In town or in the forest, there is a way to communicate without using mobile networks – two-way communication. The two-way radios, also called walkie talkies, are state-of-the-art communication devices.
They are very practical for force professionals, construction workers, mountaineers and all lovers of adventures in the great outdoors. Here we present to you a comprehensive review of 10 of the best two way radio sets which you can buy, followed by a buying guide.
The Best 2 way Radio on the Market of 2020
1. Motorola TYT MD-380 Two Way Radio (Our Top Pick)
The TYT MD-380 professional walkie talkie set is our Top Pick. They have been designed for intensive use and in generally poor working conditions. It is a walkie-talkie that has very long battery life. At rest or in standby, its battery can work for up to 52 hours. While running, it will allow you to have an autonomy of approximately 9 to 12 hours. It, therefore, gives you plenty of time to use it for a day’s work.
Apart from that, the TYT MD-380 offers you two modes to choose from: digital DMR and analog. The DMR mode will offer you high-quality communication.
TYT MD-380 offers several communication functions. For example, it offers the possibility of hands-free communication thanks to the Vox function. It also makes it possible to make individual calls or group calls. You can even use them to make emergency calls.
The use of the device is also facilitated by a very practical color LCD screen which will be useful at night. The sound quality is also top-notch. It comes with quite a number of accessories – the antennas, the adapters, etc.
Thanks to its 1000 accessible channels with a range of 1 to 7km, this TYT MD-380 is suitable for outdoor and non-outdoor use.
Despite its sound quality, VOX and other functions, one of the downsides of the TYT MD-380 model is that it is not easy to operate.
However, this model is one of the best two-way radio sets on the market, thanks to its high value for money and high performance.
2. Motorola T40 Twin-Pack Two Way Radio
Tested by professionals, used by many, the Motorola T40 set consists of two radios. With a double black-red design, the pair of T40 walkie-talkies has the appearance of a professional tool. Its design is simple but attractive. These devices are very robust and rigid, which allows them to withstand shocks and falls. They weigh 75 grams without the batteries. Each has dimensions of 2.9 cm in length, 5 cm in width and a height of 13.4 cm.
The T40 walkie talkies are much lighter and operate on PMR radios. Therefore, they are unlicensed with a bandwidth of 12.5 kHz. With a transmission power of 500 mW, they can transmit on eight different channels. The range of these devices can reach four kilometers.
Although the LCD screens of the devices are not backlit, they are still readable. The sound quality is more than satisfactory. In fact, the interlocutors receive each other separately. The devices operate on AAA type batteries. These give you a usage time going to sixteen hours.
The pair of T40 walkie-talkies have belt clips that allow them to be hung on your body for easy transportability. They are dedicated to anyone looking for good equipment at an affordable price. Given the simplicity of handling, they can be used by adults as well as by teens and children.
The major drawback of these devices is that the batteries are non-rechargeable. Also, transmission and reception may deteriorate due to environmental conditions and terrain.
However, they remain the best two-way radio set because they are resistant devices and are easy to use. Also, it has good audio quality and comes at an affordable price.
3. EasyTalk ET-M1 Two Way Radio
Designed for adult boys and girls, the EasyTalk ET-M1 is a walkie-talkie which offers excellent autonomy and high-frequency range. Indeed, this model offers a standby time of 60 hours and a run time of 30 hours. This is thanks to its 1100mAh capacity battery.
Smaller than most radios on the market, the model can be used with an earpiece. Thanks to these features, you can listen to radio while working. You can even make hands-free calls.
The device operates under the frequency range of 400-520MHz across 128 channels. It can offer you the correct quality of communication. Despite its size, it still features a readable screen. Weighing just 50 grams, the radio is as small as a lighter.
Its compactness, simplicity and high frequency range aren’t enough. A negative point to note with this walkie-talkie is that it doesn’t come with special features like the rest. We understand this is due to its very small size.
Still, this mini radio is a good quality, lightweight model and comes at a cheap price.
4. Motorola T80 Extreme Two Way Radio
Are you thinking of starting to hunt animals in groups in the forest? Then you must each be equipped with an advanced two-way radio. For this purpose, you can trust the Motorola T80 Extreme. It is a high-performance walkie talkie that has a transmission power of 50 mW. It has 8 integrated channels and 121 subchannels which are connected to broadband of 12.5 kHz.
With its 140 grams, it will not hold you back at all in your hunting activity. You can even hang it on you, for easy and direct accessibility.
Its range goes up to 10 km according to its user guide. Although in the field, this data is not entirely accurate. Meanwhile, its operation is optimal in all circumstances. Be aware; it is a device designed to remain functional even in the harshest conditions. Interference from waves does not interfere with the communication from this device.
One of the major shortcoming of buying or using this radio is its unreliable instruction manual.
However, its long-range, accessible price and high transmission power make it one of the best walkie talkies on the market.
5. BaoFeng UV-5R Two Way Radio
If you will like to buy a long-range walkie talkie that suits your low-budget purse, here’s it! We found that the Baofeng UV-5R Walkie Talkie radio has a great value for money. In fact, it costs much less than the other high-emission radios available on the marketplace.
By purchasing this walkie talkie, you acquire a transceiver with which you can communicate quickly and easily without going through mobile networks. The special features which come with this device are innumerable. You have, among others, an automatic keypad lock, busy channel lock function, power saving mode, built-in clock, backlight, and more.
This long-range two-way radio has a wide range of controllable frequencies. In addition, it has a range of 5 km to 15 km in open terrain. This range may vary depending on whether you are in a congested or open area.
Despite the wide range of features and functions of the model, it is not fully packed. It doesn’t come with a programming cable, something users would appreciate.
Nevertheless, it is a good-quality model as it is an ergonomic, powerful and cheap radio.
6. Retevis H-777 Walkie Talkie Two Way Radio
Need an all-terrain two-way radio? Well, you will not have just one, but two. Retevis H-777 is a pack of two universal walkie talkies that adapt to your needs. You can use it both in town and outside of the urban environment.
No batteries are required to operate this two-way radio. It uses a rechargeable battery instead, which is much more practical. In addition, it comes with a pair of headphones. It is therefore ideal for hands-free use. It has excellent value for money because it is cheaper than most in its level. Its range is considerably long (5 km).
However, one downside it has is with the very fragile headphones. This means that in the long term, they may no longer be functional. Also, the manufacturer could also review the “voice instructions” function, which is not really functional.
However, thanks to features such as the rechargeable battery, its good remote communication and reasonable price, this model is one of the best. It’s also one of the best long-range walkie talkies on Amazon.
7. Retevis RT388 Two Way Radio
This product contains a pair of walkie-talkies. Each unit is compact and light. It is comfortable to take in hand even for young users. You just have to put these two elements on the same channel and voila. Users can then communicate with each other.
To avoid interference with other equipment of the same type, this model allows sub-channel adjustment. The result is a pleasant and clear sound quality. You do not need to have any particular experience to make use of it.
The device has a VOX function. It allows you to initiate or answer a call without pressing a button. Signal transmission occurs only after the detection of a voice.
The level to which this mode is sensitive is adjustable. This is a characteristic which optimizes the comfort of its use. In addition, its screen is backlit. It makes it easy to see the information it displays and the battery status even when you are in the dark.
Despite the fact it’s not designed for professionals, it still has a range of up to 8,000 feet. This, however, depends on the terrain and environment.
This model is far from perfect. One major defect with this model is that some users reported it emits an unpleasant sizzling noise. But it is functional and brings together many more strengths than weaknesses.
Asides from the above, the walkie-talkie is a very practical and portable device.
8. Retevis RT21 Two Way Radio
The Retevis RT21 model is a set of 6 walkie talkies with unparalleled performance. It has an output power of 0.5 W, 16 channels and FRS frequency range. Despite its handling, which is not very easy, the headset facilitates communication. Therefore, there is no need to hold it close to your mouth to make yourself heard by your interlocutor.
With integrated VOX function, the walkie talkie stops automatically when there are no more voices. If you hear background noises during the communication, simply activate the Squelch level. This helps to improve the quality of your conversation.
Its hull is made of solid material allowing it to resist shock when it falls. It can filter interference. Therefore, your communication will not be interrupted by other devices of this type.
It is equipped with a rechargeable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. The integrated energy-saving mode extends the life of the battery. The kit also offers a charging base. The device operates for 8 to 12 hours in autonomy mode. Following a full charge, you can use it for 40 hours.
Despite the powerful battery, the functionality of the VOX, among other features, one major thing to note with the RT21 is that it is not easy to handle.
Despite this downside, it’s one of the most durable long-range walkie talkies on the market.
9. Motorola T260 Two Way Radio
Made by world-renowned walkie talkie maker, Motorola, the T260 model is a set of durable, lightweight and compact two-way radios.
This walkie-talkie has a rechargeable NIMH battery that can last for 12 hours. You can also use 3 AA batteries with it. These will, however, last up to 29 hours.
With the possibility of choosing between 22 channels, the voice quality of this walkie-talkie is impeccable. Whether you need to communicate underground, in a tunnel, with separation walls, the T260 will establish clear communication between each person. It has already been tested and can clearly transmit voices up to 25 miles away.
The device is all the easier to use and configure. If you wish to use it on a computer, the walkie-talkie is delivered with a programming cable.
Finally, thanks to the NOAA radio service, you can get real-time weather updates with the radio set.
One negative point to note is that the Y-charging cable which is supposed to charge multiple radios simultaneously is ineffective. Charging one device at a time, however, solves this.
As the downside isn’t a concern, this product is a great value for money walkie talkie coming from a trusted brand.
10. Midland Walkie GMRS Two Way Radio
The Midland GMRS walkie talkie is considered by many users to be the best walkie-talkie. It owes its performance to its large 12 cm antenna which allows you to enjoy a much-improved sound as well as an increased range. The device will allow you to communicate clearly and over a long distance (up to a 36-mile range).
It is a 50-channel GMRS radio with 142 different privacy codes. Small and compact, the walkie talkie is a waterproof model.
The “Emergency Call” function allows you to call any walkie-talkie in the vicinity, even if these use different channels. You can therefore quickly call for help in case of difficulty, during an outing in the forest or in the mountains, for example.
The presence of the VOX function aids hands-free communication. The “out of range” mode also warns you if you exceed the coverage area.
Besides, the NOAA weather scan feature keeps you updated with weather updates.
Like every other radio sets, it is far from perfect. Its drawback is that you cannot make a group call with it.
Nonetheless, it’s still a useful device and easily one of the best two-way radio in the market.
A two-way radio will allow you to communicate in the city, wilderness, a construction site, etc. without requiring you to pay communication fees. Would you like to know how to choose the best devices? In this buying guide, you’ll see some of the things to consider to acquire the best.
Analog, digital or hybrid?
You have three options when it comes to two-way radios – the analog, digital or the hybrid. Check out the features of each.
- Analog type: As said in the previous paragraph, analog walkie talkies can be licensed or PMR type. The PMR analog walkie-talkies offer a whole range of channels for unlimited communications. They are completely free and easy to set up quickly. These types of devices are compatible with each other regardless of the designer, brand and model. They are less expensive equipment and still have the advantage of offering excellent comfort of use. Analog license walkie talkies allow communication on secure frequencies. Their signal is very strong in transmission as in reception. In addition, communications are private, and there is very little to no interference.
- Digital type: If you would like to get a digital device, you can choose between DPMR digital walkie talkies and licensed digital walkie talkies. They are all characterized by excellent sound quality. Indeed, with these stations, the signal is not lost, regardless of the distance between the parties. The range of digital walkie-talkies is significantly greater than that of the previous category.
- Hybrid type: These types are called hybrid because they use a combination of analog and digital. With unlicensed walkie-talkies, this combination provides communications with very good audio quality. In addition, the number of available channels is multiple. Unlicensed hybrid walkie-talkies can pair with both digital and analog devices. As for the hybrid walkie talkies with license, they also have their particularity. They allow you to communicate in digital mode using your analog devices.
Purpose of use
We have two important uses for walkie talkies. These are meant for professional, and leisure/fun uses.
- For fun: They are mostly unlicensed walkie-talkies, that is, they operate on the PMR frequency. The different channels available spread over the frequencies ranging from 446,000 MHz to 446,100 MHz in 12.5 kHz steps. The range of these devices often varies from a few meters to a few kilometres. They are considered as tools for occasional use. They are very inexpensive and make you enjoy unlimited and free communications.
- For professional use: If you need one for professional uses, choose sturdy and rugged models with particular performances. They are designed with professional working environments in mind. Manufacturers take military standards into account and have these types of devices certified to IP standards. They can, therefore, be used in environments such as mountainous regions, construction sites, etc. Walkie-talkies for professional use have various functions, including voice scrambling, which allows you to talk safely.
The range indicates the maximum distance, which can separate two interlocutors using walkie-talkies. It varies from one model to another depending on the product range and the designer. In general, the models of walkie-talkies available on the market have ranges between 500 meters and 10 kilometers. The best in this review, the Motorola T80 Extreme Radio, offers a range of about 10 kilometers. Of course, this can be influenced by certain factors. These can be environmental conditions, electromagnetic interference, weather, metal surfaces, etc.
Whether you choose your walkie-talkies for adventures or for professional use, you must choose resistant ones. They will be exposed to splashes, weather, dust, and others. Most of these elements have malfunctioning effects on these devices. So, when choosing your walkie-talkies, you must verify that they are IP certified, that is to say, Ingress Protection. In addition, the shell of the device must be made of polycarbonate.
The letters IP are accompanied by two numbers: the first indicates protection against solid bodies, the second protection against liquids. Here are some IP certifications which you can find on walkie talkies:
- IP54 certification valid for protection against splashing water and dust
- IP55 certification is for protection against strong water jets and mass dust
- IP 67 certification guarantees dust tightness and protection against temporary immersion
- IP X7 certification is for protection against temporary immersion.
The autonomy of a walkie-talkie expressed in hours depends on the battery with which it is provided. There are generally two types of batteries: Lithium-ion batteries and Nickel Metal hybrid batteries. Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries are the most efficient. This is why they are often found in professional walkie-talkies. They have very good autonomy even in intensive use. This can last up to 20 hours. An implausible advantage is that they help provide a great range for the walkie-talkie. They are also rechargeable. Nickel Metal Hybrid (NiMh) batteries meanwhile have less autonomy. However, they are rechargeable. They can last for 12 hours in intensive use. They are often found in walkie-talkies intended for occasional use.
Other important features
To improve the quality of communication, manufacturers of walkie-talkies equip their devices with various functions. There are three important features that you should look for on your walkie-talkies. These are the call identification function, the voice jamming function, and the Vox function.
Walkie-talkies are useful in many areas. Whether for leisure or for professional activities, you must take into account the characteristics explained to you above. The 10 best two-way radio sets we have selected are offered at very good prices and have good performance.
To narrow down this choice into a single model, we recommend the Motorola TYT MD-380. It is our Top Pick in the review. This is due to its long-lasting battery, analog/digital choice and long-range. You may decide to purchase this two-way radio, but any other model in this review will equally be a wise investment.