About the time I purchased my first hunting license, I also bought my first set of hunting walkie-talkies—and for as much as I paid for them, they should’ve been able to send a signal to the Moon. Thankfully, two-way radio technology has improved drastically since then, and while it is still true that the terrain and your surroundings affect transmission ranges, many of the latest-and-greatest walkie-talkies have the ability to send a signal for miles. Conversations that might have been tough to carry on years ago broadcast much better today—and that’s a good thing. When it comes to checking in on my friends and family while they are in the backcountry, these little devices are hard to beat, and I continually lean on them to stay in touch off the grid. Before you set out on your next fishing, hunting, or camping trip with friends or family, here are a few models you’ll want to consider for staying in touch with one another, even when you’re miles apart.
Motorola’s new T800 walkie-talkie might just be the most technologically advanced two-way radio the company has ever produced, with a look and feel to match. Armed with 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, combining for 2,662 possible frequency combinations, the T800 also has Bluetooth connectivity for off-grid messaging, location sharing and tracking, and emergency tracking. Download the Talkabout app to your smartphone and pair it with the radio, and you’ll be able to pinpoint the location of other T800 radios, share your location, and send text messages. Other features include a weatherproof housing, 11 weather channels, vibrate modes, an LED flashlight, micro USB charging port, and, according to Motorola, a 35-mile voice range and 20-mile data range.
In addition to having a 36-mile range and 3,124 channel options, the Midland GXT103VP4 is an inexpensive walkie-talkie with a voice-activated transmission feature that’s adjustable to nine sensitivity levels. If you need to know the forecast, there is a weather channel and weather-scan option, 10 call alerts, and a vibrating alert if you need to keep the volume down but want to know when someone is trying to contact you. The set comes with two radios, two AA rechargeable batteries that can go for days on standby mode without needing refreshed, belt clips, a headset, and a desktop charger. It’s a great option if you want an affordable way to keep in touch with your kids, family, or friends when you’re out and about.
Long before cellular phones and texting, I worked for a friend on his horse farm in rural Ohio, and we stayed in touch on Cobra CB radios in the tractors and trucks, which he has since replaced with two-way walkie-talkies. In fact, these days radios like the ACXT1035R are tougher and broadcast farther than those old CBs ever did. This unit has a range of 37 miles, a rubberized grip, and in addition to being waterproof, it also floats—which is great if you’re handing a few out to kids on a family outing. There is also NOAA weather and emergency channels, an LED flashlight on the bottom, and 2,662 channel combinations. But what sets this unit apart from others is its Rewind-Say-Again feature, which automatically records the last 20 seconds of any incoming audio so you can listen to any details you might have missed.
Like Cobra, Uniden has long been a reliable name when it comes to CB radios and handheld two-way communication, and the SX507 model is likely their best performing, most durable walkie-talkie to date. With 22 channels and 142 privacy codes, finding a private line to chat with others on the same frequency isn’t a problem. If you’re curious about what Mother Nature is going to send your way, this unit receives NOAA emergency and weather broadcasts. It has a 50-mile range and is powered by two rechargeable AA batteries that operate for up to 14 hours, and because it’s waterproof, you don’t need to worry about it shorting out. What’s more, the SX507 also floats, so if it slips out of your grip and into the drink, it won’t sink like a stone.