Anyone using 2-way radios ?

7:53 a.m. on April 12, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts

Obviously, solo-hikers would not have much use for these ... but, I have gone on hikes with a friend-or-two at times.  

When I choose to go off-trail on personal excursions, I have found these 2-way radios ("walkie-talkies") handy.

Now ... I am reading that Motorola and others have models that claim up to 30-miles or more effective capability.   Probably, straight-line (no obstructions) transmission.


Anyone using these ?   If so, what is your opinion ?




9:57 a.m. on April 12, 2011 (EDT)
22 reviewer rep
210 forum posts

I have a couple sets but never carry them backpacking. Too much extra wieght for starters and they don't seem to reach far enough to justify the trouble. One set I have claims a 25ml capability but that is open line of sight and in the Sierra everyplace is either over a hill or around a bend. About the only time I use mine anymore is stream fishing with a buddy.

10:50 a.m. on April 12, 2011 (EDT)
880 reviewer rep
301 forum posts

These radios work just fine if you are (mostly) line-of-sight to the other radio.  Get a mile away, or as Gary said, over a hill or around a bend,  and you are pretty much guaranteed they wont connect.  I'm not sure how Motorola came up with a 30 mile range.  My handheld HAM radios pushing 5 watts can't do that (without using a repeater).

1:40 p.m. on April 12, 2011 (EDT)
5,642 reviewer rep
2,036 forum posts

the higher-powered two way radios (GMRS), meaing between 1 and 5 watts, are the ones that make the claim they can communicate with someone up to thirty miles away.  you technically need a license from the FCC to use them.

I have two pair and have taken them on a trip once, plus day hikes with the kids.  in my opinion, they are good for day hikes and not so useful on  most trips.  on open water, like a canoe trip, the range can be quite good, though probably not as long as advertised, particularly if on a river that winds around.  on a relatively flat walk in the woods, they might have a range of a mile or two - so they are OK for keeping track of my kids on a day hike; in the mountains, a half mile if you're lucky, depending on terrain, with poor voice quality - better for signaling via signal sounds (one tap is OK, two taps is "stay and wait/need help," that kind of thing).  thing is, you can do that with a cheap whistle, and it's a lot lighter & doesn't need batteries. 

5:32 a.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,979 forum posts


On ski trip to Mammoth I tried a pair that claimed 15 miles; the reception was non-existent most of the time and poor the majority of the rest of the time.  They seemed ill-suited for anything but a kid's toy.


8:02 a.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts

Much as I suspected (poor / non-existent reception, other than line-of-sight).   My experience, as well.

One good use I have found, is when you are on-the-road (car / RV / van) and you are following another ... or, that person is following you ...  you can communicate with each other as to directional alerts, and other information.

When I was hiking the AT in Maine during October, I was amazed at how many other hikers I encountered that all asked the same question: "Are you getting any reception with your cell-phone?".   None of us were.  

Sat-Phone, anyone ??



6:11 p.m. on April 29, 2011 (EDT)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

I have used a couple of Motorola on the slopes and they did not work too well.

May 26, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Hip belt question for Dana Design backpack guru's Newer: Oldest piece of equipment you still take backpacking?
All forums: Older: Spring Bloom Newer: Swimming to get in shape for hiking