Getting the best two way radio for preppers can be a huge challenge because there are dozens of two way radios out there claiming to be the best. After all, any two-bit technician or group with a basic knowledge of electronics can rig a communications gadget and tag it a two way radio.
That said, what you need as a prepper is a gadget that would never fail when the expected post-apocalyptic world is upon us. We all know anything can trigger the ‘survivalist mode’ you’ve been expecting and preparing for so long.
And you don’t need something as important as the two way radio you bought a while back to let you down at such a critical time. This guide is a careful collection of 5 of the best two way radios for preppers that are the byword for consistent reliability.
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Criteria for Evaluating the Best Two Way Radios for Preppers
To come up with this guide of the best two way radios for preppers, several dozen radios were evaluated based on the presence of some features.
These features are essential for a 2-way radio to make the grade as one of the best two way radios. These features are:
Range – This is one of the most important considerations when evaluating any two way radio for preppers. In a post-apocalyptic world or situation, survivors sometimes get separated by miles and only a two way radio with a long range can keep people in constant contact.
The two way radios that survived the cut had a range of at least 5 miles. To be clear, some had an even longer range, but 5 miles is the minimum expectation as far as range is concerned.
Weight and size – The underlying principle of a two way radio is easy portability. Chunky and heavy units can be a problem for young people and adult with small hands.
Again, a 2 way radio needs to light because the user has to carry it around for long periods of time. Basically, gadgets that prioritized low gross weight earned extra points.
Voice-activated/Hands-free – A voice-activated feature, also known as VOX, is an important feature for two-way radios used by preppers. Most times, preppers would be in situations where they need both hands to be free while simultaneously using the radio.
That is where is VOX comes since the radio is activated and ready to get into action using voice controls only. The availability of a good earpiece is a bonus feature here.
Easy to operate – Though most preppers usually put in hours rehearsing different doomsday and emergency scenarios including how to use a two way radio, the ideal 2-way radio for preppers need to be easy to assemble and use without a steep learning curve.
The package must include an operational manual that clearly explains all the features and how to use them. A basic requirement here is a user’s manual with excellent illustrations.
Top 5 Best Two Way Radio For Preppers In 2019: Review
1. Retevis RT21 Two Way Radio
The Retevis RT21 two way radio is a durable radio with a strong shell designed to instantly go into action whenever the need arises.
The 16-channel radio comes with a group scramble function to keep your communication secret if you don’t want outsiders listening in. And the pin covert air acoustic earpiece aside providing a hands-free operation would further help to keep communications private
Other standout features of the easy-to-operate radio include intelligent charge control with charging cradles; scanner to quickly look for open channels; long battery life; English and Chinese-activated voice commands; and much more.
2. Arcshell AR-5 Rechargeable Long Range Two Way Radios
This could the best bang for your money if you are looking for the ultimate two way radios for preppers. For your money, you get four16-channels, lightweight and convenient radios with a long range of over 5 miles.
All the features you expect from a top-of-the-line radio are included in these radios. There is the scanning function to search for open channels, emergency alarm, about 165 CTCSS/CDCSS encryption codes, intelligent charging, channel monitoring, English/Chinese voice prompt, VOX function and much more.
When you purchase this Arcshell AR-5, you also get 4 1500mAh Li-ion batteries, 4 SMA antennas, 4 chargers, belt clips for each radio, earphones, and hand straps.
3. Midland GXT1050VP4 GMRS Two-Way Radio
For preppers looking for a weather-proof, rugged two-way radio with maximum range, the Midland GXT1050VP4 two way radio is certainly a relative upgrade on most units out there.
The 22-channel radio has a range of up to 36 miles in excellent and ideal conditions. In reality, though, you’d get excellent service for about 5 miles.
Apart from the excellent audio sound even in whisper mode, there are several excellent features you would love. These include privacy codes, NOAA weather radio, ability to operate silently, auto scanning, SOS siren, direct/group calling, five animal call alerts and much more.
This two-way is designed for GMRS operation, so you’d need to get the necessary license from the FCC for permission to operate them in that mode.
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4. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Two-way Radio
BaoFeng’s UV-5R is a third generation two way radio in the BF-F8HP series. It is the latest and is packed with all the features and functions serious preppers expect from a survivalist communication gadget.
Designed in the US, the ruggedness is enhanced by the tough shell. Preppers would also love the 30% larger battery, and V-85 high gain antenna to improve long-range communication.
Purchasing this would get you a two way radio with 8-Watt power output, huge 2000mAh battery with a battery life of up to 24 hours, encryption codes for private communications, and much more.
The pack includes an in-depth manual, desktop charger, belt clip, antenna, earphone, and hand strap.
5. Motorola Talkabout Radio MH230R
This two way radio is a simple lightweight affair that comes packaged with all the most important perks you would want in an emergency survival radio.
You would love the rechargeable batteries with the optional dual charging function that can give up to 10 or 8 hours talk time with the alkaline or rechargeable battery respectively.
Other features of this 22-channel radio include a range of up to 23 miles; 121 encryption codes for private communications; up to 11 weather channels including 7 NOAA channels with alert features; etc.
The pack comes with a 2 belt clips, one drop-in charger with a charging adaptor and 2 NIMH rechargeable battery packs.
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How Channels and Privacy Codes Work in Two Way Radios
FRS and GMRS Channels
On all standard two-way radios, users have access to a range of channels via the Family Radio Service (FRS), the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), or a combination of the two.
Both GMRS and FRS have pros and cons. For instance, longer range is associated with GMRS radios (or a radio with both GMRS and FRS systems) and transmits their signals over the FM waves.
However, you would need a license from the FCC before you are allowed to use the GMRS system.
FRS radios, on the other hand, are associated with a shorter range and transmit on the problematic AM waves. The FRS systems are comparatively inexpensive, very easy to use and you don’t need a license to operate one.
Privacy codes and encryption in two radios
Privacy is important during communication over two way radios. Because the channels available are virtually the same for everybody, messages exchanged can be heard by anyone using the same two way radio.
The only way to ensure privacy is the use of encryption. The best two way radios come with dozens of encryption codes to add a layer of privacy. With these codes, your radio would be able to filter out anybody with a different code from listening in to your communication.
This restriction also applies even if the unwanted party is using the same channel.
Two Way Radios Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are all two way radios compatible?
Yes. All two way radios, regardless of model and age, that support FRS and GMRS or both use the same frequencies and are compatible.
To ensure private communication simply set all radios in the group to the same channel number and privacy code.
How can the signal of a two way radio be boosted?
It is not difficult to boost the range of a two way radio. There are three simple things you can do to achieve that aim
- Use better or larger antennas
- Use a good repeater that would receive and re-transmit the signal from the radio with greater power and range
- Get good batteries since the strength of the batteries affects the strength of the signal. Always use a battery tester to help you gauge how strong your battery is. Change the battery when it becomes weak.
Should I get a VHF or a UHF radio?
Understanding how VHF and UHF work is crucial in deciding which is suitable for you. Basically, VHF radios are used outdoors where there is a clear line of sight without obstructions.
You can use UHF radios even in places where there are obstructions such as buildings because UHF frequencies are able to pass through walls, steel structures and other objects that easily impede VHF radios.
Picking the right and two way radio is obviously important for preppers as it could be the difference between getting caught up in tight spot without any means of communication and avoiding such situations.
The 5 radios featured in this guide are most assuredly the best two way radio for preppers and are guaranteed to give you the best service unfailingly. Their pedigree is based on a long line of people that used them and were satisfied with the quality of the products.