How to Find the Best Walkie Talkie: Detailed Buying Guide & Reviews

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Not long ago, walkie talkies were seen as an archaic form of entertainment, especially as smartphones started getting more popular. But, perceptions are slowly changing and walkie talkies are once again becoming a viable, convenient and cheap communication method.

They’re mostly used by businesses to fast-track communication between employees and security personnel. But walkie talkies can also come in handy for when you’re going on an outdoor excursion. Instead of relying on a smartphone that becomes practically useless when it loses its Wi-Fi connection or battery juice, a walkie talkie is made tough to withstand harsh conditions.

However, like most people, you probably don’t know much about these devices to make an informed decision. That’s why we decided to put together a comprehensive guide with all the information you’ll need to find the best walkie talkie.

As you’ll see below, these devices come in different varieties. Some are designed specifically for recreational use, others for kids and some are built for outdoor use. Some of the key characteristics to look out for in a walkie talkie include decent range, flashlights, and it should be portable as well

How Do Walkie Talkies Work?

A walkie talkie is basically a wireless communication device that allows people to keep in touch through radio waves. It’s powered by a battery and some of its essential features include a “push to talk” button, a microphone, loudspeaker, an antenna and transmitter/receiver.

When you talk into a walkie talkie, your voice is automatically transformed into radio signals by the device’s electromagnetic spectrum. This is what sends your voice to the other radio at the speed of light.

Radio Type

Walkie walkies come in different types and differ according to their specific band, namely FRS and FRS/GMRS.

Family Radio Service

FRS devices are smaller than the GMRS radios. They use the FM radio frequency and work with 1 to 14 channels. They’re also cheaper and more accessible than GMRS systems. Plus, they’re so easy to use that even your kids will make light work of them.

However, FRS walkies have a limited output when compared to their GMRS counterparts, which means that they have a limited range as well. At best, an RMS system device will have an output of 0.5 watts, which translates to 1-mile radius range.

With that said, FRS radios are still useful at communicating at a close range.

PLAN - PRICE

Description

Retevis RT628 Walkie Talkie

Well made with solid materials


Ergonomically designed for kids' hands


Offers a very decent range


Nice and compact

Baofeng UV-5R Walkie Talkie

Well-made and durable


Lightweight and easy-to-use design


Great customer service


Baofeng offers good value for money

Midland GXT1000VP4

Easy to set up and use


Has an impressive range of up to 36 miles


Comes with keypad lock feature


Different colors

Arcshell Two-Way Radios

Best walkie talkie for outdoor use


Great customer support


Arcshell Radios offers good value for money


Long lasting battery

Sokos Walkie Talkies for Kids

Comes in bright kid-friendly colors


Covers a wide range


Very durable and rugged


Small and easy to use for small hands

General Mobile Radio Service

Then you have GMRS radios, which are much stronger and more reliable. These radios have an output capacity of up to 1 to 5 watts and can even reach 50 watts.

As a result, GMRS radios cover a much wider range in comparison to FRS walkies and can connect you to devices that are two miles away. Cutting-edge models have a range of up to five miles granted they have a decent antenna and there aren’t a lot of obstructions standing in the way.

However, this extended range comes at a price and GMRS units are way more expensive. Plus, you need to have a special license in order to use them and this usually costs about $50 to $85. The good news is the license is valid for five years and doesn’t come with any test requirements.

FRS radios can work across 1 to 14 channels, and 7 of those channels are shared with GMRS radios. However, GMRS radios have 15 to 22 channels available to them.

PMR446

PMR446 is mostly popular in Europe and it’s comparable to the US’s FRS units. What sets these two apart is the fact that they work according to different frequencies which means they cannot be used together.

It’s important to note here that GMRS and FRS radios are illegal to buy, sell and use in Europe. This is mainly because these radios operate on channels that are specifically reserved for public safety and emergency communications.

eXRS Radios

The eXRS model is a fairly new contender on the market but they’ve cornered the cruise ship market already. They’re manufactured by TriSquare and are known as a more cutting edge version of the FRS radio. Some say that they’re even better than some GMRS radios when it comes to connectivity and range.

eXRS radios have a 6-mile range and offer decent coverage even in terrible weather conditions. Plus, they work according to frequency-hopping spread spectrum FM technology, which means you can use them to communicate with several other devices and even send text messages.

This is a big deal because in some situations it’s actually better to send a message instead of speaking into the device.

Also, because eXRS radios work according to a 15 band spectrum, you don’t need a license to operate them, regardless of whether you’re using them for commercial or personal use.

But as with anything, there’s a downside to using eXRS radios. For one, you can only use them with other TriSquare radios because they don’t respond to other brands and models. So if you plan on using them with a friend, you’ll have to pair them with a similar model.

The Difference between VHF and UHF

Once you’ve decided on an option between GMRS and FRS radios, you’ll have to figure out the frequency you’d like your radio to be. First, you have very high frequencies (VHF) which operate according to a radio frequency of 136 MHz to 174 MHz.

Frequencies in this range need very little power to operate and can cover longer distances efficiently, thanks to having longer wavelengths that are more grounded than UHF wavelengths.

As such, VHF devices are ideal for use in wide open spaces with minimal obstruction in the form of people, trees and steel doors. But, it’s still the most reliable and viable type of walkie talkie out there.

But, the VHF is not exactly perfect for use in a cruise ship, for example, because there would be too many obstructions standing in the way of its ability to make a strong connection.

On the other hand, UHF frequencies are way more powerful and have a frequency range of between 400 and 512 megahertz. That’s why they’re perfect for use in cruise ships because they can penetrate through obstacles easily, and they’re a popular communication tool among ship crew.

Number of Channels

If you’re planning to use your walkie talkie to communicate with a friend or colleagues, then you’ll have to make sure that you’re both tuned to the same frequency band or channel. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to wait until the other person has transmitted their message before you can transmit your own, as walkie talkies don’t allow for simultaneous communication.

Your options range from 2 to 7 channels FRS radio or else a GMRS model with 30 channels depending on the number of people that you’re planning to connect with. The more channels your radio has, the better it will be at privacy and versatility, but it will also be pricier than a model with fewer channels.

Quality of Audio

The benefit of having a radio that’s always clear makes for effortless communication and you’ll never have to worry about whether or not the other person hears you clearly. Good audio quality is a must because it’ll enable the other person to understand you clearly the first time.

So, if you’re going to buy your walkie talkie online, consider opting for a reputable brand like Uniden, Midland, Motorola or Cobra. These brands are known for their high-quality talkies and they are your best bet since you won’t be able to test the device as you would when purchasing it from a physical store.

It’s also helpful to look at customer reviews to see what the previous buyers are saying about the particular model that you’re considering. Look out for comments about the device’s audio quality and range specifically.

Privacy Codes

Privacy codes are a common feature when it comes to walkie talkie descriptions, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that no-one else will be able to hear the information you transmit through your device. It just means that you’ll have less chatter to deal with when communicating.

Therefore, radios that come with a privacy code separate the available channels into smaller chunks which means users must tune in to a particular channel according to a preset privacy code. So your walkie talkie’s speakers can only be activated by signals from walkies that are transmitting through the same channel with an identical privacy code.

But, if there’s another device nearby that’s tuned into the same channel, then they’ll be privy to your communication as well. That’s why it’s always a good idea to opt for a walkie that has stringent privacy codes. The more codes your device has, the safer and more private your communication will be.

Weather Alerts

Another feature worth noticing is the ability to receive weather alerts through the NOAA delivered straight to your walkie talkie. If you’re on a cruise ship, then weather alerts come standard, but it’s nice to access it directly through the NOAA.

Plus, a radio with a weather predictability feature is versatile enough for use in outdoor situations, such as when you’re camping, hiking, boating or simply adding to your “prepper” supply.

Battery Type

It’s also important to choose a walkie talkie device that’s powered by a good quality battery. The last thing you need is a battery that loses juice in under an hour when you plan on using the device for the whole day.

Good quality radios are powered by Lithium iron, Nickel cadmium or Nickel metal hydride batteries. This is the cream of the crop when it comes to batteries and they’re guaranteed to provide you with hours of power before they run out of juice.

On the other hand, cheaper walkies come with non-rechargeable AAA or AA batteries that have to be replaced whenever they run out of power.

Marine Radios vs. Walkie Talkies

First of all, marine radios communicate through very high frequency (VHF) signals. Most walkies use the FRS and GMRS signals to communicate via the UHF band. But you need to have a license in order to use a GMRS signal.

As the name implies, a VHF marine radio is designed for marine and aviation use. It’s ideal for these applications because it delivers exceptionally strong signals, especially when there are no obstructions standing in the way.

Thankfully, there are usually no obstructions out at sea so there’s nothing standing between the transmitters and this makes for a smooth communication. The same goes for air travel. There are no land-based obstructions to mess up your signal.

Why Get a Waterproof Walkie Talkie

Walkie talkies are designed to facilitate communication over short and medium range distances. They don’t have the same distance range as cellphones but they’re way more affordable to purchase and maintain because you don’t need to buy credits in order to use them.

The best part about these devices is that you can use them even in areas with little to no mobile reception. Plus, waterproof models can withstand water and rain storms.

This makes them ideal for use during fishing expeditions and other outdoor adventures. It’s also worth noting that most walkie talkies can be used for emergency purposes and will help you to reach the authorities through their various channels.

Best Walkie Talkies

Whether you’re planning on taking your walkie talkie on an expedition or you are looking for a device that will connect you with your colleagues in an open space, a high quality and waterproof model will be worth your while.

As you can see, there are various features and considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a walkie talkie. Luckily, we’ve covered all the bases for you and you should be feeling confident enough to start looking at some options.

To help you along, we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the best rated walkie talkies on the market. Read on for more.

1 – Retevis RT628 – (One of the Best Walkie Talkies for Kids)

The Retevis RT628 is one of the best walkie talkies for kids, as it comes at an accessible price point with incredibly easy-to-use features.

This package features two colorful walkies that come in a lightweight 90-gram body. When operated in the same frequency, these radios are very easy to use and have small ergonomic buttons that are designed with kids’ tiny fingers in mind.

There’s a channel lock feature which allows parents to maintain each radio in the same frequency, while the featured belt clip in each device makes it easy to hold on to your walkie and minimizes the chances of losing it.

The only downside is that these Retevis radios are powered by two AA batteries which you have to purchase yourself because they don’t come with the package. Otherwise, parents who’ve brought this for their kids seem very happy with it as evidenced by their raving reviews.

Pros:

Well made with solid materials
Ergonomically designed for kids’ hands
Offers a very decent range
Nice and compact

Cons:

The instructions could be clearer
Batteries are sold separately

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2 – Baofeng UV-5R MK5

As far as efficiency goes, the Baofeng UV-5R MK5 is the best of the best. It comes with a tri-power feature that enables you to switch between three modes so you can access a range of 1 to 8 watts. This model comes with its own battery which just happens to be a 7.4 volt, 1,800 mAH battery. This means that a single charge can give you several hours of excellent performance.

The frequency range offered by this model depends on the wattage output and could be anything from 65-108MHz on the lowest setting, to 400-520MHz when cranked up high. For even better coverage, Baofeng has kitted out this model with a dual band 7-inch antenna as well as a VOX function, built-in FM radio, an LED flashlight for added safety, and a convenient emergency alert feature.

Needless to say, the UV-5R is a convenient and reliable tool to have around when going on outdoor expeditions or even if you’re just a parent who wants to keep an eye on their kid. You’ll be glad to know that it’s easy to carry, weighing just 15.7 ounces with dimensions of 8 x 4 x 4 inches. Plus, it’s available in different versions, including a model that comes with a powerful 3,800 mAH battery.

Pros:

Well-made and durable
Lightweight and easy-to-use design
Great customer service
Good value for money

Cons:

Instructions are not very helpful

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3 – Midland GXT1000VP4

The Midland GXT1000VP4 is designed for use in emergency situations and provides a really decent range of up to 36 miles in open areas. Weighing just 2.15 pounds, this walkie talkie is very lightweight and has dimensions of 9.75 x 2.5 x 1.75 inches.

It comes with up to 50 channels and provides crisp communication without any chatter, and this is in addition to the 14 privacy codes it comes with so you’ll never have to deal with interruptions when using this device.

Other features worth mentioning include an LCD display screen that allows it to work in low light conditions, water-resistant construction, and regular NOAA weather alert notifications sent straight to you when you need them. You can also use this walkie talkie to send locator signals and siren alerts in case you find yourself lost or in an emergency situation.

There’s also eVOX technology, a keypad lock feature, a 36-mile range and a rugged design that can withstand rough weather conditions. This device is available in different colors including black and yellow, camouflage and black. Batteries are included and this model is backed by a three-year warranty.

Pros:

Easy to set up and use
Has an impressive range of up to 36 miles
Comes with keypad lock feature
Available in different colors
Three-year warranty

Cons:

The receiver can be quite noisy
Poor battery life

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4 – Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios

The Arcshell Long Range model is the best walkie talkie for hunting because it’s well-made from durable materials, it’s water resistant and lightweight and easy to carry. But, it’s versatile enough for commercial use as well if you like, as it offers a 5-mile radius, although you might have to sacrifice some of that range in heavily congested areas.

This device works according to a 400-470MHz UHF range, and it offers 16 different memory channels. It’s powered by a 1,500 mAH Li-ion battery that only requires 2.5 hours of charging for eight hours of use.

Other notable features on this model include a push to talk microphone, an earpiece, emergency alarm, VOX function, LED flashlight, a high-quality speaker and intelligent charging function. This model weighs just 6.3 ounces and it’s 4.3 inches tall, with dimensions of 6.9 x 9.3 x 4.5 inches.

Pros:

Best walkie talkie for outdoor use
Great customer support
Good value for money
Long lasting battery
Decent range

Cons:

None

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5 – Sokos Walkie Talkies for Kids

According to walkie talkie reviews, this Sokos model is ideal for kids. It’s incredibly easy to use thanks to its smart PMR system which allows the user to auto scan while offering crisp sound quality without any chatter.

It has a cute kid-friendly design and lightweight construction that’s characterized by dimensions of 5.5 x 3.3 x 2.2 inches. It only weighs 5.6 ounces, and the interface comes with clear buttons that add to its ease of use, as does the push to talk function.

This unit also features a 22 channel system with a range of up to 3 miles with obstruction, and up to 5 miles in open spaces. Just keep in mind that the Sokos walkie talkie is powered by three AAA batteries which can last for up to 9 hours on standby mode or 3.5 hours with regular use.

Pros:

Comes in bright kid-friendly colors
Covers a wide range
Very durable and rugged
Small and easy to use for small hands

Cons:

The batteries don’t last that long

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6 – Motorola RMU2080D

The Motorola brand is well-known for making high-quality walkies and this one is no exception. The RMU2080D model is very well-made, offers a decent range, and it’s very easy to use thanks to the simple controls.

This walkie has 8 channels and receives accurate weather reports from the National Weather Reports station. This is what makes it perfect for outdoor use and yet it has also been rated as one of the best walkie talkie for indoor use because it can transmit over 250,000 square feet and can work even in a 20 story building.

On top of that, this model works according to 99 UHF business exclusive frequencies and it comes with six customizable codes for improved connectivity.

You can rest assured that this model can handle all types of weather conditions as it’s built according to military standards. As such it’s resistant to shock, dust and excessive wind. It also comes with a 1,500-mW speaker that eliminates background chatter, and it’s perfect for use across long distances.

Pros:

Well-built
Long lasting battery
Pretty decent range
Best long range walkie talkie
Nice and compact

Cons:

No complaints here!

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7 – Midland – LXT500VP3

The Midland covers all the bases with an accessible price, great features, and a remarkably wide range. It’s the best walkie talkie for long distance thanks to its small and lightweight size, and was even voted as the No. 1 best-seller in Portable FRS Two-Way Radios on Amazon.

It’s available in black and camouflage, with dimensions of 1 x 2 x 6 inches. There are also 22 channels on this water-resistant walkie, and it offers a range of up to 24 miles when used in open outdoor areas.

In fact, it’s ideal for outdoor use because it preserves power like no other model and it comes with a rechargeable battery. It also features a HI/LO battery life extender, adjustable power settings, keypad lock to eliminate the risk of accidental activation and silent operation. To guarantee smooth communication, this walkie talkie features an auto squelch and roger beep feature as well.

You can use this device to receive communication from up to 20 city blocks away and yet it’s available at a very affordable price. However, it has a low volume output and that’s the only downside we could find.

Pros:

Comes with 22 long-range channels
Easy to use
Comes with auto-lock feature
Portable and lightweight
Long battery life

Cons:

Low volume output

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8 – Retevis H-777 Two Way Radios

There are very few good walkie talkies for family use, but this Retevis H-777 Two Way package fits the bill. It’s the perfect set to get if you’re going on a family outdoor excursion and it comes with 10 two-way devices that have 16 single-band channel radios.

Each radio is super easy to use because they all come pre-programmed to use the same frequency. They come with fantastic features such as a built-in LED torch, a 1500mAH Li-on battery with a 9-hour lifespan per 2.5-hour charge, and a convenient voice response function to suit several scenarios.

The best part about these walkie talkies is that they come at a very affordable price point and yet they offer superior communication and a really long battery lifespan. On the downside, there have been some complaints about the slow two-mile communication distance. But it makes up for that with the 30-day money back guarantee, as well as a 1-year warranty.

Pros:

Very long battery life
Has a long distance range
Good price
Easy to use
Warranty backed

Cons:

They don’t all work as promised

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9 – Uniden GMR5089-2CKHS

This Uniden GMR5089-2CKHS offers an incredibly wide range and offers crystal clear communication across very long distances of up to 25 miles! It’s super easy to use thanks to the simplicity of the design and the ergonomic buttons, plus it’s water resistant which means it can withstand water contact and still work effortlessly.

In fact, some reviewers say that it can even work after being submerged into water. With a powerful combination of long-range communication and rugged design, this walkie talkie deserves a spot on this list of the best walkie talkie models of 2019.

Pros:

Excellent range
Weather resistant
Perfect for outdoor use
Rugged design
Long lasting battery

Cons:

This device doesn’t let you know when your battery is about to die

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10 – Luiton LT-188H

The Luiton LT-188H is known for its efficiency and it’s very well-designed with rugged construction and a range of up to 10 miles. It works perfectly in open space and many say that it’s way more reliable than some of its more expensive competitors.

This walkie talkie really delivers as shown by its wide variety of excellent features, including a built-in flashlight, a button lock to prevent accidental activation and a power saving mode to extend its battery lifespan.

Pros:

Solid build
Easy to program and use
Offers long range communication
Comes with a built-in flashlight for use in low light conditions

Cons:

The software required to use the walkie talkie can be difficult to download

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Conclusion

PLAN - PRICE

Description

Motorola RMU2080D

Well-built


Long lasting battery


Pretty decent range


Best long range walkie talkie


Nice and compact

Midland - LXT500VP3

Comes with 22 long-range channels


Easy to use


Comes with auto-lock


Portable and lightweight


Long battery life

Retevis H-777 Two Way Radios

Very long battery life


Has a long distance range


Good price


Retevis H-777 is easy to use


Warranty backed

Uniden GMR5089-2CKHS

Excellent range


Weather resistant


Perfect for outdoor use


Uniden GMR5089-2CKHS has a rugged design


Long lasting battery

Luiton LT-188H 2 Way Radio

Luiton LT-188H has a solid build design


Easy to program and use


Offers long range communication


Comes with a built-in flashlight

Walkie talkies are a great investment for anyone that wants a reliable and durable alternative to regular cellphone communication. Most models can be used to communicate over long distances and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Throughout the course of this article, we’ve provided you with all the information you need to help you find the best walkie talkie for your needs, including all the important features that a walkie talkie should have in order to operate optimally.

But, if we were to choose one model that embodies all of these features it would have to be the Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios.

This is the best walkie talkie on the market in our opinion because it offers a 5-mile radius with a range of 400-470MHz UHF, 16 different channels, and it’s powered by a 1,500 mAH Li-ion battery that only requires 2.5 hours of charging for 8 hours of use.

On top of that, it features rugged construction and can withstand all kinds of weather conditions, plus, it’s lightweight and easy to use.

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