Regardless of whether you call it a pack set, a handheld, a two-way, or a walkie-talkie, the basic portable handheld radio can be a godsend to a hunter in trouble in the field.
When we run three or four ATVs with 8-10 hunters into a given area, it is prudent to know where each hunter is and the overall conditions of that hunter. At times, temperatures can drop fast in the Dakotas, hitting wind chills of 30 below zero during the late deer season.
Let's be honest here. The very best two-way radio is going to be military or police grade. In almost all cases, the average outdoorsman can't afford one, and does not need one.
The police radio I carried and took home at the end of my shift was a Motorola, and I can say that this radio saved my life more than once or at least saved me from a long stay in the hospital.
Motorola Talkabout Radio
Motorola Talkabout Radio
10 Best Two Way Radios For Mountains
Today as a field radio, we still turn to the Motorola because old habits die hard, but these radios, even in the civilian arena, tend to hold up well and get the job done. One example of an easy-to-use handheld is the Talkabout MH230R
Offered as a two-pack system or 4-pack group, this radio features a 10-hour alkaline battery package or 8-hour rechargeable battery packs. For ease of use, we run the 8-hour recharge system in the field as cold weather or rough conditions can cut battery life quickly. And the charging station is a welcome sight at the end of the day.
Talkabout radios have a 23-mile range, but I believe that to be directly over the water, as we have found the range to be about 4 miles in the rough hill and deep draw areas of the South Dakota Missouri river breaks.
This radio and all others of this type don't require a repeater cell tower, and at times these radios will work when a cell phone can't. And the sound quality is great as well.
This unit will work as a troubleshooter as well as to send data to your partner. The system makes use of 11 weather channels with alert features as well. The radio carries 22 channels and 121 privacy codes for your protection.
I have used this very radio in dead-of-winter conditions that measure up to Arctic survival service. The unit packs easily in a vest pocket or clipped on a jacket lining.
The basic package includes two radios, belt clips, a dual drop-in charger, a single charger adaptor, and two rechargeable AAA batteries.
GMRS GXT1050VP4 is the long-range two-way radio with good sound quality that boasts a long-range (up to 36-mile range). However, the range will depend on where it is being used. Talking across saltwater may pull more range, but the units will drop off quickly over mountains or bad weather.
I know this as I have used these handheld units often. This set is time-honored, and I rate it five out of five stars.
The little packs do the job hunters want and even offer a group talk feature, which is a nice idea when tagging several friends in the field at once. I have run these radios when shooting 2000 yards, working with a down-range spotter or running special-shot gunning tests, with a second man throwing clay targets at me versus away.
Radio communication is critical in this case, due to long-range shooting with very big bullets, or scattergun rounds hitting the air at close range.
These radios retain 9 levels of VOX for hands-free operation, dual power options, 142 privacy codes, and mount SOS Siren. For safety in the field, the units house ALL Hazard/NOAA weather alert channels. Camo-coated and water-resistant, it will last even if you drop it in the field and later you find it again.
This unit can be obtained as a two-, four-, six-, 10-, or 12-pack.
A budget system in a pair, this system retains a hazard weather channel with alert and weather scan, 142 privacy codes, frequency band 462-550- 467-7125 MHz. Standard is a vibrating alert and nine levels of VOX for hands-free operation.
As a smaller unit, this GMRS radio (general mobile radio service) tucks away nicely in a vest or hunting jacket and is lightweight, so even climbing a steep mountainside will not produce any excessive stress levels. The radio includes an earpiece for each unit and a wall charger.
This IPX8/JIS8 is designed for rough use on the water. It is water-resistant and floats for easy retrieval.
The unit retains all US and Canadian Marine channels and NOAA weather radio channels with weather alert capabilities. It has an emergency strobe that makes you visible from the air and also retains a rechargeable battery system that keeps it fresh with a power source.
The level of power can be adjusted from 1 through 6 watts, thereby saving internal power when on the water. This unit retains a fully charged 11-hour capacity.
When you’re fishing on fresh or saltwater, taking a day cruise over open water, or even doing river runs, this unit is a solid safety feature in the event you run into problems along the way.
This radio system is designed for a one-shot group equipping task. These units are great for larger hunting or fishing parties that need to stay in touch with one another across water or in the timber.
For example, fishing or hunting camps in the heart of the Canadian wilderness where running out of fuel or having a motor on a powerboat drop a piston rod could spell possible death or major hardship to the outdoorsman.
These units carry 16 channels and are designed with an earpiece for the individual user. The system uses a desktop charger and an EU plug.
The frequency range of these units is 400-470 MHz and they carry a low battery alarm. There is a power-saving feature that extends battery life in the field.
The basic range of this radio is about 3 miles, depending on field conditions and terrain issues. In most cases, this is enough to keep a group of hunters or island-hopping fishermen in contact.
There is seldom an event that requires more than a few miles of constant communication. After that, it is time for a GPS system or map check by hand.
Working with the Cobra PR562BLT Series, the units are workable to 28 miles with the line-of-sight operation. The Bluetooth system applied to the radio allows headsets to link into the main handheld unit.
Cobra is an old brand that dates back to the days of the widespread use of CB radios. The company has background experience in building handheld field units, and it shows.
The PR5 retains 10 weather radio channels and a total of 2662 channel combinations, allowing an extensive channel search system for a clear path to communications when in rough country afield.
These Cobra units are water-resistant and are made of hard polymer material for a long-lasting effect when taken into the backcountry or bouncing along in an off-road vehicle. These units are fully rechargeable and retain a built-in LED flashlight for emergency use.
This radio is a 5W VHF/UHF 128 Channel dual-band 136-174/400-520 MHz VOX CTCSS/DCS FM Walkie Talkie. The system makes use of a high/low selectable 2-way radio with a battery life of 6 to 12 hours.
With a built-in high output LED, the radio can act as a temporary LED flashlight and with a speaker mike, the radio can be worn using a clip-style belt hook allowing hands-free communication.
The unit can be programmed to pair with other radios or link to additional radios of the same brand when purchased separately. The range is 1 to 3 miles, depending on conditions and general terrain.
Well-built for rugged outdoor use, this unit carries 300-520 MHz with a range of up to 4 miles. With a loud high-volume receiver, you can hear this radio at great distances if required.
This unit is simple to use and lacks extra controls to work with when you’re in cold conditions or under low light. I know that hunters like to keep it simple. We are not out there to be radio operators but want to concentrate on the hunt.
This radio is commercial-grade radio and stand up well even after months of use. For guide outfits or large groups, these radios could be a great option.
While most units presented here have been set up as group sales items, Amazon can supply smaller orders for pairs as well. Buying two-way radios is a required-use thing to be sure, and individual needs are a critical concern.
When buying these radios, be advised that states have different laws regarding their use in the field, whether for hunting or fishing. In most cases you cannot direct hunters to game or assist them during the observation of a kill or stalk.
The UV-5R as a unit is subcompact in size. This can install a high-gain antenna (not included) to increase range (800kc4pwqq Nagoya NA-771).
The unit has high-power settings and is a 4W/1W programmable amateur radio with a frequency range of 65-108 MHz.
There is a newer model for this kit (a second radio - BF-FBHP 9 UV-5R 3rd Gen) that is an 8-watt dual-band unit. Both would serve the user well according to all the reports we can bring together at this time.
These walkie-talkies are budget models. Designed as pocket-sized mini systems, these radios can go anywhere totally undetected. The batteries will last up to 24 hours depending on conditions of use, based on a 3-hour charging period.
Gone are the days of a bulky pack radio system like those we hauled around back in the day. The RT22 has left the bulky mass far behind and like several other models, size has now been reduced to something about the size of an AR-15 short magazine.
11. Uniden GMR3740-3CK Two-Way GMRS Radio
This is a set of radios that can be used in many situations. For example, they can go into the field with hunters or packers who want to stay in contact with each other, as well as in two vehicles running on a highway, or within an urban setting, as well as for general use in the outdoors.
These units are waterproof, carry 22 channels, and allow you to talk on all of them. The radios carry the weather channel application (NOAA) and also retain 121 privacy codes.
The units under the correct conditions will carry out to 37 miles. This is always dependent on the given terrain and weather conditions, however. For the most part, the units are set up for three users to stay in contact over shorter range limits.
Working with the two-way radio in the field
As a field tool for hunters or general outdoor people, the two-way radio has been around for almost forever.
There are a few misconceptions about these communication units, and the first is that they require an FFC license. The simple fact is that these units are so low-powered that no type of licensing is required at all to take them into the field.
For the most part, far more communication is accomplished on a cell phone today, and that does not require a license either.
A second misconception centers around the fact that several two-way radios cannot be linked up. Two-way radios will "walk on” each other, as the saying goes, because they all work in the same channel range that is given over to the manufactures by the United States FCC.
These short-range radios have a limited series of these band options. At any time while using the radios you can dial across a band and pick up someone else using that same band. If you talk over the individual using that band or channel, you're “walking on” that person.
Back in the day when we all ran CB radios in our trucks and cars, and that was just about everyone across the country, "walking on” a channel was very common.
Over time the cell phone has replaced the CB radio, and that’s almost too bad because those CBs were much safer to use then modern texting, which is as dangerous as drunk driving.
When hunting, our group of big game hunters makes use of a set of four radios that are all able to cross into the same channel. Lacking that ability, they would be useless. A good illustration here is that every summer my buddies and I take a long road trip on motorcycles. We have radios built into our road helmets.
When we all get together, which means 10 or more bikes, we need to link up our radio helmets. This requires searching for the same channel across the board. It takes time, but when we are linked we can talk to each other all across the open road.
The best use of the two-way radio is when hunting or camping in rough terrain. Unlike cells, the two-way does not require a repeater tower, and even then the signal can be blocked by hills, etc.
About the only issue with the two-way is general range of use. Line of sight is just about necessary in many cases, but this depends on many factors far too complicated to go into here. That can be saved for another day.
Today, the modern cell has replaced a good deal of the work a two-way radio once accomplished, but I have found that there are special situations where the two-way will get the job done better. Both systems have saved lives in the outback, and these will continue to be a place for the two-way radio for some time to come.