If this is your first time on a mountaineering trip, you must have heard it whispered that you need the best gears and this includes the best walkie talkie for mountains.
You’d never know how difficult it is to get a mountain-specific walkie talkie until you try to purchase one as a newbie. There are literally hundreds of them from of varying shapes, sizes, and price tags from different manufacturers all trying hard to get your attention.
Obviously, not all the walkie talkies are best for the mountains. This review is the result of hours spent on research to focus your buying options on only the very best walkie talkie for mountains.
Important features When Buying Walkie Talkie for Mountain Trips
Choosing a walkie talkie for mountains is all about the features that would make it easy for you to reach out to others whether they are close to you or far away.
That means a walkie talkie that is reliable and doesn’t require you to go through several minutes of prepping the radio before it is ready to go. In addition to that, the talkie walkie must tick the boxes of the important features below:
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Channels – If mountaineering is just a hobby for you and you won’t be going too far, a simple 22-channel walkie talkie that requires no license or permission to use would do just fine. Your messages would be carried over the Family Radio Service (FRS) channels.
However, for longer range, you would need a radio with General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) channels. The thing is, though, you would have to get permission from the FCC before you can use them.
It is not hard to get that permission though. You could ask around from local walkie talkie dealers for information on how to get it in your area.
Power and range – The range of any walkie talkie depends on the installed wattage. This is even more crucial if you have to use GMRS channels that need the power for better or longer range.
However, you must be aware that in practice, the range of a walkie talkie is far lower than the stated figures by the manufacturers.
In all cases, if there are no obstructions like hills, you would get a very good range. The weather conditions on the day also have a big impact on the range and reception. You would get a better range on clear, sunny days than on cloudy or windy days.
Walkie talkie size and weight – Avid mountaineers know that ‘small and light’ is always better than ‘big and bulky’ when they are packing the most essential gear for their trip.
Big stuff can take up too much space while always slowing you down with additional weight.
The same rule applies to the walkie talkie you choose. It has to be light so it is easy to move around with and small enough to carry and hold conveniently in your hand.
However, there has to be a balance between size and power. If you have to, prioritize power over size or anything else because the power determines the range of the walkie talkie.
The Battery – On the mountains, it is unlikely you would come across a place you can charge your walkie talkie using the public power grid.
This means you need a battery that can power your walkie talkie for a long time. A long time, in this case, refers to at least 10 hours.
The smart move is to purchase a walkie talkie with higher battery capacity. This is even more important if your radio has a high wattage or power.
Put simply, a higher wattage walkie talkie would consume your battery’s juice faster.
Since you’d likely need a walkie talkie with decent power (wattage) because of the range issue, it is advisable to carry along spare batteries with you. As a matter of fact, purchase extra batteries when you decide to purchase a walkie talkie.
Another battery-related consideration is the type of battery and charging mode. Always choose walkie talkies, all things being equal, that are capable of using rechargeable batteries and AA batteries.
Dual charging mode is to be preferred over a single charging feature. That said, if you can’t have dual charging, opt for a unit with a USB charging function that can be charged even with your laptop or via your vehicle’s cigarette lighter.
NOAA channels and weather alert – Weather patterns are very unpredictable. On the mountains where you are isolated, this feature would constantly alert you of the weather situation in time to help you plan appropriately.
Privacy codes – Privacy codes, also known as CTCSS and CDCSS channels, enable you to encrypt your conversation and cut down on interference especially in crowded places.
These codes give you extra channels in addition to the primary channels your walkie talkie has. The CTCSS and CDCSS channels generally add over a hundred more channel combinations to your walkie talkie.
On the mountains, these privacy codes are needed more as a security feature to block out unwanted people might try to get a fix on your location or knowing your plans.
Emergency features – You need this feature if something unexpected happens and require emergency services. The feature would help you send an SOS signal so that you can be rescued.
Top 5 Best Walkie Talkies for Mountains In 2019
1. Motorola Talkabout T631
For emergency situations on the mountains or for plain old communications with your buddies while mountaineering, the Motorola Talkabout T631 is what you need. It packs a handful of features that makes it an awesome choice when you are on a mountain range.
Sold as a pair, it is designed with a bright yellow color making it easily visible to you or first responders. You would also love the fact that it floats upwards in water and activates a locator beacon at the same time.
The rugged, IP67 rated walkie talkie also features a PTT power boost to extend the transmission range, VOX for hands-free operations, dual power options via NiMH rechargeable batteries or 3 AA batteries, NOAA weather channels, emergency alert buttons and much more.
2. Midland LXT630VP3
The bumps and knocks of the mountains would be equally matched by the ruggedness of the Midland LXT630VP3 with a shell made of rubber to ensure durability.
This walkie talkie is made for you if you are on a tight budget but need to go on a trip to the mountains. Despite the low cost, it is packed with all the most important features you’d need and much more.
In ideal conditions, the 36 FRS-channels radio can get you a range of up to 36 miles. It also features 121 privacy codes to lock out people from eavesdropping on your communication. The easily programmable radio also comes with important NOAA channels, a scanning function, weather alerts, VOX function, etc.
You would get an AC adapter, desktop charger, belt clips for each unit, the battery pack and user manual along with the pair of walkie talkies when you purchase the pack.
3. Cobra ACXT645 Walkie Talkie
The Cobra ACXT645 walkie talkie is an IPX4-rated waterproof gadget that is ready to be put to use immediately out of the box. It balances awesome quality with very competitive pricing.
The beauty of the walkie talkie is complemented with great features such as the VOX feature for hands-free communication, 10 NOAA weather bands, built-in flashlight, 3124 channel combinations, 148 privacy codes to encrypt your communications, and VibrAlert that immediately alerts users of incoming transmissions.
You would also love the unique rechargeable AA NiMH batteries and the radio dock which is a convenient holding port for the units making them easily accessible. The walkie talkie also uses 3 NIMH batteries.
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4. Backcountry Access BC Link Radio System
This walkie talkie was designed with a clear focus: to provide a powerful communication gadget for outdoor enthusiasts and other activities that require a strong, durable, multi-featured walkie talkie.
The walkie talkie has a long battery life of about 18 hours when it is fully charged. And with the decent range and clear voice transmission, you are assured of crisply clear communication at any time.
Backcountry Access BC Link is easy to use and features 22 FRS and GMRS channels with 121 extra privacy channels to ensure zero-interference. And changing the settings is a breeze with the Smart Mic interface at your fingertips.
That means you don’t have to remove the radio from your pocket or its carrying case to do that.
The radio also features an earphone jack, PTT function, and options for pre-set channels.
5. Retevis H-777S
The long range, 16 channels, excellent audio and exceptional reception makes the Retevis H-777s the almost perfect long range walkie talkie for mountains.
The walkie talkie is compatible with both FRS and GMRS devices and you don’t need a license to operate it straight out of the box in the FRS mode. The ergonomic design coupled with the amazing and comfortable earbuds easily blocks out background noise.
If you are looking for a bargain package for your group of friends or family, this could be the best option for you as a single package contains 10 walkie talkies. You’d get a gadget that features high-quality PTT earpiece, VOX functionality for hands-free operations, privacy codes, squelch adjustment function, and much more.
The 1100 mAh battery can last up to 3 days on standby and can be charged using a USB cable. A full charge takes about 3 hours.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Walkie Talkie for Mountains
The number of handsets required – If the trip involves a group comprising of professional colleagues, friends or family, you might want to consider purchasing several walkie talkies that come as a single package.
This way you would cut down on the cost that would be way higher if you had to buy single units for each member. This would only work if members of the group don’t have a walkie talkie of course.
Choose VHF over UHF – Very High Frequent (VHF) radios have a longer range than Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios.
On the mountains, you would need all the range you can get especially if you or somebody gets separated from the group. Again, it is useful if you have to contact emergency services that could be several miles away.
It is also important to realize that VHF radios generally cannot communicate with UHF radios. So make sure all the radios you purchase have the same frequency. This is another reason it’s smart to buy purchase a package that comes with several walkie talkies.
Isolation – How far from any town you would be is a very important consideration.
Obviously, your gear would include enough food and drinks and other essentials. You should also look at the number of extra batteries you have.
To be on the safe side, take two extra battery packs, preferably AA batteries that you don’t have to charge before using.
This review made a deliberate effort to present only the best walkie talkie for mountains you can find anywhere. The walkie talkies are of different models, sizes, shapes, and colors so that your buying options are not limited.
What binds them all is simply this: whatever model you choose and no matter the cost, each product offers you the best as far as the features are concerned. They are all trusted and guaranteed to give serve your communication needs and more while in the mountains.