Best two-way radio

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Two-way radios are great for situations that require a steady stream of communication, but cell phones may not be useful or appropriate.

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Which two-way radios are best?

Two-way radios are meant for situations in which you need a steady stream of communication, whether for work or leisure. They’re also useful in situations where using a cell phone may not be practical, like hiking, camping or at a large event venue. It can be difficult to find the right two-way radio for you, especially if you are unfamiliar with terminologies like VOX support and IP codes. The top choice of two-way radio is the Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio, perfect for family trips or on a worksite, especially if you’ll be out of cell phone range.

What to know before you buy a two-way radio

Consider the different types of two-way radios

There are a few different types of two-way radios on the market, including professional two-way radios and consumer two-way radios. Consumer two-way radios are meant for leisure use, like camping or hiking. They are usually more lightweight and smaller than professional models. 

On the other hand, professional two-way radios are meant for use at work. Many construction workers and event security teams use these types of two-way radios to communicate on the site.

Learn about IP codes

When purchasing a two-way radio, it’s important to learn about IP codes. The IP code for a two-way radio refers to its internationally-recognized ingress protection rating. Simply put, an IP code tells the user how good the two-way radio is at protecting itself from water and solid particles like dust and debris. 

IP codes begin with the letters IP and end with two numbers. The first number of the code is the solid particle rating, while the second number refers to the liquid ingress protection rating.

Find the right two-way radio for your budget

It’s crucial to find the right two-way radio for your budget, especially if you’re low on cash. Depending on the type and functions, you can find a wide range of prices for two-way radios. Before shopping, consider where and how you will use the radio. This will allow you to shop for models that suit your needs and budget.

What to look for in a quality two-way radio

Range

Two-way radios typically have maximum ranges from just a few hundred feet up to 50 miles. FRS radios have a shorter maximum range of up to six miles, while GMRS radios can typically transmit up to 50 miles. 

Hands-free operation

Some two-way radios are voice-activated, so you can use them without your hands. This feature is helpful for skiers, cyclists and others who might not have their hands free for operation. The voice-activated feature is also known as VOX support.

Weather alerts

Plenty of two-way radios come with a built-in feature that advises you about adverse weather, like storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. These radios scan the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration channels to keep you updated with weather alerts.

How much you can expect to spend on a two-way radio

Two-way radios vary in price, depending on the kind of radio and number of functions. Consumer two-way radios generally cost around $20 for basic sets with few features and short ranges. Larger sets or higher-end models can cost up to $150. Professional two-way radios, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $60-$500, depending on the range, quality and number of radios per set.

Two-way radio FAQ

How many two-way radios will you get in a pack?

A. Two-way radios can be purchased individually, but they typically come in larger packs or pairs. Some large packs have 10 or more two-way radios for use by groups or businesses. 

Do two-way radios have any emergency features?

A. Yes, most two-way radios have a number of different features that are useful to have in emergencies, including a flashlight, a beacon that flashes S.O.S. in Morse code, and an alert function that sends emergency signals to every person in your group. 

Many two-way radios also include a lone-worker feature that sets off an alarm at various intervals until you manually shut the alarm off. This is handy in case you injure yourself or need help while on your own, but can’t get to your radio.

Do you need a license to operate your two-way radio?

A. You will need a license if you plan to use a two-way radio setup using GMRS channels. The FCC issues these licenses, and they typically cost about $75 per individual to cover use of as many radios as you want. If in doubt, the product description or packaging usually indicates whether a license is required.

What’s the best two-way radio to buy?

Top two-way radio

Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio

Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio

What you need to know: This Motorola two-way radio is the perfect option for a trip to the beach or lake with its impressive range, durability and waterproofing.

What you’ll love: This rechargeable, affordable and waterproof two-way radio from Motorola features up to 23 hours of battery life, 22 channels, an integrated LED flashlight and a maximum range of 35 miles.

What you should consider: This two-way radio does not come with a belt clip.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top two way radio for the money

Midland FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio

Midland FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio

What you need to know: This budget-friendly two-way radio from Midland will give you plenty of bang for your buck with all of the accessories you need.

What you’ll love: This affordable Midland two-way radio comes with great battery life, a 120-volt dual desktop charger, AC and DC adapters, belt clips, 2 boom mic headsets, 50 GMRS channels and a channel scan to check for any activity.

What you should consider: Keep in mind that this two-way radio is best suited for more experienced users.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Uniden Waterproof Two-Way Radios with USB Chargers

Uniden Waterproof Two-Way Radios with USB Chargers

What you need to know: This comprehensive and affordably priced two-way radio from Uniden comes with a diverse range of useful features.

What you’ll love: This Uniden two-way radio offers automatic weather alerts, an LED flashlight, a red-backlit display, an impressive 50-mile range, 22 radio channels and 14 hours of battery life. The two-way radio is also rechargeable and water-resistant.

What you should consider: Any changes in elevation might have an impact on the maximum range of this two-way radio.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Alex Kilpatrick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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