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Best Walkie-Talkies iMore 2019

Walkie-talkies have yet to be outdone by smartphones. When cell towers are out of reach, nothing beats the convenience of keeping in touch no matter where you are. The Midland GXT1030 has earned our well-deserved honor of best overall two-way radio for its outstanding range, waterproof design, NOAA weather scanner and alerts, and few extras not found in other models. Read on to learn more about this exceptional walkie-talkie or to find another pair that's a better fit for you.

Best Overall: Midland GXT1030

When you need to stay connected while off-the-grid, these are the handsets you want by your side — the feature-rich Midland GXT1030 sports 50 GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) channels. In case you need a refresher, GMRS radios are more powerful than their traditional FRS (Family Radio Service) counterparts, so the signal travels for miles without breaking up. In this case, Midland walkie-talkies can clear roughly 36 miles when in an open area. With obstructions like buildings and trees, the range goes down some. One word of caution, because these are GMRS radios, you'll need a license to operate them.

This set also comes with privacy codes to can block other conversations, splash-proof housing, and NOAA weather. NOAA weather is a service that scans through 10 available weather band channels and locks in on the one with the strongest signal to alert you of severe weather. Should storms come close, this walkie-talkie will sound the alarm so you can take cover. Thanks to eVOX, this model can also operate hands-free. The included rechargeable battery packs and boom mics all add to an already excellent package.

Pros:

  • 11 hours of battery life
  • 50 GMRS channels + channel scan
  • 36-mile range
  • Built-in NOAA weather alerts

Cons:

Best Overall

Midland GXT1030

The one you can rely on

With 50 GMRS channels and a 36-mile range, you can take these walkie-talkies anywhere without worry.

Best Value: eSynic zESY66

A cheaper price tag rarely means lesser quality, and such is the case with this walkie-talkie set from eSynic. There are 16 UHF channels with a range of a little over three miles, which is a good distance for those needing a two-way radio for construction work, hunting, camping, or road trips. The battery takes only 3-hours to charge and has enough juice to keep going for up to nine hours of continuous use. The downfall here is that charging can only be done via USB. That's handy for most, but not all.

Other features that excite us include the emergency alarm function that calls for help with the push of a button and a built-in LED torch light so you can see in the dark; a nice touch for hunters, hikers, boaters, and those who play after the sun goes down. This pair of walkie-talkies come with desktop charging stands, belt clips, and two earpieces. It's one heckuva bargain to boot!

Pros:

  • Batteries last 9 hours
  • 3-mile range
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Nice form factor

Cons:

  • USB-only charging

Best Value

eSynic zESY66

Stay connected for less

Clear sound, rubberized buttons, long-lasting batteries, and a signal that goes for miles make this an easy recommendation.

Best for Kids: Acehome Walkie Talkies

Kids will go nuts for this set of walkie-talkies from Acehome. Miniature in design, these colorful two-way radios fit the smaller hands of children well. Rubberized bumpers on the sides, plus included lanyards, ensure kids don't drop these walkie-talkies while fumbling with buttons.

Robust features like big rubberized buttons, 22 available channels, and a three-mile range help kids stay connected to you or their friends. The Acehome walkie-talkies run off three AAA batteries (not included), sound good indoors and out, and are a winning gift for kids ages three and up.

Pros:

  • Clear sound
  • Up to a 3-mile range
  • Perfect size for kids
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • AAA batteries not included

Best for Kids

Acehome Walkie Takies

For little hands

These minuscule walkie-talkies are fully functioning units that carry a three-mile range over 22 channels.

Best Compatibility: Motorola T100 Talkabout

When staying in touch matters, there's nothing worse than learning your buddies have a different brand of walkie-talkie than you do. Never fear, the Motorola T100 Talkabout comes to the rescue with the ultimate feature: compatibility with any FRS or GMRS radio, regardless of brand. Talk about wowing us!

The Motorola also gets points for 22 channels, excellent sound quality, low battery alerts, unique call tones, and a keypad lock that prevents you from accidentally changing your preprogrammed settings. On the flip side, the Talkabouts require a GRMS license to use. If that's not an issue, the range on the Talkabout T100 is 16 miles, making this a suitable choice for anyone.

Pros:

  • Can communicate with any other walkie-talkie
  • 18-hour battery life
  • 16-mile range
  • Excellent sound quality

Cons:

  • Run on AAA batteries
  • GRMS channels require a license

Best Compatibility

Motorola T100 Talkabout

Excellent for any purpose

It's tough to find fault with a walkie-talkie that's compatible with any model and has a range of 16-miles.

Best for Groups: Arcshell AR-5

If you hunt, travel, or camp with a group, nothing beats Arcshell's two-way radios. Solidly built to go wherever you go, these water-resistant walkie-talkies operate on 16 channels, and each unit arrives on your doorstep pre-programmed with the same channels. Setup is super easy.

Beyond that, the built-in speakers offer up good sound, and the mic does an excellent job of filtering out background noises and only pushing your voice through. Unobstructed range is up to five miles and slightly less in or around buildings. This model has one fault, and that's that the long antenna can get in the way when you pocket the radio. This set of four walkie-talkies comes with desktop chargers, rechargeable batteries, lanyards, and four earphones for privacy.

Pros:

  • Solid build
  • Standby mode to save battery life
  • Channels pre-programmed
  • Great deal

Cons:

  • GMRS license required
  • The long antenna gets in the way

Best for Groups

Arcshell AR-5

Conference call on steroids

We think hunters, hikers, campers, outdoor workers, and anyone else who travels in a group will fall in love with this set.

Best Sound: Diliss Walkie Talkies

The high definition sound of these colorful walkie-talkies is outstanding. Voices are crisp and clear, and the auto squelch function mutes out background noise even in crowded spaces and traffic. A backlit LCD is viewable during the day and provides enough light to use these after the sun goes down. Another nice touch: a built-in flashlight.

There are 22 channels available and 121 privacy codes, so you're pretty much guaranteed an open channel. A hands-free function lets you listen and communicate without needing to push any buttons. Handy! The wireless range is rated at three miles, but it tends to break up at distances greater than a mile and a half.

Pros:

  • Built-in flashlight
  • Hands-free voice activation option
  • 121 privacy codes
  • Can communicate with other FRS/GMRS radios

Cons:

  • Loses signal easily after one mile

Best Sound

Diliss Walkie Talkies

You can hear a pin drop

These are perfect for car caravans, short hikes, camping, and keeping tabs on the kids.

Bottom line

It's difficult to buy a subpar walkie-talkie these days, but one model stands out: the Midland GXT1030. The handsets are sized to be comfortable, and the rubberized buttons are a breeze to operate even when your fingers are cold and wet. This two-way radio works on 50 GMRS channels. That means you'll need a license to operate it in the United States. Yes, there's a fee, but the application is a cinch to fill out, and the license is good for 10 years.

The range on these walkie-talks is pegged to be around 36 miles, and that's accurate if you're in a wide-open field with nary a blade of grass to obstruct the signal. In real life, as in out in the field, you'll get slightly less range but it's still impressive, and voices are always clear and free of static.

Midland also gets high marks for including an NOAA weather scan, weather alerts, and an SOS button. These safety extras and the extended range of the Midland make this a solid choice for outdoor enthusiasts, including hunters, boaters, climbers, hikers, and those who fish. Thanks to the hands-free mode, you can clip this walkie-talkie on your jacket and work with your hands while holding a conversation. Score!

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jodi Owan is a freelance writer and photographer who has been published in print and online. When not hiking through the backwoods with a camera, she can be found testing and writing about technology. Find her on Instagram and her website.

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