Anyone use two way radios?

We are thinking about getting hand held two way radios so we can keep in touch when the cell phones don’t work, which is often. Does anyone have any recommendations? We’d like to keep the cost as low as possible, hopefully under $100.

Thanks very much in advance.

I use them all the time inside buildings where there is no cell phone signal.

Get the ones with the lognest range within your buget.

More info needed.
1. How much range between handheld units do you require? (assuming both are on the water, too.)

2. Must the units be waterproof, or will you keep them in the waterproof bags?

3. If extreme range is a factor, are you willing to go through the paperwork and expense of obtaining an FCC license for the frequency?

Carol and I have gotten all the range we ever needed from a pair of Family Radio Service units, which also have the GMRS channels, and weather band receivers.

The pair, with rechargeable batteries and chargers was about $70.


Reminding me

– Last Updated: Jan-06-08 11:36 AM EST –

Radios with shorter wavelength are good for inside of a building. Radios with longer wavelength are good for open space. Chose wisely, Grasshopper.

Motorola talkabout T5200. But look for waterproof if possable. The GMRS requires an FCC lic.(70.00). I would go for VHF marine.

Down in de Joisey Pine Barrens
aar club uses de FRS radios (especially lead an’ sweep boats) all de time since yer kin’ be a couple hundred feet from de next boat an’ not see dem at all.


does VHF count?
I use that. But don’t really use it. But would if the need arose.

find an Amateur Radio club in your area, take the little test, and get your ham radio license.

I’ve got a bag full of FRS/GMRS radios and they work ok, but, most of the new hand held ham walkie talkies are 1)smaller/lighter 2) waterproof 3) higher powered 4) allow you to use any of the thousands of free radio repeaters out there that will boost your range 5)allow you to contact people other than yourselves and get emergency help 6) some radio repeaters have 911 service or a phone “patch”.

Cost is over $100 (mine was $160) but capability compared with an FRS/GMRS radio…no comparison.

When communications fails in an area, they bring us hams in because our stuff gets through…but you have to have a license to use it…the first license level is “Technician Class” and requires a 35 question test. My wife studied one afternoon and aced it.

Learn more, go here:



Note the original post is asking for $100 for a pair of radios. No 2-meter handheld is less than $50. Yes, they do longe distance via repeaters. We used those before cell phones became available. I think a pair of Motorola Talkabout is still the best buy.


Inland, I agree
FRS/GMRS work fine for most inland applications that don’t require long range. We use them hiking, XC skiing, snowshoeing, paddling in fresh water, and paddling in Canada, where you need a ship station license to use VHF. Just get a decent drybag for them, and you’ll be good to go.

We even used them to car caravan to Newfoundland several years ago. They cost less than one month’s cell phone bill, and work better in remote locations than cells do, because they’re general broadcast, and don’t depend on a third party service to work.

Midland Radios
look at these Midland® GXT800VP4 Two-Way Radios. Water proof, comes with both ac & dc chargers headsets and Vox and will get the weather channels. Range on water (level ground ) they say 16 miles. Expect 3 to 4 in reality. I like these and Bass Pro has a set of 2 for less than $100. Have seen on sale for in the $70 range.

Happy Trails


buy handheld VHFs
preferablely the water proof kind although you may not be able to get those for under 100$–VHF are marine band radios and not only will you be able to communicate with your buddies but also with the Coast Guard, Marine Wardens and anybody else who has their radio tuned to Ch 16–the general hailing frequency—much better than cell phones or walkie talkies–if you can’t get the water proof kind, buy the non waterproof type with a commercially made vhf waterproof bag

has some good deals on the Motorola FRS/GMRS radios right now.

Cost was considered in my reply…and
I was trying to offer more bang for the buck and the point was the added ablility to call for help, which a Motorola Talkabout won’t do. Expecially if solo, which is how I usually paddle/hike. I own Talkabouts, they have their place, but are useless unless you are with someone who also has one…and neither can phone home with one.

“We used those before cell phones became available. I think a pair of Motorola Talkabout is still the best buy.”

2 meter, 70 cm, is more popular than ever around here. When/where I backpack, there simply is no cell service, yet I can hit a repeater 40 miles away with a dinky walkie talkie.

Biggest reason for VHF
is that cell phones are one to one calling devices. A VHF is one to everybody around you. If you can’t raise the CG, there should be somebody close by who can talk, relay messages to the CG, or even come rescue you. You can’t get that with FRS radios or cell phones.

Hey Fat, I used to live in Bayville by
Cedar Creek where it emptied into Barnaget Bay. Is that your neck of the woods?

If you do decide to get Motorolas
See if you can test them before buying. The original Motorola Talkabouts were great, the new ones not. Mine lasted only three outings before the “send” button stopped working. And the sound quality was terrible - too tinny to understand the other person most of the time. I ended up with a pair of cheap Cobras from Walmart, much better overall.

Low-priced VHF

This is the lowest priced Marine VHF handheld I’ve seen. I have no idea how good it is. It is not waterproof.

Me neck o’ de woods be up north along de NY/Joisey border in de Highlands, but ah’ do like de paddlin’ in de Pine Barrens ta no end.


Talkabout 250
I have had the Motorola Talkabout 250’s for a few seasons now and love them. The newer models don’t appear to be as good as the older ones. One radio even went for a short swim and after pulling the batteries and a thorough drying out still works fine. Another was left outside in heavy dew overnight with no ill effects. One of my son’s picked up a pair of newer rechargeable Motorolas and the batteries hardly last 3 hours.