10 Best Walkie Talkie for Hiking Reviews for 2020

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Hiking can be as risky as it is fun. It’s easy to get lost in those vast, unfamiliar wildlands, so taking measures to stay in touch with your group members is a must.

One way to do this is to give your companions walkie talkies. And if the best walkie talkie for hiking happens to be what you are looking for, then this post will help you with finding the optimal radio for your buck!

10 Best Walkie Talkies For Hiking

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Arschell Walkie Talkie 4-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 400 – 470 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 5 miles advertised
  • Weight: About 0.4 pounds per radio.
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Midland LXT630VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 30 miles advertised (1-2 miles in practice).
  • Weight: 1 pound in total.
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Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Channel number: 22.
  • Weight: 0.25 pounds per radio.
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MOICO Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS tones: 99 per channel.
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BaoFeng BF-888S Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 400 – 520 MHz.
  • Channel number: 16.
  • CTCSS/CDCSS tones: 50/105 per channel.
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Midland GXT1030VP4 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Channel number: 50.
  • CTCSS codes: 142 per channel.
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Midland LXT500VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS codes: Not supported.
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Motorola Talkabout T402 Radio 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS codes: 121 per channel.
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Midland X-Talker T71VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Channel number: 36.
  • CTCSS codes: 121 per channel.
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eSynic Walkie Talkie 2-Pack
  • Frequency range: UHF 462 MHz.
  • Channel number: 16.
  • CTCSS codes: 50 per channel.
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In our Top 10 Best Hiking Walkie Talkie Reviews, we will cover the key features of each of our picks. To make sure that our reviews are easy to follow, we won’t get too technical and will only talk about the biggest differentiators.

Note that walkie talkies are a rather complex piece of equipment. We’ll keep things as simple as we can, and we’ll also clarify some things in our buyer’s guide section up next.

1. Arschell Walkie Talkie 4-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 400 – 470 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 5 miles advertised (up to about 1/2 miles in practice).
  • Power output: 2 watts.
  • Channel number: 16.
  • CTCSS/CDCSS tones: 50/105 per channel.
  • Battery: Rechargeable 1,500 mAh Li-Ion, up to 8-96 hours on a single charge.
  • Weight: About 0.4 pounds per radio.
Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios with Earpiece 4 Pack UHF 400.025-469.975Mhz Walkie Talkies Li-ion Battery and Charger Included

If you are on a budget, then consider this 4-pack from Arcshell. These walkie talkies don’t offer the greatest functionality or reliability, but they are great for light hiking needs.

The Arcshell walkie talkies seem to work reliably at distances up to half a mile – enough if your group members will stay close together. With its 16 channels and a few dozen CTCSS/CDCSS tones, it should provide private communication in most places too.

Note that though the walkie talkies come with preprogrammed channels, none of them are license-free FRS channels. For license-less use, you will need to reprogram this thing.

What We Liked
  • Very pocket-friendly.
  • Includes 4 walkie talkies with earpieces.
  • Water-resistant build.
  • Built-in flashlight and VOX control for convenience.
What We Didn't Like
  • Unreliable at long ranges (at more than half a mile).
  • Need programming to FRS frequencies for license-free operation.

2. Midland LXT630VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 30 miles advertised (1-2 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 36.
  • CTCSS codes: 121 per channel.
  • Battery: AAA or NiMH rechargeable battery pack (the latter included).
  • Weight: 1 pound in total.

Midland LXT630VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Midland’s LXT630VP3 walkie talkies offer a little wider functionality along with range. In practice, this model seems to get 1-2 miles more or less consistently, which is probably enough for most people.

LXT630VP3 also offers solid functionality for communication. It boasts 36 total channels (FRS and GMRS) with 121-per-channel CTCSS codes. For added convenience, you are also getting handy features like keypad lock, NOAA weather broadcast, and VOX.

What We Liked
  • Not too pricey.
  • Solid functionality for the price.
  • Offers VOX, NOAA weather broadcast, and keypad lock features.
What We Didn't Like
  • The 30-mile communication distance is vastly over-advertised.

3. Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 16 miles advertised (up to 1/2 – 1 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS/CDCSS tones: Not supported.
  • Battery: 3 AAA batteries, up to 18-hour runtime.
  • Weight: 0.25 pounds per radio.
Motorola T100 Talkabout Radio, 2 Pack

Motorola T100 is a wonderful choice for light and low-demand hiking needs. This is due to the low price, as well as the rather basic feature set.

We like the lightness of the T100 radio as well. At a mere 0.25 pounds, T100 is a good pick if your weight capacity is very limited.

However, know that T100 doesn’t support CTCSS or CDCSS codes. So if you want private communication, you will have to hike in areas with low traffic.

What We Liked
  • Great for light hiking needs.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Channel locking functionality.
  • Very lightweight.
What We Didn't Like
  • Doesn’t support CTCSS.
  • No jacks for headphones or mics.

4. MOICO Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 5 miles advertised (up to about 1 mile in practice).
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS tones: 99 per channel.
  • Battery: 4 AAA batteries.
Walkie Talkies Long Range for Adults Two-Way Radios Up to 5 Miles in Open Fields 22 Channels FRS/GMRS VOX Scan LCD Display with LED Flashlight Ideal for Field Survival Biking Hiking Camping

MOICO walkie talkies are yet another inexpensive option on this post. Despite the price, they are rather functional and convenient.

Unlike the Motorola T100 walkie talkies, this model does have CTCSS tones (99 per channel, to be precise). Additionally, it supports VOX and also has a 2.5mm earphone jack.

What T100 is better at, however, is the weight. MOICO doesn’t provide weight specs, but this radio is definitely heavier than T100, mainly due to the 4 AAA batteries.

What We Liked
  • Inexpensive yet highly functional.
  • Integrated LED flashlight.
  • Hands-free VOX communication.
What We Didn't Like
  • Nothing to complain about.

5. BaoFeng BF-888S Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 400 – 520 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 2.5 miles advertised.
  • Power output: 2 watts.
  • Channel number: 16.
  • CTCSS/CDCSS tones: 50/105 per channel.
  • Battery: Rechargeable 1,500 mAh Li-Ion, 8-hour runtime.
  • Weight: About 0.44 pounds per radio.
BaoFeng BF-888S Walkie Talkie 2pcs in One Box with Rechargeable Battery Headphone Wall Charger Long Range 16 Channels Two Way Radio (2pcs radios)

BaoFeng BF-888S walkie talkies are similar to the Arcshell radios reviewed at the very beginning, so there’s nothing really new to cover here.

With that said, BF-888S has a wider frequency range. If the supported frequencies of the Arcshell radios happen not to be enough for you, then perhaps the BaoFeng walkie talkies will work better.

What We Liked
  • Very inexpensive.
  • Integrated flashlight and VOX.
What We Didn't Like
  • For license-free operation, you need to program FRS channels.

6. Midland GXT1030VP4 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 36 miles advertised (up to 2-3 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 50.
  • CTCSS codes: 142 per channel.
  • Battery: AAA or NiMH rechargeable battery pack (the latter included).
Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radio - Long Range Walkie Talkie with 142 Privacy Codes, SOS Siren, and NOAA Weather Alerts and Weather Scan (Black/Yellow, Pair Pack)

The Midland GXT1030VP4 walkie talkie pack is an excellent choice if you need more GMRS channels. Though you may operate this radio license-free on FRS channels, GMRS channels are a majority in it, so it doesn’t make sense to buy this pack if you don’t need them.

GXT1030VP4 also provides water splash protection, so rain or accidental splashes should not be a big problem for it.

What We Liked
  • Wide range of channels supported (not all are license-free).
  • JIS4 water splash protection rating.
  • eVOX with 9 sensitivity levels.
  • NOAA weather broadcast.
What We Didn't Like
  • Hugely over-advertised communication range.

7. Midland LXT500VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 24 miles advertised (up to 2-3 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS codes: Not supported.
  • Battery: AAA or NiMH rechargeable battery pack (the latter included).
Midland - LXT500VP3, 22 Channel FRS Walkie Talkies with Channel Scan - Extended Range Two Way Radios, Silent Operation, Batteries Included (Pair Pack) (Black)

Midland LXT500VP3 is a fairly nice pick for areas with very light traffic. This model doesn’t support privacy codes, so you don’t have many options if the supported channels are occupied.

Though the functionality of LXT500VP3 isn’t the best, it has a decent communication range (depending on conditions, up to 2-3 miles). So if you just want to stay in touch with your group with no fancy things, this 2-pack is a good choice.

What We Liked
  • Pretty nice communication range.
  • Keypad lock to prevent accidental channel switching.
What We Didn't Like
  • Does not have any privacy codes.

8. Motorola Talkabout T402 Radio 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 35 miles advertised (up to 2-3 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 22.
  • CTCSS codes: 121 per channel.
  • Battery: AAA or NiMH rechargeable battery pack (the latter included).
  • Weight: About 0.43 pounds per radio.
Motorola Talkabout T402 Rechargeable Two-Way Radios (2-Pack)

Motorola Talkabout T402 is a vast improvement over the cheap T100 reviewed earlier. Not only does T402 have privacy codes, but it offers better build quality and weather protection. With its IP54 rating, T402 can withstand dust and low-pressure splashes of water too.

The range here, although over-advertised, is nice as well – in good conditions, you should get up to 2-3 miles, which is great for most hiking needs.

What We Liked
  • Solid communication range.
  • IP54 weather protection.
  • iVOX/VOX support.
  • NOAA weather broadcast.
  • Integrated flashlight.
What We Didn't Like
  • Hugely over-advertised communication distance.

9. Midland X-Talker T71VP3 Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 – 467 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 38 miles advertised (up to 2-3 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 36.
  • CTCSS codes: 121 per channel.
  • Battery: AAA or 1,000mAh NiMH rechargeable battery pack (the latter included).
Midland - X-TALKER T71VP3, 36 Channel FRS Two-Way Radio - Up to 38 Mile Range Walkie Talkie, 121 Privacy Codes, & NOAA Weather Scan + Alert (Pair Pack) (Black/Silver)

Midland’s X-Talker T71VP3 is a nice purchase if you need a good number of channels. 36 isn’t as many as 50 in GXT1030VP4, but it’s still enough for most hiking needs.

Feature-wise, X-Talker offers a water-resistant build, so it should withstand rain and accidental water splashes along the road. For added convenience, you are also getting eVOX with 9 levels, while NOAA weather channels will keep you informed on the weather situation.

What We Liked
  • Decent communication distance.
  • Enough channels for most needs.
  • Water-resistant build.
  • NOAA weather broadcast and eVOX with 9 levels. 
What We Didn't Like
  • Once again, hugely over-advertised communication range.

10. eSynic Walkie Talkie 2-Pack

Notable Features

  • Frequency range: UHF 462 MHz.
  • Max range: Up to 3 miles advertised (up to about 1/2 miles in practice).
  • Channel number: 16.
  • CTCSS codes: 50 per channel.
  • Battery: Rechargeable 1,500 mAh Li-Ion, up to 8-9 hours on a single charge.
  • Weight: About 0.33 pounds per radio.
eSynic Rechargeable Walkie Talkies with Earpieces 2pcs Long Range Two-Way Radios 16 Channel UHF USB Cable Charging Walky Talky Handheld Transceiver with Flashlight

And to conclude our review section, we have this radio 2-pack from eSynic! This is a very basic and pocket-friendly kit that will work for light hiking needs.

Although the functionality here is rather limited, it’s nice that you are getting 50 CTCSS privacy codes. With 16 channels, you have combined 800 channel options – pretty decent for moderately busy areas.

What We Liked
  • Pocket-friendly.
  • Integrated flashlight.
  • Comes with earpieces.
What We Didn't Like
  • Unlike what’s advertised, lacks some features, such as VOX or channel scanning.

What’s A Walkie Talkie?

If you are buying a walkie talkie for the first time, then we think we should briefly cover what this device is along with its terminology.

A walkie talkie is a portable two-way radio. In its turn, a two-way radio is a radio that can both receive and transmit signals. Due to this, two-way radios are sometimes called transceivers.

In contrast, radios that can only send or receive signals are called transmitters and receivers respectively.

Two-way radios – including walkie talkies – either support half-duplex or duplex operation. Duplex devices can receive and transmit signals simultaneously, while half-duplex can only do one thing at a time.

Note that though all walkie talkies are two-way radios, not all two-way radios are walkie talkies. This is because two-way radios incorporate a variety of other radio device types, not just handheld ones.


Choosing The Best Walkie Talkie For Hiking

Now that you hopefully understand what you are dealing with, let’s have a look at the key features & specs that you should consider when shopping for a walkie talkie.

We’ll try to keep our guide simple and not too technical. You don’t need to know super-advanced stuff to buy a good walkie talkie. Still, we strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the technology if you have time – this might help you with shopping a little more.

Radio frequencies

First and foremost, consider radio frequencies.

Walkie talkies operate on either VHF (very-high frequency) or UHF (ultra-high frequency) waves. These range from 30 to 300 MHz and 300 MHz to 3 GHz respectively.

VHF waves are longer and can cover greater distances while consuming less power. However, VHF waves do not penetrate obstructions well. Thus, ideal use cases for VHF walkie talkies would be vast open outdoor environments, such as marine settings.

In contrast, UHF waves are short and don’t go too far, but they do a way better job at penetrating obstacles like concrete walls, steel, wood, or whatnot. UHF radios are therefore better suited for indoor or urban environments, though they can work outdoors as well.

Which frequency range would be the right for you? Well, VHF radios would be ideal if you are going to use your walkie talkie exclusively outdoors. VHF waves require a clear line of sight for effective signal transmission, so indoors or around obstacles are not ideal for them.

On the other hand, if you will be using your walkie talkie only indoors or both indoors and outdoors, then a UHF walkie talkie would work well enough.

Of course, at long distances, UHF waves won’t work as well as VHF ones. You may get both types of walkie talkie for different situations, but getting a UHF walkie talkie for indoor AND outdoor use is a more cost-effective solution. It works well enough for most people’s needs too.

Also, note that if you don’t know which frequency range you need, UHF will probably work fine. These days, VHF radios are exclusively used in aviation or marine communications.

So chances are that UHF will cut it for most people’s hiking demands. Besides, license-free recreational walkie talkie use is only available in the UHF range.

Channels

Walkie talkies have several communication channels available for users. To communicate with your party members, your walkie talkies should be set to the same channel.

In most radios, the number of channels is 22. Unless you have special needs, you don’t need to look for more.

Although for most hikers, channel specs probably don’t matter, there is one important thing that you should still know about.

Two-way radio channels are either FRS (Family Radio Service) or GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service). Both operate in the 462-467MHz range, but they differ in functionality and licensing requirements.

FRS is intended for private (family or small group) and short-distance communications, typically up to 2 miles. No license is required to use FRS – however, the number of FRS channels available in the 462-467MHz range is limited.

GMRS radios provide you with access to more channels within that range. Additionally, though GMRS channels are also short-range, GMRS radios can be modified to have a stronger and more far-distance signal. Some GMRS radios provide GPS location and text messaging functionality as well.

However, the operation of GMRS devices requires an FCC license. As of this post’s writing, an FCC GMRS license cost $70 and had a term of 10 years.

Most people do not need GMRS channels. FRS channels are powerful enough for 1-2-mile communication, which should be sufficient for most hiking needs. Even if you need GMRS channels, they are not too difficult to gain access to, and most walkie talkies support both FRS and GMRS channels.

No matter what you need, be sure to check out the spec sheet of the desired walkie talkie. There, you’ll find out how many total channels you have and which of those are FRS and GMRS channels.

Important note – some walkie talkies (like BaoFeng BF-888S) do not have preprogrammed channels. Instead, they allow you to program your own channels within the supported frequency range. If you want to stay license-free, you have to program the channels to FRS frequencies.

CTCSS

Depending on where you are, finding an unoccupied channel might be easy. A free channel is what you ideally want for private and interference-free communication.

In busy areas though, channels (especially FRS ones) can get quickly occupied. Communicating over occupied channels therefore becomes a mess. Fortunately, there is a simple solution that allows you to communicate privately even on occupied channels.

This solution is called CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System) or CDCSS (Continuous Digital Coded Squelch System). CTCSS codes allow you to minimize the amount of interference and chatter from other users on the same channel.

To be able to communicate with your party members, you need to connect with a combination of channel and privacy code – say, Channel 8 and Code 6. On that same channel, any other user using another code or no code will be muted for you. Likewise, they won’t hear the communication going through your privacy code.

Essentially, CTCSS allows you to occupy a “subchannel” in a given frequency channel. Technically, this isn’t how this tech works, but for simplicity, you may think of it that way.

Note that CTCSS doesn’t eliminate interference from others – it merely minimizes it. Communication over occupied channels still won’t be ideal with privacy codes, but it’s the best you can get if there are no free channels.

Additionally, know that CTCSS doesn’t protect or encrypt your communication in any way.

Wattage & range

With wattage & range, things aren’t very easy, unfortunately. Walkie talkie makers often over-advertise their devices’ range.

A popular figure is 25-30 miles. However, this is only achievable in ideal conditions. In real-world outdoor conditions, you won’t be getting more than 1-2 miles. But though this is far shorter than what the radio is technically capable of, it should be enough for most people’s needs.

Wattage and coverage are more or less directly connected. A more powerful radio can more effectively cover so-called dropouts – areas within the line of sight that don’t receive signal, such as areas behind terrain. High-power radios also deliver better signal quality and longer-distance communication.

GMRS radios can technically reach 50 watts, but most models are limited to 2 watts to minimize size and weight. 2-watt radios are considered high-power and can cover up to 25 miles.

Radios that only have FRS channels are usually limited to 0.5 watts. Their typical max coverage is 5-6 miles.

Again, for most hiking needs, you do not need anything exceptionally powerful. If your group is going to stay close together, then an FRS-only model should suffice. Otherwise, consider getting a GMRS walkie talkie, but don’t forget about licensing needs.

Batteries

Walkie talkies usually use disposable AA or AAA batteries. Some may support rechargeable AA/AAA batteries too. A handful of models rely on proprietary rechargeable battery packs.

AA/AAA radios are the easiest to use – to keep your device running, you just need to have spare batteries on you and replace them when necessary. However, in the long term, the cost of replacing disposable batteries can add up to astronomical numbers.

If you are going to hike frequently, get yourself a walkie talkie with a rechargeable battery. Here, consider battery technology:

  • Ni-Cad (nickel-cadmium). These rechargeable batteries are the cheapest you can find, but they are heavy and are sensitive to the memory effect. Ni-Cad batteries last the longest – up to 2-3 years.
  • NiMH (nickel-metal hydride). NiMH batteries are less susceptible to the memory effect and are lighter than Ni-Cad batteries, but they are pricier. These batteries last up to 1-2 years.
  • Li-Ion (lithium-ion). These are the lightest, quickest-charging batteries out there. Li-Ion batteries aren’t susceptible to overcharging or the memory effect too. However, they cost a lot and have a limited number of charging cycles, which typically makes them live shorter than Ni-Cad or NiMH batteries.

Pay careful attention to battery life too, especially if the hike will be a long one. Walkie talkie makers usually list their devices’ battery life in their spec sheets. If not, you may compare the mAh (milliamp hours) of the batteries – the higher, the longer the battery life.

Strongly consider getting a spare battery as well to always stay in touch during long journeys.

Size & weight

Your backpack space is probably limited, and you would also want to keep your stuff light. With that, shop for the lightest and most compact walkie talkie that can satisfy your needs. Note that more powerful radios are heavier and bulkier.

Other features

Apart from what we’ve talked above, walkie talkies often have a number of features to make your life more convenient. Among things you may want to have in your radio are:

  • NOAA weather information. Some radios support NOAA weather bands, providing you with weather forecast information. This is a very useful feature for hiking.
  • Mic/headphone jacks. Walkie talkies that have mic or/and headphone jacks allow for hands-free use. This is a convenient feature that may come in handy especially for active hikers who don’t want to get distracted.
  • VOX. The VOX feature allows the walkie talkie to start sending signal automatically when you start speaking. No button presses are necessary. Typically, radios with VOX allow you to adjust the sensitivity levels.
  • Scanning. This feature allows you to quickly locate unoccupied channels, as well as find the channel your group is using.
  • Keypad locking. A highly preferable feature, keypad locking locks your walkie talkie, preventing accidental setting changes while you are traveling.

Keep in mind that to use some features (e.g. GPS), your group members’ walkie talkies all need to support them. Due to this, it makes sense to purchase identical devices for all your companions.

Build & durability

Lastly, pay attention to the radio’s build and overall durability. Among things to consider are shock and impact protection along with water resistance.

When it comes to water resistance, manufacturers should provide the level of water protection. Keep in mind that most walkie talkies cannot withstand submersion – only occasional splashes. The radio’s water rating will tell you what kind of water protection it has.


Final Words

Radio communication is a complex, highly technical field. If your occupation that requires walkie talkies is frequent or serious, then you may want to familiarize yourself with the technicalities of walkie talkies a little more.

For getting started though, the info we’ve provided above should be enough. Follow our tips, get yourself walkie talkies, and go from there. If you figure out that you need something more, then do additional, more in-depth research.


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