If you are planning to go on a hike either alone, with family, or a group of friends, one gear you should carry along is walkie talkie. And according to the experts getting the best walkie talkie for hiking can be the one single thing that would get you out of an unexpected tight spot.
Getting a walkie talkie for hiking is not just for an emergency though. You could use it to communicate with others in case you somehow got separated from your group. If you are hiking alone, you can use it to locate other hikers if you get bored and want a bit of company while on the trail.
In this guide, we have collated 5 of the best walkie talkies for hikers to remove the stress and likely confusion of having to search for a suitable gadget from so many vying for your attention.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Walkie Talkies for Hiking
Because hiking can take you or your hiking group to some pretty rough spots off the beaten track, we made sure only the best walkie talkie for hiking are featured in this review.
Hundreds of walkie talkies from different manufacturers were evaluated by the team. Each walkie talkie was tested using variables that experts recommend these gadgets must scale with top marks before being considered suitable for hiking.
Durability – To qualify as a decent hiking walkie talkie, it is expected that the walkie talkie can stand the rough and tumble of the hiking trail.
Hiking can be a treacherous sport. Walkie talkies, as well as other hiking gear, must be able to survive some harsh treatment that is inevitable.
Effective range – Most manufacturers tend to be optimistic when they are estimating the range of their devices. In perfectly ideal conditions, you might get up to the 50 miles as stated by the makers.
The reality is different though. Due to weather conditions and topography, the real change is significantly less. We used ‘effective range’ to test real-time transmitting range of each device under everyday conditions.
During group hiking, it is rare for people to get separated by large distances. For this reason, long range walkie talkies are not necessary. But lone hikers who need to contact emergency services or the base camp would need long range devices.
To cover both scenarios, we selected only gadgets with an effective range of at least 4 miles.
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Clarity – The sound reception is a very important aspect of our evaluation process. All decent walkie talkies have awesome audio reception when the range is just a few hundred yards.
Our preferred choices for the best walkie talkies for hiking must also have great sound reception across large distances. Quite a number of units failed this test with bad audio clarity for distances up to 4 miles.
Power – How long the battery is able to power a walkie talkie was another critical consideration in the evaluation process.
Most times, hikers go several hours without coming across electricity from the public grid or a place they can charge their electronic devices.
Walkie talkies with at least 10 hours battery time made the cut. Extra points went to units with dual charging options (can be charged via USB and AC power outlet); we also prioritized walkie talkies that are able to use AA batteries in addition to the rechargeable batteries.
Another important consideration in the power variable is the power saving feature. The presence of this feature in walkie talkie is crucial to battery life.
Other considerations – The presence of the features below were also used to evaluate the best walkie talkie for hiking:
- Emergency channels and additional SOS options
- Weather and waterproof
- VHF walkie talkies preferred to UHF walkie talkies
- Presence of privacy and encryption codes
Top 5 Best Walkie Talkie For Hiking: Review
1. Motorola MT350R
With 22 Channels and 121 privacy codes for each channel, the Motorola MT350R is one of the best walkie talkies for hiking you could purchase for yourself and your hiking partner(s).
The IP54 rating ensures you can go about your adventure without worrying about severe weather impairing the performance of the gadget when you need it.
It features a built-in flashlight, NOAA weather channels, Push-to-talk power boost, VOX functionality for hands-free operations and the VibraCall silent vibrating ringer when you don’t want to disturb others.
If you decide to purchase this unit, expect the following in the pack: 2 NiMH rechargeable packs, 2 belt clips, a mini USB Y-charging adaptor, and a user guide.
2. Cobra ACT1035R FLT Camo
This camo-designed Cobra ACT1035R walkie talkie would certainly make a great communication tool for your hiking trip. It is notable for its ruggedness, easy-to-hold plastic cover and 37 miles range under optimal conditions.
With an IPX7 rating, you are assured of excellent performance from the walkie talkie in wet conditions and other extreme weather conditions. For good measure, it floats if it accidentally drops in water making it easy to retrieve.
It also comes with several features you’d find in the best walkie talkie for hiking. These include NOAA weather alert from 10 weather channels, 2662 channel combinations, VOX for hands-free operations, LED flashlight and a scan feature that enables you to easily locate other users within radio range.
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3. Midland LXT118 X-TraTalk
The water-resistant Midland LXT118 is the sort of walkie talkie you envisioned having while planning your hiking trip. The license-free FRS radio is compatible with GMRS walkie talkies as long as both are on the same channel and frequency.
The 18-mile range walkie talkie comes with 22 Channels, call alerts, easy button access, auto squelch to minimize background interference, VOX functionality for hands-free operations, channel scanning, battery life extender, and dual power option that allows you to use either rechargeable batteries or 3 AAA batteries.
The low price tag of this walkie talkie, considering the awesome features, makes it a favorite among users for outdoor activities like hiking.
4. Retevis RT22
There are so many things that make the Retevis RT22 a very hiking-compliant walkie talkie. The unit is easy to carry due to its slim and small design that you can even put it in your pocket.
Sold in a pack containing 4 walkie talkies, the awesome features are belied by the simple look. It comes with an emergency alarm, a digital monitor, squelch function for reception clarity, USB charging so you can charge it anywhere, CTCSS and DCS private codes to encrypt your communication, hands-free function with the VOX feature and much more.
The license-free FRS walkie talkie had a rechargeable Li-ion battery that can last between 12-24 hours depending on usage. It takes about 3 hours to get a fully charged battery.
Other accessories in the pack include 4 belt clips, 2 USB cables, and 4 rechargeable Li-ion batteries as well as a user manual.
5. Proster Long Range Walkie Talkies
The Proster Long Range Walkie Talkie is the definition of simplicity while packing the features mostly found in premium high-end handheld 2-way radios. For just a few bucks, you get two very reliable walkie talkies even your kids could use for their hiking trip.
It comes with a convenient USB charging feature making it easy to charge via a car charger, power bank, and PC at any time. It also features a built-in LED flashlight you can use in an emergency to expose your location.
Other features of the walkie talkie include encryption codes for private communications, 16 channels, an earpiece antenna, and much more.
The low-priced walkie talkies come with important accessories like the 2 belt clips, 2 earphones, 2 antennas, user manual and two slings.
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Walkie Talkie Care and Maintenance Tips
You can never overstate the importance of taking care and maintaining gadgets such as a walkie talkie. Neglecting to carry out some basic care and maintenance chores on your device can lead to sudden malfunction of your walkie talkie when you need them.
The following tips would ensure your walkie talkie is always in top condition and ready to serve you whenever you need it.
Keep it away from water – Even if you have a waterproof or water-resistant unit, it is best you keep your walkie talkie as far away from water as possible.
In that respect, always ensure you store it in a dry place when it is not in use.
Proper storage is important – It is recommended that you spend a bit of extra money on buying a carrying case or holster for your walkie talkie. If the unit is accidentally dropped or hit by a hard object, the holster or case would help prevent damage to it.
Make sure the walkie talkie fits snugly in the carrying case. It would be better still if the case has a soft inner lining.
Frequently inspect the batteries – To be at their best walkie talkies need adequate power. Weak batteries would not give you the required juice to power your walkie talkie. If the batteries are weak change them.
Again, you should know that old batteries have a tendency to leak chemicals that would corrode the terminals of your walkie talkie. This would damage your gadget given enough time.
Adequate ventilation – Walkie Talkies have small vents that allow the circulation of heat and air. This ensures the walkie talkie never overheats.
It is important that the vents are free of obstruction. Regularly check to ensure nothing is blocking them.
The position of the vents depends on the manufacturer and model. But they are most times located at the back.
Clean with a dry cloth – Cleaning ensures dust and dirt on the surface are prevented from getting into the device. When cleaning, pay attention to the areas around the buttons because too much accumulation of dirt or dust can impair their function or make them stiff at the least.
Other maintenance tips include:
- Always use approved batteries and chargers
- Never use alcohol or cleaning solutions to clean your walkie talkie
- Immediately dry a wet walkie talkie with a lint-free or microfiber cloth
- Remove the battery before storage if you are not going to use it for a while
- Avoid exposing your walkie talkie to extreme temperatures
- Don’t carry the walkie talkie by holding the antenna
- Avoid exposing your walkie talkie to rough handling, excessive vibration or shock
- Always turn off your walkie talkie before installing optional accessories
If you’ve read up to this point, you’d know there is more to getting the very best walkie talkie for hikers than simply picking the most expensive gadget or the most colorful.
The walkie talkies featured in this guide are guaranteed to give you the best service for as long as you take care of them. Purchasing any one for yourself, the family, or friends is a great investment that you’ll never regret.