A great deal of stuff matters a lot when you use a two-way radio. These radios are often used in critical situations, the most common one is when you’re out hiking with your friends and family. In that scenario, you will most probably be in a remote area. And remote areas lack reliable cellphone signal reception. That’s why two-way radios: efficient, hassle-free, comfortable, and reliable in any condition because the radio wave frequencies are always going to be there.
And in critical situations like that, it’s only natural that you will prioritize the proper functioning of your two-way radios because if something is off with them, your entire hiking adventure might be in a state of jeopardy, stopping you from having the fun.
That’s why, when it comes to choosing a two-way radio for your usage, you should only go with the best. Some are explicitly waterproof while others are long-range. Some are good for the wilderness while others need replacing batteries more often. It’s, therefore, very important to know the major details about two-way radios to ensure their proper functioning.
In this piece, we are going to elaborate on the very best long range two-way radios. These are reliable and tested through time. Positive reviews, amazing build qualities, and a dedication to giving the users exactly what they need set them apart. Currently, these products rule the market.
1. Midland GXT1050VP4
Well-trusted and good-looking, this model from Midland is something every two-way expert radio is talking about right now. And it’s not trendy only right now, but it’s something that hikers are using since a very long time.
Features: 50 GMRS channels give a frequency advantage over others; activity search feature through channel scan; 36-mile range without obstructions; ability to block other conversations using privacy codes; you can monitor two channel at a time with the Dual Watch; SOS Siren allows you to alert others in emergency scenarios.
Ideal usage: Hiking, hunting, and trekking are primary uses. Generally good for any kind of outdoor activity.
Waterproofing: They come with JIS4 waterproof protection. What this means is that you don’t have to worry about water ranging from splashes to light rain.
Weather reports: The Weather Scan function allows you to find any NOAA weather broadcasts for severe weather updates.
2. Cobra ACXT1035R FLT
Highly functional and outdoors-ready but with short charge.
Features: 8 hours battery backup upon full charge; 37 miles range; 22 channels frequencies with 121 privacy codes; rubber grip for holding in wet conditions along with shock resistance; BURP function enables you to flush out any water in the speakers; VOX allows hands-free operation; you can also rewind the last 20 seconds of the last transmission to listen to any information you accidentally missed (Rewind-Say-Again technology); LED flashlight.
Ideal usage: Hiking, hunting, climbing, extreme adventures, outdoor trips.
Waterproofing: Water resistant with the floating capability to avoid sinking.
Weather reports: Extreme weather conditions are reported through the weather alert system. It’s based on automatic monitoring for storms, etc.
3. Midland GXT1000VP4
Record-breaking high-power two-way radio unit that excels across wild conditions on any frequency. It’s sturdy and lightweight. An efficient radio unit for easily keeping it in your pocket.
Features: Record 142 privacy codes and 50 channels; silent mode to turn off all sound; 36 miles range; SOS Siren for emergencies; silent mode for switching off all sounds so that you can quietly communicate.
Ideal usage: Climbing, excursions, trips.
Waterproofing: Waterproof resistance enough to protect against light rain but not dipping in water.
Weather reports: The unit supports NOAA Weather Alert Radio feature to scan the weather.
4. Motorola MR350R
Looks amazing and offers a great deal of value for money, really. The MR350R is an amazing two-way radio unit that is reliable, efficient, and powerful without being a trouble to hold or grip.
Features: 120 privacy codes along with 22 channels make it really advantageous; rugged and lightweight exterior design; very comfortable to grip and comes with large buttons; 35 miles range; emergency flashlight feature; voice control function and a headphone jack; iVOX hands-free operation makes things easier.
Ideal usage: Rugged wilderness, outdoor activities, hunting.
Weather reports: 11 weather channels to be forewarned about severe conditions and extreme weather.
5. Retevis RT1
Great transceiver for rugged use. Comes with top-notch features and some handy quirks that make it a quite powerful two-way radio. It also offers some stylish looks along with a very sturdy, rugged exterior build. Designed for maximum performance. Sure, it’s a little bit expensive and doesn’t come with a reliable belt clip. Also lacks waterproofing.
Features: Built for rugged usage; 2.5 watt transmission power; 8 hours battery backup; VOX allows for hands-free communication; 22 channels, coming with busy channel lockout that helps you prevent transmission when there are two conversations on the same channel, kind of like a subtle privacy lock (detection for this is automatic); 3-4 miles UFH range that permeates obstacles like woods and other obstructions no matter what the terrain; powerful speakers with clear transmission.
Ideal usage: Very good for all kinds of outdoor activities, mostly thanks to its rugged exterior design.
Weather reports: Unavailable.
6. Midland LXT630VP3
Ergonomic build with a lightweight structure and a compact design. Carrying and strapping it on is effortless.
Features: 36 channels with a 30-mile range (without obstructions); VOX allows hands-free communication; comes with a HI/LO settings that save battery backup if battery is drained; short 6-hours battery life; Auto Squelch technology helps in cutting background noise to clarify transmission; silent mode can be used to turn off all sounds.
Ideal usage: Hiking, climbing, shorter excursions.
Weather reports: NOAA weather alerts are supported to find cover in time.
7. Uniden MHS75 Submersible
Water-ready all the time. Lightweight and durable, the Uniden Submersible is a great two-way radio unit. Speaker loudness is less than what we’d like. Also, background noise is a problem.
Features: Can be in the water for up to half an hour, floating; has a rugged, sturdy, and lightweight design that allows you to safely carry it even in extreme conditions; 22 channels and 142 privacy codes; can be submerged for about 3 feet; display is very bright; battery backup lasts up to 10 hours.
Ideal usage: Trips where water will be abundant and kayaking.
Waterproofing: Can float on water for up to 30 minutes, also comes with waterproof protection against light rain and splashes.
Weather reports: The unit monitors current weather conditions using NOAA broadcasts to warn you of severe weather.
8. Floureon 4 Packs Walkie Talkies
Floureon walkie-talkies are budget-friendly 4 two-way units appropriate for and loved by kids. The price is very much lower than other two-way radios even when this set is of 4 units, actually! It, however, doesn’t come with a battery charger.
Features: Clear and loud sound; strong signals in short distances along with powerful reception; sturdy enough to take a beating; 22 channels and 121 privacy codes; safe for kids (environment-friendly material build); simple to use yet effective at shorter ranges.
Ideal usage: Trips out of town, skiing, other short-range outdoor activities that don’t necessarily include wilderness.
Weather reports: Unavailable.
The range is important, and that’s why manufacturers often misinform
The range is extremely important. People base a large part of their decision when buying a new two-way radio unit on the effective range. And that’s why companies tell you that they have 30 miles of range when you will be getting 2 miles in most practical situations.
The ideal situation is when you’re on a mountain peak communicating with someone on another one with no taller mountain peaks in between. The range can easily be 30 miles there. But most situations are not ideal. There are natural obstructions that interfere heavily. Sometimes, they block the signal altogether.
The best way to figure out the effective range is knowing before how much natural obstruction you’re going to face. If it’s a lot, then go for a very high power radio unit. If it’s going to be so-so, then any unit will work quite well.
If you’re going with a team of friends or family who will not be separated by more than a single mile for most of the critical phase, then any good two-way radio unit will be good enough to cover that distance.
So, which one should you pick?
Which one should you choose depends strictly on what your usage pattern and condition is going to be like most of the time? I hope you read through the product summaries of these best two-way radio units that work well on any frequency in their supported spectrum. Let’s take a particular example of why and why not a particular unit is for you:
For example, the Retevis RT1 provides accurate information about its range: 3-4 miles. That is a very impressive range for areas covered with woods, many can’t provide more than a single mile range in a direction if there’s a prominent natural obstacle like a dense group of trees. It’s expensive but is built for rugged use. It can withstand a lot of abuse and go through a lot, providing the same amazing performance. On the downside, it might be out of your budget as it’s a little expensive. Also, it might not be ideal for you if your excursions will involve water regularly, as the RT1 doesn’t come with waterproofing.
What to look out for when purchasing your next two-way radio unit?
A lot of questions are answered by your specific needs from your radio unit and their technical power.
Still, pay attention to details like wattage output, it will give you a clear picture of what kind of power to expect. Performance can be explained in terms of range, but it’s up to the nature to allow or disallow your signal, or to produce inconveniences in your transmission. One good specification to pay attention to is the antenna length. The longer it is, the fewer obstructions along your path.
Display options are also important. Not all two-way radios provide good night visibility. Some LCD screens are brighter than others, helping your eyes see the digits more painlessly and easily under the sun.
Some radio units also provide out-of-range alerts, weather warnings through NOAA channels, call alerts, and vibration instead of ringing. These specifications might also be important during your consideration. Sure, the tuning of the relevant frequency is important, but that comes easy once you know how to work with them.
Headsets are important. You need good headsets for the sound to be perfect. Many radios offer clear sound on the main unit but come with poor earphones. This problem is actually more pronounced with people who want to keep their transmission private in larger groups.
The weight also affects how easy a unit is to carry around. Durable belt clips, VOX hands-free communication, straps, etc. also help here.
The battery life is very crucial. Even if you don’t have an idea of the average time you’ll be out, make sure you spend in the highest battery backup device that you can afford. Also, besides the rechargeability, many units also come with support for alkaline/AAA batteries. That’s a huge plus.