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After more than 16 hours of research and testing, the best walkie talkies you can buy today are the Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radio. It delivers an impressive range of features, including a five-mile range, 16 pre-programmed channels, and a smaller than average profile (4.5” tall).
Choosing the best walkie talkies to stay in contact could mean the difference between spotty reception and crisp and clear audio out in the backwoods. Our evaluation focused on range, battery life, run to charge time ratio, build quality, and design/size. We also looked into auxiliary features such as built-in flashlights and weather alerts. Keep reading to learn more about the Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radio and other outdoor gear that made the grade.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Thanks to a five-mile range, an included recharging dock and a compact size (only 4.5” tall), these are the best walkie talkies for kids.
We really like this two-way radio’s five-mile range in open areas with little obstructions. It also works in the UHF 400 to 470 MHz range, which offers better penetration and less interference in enclosed areas than VHF. 16 pre-programmed channels are more than enough to find clear reception and a built-in speaker delivers crisp and loud audio with little static.
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This pair of two-way radios are very compact, 4.5” tall, and weighing only 5.5 ounces. Although small, it uses a combination of hard plastic and rubber, durable enough to withstand repeated drops out on the trails without breaking. Kudos for a 1500 mAh rechargeable battery giving this model its power, which is good for a 2.5-hour charge for up to 8 hours of continuous talk time and communication for this price range. If you have a soft spot for spy gear, check out our review of 11 gadgets to spy on cheating spouses.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: We like these walkie talkies for work areas, construction sites, and the outdoors at night, thanks to a built-in LED torch for visibility and a healthy three-mile range.
Like our #1 pick Archell Rechargeable Walkie Talkie, this walkie talkie also runs on 16 channels, allowing users to easily find the best reception. However, the range is a bit shorter at 3 miles. While testing, the reception was pretty clear with little static, even in a densely populated parking lot with lamp posts and other higher structures. Kudos for a durable build (hard rubber) solid run to charge time ratio (2 to 3 hours for up to 9 hours of continuous use), which makes them pretty good for an overnight security guard shift.
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We especially like these walkie talkies for their night time focus. A built-in LED torch and emergency alarm works well on construction sites and similar areas where visibility is needed. Though it offers a decent offer, it is a bit heftier (6.69″ tall), making it work better for adults than children. Want to keep an eye on your kids? Take a look at our guide discussing the best GPS trackers for kids.
Award: BEST AUDIO QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This walkie talkie set features a generous 32-mile range and crisp, clear audio quality, making it great for use outdoors in crowded and noisy areas.
This Midland walkie talkie offered one of the longest ranges on our list where it can maintain a signal (32 miles). A single charge is also good for up to 10 hours of continuous use on a three to four hour charge time. Unlike our first two picks, this walkie talkie uses three AAA batteries or rechargeable battery packs with a separate Rapid Recharge feature to charge up to three times faster than average. This gives users multiple options in the event a USB wall charger is not available.
Kudos for this walkie talkie’s exceptional audio quality, which does an excellent job of limiting background noise with auto-squelch and Clearband technology for clearer reception. It is also durable and waterproof, consisting of rubber and hard plastic which holds up well to reasonable wear and tear. We have no qualms taking this on hiking trips for communication with great sound quality. Complete your collection of spy equipment with the best spy camera.
Award: BEST FOR FAMILIES
WHY WE LIKE IT: This inexpensive walkie talkie set comes in a four-pack, each with 22 channels and 99 privacy codes, making it great for group hiking trips.
This walkie talkie’s range tops out at five miles in open areas and roughly two miles in densely populated/high obstruction areas (e.g. buildings and wooded areas). A backlit LCD screen and built-in flashlight also make it nicely suited for night time operation. Kudos for compatibility with regular alkaline batteries and rechargeable AAA batteries, offering more flexibility if one powering option is not available.
Our favorite feature with these walkie talkies is its 99 privacy codes, which allows users to create “dedicated channels” by entering in a privacy code only participating chatters have access to. This works very well when used in groups. If you’re really looking to spy on someone, you’ll also want the best GPS tracker.
#5 Motorola T100TP Talkabout Radio
Award: BEST BATTERY LIFE
WHY WE LIKE IT: These are the best walkie talkies for mountains, thanks to its generous 16-mile range and an up to 18-hour battery life using 3 AAA batteries, a godsend for people who may get stuck in emergency situations.
This Motorola walkie talkie’s range is very generous, clocking in at 16 miles. 22 channels make it easy for any family to find the one with the least interference. It also offers up to 18 hours of battery life with continuous use, one of the highest run times on our list, which helps prevent the exasperating of having to replace 3 AA batteries every week.
We like this walkie talkie’s durability. Although its outer shell is not waterproof, it uses a hard outer shell and small rubberized buttons, along with a lock feature that keeps channels from being changed accidentally. These walkie talkies are also very compact, measuring only 1.1″ by 1.91″ by 5.22″. All of these additional features make it perfectly safe and trouble-free for kids to use at home or on a fun adventure like a camping trip.
Award: BEST COVERAGE
WHY WE LIKE IT: These are the best walkie talkies for hunting, thanks to an up-to-36-mile range and five animal call alerts to help summon your prey to a trap.
This is also the best walkie talkie for long distance, topping out at a maximum range of 36 miles, subject to change depending on whether you are in an open, enclosed, or congested area. Each walkie talkie is a bit bulkier than average, measuring 9.75″ by 2.5″ by 1.75″, too large for most children and a perfect size for adults.
This best walkie talkie for mountains is packed with value for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to five animal alerts, 22 channels and 28 pre-programmed privacy codes allow users to create their own dedicated channels to eliminate interference. 10 weather channels also provide real-time, along with a separate weather alarm to warn of upcoming severe weather. Bonus points for this Midland walkie talkie’s outer mossy cam camo design, which blends into the environment very well if you are looking to use them for a covert operation.
Award: BEST HANDS FREE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is the best survival walkie talkie, due to VOX hands-free operation and a built-in LED torch that doubles as an emergency light.
We like this walkie talkie for the outdoors with a strong 5-mile range. A bright and easy to read backlit screen provides excellent visibility at night and can be used as a flashlight. We also liked its Voice Operated Transmit (VX) function which allows users to work it hands-free without the need to press a button. No more fumbling or reaching for the pocket.
Like most of our picks, this walkie talkie comes with 22 channels, including support for privacy codes for dedicated channels to avoid interference. These walkie talkies are very durable, constructed using hard plastic with large, rubberized buttons and a contoured bottom, making it easy to grip. It is also on the mid-end in terms of size (6.3″ by 5″ by 3.4”), which we feel hits a nice sweet spot for children and adults.
In determining the best walkie talkies to stay in contact to buy, we explored focused on range, battery life, run to charge time ratio, build quality, and design/size.
Hands down, the range is the most important critical. At a minimum, we recommend using three-mile range walkie talkies, good enough for around-the-house and backyard use. For hiking the wilderness or hitting the beach, opt for a bigger range. Our #3 pick Midland – X-TALKER T61VP3 offers the biggest range on the list (up to 36 miles).
Note, the range is subject to change based on the number of nearby obstructions. It is greatly reduced in wooded areas and buildings (walls) and optimized in large, open areas.
Battery life is very important. Our preferred run to charge time ratio is 3 hours of use on a minimum 2-hour charge. Of course, the time to charge could be offset by purchasing rechargeable batteries and keeping them ready for use.
As for build quality, look for walkie talkies with sturdy plastic construction and rubber buttons, which do not sag or lose form over time. This is especially important for survival walkie talkies. Our best waterproof walkie talking is the #6 pick Midland GXT1050VP4 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio with a JIS4 waterproof rating, which can withstand splashing water from any direction without breaking. Note, it cannot be submerged in water.
Lastly, focus on design and size. Look for smaller walkie talkie handsets for children. We like rechargeable walkie talkies like the #1 pick Arcshell Rechargeable Long Range Two-Way Radios – Top Pick and the #5 pick Motorola T100TP Talkabout Radio for kids, which are no more than 5.5 inches tall for a nice, comfortable grip.
Yes, walkie talkies can work from very far away. Our #6 pick Midland GXT1050VP4 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio is the best for long-distance, reaching up to 36 miles. Generally, the less interference with wooden areas and enclosed structures, the longer the range.
Yes, we find walkie talkies incredibly useful. It is a great alternative to not using your phone and draining your minutes, especially out in the wilderness. They are also good for emergency situations in reaching people who frequent the same channel. You don’t need to have their phone number in order to reach them.
UHF walkie talkies, which operate in the 300 MHz and 3 GHz frequency, have shorter wavelengths, which allows them to better break through walls and enclosed structures. UHF walkie talkies (30 MHz and 300 MHz frequency) are better on open terrain.
In our opinion, the best walkie talkie manufacturers are Midland and Motorola. Both brands have delivered exceptional walkie talkie sets over time. Motorola is especially known for being the first company to manufacture walkie talkies. Initially, it was for military-use only before expanding into more everyday applications.