Best Walkie Talkie for Hiking (Buying Guide)
Walkie talkies, or two-way radios, may seem to some hikers like too much technology to carry along in a rucksack on a hiking trip into the backcountry. Part of the reason many hikers go on these excursions is to be off the grid, incommunicado and able to reap the health benefits of peaceful ventures into the wild. However, aversion to tech is no reason to forego the various benefits of two-way radios on your next hiking trip. Imagine you go on a two-person hike and want to split up with your hiking partner but still be able to stay in touch over long distances. Walkie talkies are super-useful on large group excursions, especially if the group wants to break out into smaller teams and take a different trail to the summit.
Hikers can also use various channel combinations on walkie talkies to watch the weather conditions. NOAA weather alerts (that’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) broadcast from the nearest National Weather Service office and can be picked up in the vast majority of the United States with the proper equipment. Channels like the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and the Family Radio Service (FRS) have been specifically designed for use by families and small groups. A walkie talkie can save a lot of precious time in emergency situations and also pick up emergency alerts from national park services or severe weather warnings.
A high-quality walkie talkie that’s waterproof and broadcasts top-notch sound quality over a longer range can save hikers the hassle of coordinating with fellow hikers and making sure everyone can make it back to the campsite ahead of severe weather. They aren’t the heaviest pieces of equipment on the market, and most come with convenient features like belt clips, rechargeable batteries with a long battery life, hands-free operation, headsets, earpieces, ergonomic design for comfort during use, and high wattage to broadcast your messages over long distances during various kinds of outdoor activities in the backcountry.
We’ve reviewed the top walkie talkie and two-way radios on Amazon to write up this guide that we hope will provide hikers with a nice cross-section of the top-tier models on the hiking walkie talkie market. They’re the perfect tool for any outdoor activity where children or fellow hikers will be out of your line of sight but still need to stay in touch. Packing a few 2-way radios could also help convince fellow hikers to stay off their cell phones, which can be distracting even in the wonders of the backcountry. Read through this guide to see the best walkie talkies on Amazon and check out our top pick for the best walkie talkie for hiking at the end.
Best Walkie Talkie for Hiking – Overview
1. Midland GXT1000VP4 Waterproof Walkie Talkie
- 2-WAY RADIOS - These walkie-talkies feature 50 GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) channels, along with channel scan to check for activity. The JIS4 Waterproof Protection prevents splashing water from...
This Midland two-way radio has been designed with some of the most robust long-range transmitting capabilities on the available on the Amazon market. The Midland GXT1000VP4 has a massive 36-mile range, putting it at the top in terms of broadcasting over long distances. Equipped with 50 GMRS channels and a channel scan to search for activity, this Midland model is great for crowded campgrounds and hiking trails where other hikers may be taking up wavelengths with their own walkie talkies. It is capable of broadcasting using up to 142 CTCSS/DCS privacy codes. Short for Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System, CTCSS privacy codes protect your channel by “squelch”-ing your channel with a continuous tone so that only people using the same CTCSS privacy code can hear you.
The waterproof treatment of the Midland GXT1000VP4 is quite resilient and will protect the device from splashing water. Easy Voice and Sound Activation Transmission (eVOX) enable simple hands-free operation by shutting off transmission unless a voice can be heard speaking on your end of the two-way radio broadcast. A severe weather alert function will scan through 10 available weather channels such as the NOAA to find the strongest signal and sound an emergency alert if severe weather is on the way. Included in the box are 2 each of rechargeable battery packs, boom mic headsets, belt clips, chargers, AC and DC adapters, and an owner’s manual.
- 36-mile range
- 50 GMRS channels
- 142 CTCSS privacy codes
- Hands-free available
- Severe weather alert and NOAA weather alerts
- Rechargeable battery packs, belt clips, etc. included
- GMRS license from the FCC possibly required
2. Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-way Radios
- Radio control settings, Bluetooth connectivity, off-grid group messaging or broadcasting, offline location sharing and tracking, easy group communication, and emergency location.
These two-way radios from Motorola have a 35-mile range for voice and 20-mile range for data depending on the specific conditions of the terrain. With 22 channels and 121 CTCSS privacy codes, finding a channel to communicate with your fellow hikers should be a cinch. Motorola has designed these walkie talkies with some useful design features such as a hidden display, a weatherproof (although not necessarily waterproof) design, a seamless keypad, a dual watch, easy pairing, vibrate mode, an LED flashlight, micro-USB charging, and two possible power sources, either AA batteries or a rechargeable battery.
Hikers can also stay informed of weather conditions with the 11 weather channels the Motorola Talkabout can pick up, including 7 NOAA channels for severe weather alerts. Some offline features of the Motorola Talkabout include Bluetooth connectivity, off-grid group messaging or broadcasting, and offline location sharing and tracking for emergency situations or merely to remain aware where your fellow hikers are during any number of possible outdoor activities. Most of the offline features, specifically the Bluetooth connectivity and offline location sharing require a cell phone that can download the apps for each feature. That being said, they will be useful in areas where a cell phone signal won’t be picked up by your cell phone.
- 35-mile range for voice and 20-mile range for data
- 22 channels, 121 CTCSS privacy codes
- LED flashlight
- Rechargeable battery option
- NOAA weather alerts, 7 NOAA channels
- Offline location sharing for emergency situations
- Cell phone required for some offline features
- Not waterproof
3. Ansoko Dual-Band 2-way Radios
- Dual-standby Dual-band handheld 2-way radio VHF/UHF walkie talkie with backlit LCD display numeral keypad and acoustic tube earpiece, each radio has a charging base.
These dual-band radios are a bit more sophisticated than similar models of walkie talkies. They are dual-band 2-way radios, which means they are capable of transmitting on one channel while receiving transmissions on a different channel. Dual-band walkie talkies are more versatile than other models and useful for group communication during outdoor activities. The 128-channel memory and the 50 CTCSS privacy codes offer more channel options than almost any other walkie talkie on Amazon. Users can toggle between two wattage output modes, either 4 watts or 1 watt, depending on how much battery life is remaining. This walkie talkie also supports FM radio reception, has a channel monitor, channel scan, alarm for emergency situations, SOS LED flashlight, and VOX capability.
The rechargeable battery affords between 8 and 12 hours of battery life, depending on how much of that time is spent transmitting and how much is in sleep mode. A longer antenna for longer range transmission is available on Amazon but sold separately. The design of this dual-band 2-way radio is ergonomic and as portable as a HAM radio. Earpieces, a belt clip, and chargers are all included with this model. The rechargeable battery fills up in about 4 hours, so it should be easy to recharge it overnight or at mealtime if you’re hiking from a base camp or campsite. A car charger adapter is available but also sold separately.
- Dual-band capability
- 50 CTCSS privacy codes
- 2 wattage output modes
- FM radio capable
- Channel scan
- LED flashlight and VOX
- Earpieces and belt clip included
- Antenna for longer range sold separately
- Car charging adapter sold separately
4. BaoFeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Walkie Talkie
- Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New Hardened Durable Radio Shell, 30% Larger Battery, V-85 High Gain Antenna (Twice the Antenna...
This BaoFeng is an improved design over some of the older BaoFeng models and it packs a punch. With twice the output wattage (8 watts up from 4 watts output), a really durable outer shell, a 30% larger rechargeable battery, and a V-85 high gain antenna that’s longer and transmits over a much longer range, BaoFeng pulled out all the stops with this model. It also features a programming cable so hikers can hook this BaoFeng into their PC to program it easily before they set out on the next hiking trip. It can function as a HAM radio on those frequencies but a license is likely required for transmitting on GMRS channels and FRS channels.
That being said, those without a license can still bring the BaoFeng along to use the channel scan for updates on weather conditions. It can easily pick up NOAA weather alerts on shortwave mode and receiving transmissions is totally fine without a license. Emergency alerts and severe weather are picked up very readily by this BaoFeng, which is also dual-band and so can transmit and receive on two different channels for those hikers who do have a license to transmit from the FCC.
- Twice the output wattage
- 30% larger rechargeable battery
- HAM radio function
- NOAA weather alerts on shortwave
- Dual-band walkie talkie
- FCC license required to transmit on GMRS channels and FRS channels
- Not waterproof
- No hands-free communication
5. Retevis RT22 Hands-Free 2-way Radio
- The two way radio is extremely compact and slim for business use; featured with 16 channels and rich features; FCC certificated ensure you use license free radio; needn’t pay frequency annually
Retevis has designed one of the most convenient two-way radios on Amazon with their RT22 hands-free model. It’s a very compact and slim walkie talkie, so it won’t be a bother to carry in a fanny pack, day pack, or pocket. The hands-free VOX mode has 9 levels of sensitivity and transmits when it picks up your voice, so it can easily be attached to a rucksack or placed nearby for easy communication.
This is also a handy feature in some emergency situations, as you can imagine. The audio quality on this model is one of the best on the market. An emergency alert function ensures you’ll be aware of any danger and severe weather broadcast over the proper channels. The channel lock function prevents accidental button-mashing. A variety of channels and CTCSS privacy codes ensure you’ll be able to find a channel and can be set on the walkie talkie any time.
Retevis includes a gang charger with this model, which allows hikers to charge 6 of the RT22’s at one time and is designed with overcharge, overvoltage, and short circuit protection to make sure your battery life isn’t affected by leaving the device on the charger too long. The 2-year warranty provided by Retevis should provide some peace of mind for buyers.
Perhaps best of all, this model operates on license-free FRS channels right out of the box, so hikers who are looking to gain some hands-free communication on the trail without having to become amateur radio enthusiasts will appreciate the added ease of use provided by the Retevis RT22. Earpieces are not included, but belt clips are. All of these features are what make this Retevis our top pick for the best walkie talkie for hiking.
- Hands-free communication
- Compact and slim
- Great audio quality
- Emergency alert function
- Gang charger included
- 2-year warranty
- License-free FRS channels
- Belt clips included
- Not waterproof
- Earpieces sold separately
- Programming cable sold separately
6. Cobra ACXT390 23-mile 2-way Radios
- Up to 23 mile range - Provides extended signal range with 2662 channel combinations
This Cobra two-way radio has a 23-mile range and 2,662 channel combinations between its various channel selections and CTCSS privacy codes. 10 channels from NOAA provide NOAA weather alerts so hikers can stay ahead of severe weather and extreme weather conditions. They are weather-resistant but not quite waterproof. VOX capability provides for hands-free use by picking up on the user’s voice and transmitting without the need to press any buttons. Another neat feature of the Cobra walkie talkie is a call alert, which allows hikers to select a ringtone in much the same way we’re used to on our cell phones so that they can distinguish who is calling from among their hiking compatriots.
These 2-way radios have rechargeable batteries and Cobra includes a two-port charger so you can charge both walkie talkies at the same time. Micro-USB charging is also possible and Cobra includes one of those cables with purchases of this item as well. The high-power mode on this Cobra walkie talkie is reserved for those with the FCC transmitting license, but there are some low wavelength channels that hikers can use without getting any license. For more information about those channels, please see this chart.
- 23-mile range
- CTCSS privacy codes
- 10 NOAA weather alert channels
- VOX hands-free communication
- Call alert
- Rechargeable batteries
- FCC license required for some channels
- Not waterproof
7. Arcshell Long Range Two-Way Radios
- Small and convenient size;it easily fits on your hand;it measures 4.53 inches in height without antenna(antenna length:4.3 inches);1.30 inches thick;2.36 inches in width;6.3 oz light-weighted;solid...
These Arcshell long-range two-way radios are just what hikers need to stay in touch with each other while hiking in the backcountry. Each walkie talkie has 16 pre-programmed channels and transmits with equal power and voice quality on each of those channels right out of the box. 50 CTCSS privacy codes offer a wide variety of channels to transmit with and ensure that hikers will be able to block out unwanted communication on the trail. Each walkie talkie has a rechargeable battery and comes with its own charging dock.
They take about 2.5 hours to charge, which is one of the shortest charging times on the market. Each walkie talkie can last anywhere from 8 to 96 hours on a single charge depending on how much you transmit. They come with an earpiece and headset and have a VOX hands-free function for added convenience. The high-quality speaker and headset earpiece both have a solid enough sound quality.
These walkie talkies have about a 5-mile range on terrain with few obstructions but may transmit worse if there are many obstructions. There’s a built-in LED flashlight for use at night or signaling during emergency situations. The channel scan will help hikers search all the transmission channels for activity. There is no dual-band transmission feature on these walkie talkies.
- 16 pre-programmed channels
- 50 CTCSS privacy codes
- Short charge time
- Long battery life
- VOX hands-free communication
- 5-mile range
- LED flashlight
- Channel scan
- Not waterproof
- No dual-band transmission
For its overall portability and ease of use without an FCC license, the Retevis RT22 Hands-Free 2-way Radio is our top pick for the best walkie talkie for hiking. The hands-free mode is really intuitive. The body of the walkie talkie is really slim and compact, which makes for easy carrying on the trail. Fantastic audio quality ensures clear communication in the backcountry. The emergency alert function is great for keeping an eye on weather conditions and emergency situations. The gang charger will let hikers charge all their walkie talkies at one time and will charge all the walkie talkies equally, meaning there won’t be a hiker left behind waiting for their walkie talkie to finish charging.
While the programming cable is not included, these Retevis 2-way radios use the same programming cable as many other walkie talkie models, so the cable itself is easy to find and many hikers likely already have one lying around their house. Beyond just listening out for severe weather warnings, walkie talkies can help with simple tasks like calling your fellow hikers to a meal or to a rest stop location. They provide relief to hikers who aren’t comfortable with their children or fellow hikers being out of sight during long hours of hiking in the backcountry. Now that you’ve read through this guide, you can hit the trails without going completely incommunicado with our top pick for the best walkie talkie for hiking. Over and out.
Bonus tip: Watch this video for some tips on how to extend the range of a walkie talkie!