When you want to communicate with friends on the other side of the lake this spring, two-way radios are great for staying in touch and getting home safely. But with so many models on the market, it can be mind-boggling trying to choose the right one.
First off, forget about claims these radios can travel 35-miles. Either those ratings were taken on another planet or they are under absolute ideal conditions with an operator on a nearby mountain. Most likely any recreational radio on the market will have a range of about two miles.
So what really matters when choosing a two-way? Roy Reese, a chief product engineer at Giant International told REI in their expert advice column that it comes down to the antenna’s effectiveness and ultimately its size. He calls it the radio’s “effective radiated power.”
“It doesn’t matter how big the amplifier is,” he says. “What’s important is how effectively an antenna is radiating its power level.” His advice is to look for radios with an equal-sized body and antenna. “Think balance,” he says.
With that in mind, here are three trusted options:
One of the most common brands on the market when it comes to two-way radios is the American-based Motorola. Its top of the line MS350R offers a tough device that has everything you need and the best performance for the price. Waterproof up to a meter for 30 minutes, this is one tough device. Despite its ridiculous range claims of 35-miles this is in fact a strong radio that’s been a trusted outdoorsmen’s favorite for many years.
Another long-trusted brand that goes back to the CB days, the Midland GXT1000 offers a great value for the price. What sets this radio apart is its range of channels, ensuring that you can find the right band for private conversations with friends. At crowded ski resorts, for example, channels fill up quick, and with the Midland you can always be assured to find one that’s clear on any number of 50 channels, 28 special channels and 285 privacy codes. The radio has a purported range of 36 miles as well as a channel scan to make sure you’re never alone out there. Photo courtesy B&H
Another option on the market is the Cobra CXT1035, which too offers reliable waterproof capabilities and a purported range of 37 miles. These radios have a more compact design than the others and offer a feature that the others do not in its play-back option. Let’s say you didn’t hear what your partner said, his last words perhaps. The Cobra CXT1035R comes with the patented "Rewind-Say-Again" technology that allows it to replay the last 20 seconds of any missed transmission.