If you’re searching for the best walkie talkie that suits you, then there are several factors you must consider. For starters, range is an important one. Do you just need coverage from the corner of your house to the other, or do you need to relay messages to someone that’s a couple of kilometers away?
Then you have to think about other factors such as build quality, the price tag, how many channels you require, whether the device needs to be water resistant and so on.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the hot selling devices on Amazon with a quick review people can buy in 2019. Our picks were largely based on both expert and user reviews. During our research, we found that some products excelled at a particular feature or purpose more than others.
There are so many brands out there on the market and it can be hard to consider them all! Everyone knows about Motorola but not many people are aware of makes like Nestling and Sokos, even if they’re quite popular within the niche.
So for your convenience, we have segregated our recommendations into different categories such as Bluetooth functionality, long distances radio, kids’ toy, and more.
Below is a compilation of the brands that you should probably stick to first.
The Top 5
Here are our picks for top five brands in 2019, based on customer reviews and expert suggestions. Not only do they put out quality products but they’re also reliable and have some of the best customer service in the industry.
- Motorola – one of the very first walkie talkie brands in the market ever. In addition to producing consumer two-way radio, they’ve also been the US government’s most trusted communications partner for over 90 years now.
- BaoFeng – you’d be hard pressed to find a ‘top walkie talkies’ compilation without any mention of BaoFeng. They make excellent, ruggedly-built long-range two-way radios.
- Retevis – Retevis focuses on a number of different radio industries including commercial/business radio, outdoor radio, children’s partner radio, amateur radio. Retevis products are sold in more than 180 countries.
- Midland – Midland has been in the business for over 50 years now and they also make other devices such as marine radios and Bluetooth intercoms in addition to walkie-talkies. Like BaoFeng, Midland’s radios also constantly make the top lists.
- Cobra – Cobra has been around for more than 70 years now. They make a range of handheld two-way radios at different price points, so there’s something for everyone.
Top 15 Walkie Talkies (Quick Reviews) for 2019
Best Overall (out of the best walkie-talkies in 2019)
Midland is quite famous for their streamlined, ‘no-nonsense’ rugged designs, impeccable features, and wide coverage. The Midland GXT1000VP4 with NOAA Weather Scan is no exception to this.
With a spec sheet boasting 50 channels and up to a 36-mile range, it is no surprise that it ended up being our overall favorite out of all of the two-way radios in this article. But that’s not all! The GXT1000VP4 also sports many features which make it extremely well-suited for both the outdoors and large-scale business operations. These include:
- 142 Privacy codes to ensure that there’s no outside interference
- A back-lit display that allows people to operate the walkie talkie in the dark
- VOX that’s capable of a ‘whisper mode’, allowing you to relay messages while being extremely quiet. This is quite useful when you’re out hunting in a group or if you’ve found yourself in some sort of life-threatening situation.
- Long range packs so that you can have extended periods of use.
- NOAA Weather Scan plus Alert
As if all that wasn’t enough, the GXT1000VP4 was also designed with emergency scenarios in mind. That’s why there’s also a built-in SOS signal that allows you to call for help instantly, and channels which bring you weather alerts 24/7.
Best Waterproof Walkie Talkie
When searching for a walkie talkie that can survive a fishing or canoeing trip, you have to be wary about the label ‘waterproof’. A lot of devices that are labeled waterproof can in fact only handle a light drizzle or spill. What you really want is a device that’s ‘submersible’.
Our pick out of all the waterproof Walkie Talkies in 2019 is the Motorola T600. Not only can the T600 handle a heavy downpour, but you could also submerge it in a meter of water for up to half an hour. In addition, its design even allows it to float!
While its spec sheet may claim a 35-mile range, this is quite an exaggeration. While 35 miles may be possible across a flat stretch of land with no trees, buildings, strong winds or rain in the way, the truth is that you’ll hardly come across such perfect conditions. A more realistic estimate of the T600’s range would be 2 miles, which is still plenty for any sort of fishing or boating excursion in our opinion.
Other functions of the Motorola T600 include:
- 22 Channels
- 121 Privacy codes
- Water-activated flashlight
- Red LED light for improved visibility during nighttime
- NOAA Weather Alerts
Best Bluetooth Functionality
The Motorola MU350R has such an excellent solid construction that you know it is made for the rugged outdoors. Its exterior is weather-proof, so you’ll have no problem taking this MU350R out in rain or snow. Like any good walkie talkie, it is also got a built-in radio for keeping you updated on the weather.
The most impressive feature of the Motorola MU350R is, of course, its Bluetooth connectivity. So instead of using regular wired headphones that could get tangled up, you just need to pair up some Bluetooth headphones and enjoy more freedom. The only downside is that you still have to press the PTT button when you talk.
Even without the Bluetooth functionality, the MU350R is still a capable device. There’s a powerful LED flashlight at the bottom for night-time activities, and with a battery lifespan of 15 hours, you’re completely set for any emergency. In addition, the MU350R uses something called the Switched Capacitor Filter technology which provides crystal clear audio.
All of these impressive design make the Motorola MU350R our pick for the best with Bluetooth functionality.
Best Budget Walkie talkie
If you’ve got less than $30 to spend, then the Arcshell AR-5 is our recommendation for you. Even though it is a budget option, the AR-15 doesn’t compromise too much on the most important parts. It might not have the sturdiest build quality or a wide variety of features, but you’ll find the sound quality to be excellent. In fact, according to some experts, the quality is comparable even to the Midland GXT1000VP4! The fact that you can get that for just $26 is why the Arcshell AR-15 makes our top pick out of all the budget walkie talkies in 2019.
As expected from a budget walkie talkie, the battery life is quite sub-par in the AR-15. There’s no battery level indicator on the device either, which isn’t ideal. However, it charges faster than most expensive ones. The AR-15 has 16 channels which are quite adequate for light personal use in our opinion.
Best Military Walkie Talkie
In order for a walkie talkie to be considered military-grade, it must check off a few essential things. First, it needs to have a rugged build. Second, it should be capable of transmitting over an exceptionally long distance and third, it must be secure enough for military communication. The Retevis RT27 satisfies all these requirements and more, making it our top pick for the best military walkie talkie.
Here are some of the things we absolutely love about the RT27:
- It is a got a ‘Time Out Timer’ or TOT which allows you to cut out excessive operation. This can really help you conserve battery
- The construction is so solid that it can survive a five-story drop!
- The RT27 comes with VOX which let you stay hands-free while communicating. The volume threshold is adjustable too, so you can program the walkie talkie to start transmitting automatically even when you’re speaking quietly
- You’ll get around 10-12 hours of talk time. With the TOT function, you’ll get even more
- It is got a scramble function, which heavily distorts your transmission to anyone who doesn’t have the ‘scramble code’
- The RT27 has 260 privacy codes (50 CTCSS and 210 DCS)
- Guaranteed license-free use of FRS frequencies
- 22 channels, including weather channels
Best Hands Free Walkie Talkie
Even with its solid construction, the Midland LXT600VP3 with NOAA WEATHER SCAN and ALERT is a very lightweight walkie talkie. This, in combination with the affixed belt clip, makes it easy to carry around. In addition, it is dual band, meaning that it can use both UHF and VHF signals. That’s why the LXT600VP3 is our pick for the best hands-free two-way radio.
Even though the spec sheet claims a 30-mile range, users say it is closer to 5 miles. This is still quite impressive and is adequate for both large-scale commercial operations and outdoor activities. In addition, this marvelous device has high-quality audio, battery life of 8 hours, 36 channels (including 10 dedicated to alerting you about the weather), a back-light for nighttime operations and a rubberized PTT to prevent repetitive stress injuries in your fingers.
All in all, the Midland LXT600VP3 is a solid hands-free 2-way radio and i is definitely worth more than its $50 price tag.
Best long range Walkie Talkie
In addition to being the best overall, the Midland GXT1000VP4 is our pick for best long range walkie talkie as well. Although you won’t be able to reach the 36-mile range advertised by the manufacturer in real-life environmental conditions, you’ll still get more range with the GXT1000VP4 than on any other competitors mentioned here. This fact, combined with its ruggedness and features built specifically for emergency scenarios, makes the Midland GXT1000VP4 very deserving of this title.
Best Walkie Talkie for Kids
Kids’ walkie talkies are essentially toys and therefore don’t require much in terms of range, emergency or even battery life. Still, the Retevis RT628 is much more than a mere child’s plaything. That’s why this product is our pick for best kids’ walkie talkie.
For just $30, your kids will get a gift that has 22 channels and 99 CTCSS codes to keep communication private at all times. It is also got Voice Operated Exchange (VOX), a channel lock feature (that prevents your kids from accidentally tuning into other transmissions using the keypad) and it comes in four colours.
In addition, the Retevis RT628 contains a few more features that may be very appealing to kids. This includes the ability to set a call ring melody and a button tone, and an LCD screen that allows nighttime playing.
Best Cruise Ship Walkie Talkie
Radio communication isn’t all that easy when you’re on board a ship but the FLOUREON 22 channel long-range walkie talkie does extremely well in such a scenario. That’s why it’s our pick for for a cruise.
Here are the reasons why it is the one you should bring aboard a ship:
- It’ll give you at least a 2-mile range, meaning you’ll be able to keep in touch with friends and family who are also on the boat. You might even be able to relay messages over to the nearest town, depending on weather conditions
- The FLOUREON provides pristine audio quality which is essential if you’re trying to communicate while on the deck of the ship. The auto squelch function will mute background noise including strong winds and the chatter of other guests
- The FLOUREON has a back-lit LCD screen which is great because you might not always get the best lighting while on a cruise
- It’s CTCSS and DCS compatible which is handy because there’s no telling what kind of interference you’ll pick up while over water.
And the best part is that you get it for less than $40!
Best Hunting Walkie Talkie
The Cobra ACXT1035R FLT’s outdoor readiness is really hard to beat. That’s why it earns the title of ‘best walkie talkie for hunting’ in our review list.
The ‘A’ in ACXT1035R stands for ‘Adventure’, and the walkie talkie truly lives up to its name. It’s got a compact lightweight design which makes it easy to carry even if you’re holding a hunting rifle. Even though Cobra claims a 37-mile range, this amount of coverage won’t be possible when the signal is obstructed by trees and dense growth. Still, you’ll have enough coverage to keep in touch with your hunting group.
Other outdoor and hunting friendly features of the ACXT1035R include:
- 10 channels dedicated to NOAA weather alerts. This can come in handy if you’re also planning to camp outdoors
- An impressive 2662 channel combinations!
- Rewind-Say-Again technology – a rewind option to replay the last 20 seconds of missed radio calls
- A floating design – so that you do not have to lose your walkie talkie if you drop it in water. Plus the rubberized grip allows you to carry it easily even when it’s wet
- VOX – so that you can keep both hands on your hunting rifle
- A built-in flashlight so you can hunt even in dark locations
- VibrAlert – it can be set to vibrate when receiving incoming transmissions. This way you’ll never miss important messages from your group.
Best Commercial Walkie Talkie
When it comes to managing security, warehousing, and even retail operations, you need the best commercial 2-way radio available. The Motorola Professional ClS1410 was a no-brainer for this category. First of all, it’s got polycarbonate construction which makes it strong enough to survive a drop from several floors.
The ClS1410’s battery lasts for about 18 hours, meaning that it can get through two work shifts on a single charge. Plus, employees can always stay hands-free thanks to the VOX feature.
The Motorola Professional ClS1410 has 56 business-exclusive frequencies so you’ll never have to worry when you relay sensitive corporate data from one radio to another. To heighten security even further, you can install up to 121 ‘interference eliminator codes’ on each unit.
Last but not least, the ClS1410 covers an area of 200,000 square feet or 15 floors. Moreover, the fact that it operates on UHF signal means that your transmissions are able to penetrate walls very effectively. This makes coordination between multiple departments an absolute breeze.
Of course, the best commercial walkie talkie doesn’t come cheap. Each unit costs about $170 plus you’ll also have to pay to use those business-exclusive licenses. However, we firmly believe that the investment is worth it, especially if your business operation is quite large.
Best Walkie Talkie for Hiking
The Motorola Talkabout T800 has so many outdoor-ready functions that it’s frankly ridiculous. With a weather-proof exterior, pristine sound quality built-in LED flashlight, 11 dedicated weather channels, Bluetooth connectivity, and VOX, you’ll be ready for any sort of intense hiking with the Talkabout T800.
But what makes the T800 a must-have for hikers is the talkabout app that you can download onto your smartphone. Developed by Motorola, the talkabout app gives the user a whole new set of designs:
- Connecting to offline maps
- Sending emergency alerts to everyone in range
- Look at statistics that are relevant to your route
- Off-grid messaging
- Off-grid location sharing
As you can see, the talkabout app can really come in handy during an emergency.
Best Walkie Talkie for Skiing
The Midland GXT1000VP4 is our pick for the walkie talkie you should take on a ski trip. With one of the longest ranges of all models mentioned, a rugged weather-proof (and waterproof) build and the ability to send an SOS signal without hassle, it’s really no contest. There’s no other walkie talkie that we’d rather take with us when we hit the slopes!
Best Car Walkie Talkie
The Midland LXT118 has a lot of functions which make it worth more than a mere $30. To begin with, it’s quite small and fits snugly within the palm of your hand. It’s got 22 channels and a fairly good range (though certainly not the 18-mile coverage that Midland claims) in open areas.
Communication is a breeze with the LXT118, which is exactly why it’s our pick for best car walkie talkie. The audio quality is quite good and it’s got a call alert function to ensure that you do not miss incoming transmissions.
There’s a channel scan button so you can tune into the right one with greater ease. Plus, it comes with VOX capabilities, which of course means hands-free communication. It’s also waterproof and therefore you’d have no trouble taking it out of your car in light rain.
Best 4 pack Walkie Talkies
If you’re looking to purchase multiple units, then we highly recommend buying a pack if possible. This will allow you to save some money.
Our pick for best 4 pack walkie talkies is the Greaval Rechargeable 4 Pack. This 16 channel unit is very capable, despite its very low asking price. It’s got splash-proof housing and its construction makes it both durable and lightweight. Hence, it’s a good option to take on camping and hiking trips.
The Greaval rechargeable-battery walkie talkie operates on UHF signal, which are great at penetrating obstructions like buildings and trees. It has a range of about 2 miles, provided that the area is largely open, of course. On the other hand, once inside a building, you’ll get about 5000 square meters of coverage which should be enough for any sort of retail, security or warehousing operation.
Other great it’s of the Greaval include:
- CTCSS and DCS compatibility for improved privacy
- Maximum 12 hours of battery life, which is more than enough power for a single work shift
- A built-in torch
- VOX option
Getting four of these walkies-talkies for just $53 sounds like a great deal to us!
Walkie Talkie Buying Guide
You’ll notice that we threw around a lot of terms like ‘UHF’ and ‘FRS’ in our reviews. It is good to know what these terms actually mean. You can then take all the important specs of each walkie talkie into consideration and thereby make the right decision.
In order to help make things easier for you , we’ve compiled the top factors to consider when you choose a walkie talkie:
Range is, of course, the amount of coverage that a walk talkie provides; it is the maximum distance through which you can transmit a radio signal. If you plan to go hiking, hunting or skiing, or run an operation with a large crew, you’d most likely need a long range walkie talkie. On the other hand, short-range ones are ideal for personal use.
You need to be wary when reading the spec sheet for each long range walkie talkie because manufacturers will hardly mention the range that you’ll get with normal terrain and weather conditions. Instead, they’ll give you numbers like 25, 36 or even 50 miles, which you would only get in perfect, laboratory settings. The best way to find out the exact range of a particular model is to refer to both user and expert reviews.
VHF and UHF
VHF stands for Very High Frequency and UHF, for ‘Ultra High Frequency’. Both are different bands of frequencies that walkie talkies use. If you want to get technical, the VHF band comprises of signal between 126 to 174 MHz while UHF radios operate on channels between 400 to 512 MHz.
What’s the difference between the two? UHF signals are better at penetrating material such as wood and concrete. However, they do not have a long range because of their shorter wavelengths. On the other hand, VHF signals are capable of reaching longer distances but can’t penetrate building walls. They do, however, fare better against trees.
Hence, UHF walkie-talkies are better for commercial applications like coordinating a construction site, while VHF devices are better for activities and sports that take place in the outdoors.
If you’d like to use both, then you should consider buying a dual band walkie talkie, that can operate both types of frequencies.
FRS and GMRS
Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) refer to two types of channels which two-way radios operate on. While both channels technically exist within the same band of frequencies, the latter is only available to users who have a license from the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC). This ten-year license costs about $70 and is only available to those over 18 years of age.
As a result, FRS walkie talkies are more suited for personal use and GMRS are better for commercial applications.
If you want a solidly constructed communication tool, then you’ll likely have to spend more than $50 on one. Usually, those advertised as ‘outdoor walkie talkies’ will have more durable and weather-proof designs. Brands like Midland, Motorola, and Cobra are typically safe bets for the best-built units.
Number of Channels
You might have seen models with 50 channels or more. These are more suited for large-scale business operations where you would need lots of separate channels to keep in touch with different departments. The average walkie talkie has around 16 to 20 channels and this should be more than enough for personal use. If you’re going hiking or camping, it is important to have some channels dedicated to 24/7 weather updates. Fortunately, this is a common feature in most devices today.
Usually, the more channels a walkie-talkie has, the pricier it will be.
Waterproof Walkie Talkies
As mentioned before, you must be careful when choosing a ‘waterproof’ walkie talkie. Even walkie-talkie models that can only handle a light spray of water may be labeled ‘waterproof’ by their manufacturers. If you want a walkie talkie that can handle being dropped in a puddle, pool or the shallow end of a lake, you need one that’s ‘submersible’. For example, the Motorola T600 can stand to be submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
Some even have designs that allow them to float on water. This can be handy if you’re on a fishing trip or out boating.
A walkie talkie that lasts at least 8 to 10 hours is essential when you’re outdoors. Cheaper options come with either AA or AAA batteries (which give you less power) while high-end ones use Nickel-Cadmium, nickel-metal hydride or lithium ion rechargeable battery.
Certain walkie talkie models like the Retevis R27 have battery-saving features, which is quite useful during emergencies.
It is great when Walkie Talkies come with additional features like a back-lit screen, a belt clip or call alerts. However, you must keep in mind that these are only extras and priority must be given to the more important features like battery life, range and build quality when making your decision.
Other common extras include:
- An LED torch
- VOX function – this is a feature that automatically activates transmission when you speak at a certain volume
- Privacy Codes… etc.
- Rechargeable battery pack
Walkie Talkie Apps
If you don’t like switching between your walkie-talkie and your smartphone, why not get the best of both worlds with an App? If you need to relay a short message but need your hands free, it’s more convenient to just use a walkie talkie app than make a phone call.
Apps can save you money too. Because they work on Wi-fi and cellular data, they don’t use up your minutes. However, the best thing about these apps is probably their usefulness during an emergency. Apps do not require much cellular data to operate. This means that they work even in areas where there is hardly any network coverage for phones.
There are many great apps out like there, such as Zello, Two Way: Walkie Talkie and Intercom, just to name a few. However, there are many factors to consider when determining what the best walkie talkie app is for you.
Walkie Talkie Accessories
The right accessories can make your life much easier. So here are three that we think you should consider buying along with your radio device:
A holster can prevent your walkie talkie from dropping on to hard terrain while still giving you easy access to it. Some even have hook and latch systems for additional protection. So if you’re going on a hike or hitting some steep slopes, a holster can make sure that you don’t damage or lose your walkie talkie.
Some walkie talkies do come equipped with a belt clip, but we believe holsters provide much better protection.
The best walkie talkie headset and earpiece will allow you to do many things, including keeping your hands free while you communicate. So if you need to relay messages back and forth with someone while you’re on the road, a pair of solid headphones will keep you safe. The best headset or earpiece also needs to:
- Be very easy to use
- Be able to handle being tangled, stretched, dropped…etc.
- Cut out background noise to a comfortable level
- Have crystal clear audio output
- Fit in your ear comfortably
If we had to pick our absolute favorite walkie talkie headset, we’d definitely choose the Midland AVPH3. For $29 we think this headset is an absolute steal! Not only does the AVPH3 meet all the aforementioned requirements, but it also comes with a couple of other great features like:
- VOX function, in addition to the presence of a PTT button
- Compatibility with almost all FRS GMRS Midland walkie talkies including the LXT series, GXT series, XT series, CXT series and the X-Talker series
- Wrap-around design so that the cords stay out of your way when you’re moving around
If you’re not convinced yet, check out these 450-plus five star customer walkie talkie reviews that rave about the AVPH3.
Chargers and Batteries
If you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period, then having a portable charger and extra batteries is an absolute must. The last thing you want is for your walkie talkie to die on you during an emergency.
A Carrying Case
You can choose one made especially for walkie talkies so that you can your device and accessories all in one place.
In this section, we’re going to be answering the most frequently asked questions that customers may have.
Q. Where can I buy a walkie talkie ?
A. There are plenty of places across the country that sell walkie talkies both online and in-person. Here are some of the best-known and most reliable retailers to purchase one from:
- Best buy
- The Home Depot
- Official online shop of each brand, like BaoFeng
It’s safer to buy from one of the above sellers because you’ll have no hassle returning the walkie talkie if it arrives with defects. Alternatively, you might be able to buy direct from the manufacturer.
Q. Which is better: UHF or VHF?
A. It depends on what you’ll be using your two-way radio for. As mentioned above, UHF signals are better at penetrating walls, making it easy to communicate within a city or building. On the other hand, VHF signals have a longer range even though they can only go through trees and foliage. So the former is better for commercial operations like retail, manufacturing, warehousing, security and so on, while the latter is more suited for activities like hiking, camping or skiing.
Some are dual band, which means that they can use both UHF and VHF signals.
Q. How far can them communicate?
A. This depends on the capabilities. Most commercially-available long-range walkie talkies are designed for transmitting signal over several miles while short-range ones hardly give you coverage for more than half a mile. There are several factors which determine how far radio transmission can travel. These include the physical obstructions that are in the way (like tall buildings or long stretches of forests) and weather conditions.
So you might be able to communicate from one small town to the other with a consumer-grade long-range walkie talkie. But you’d need something powerful like a satellite phone to go beyond that.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it could replace regular phones. We still haven’t gotten there yet.
Q. Why do you have to say ‘over’ on a walkie talkie?
A. You say ‘over’ in order to end your transmission and let the other party know that it’s their turn to speak. If both parties are done speaking, then one or the other would say ‘over and out’ to terminate the conversation. This is part of walkie talkie lingo and etiquette which you would need to know in order to communicate professionally over the radio.
In the right context, you can say ‘roger’ or ‘affirmative’/’negative’ instead of ‘over’.
Q. Are walkie talkies allowed on cruise ships?
A. Yes, they are, although individual ships might have limitations on certain specs. For instance, they can restrict you from bringing walkie talkies that have external mounting antennae or a range of more than 10 miles. If in doubt, we highly recommend confirming this fact with the cruise ship administration before you pack your walkie talkie.
Q. Do walkie talkies work on cruise ships?
A. Yes, they do. The crew on board, especially security personnel, will have walkie talkies with them as well. As long yours does not violate any of the ship’s rules, you should be able to use it without any problem at all.
If you’re going on an international cruise, bear in mind that it may be illegal to use in other countries. For instance, if you use a US model in Europe, you could end up being charged thousands of Euros in fines!
Q. Do walkie talkies have to be the same brand?
A. You can connect walkie talkies of different makes as long as they can be tuned into the exact same channel. So this means that FRS ones cannot connect to GMRS ones. However, the opposite is quite possible.
Q. Can a CB radio communicate with a walkie talkie?
A. No. This is because Citizen Band (CB) radios and walkie talkies operate on entirely different frequencies. The former operates on a lower frequency range of 23-27 MHz while all modern walkie talkies tune into VHF and UHF frequency bands which are 126 to 174 MHz and 400 to 512 MHz respectively. However, you might be able to do it with a very old walkie-talkie. We’re talking about one made before the 1990s, back when walkie talkies and CB radios shared the same frequencies.
Q. Do you need a license for a GMRS radio?
A. Yes, you need an FCC license to operate a GMRS radio or an ‘FRS GMRS’ walkie talkie. This costs about $70 and you must be above 18 years to apply for one.
Q. Do I need a license for walkie talkies?
A. Only if you’re tuning in to GMRS channels. You do not need a license if you’re only going to use FRS channels. Some walkie talkies are labeled as ‘FRS GMRS’ , so you’ve got to be careful not to tune in to the latter channels.