Two-way radios are the best means of communication in areas where mobile signal is unavailable or out of range. They are simple, light, and easy to use. It explains why they are a darling among outdoor enthusiasts. Initially developed in the First World War to improve communication among soldiers, the two-way radio has evolved into a priceless safety tool. There are more reasons for every avid adventurer to get this handheld device. Walkie-talkies make it easy for adventures to keep in touch or seek help at the touch of a button. Through these receivers, they can get updates on weather, direction, and so on. Advanced models even have flashlights, compass, disaster alerts among other useful features. The best walkie talkies for hiking should be reliable on top of having a rugged design and a rich feature set. Let us learn more about walkie-talkies and their crucial role in outdoor excursions.
What Is The Importance Of Walkie Talkies While Hiking?
I. Offers better voice clarity
Walkie-talkies are the best medium to connect with fellow hikers in the jungle. Most hiking trails are outside the city where there are no network towers or cell coverage. Fortunately, walkie-talkies can operate off the grid. The best walkie-talkies for hiking boast of better voice clarity thanks to powerful UHF and VHF ranges. This way you will miss nothing. In the same way, obstacle-free outdoor trails allow seamless transmission.
II. Life-saving in emergencies
Help is only a call away if you have a walkie-talkie. The risk of getting lost, injury, or falling victim to animal attacks is real in the jungle. This is why you need a walkie-talkie while hiking. You can also receive weather alerts through the same device.
III. Wider coverage
You can use two-way radios to coordinate different hiking or trekking groups or relay information to a big group all at once. Remember, everyone has his or her own hiking pace. In case one team takes a different route or falls ahead it is easier to stay connected at the click of a button.
How Do You Choose Walkie Talkies For Hiking And Backpacking?
Choosing the right hand-held communications device for backpacking can be puzzling. For one, manufacturers make non-existent claims about their products. Two, the number of walkie-talkies in the market is just insane. Here is an easy way to go about it:
1. Confirm if the radio frequency is suitable your terrain
Two-way radio manufacturers use either VHF (Very-high frequency) or UHF (Ultra-high frequency). VHF waves are longer. VHF radios cover a longer range with minimal power consumption. They are preferable in areas with little interference. On the other hand, UHF-enable radios are ideal for terrain with obstructions. UHV waves are shorter which allows them to penetrate obstacles. Your final choice should be guided by the terrain you intend to explore.
2. Go for more channels
Walkie-talkies have a unique number of channels with the least being twenty. More channels mean better communication. Yet such models are a little expensive.
3. Opt for radios with privacy codes
Privacy codes ensure that only intended recipients hear what you say. Every message shared through radios with privacy codes will only be audible to radios with similar radio code. This way no one can eavesdrop.
4. Focus on power
Generally, two-way radios require 1 Watt of power to cover 1 Mile. To cover a higher range you need higher wattage. Nevertheless, this is not always the case if there are any obstructions in the way. Obstructions can be created by bad weather or uneven terrain. To be on the safe side, go for models with a higher power.
5. Look for better range and distance from one radio to another
You need a walkie-talkie with more range or one that can cover a bigger distance. There are numerous sources of sound interference in the jungle. Therefore, you need a powerful model than will cut through all the interference and still yield a decent range. A great long-range radio can reach between 30 and 50 miles. Anything in between would be awesome.
6. Do not forget about licensing
Another important aspect to keep in mind is licensing. You need a license to access certain frequencies privately. However, this comes at a cost. It is vital to check the kind of frequency your radio operates on and the legal requirements needed prior to making your choice.
7. Consider your terrain and weather conditions
Environment or terrain is a key variable when choosing a walkie-talkie. Harsh terrains with bad weather and endless obstacles demand a powerful handset with more channels, longer range, and extended battery life.
Types of Walkie-Talkies for Backpacking
There are numerous walkie-talkies flocking the market but few are suitable for hiking or backpacking. We have rounded up three types of two-way radios you will find appealing for the outdoors:
a. Waterproof walkie-talkie
As the name suggests, they are the best pick if you plan to venture into wet terrains or backpack in bad weather. They have a waterproofing mechanism that makes them indestructible by water. It is a reliable option for mountain climbers and nature walkers too.
b. Long-range walkie-talkie
Walkie-talkies are designed with different ranges. The range a radio receiver can cover depends on power. More power means a higher range. For instance, to cover 8 miles, you need a 2-watt radio. Similarly, you will need a 4-watt radio to cover 30 miles. Two-way radios have more power hence can cover a longer distance with minimal obstruction.
c. Hunting walkie-talkies
They are ideal for hunting although they can be used for backpacking as well. Hunting radios feature a headset and microphone for convenience.
Things to Consider While Choosing Walkie-Talkies for Hiking
Several variables make a radio ideal for hiking. Let us look at some of the things you should consider while choosing the best walkie-talkie for hiking.
Walkie-talkies like much other outdoor gear are priced according to quality and level of sophistication. Radio receivers on the low end of the spectrum might be simple but still as effective as the high-end ones. Anyway, whatever you choose should be well made, highly functional and worth every penny.
Quality of construction
Design and construction are essential when selecting good walkie-talkie. You need a model that features a rugged design for the unforgiving jungle conditions. That is not all; it should render unmatched shock absorption in the event of a fall in addition to being waterproof. Outdoor two-way radios should also be light and compact. Above everything else, hikers prefer two-way radios that last long. Models of this caliber feature top materials and an impressive build.
Sound quality or clarity
The most dependable walkie-talkie for the outdoors must be clear or else it will be useless. Top-notch sound quality relies on by better range, good battery life, and the extent of interference.
The best walkie-talkie for hiking needs to have a vast set of emergency features. This could come in the form of emergency channels, natural disaster updates, SOS options, or weather alerts. Modern radio receivers incorporate LED flashlights, sirens, and flashing beacons. Other extra facets are Bluetooth connectivity for improved use, a compass for direction and a backlight LCD screen for improved user experience.
Most high-end walkie-talkies models use Nickel-Cadmium, nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion batteries. Conversely, cheaper models utilize AA or AAA batteries. All these options have their own pros and cons. The only factors that cut across all of them are battery life and the charging speed. Other selling points are durability and better shock absorbance. Pick longer battery life and fast charging speed.
Regardless of what you call it, a walkie-talkie is an invaluable safety tool to add to your hiking gear. Whether you choose to pay top dollar or stick to a budget buy, ensure it is a model you can count on in a worst-case scenario.
Here are several resourceful FAQs about the best walkie-talkies for hiking.
1. What walkie-talkie has the longest range?
The ultimate walkie-talkie should be comprised of top-class engineering alongside pioneering power to produce enviable long-range performance. It should provide at least a 20-mile range under ideal conditions. Voice clarity should be exceptional too.
2. How many miles can walkie talkies reach?
The range of any walkie-talkie relies on its power and availability of obstacles. Basic radios can reach up to 6 miles on flat ground. Advanced long-range radios can reach 30 miles under favorable circumstances.
3. Can walkie talkies be traced?
Walkie-talkies transmissions are very hard to trace although not entirely impossible. With an antenna pointed in direction of the signals and proper triangulation two-way radios can traceable.
4. Why are walkie-talkies illegal?
The legality or illegality of a walkie-talkie depends on the channel. FRS (Family Radio Service) channels are free to use. You need a license to use GMRS (General Mobile Radio Services) channels.
5. What is the difference between a walkie-talkie and a 2-way radio?
Essentially, they are one and the same thing. A two-way radio is able to receive and send radio transmissions. A walkie-talkie works in the same way only that it is handheld and more portable.
6. Which is better UHF or VHF walkie-talkie?
It all narrows down to the intended use. UHF radios are preferred for indoor use due to a short wavelength that can penetrate thick obstacles like walls. VHF radios are ideal for outdoor use owing to a longer wavelength that delivers a longer range.
7. Is a GMRS license worth it?
If you need to avoid brushing shoulders with authorities, a GMRS license would be worth it. Else, you stand being slapped with unnecessary fines, losing your handheld receiver or imprisonment.
8. Can walkie-talkies pick up police?
You cannot find police on any walkie-talkie channel. They operate on unique frequencies that are different from one place to another.
9. Are walkie-talkies private?
Well, it depends on the channel underuse. PMRs or Private Mobile Radio allows radios to transmit privately. This is not the case with shared frequencies.
10. Are walkie-talkies safe?
Walkie-talkies are only safe when they are have not been compromised. Radio frequencies can be intercepted making it easy for the wrong people to listen in to your conversation. The safest way to communicate is through private codes or private frequencies.