mind on what you need from your walkie-talkie, this portion of the article would help you fill it out. It’s easy to grow impatient and throw cash at the first product you see, but with walkie-talkies, there is so much variety that you really need to lock down what you are looking for.
At the risk of sounding like your parents – make sure the things you take outside can withstand the weather. If you are using these walkie-talkies on outdoor adventures then you have to prepare for the inevitable when your trusty two-way begins to malfunction at the nearest whiff of moisture. If you plan for them to be mostly indoors or under cover, there is far less of a concern.
Similarly important is how reliable and far-reaching a device is. While most consumer-grade products aren’t gonna give you nearly the same power as some other devices – it needs to be good enough to fit your needs. If you have a plot of land that measures up to five miles and your transceiver can only pick up frequencies up to two miles, you have a big problem.
The range of a two-way radio is hard to pin down due to how many factors can affect it. Not only do you have to think of the frequency but the transmitted power, antennas, weather, environment, equipment, and much more. Because of all the variables around radio communications, it is paramount that you get the right device.
Lastly, start to think about what you need from your walkie-talkie.
Will the weather affect your day? Look for something with weather scans or alerts. Do you want the communication to not be overheard by people walking by? Make sure your radio has a headphone jack or volume control. Planning to get mauled by your local grizzly? Get a camouflage handheld so you can blend into your environment!
3 Best Walkie Talkies of 2022!
These three walkie-talkies are assembled to fit a wide range of needs based on price, quality, and activity. So while one may not fit your needs at all, they have been designed to fit a wide range of consumer desires. So whether you want dirt cheap transceivers that do the bare minimum or a walkie-talkie that could pick up on foreign government secrets, we’ve got what you need below!
Luiton LT-316 GMRS: Best Ultra-Budget Option
These Luiton walkie-talkies are not the best money can buy, they are the best you can get with very little money. With that said, they are well-received budget transceivers that offer a good deal of utility for very little cost. This product is compatible with both GMRS and FRS radio communicators and offers up to 5-10 miles of range depending on your environment.
This product will give you 16 channels, a scan function, a low-battery alert, squelch (muting a quiet channel), voice-activated transmissions or VOX, and the ability to time-out long transmissions. While these are all fairly basic and rudimentary features for a walkie-talkie, that is exactly what you are getting from Luiton – a fair to middling device.
It has been described as water and dustproof by the manufacturer, though that information has not been corroborated with any actual testing that we could find.
The product is super lightweight and the antenna is not cumbersome which helps individual comfort but does come with the drawback of less range. Considering they were designed for UHF, you will likely get more luck in metropolitan areas from this device than in the great outdoors. If you wanted to get your toes wet in the world of walking and talking, these devices are a great place to dip your feet!
- Very Cheap
- Fairly reliable for the price
- Competent list of features
- Somewhat unremarkable device
- The range can feel limited
- The waterproof claim made is very dubious
COBRA ACXT1035R FLT: Best Premium Option (Tie)
These Cobra walkie-talkies have an incredible amount to offer at a price that starts to become a lot more doable after realizing just how capable they are.
They are waterproof (IPX7), can reach up to 37 miles of communication range, offer voice-activated transmissions or VOX, and can also float should they catch an ambitious channel of water. While these are all great qualities we hope to see in every walkie-talkie, they just scratch the surface when it comes to the feature-rich depths of these two-way radios.
How often do you miss the last few words of a voice message over the radio? Cobra has considered this and responded with “Rewind-say-again” (no points for creativity) which allows you to hear the last twenty seconds of your most recently received vocal transmission. This not only saves a lot of time trying to figure out what someone said but also allows for the channel airwaves to stay clear should someone need to use them.
You are able to receive NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather notifications should you find yourself deep in the woods with an approaching thunderstorm. Features like this aren’t just necessary, but potentially vital to ensuring the safety of you and those you plan to share these radios with.
This is complemented with “Vibralert” which is a slick way of saying you can get a ringtone or vibration should someone try to reach you. Finally, you can also make use of their S.O.S flashlight if you find yourself wandering in the dark.
While some consumers may find the exterior of this product gaudy, the bright orange rubber grips actually help the product stand out,
This can be very beneficial considering how easily things of this size can get lost. Can you imagine trying to spot your camouflaged walkie-talkie in a foliage-dense forest? Accidents happen, and this product is fully prepared to deal with them should they arise.
- Great for weather updates
- Rewind-say-again is a fantastic idea and feature
- Designed with a focus on outdoor use
- Somewhat Expensive
- Not the most pleasing design to the eye
- Transmissions are quiet and often hard to hear even at max volume
DEWALT DXFRS800: Best Premium Option (Tie)
Known mostly for its power tools, Dewalt offers some of the toughest products on the market.
These “heavy duty” walkie-talkies have earned their name due to their IP67 rating (the radios are water and dust proof) and the collision-proof exterior feels bulletproof. While you can get a range of up to 37 miles on these Dewalt radios, this product is on the list for its unbelievable ability to withstand rain, dirt, and physical trauma.
Don’t assume the overwhelming fortitude of this device takes away from its core features – these chunky customers pack a good bit of value.
You get VOX, low battery alert, an illuminated LCD screen, 22 channel presets with 2,662 channel combinations, battery-saving mode, lock function to prevent accidental communications, 18 hours of battery, and auto squelch to eliminate weaker transmissions.
These come with a 90-day return policy and limited lifetime warranty should you be concerned about longevity.
The biggest drawback to this product is the included belt clips – there are several accounts from several different websites claiming that the belt clips are not sturdy and will break on you. For this reason, it may be wise to seek an alternative clip or holster for your transceivers as the ones provided will not be reliable.
While these products are meant to survive in any circumstance they are tuned to UHF so they will be better suited to a metropolitan environment. While the range can touch up to 37 miles, you still have to consider what terrain you are in and heavily forested areas may give you some problems at greater lengths. Because of this, if you are looking for a walkie-talkie designed for the outdoors – the Dewalt DXFRS800 may be too expensive and alternatively focused to justify purchasing.
- Very sturdy and waterproof
- Great selection of features
- The battery offers long charge life and a power-saving mode
- The belt clip is poorly made and unreliable
- Very hard to find in stock (genuinely, best of luck)
There are a lot of drawbacks and consequences to the breakneck speed of technology’s steadfast march towards the future.
Thankfully, one of the biggest positives is the obsessive nature of tech junkies who can compulsively list all the facts you need to form an easy decision on which product to buy.
So even though at times it can feel expensive to keep up with the trends, you can at least know you are buying a quality product. Now go brag to all your friends and coworkers about the hot new batch of walkie-talkies you have at your disposal, just don’t hold the button down!