Ultimate Guide: What Are The Best Walkie Talkies Available Today?

And what you need to know to find the best for you.

Written By Tom Hawk

Updated: 25 September 2018

Most of us remember having our first set of walkie talkies when we were kids playing around with our friends in the garden or around the house. Often enough that is our first and last experience and now with the advent of the cell phone people often forget that the good old two way radio still plays a vital roles in many of our lives. Where a phone will happily take photos and text messages they can, and often do loose signal whether that’s out in the countryside or even inside your own home. The best walkie talkies today may not take photographs but will help you communicate whether you have satellite signal or not using VHF or UHF frequencies that only require battery power to operate successfully.


What are the Best Walkie Talkies?

Below we have created a guide on how to successfully find the best walkie talkies available today and what considerations you may taking on board when selecting.

Best Overall: Baofeng Radio BF-F9 V2+

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  • Pros & cons
  • Specs

Pros

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    Battery control
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    Customizable wattage settings
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    Durable
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    Available in different colors

Cons

  • Basic functions

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Runner up: Retevis H-777 Two Way Radio

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Pros

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    Power saving function
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    Bulk walkie talkies
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    High quality
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    Add-ons available

Cons

  • Best for business
  • One color option

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Best Value: Midland GXT1000VP4

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  • Pros & cons
  • Specs

Pros

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    Temporarily water proof
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    Vibrate function
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    Easy to use
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Cons

  • Not the most durable outdoors

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Budget Winner: Floureon 22 Channel UHF

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  • Pros & cons
  • Specs

Pros

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    Easy to use
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    Lightweight
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    Good all-purpose walkies
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    Auto squelch mode

Cons

  • Limited channels

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Also a Great Choice: Uniden GMR5095-2CKVP

  • review
  • Pros & cons
  • Specs

Pros

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    Long transmission distance
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    Private calling function
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    Monitoring channels
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    12 hour battery life

Cons

  • VHF is not good for obstacles


Ultimate Guide: How to find the best Walkie Talkies for you.

Below we have created a guide on how to successfully find the best walkie talkies available today and what considerations you may taking on board when selecting.

How to Select the Best Walkie Talkies for Your Needs?

There are a few things to consider when buying a set of walkie talkies. The key to selecting the best walkie talkies for your particular needs is to consider exactly how you will be using them and what expectations you have of them in terms of functionality. When it comes to two way radios price is often a good reflection of the base line standard of feature and functionality you can expect. Paying that bit more to upgrade to the next model up could boost your range or increase the reception quality so the key is to buy once and enjoy your walkie talkies for years to come. Avoid buying cheap and then feel disappointed every time you come to need them.

Work or Leisure?

Usually the best place to start is by deciding whether you will be using the radios in a professional capacity or more for leisure pursuits such as camping or playing with the children. No doubt some may want to use them for both reasons but in general if they are for work they will remain in the work place or in your vehicle. If they’re a fun addition to some of your hobbies or intended to be communication devices around the house, then an all-purpose walkie talkie are a good choice. It doesn’t need too many bells and whistles, just antennae and maybe a volume control. If they’re for work, there are a few things to consider. You might want a weatherproof variant if you plan to use them outside where the elements will slowly damage the hardware and the handsets themselves overtime. You can also consider models with longer battery life or an extended range with a higher number of channels.

Frequencies: Pro's & Con's?

There are two types of frequencies for most walkie-talkie options. The first is VHF or “very high frequency.” These types of walkie-talkies have an extended range in terms of distance but with less power usage. However, these frequencies require relatively obstruction-free terrain such as the large open fields or perhaps the sea. The lower power usage will generally mean extended battery life and are a great choice for leisure activities such as being on the golf course or hiking.

The other type is UHF or “ultra high frequency.” Ultra high wavelengths have a shorter range but use more power and which allows them to penetrate obstacles more readily then VHF. They can even go through concrete walls which makes UHF the best option for close quarter use in areas like forests, the workplace or in the home. However be aware UHF frequencies will struggle to penetrate glass with the same ease as other materials. Generally nobody lives or works in a glass cube so it doesn’t warrant too much thought but it is something to be aware of from a functionality point of view. It’s best to choose UHF varieties if you plan to use your walkie-talkies both indoors and outdoors.

Power and Wattage

The general rule is that each watt of power translates to about a mile of distance. This rule can vary because of obstructions and something called peak wattage in which a radio operates under certain conditions for a certain amount of time.

The type of power supply is also a consideration. Walkie talkies that feature lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and are probably the most common type due to their high capacity. Most two way radios meant for day to day use will have these kind of batteries. Another type of battery that is more durable and impact resistant for activities involving extreme conditions is Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. These batteries are more robust and can be charged quickly. However, one downside to these is that they are sensitive to heat and exposure over time will diminish the battery capacity so keep these away from any home heating sources or near the heating vents in your car or truck.

Range and Distance

Most manufacturers cite range and distance measurements under the best possible conditions. This includes obstruction-free terrain and peak wattage. For example, a walkie-talkie operating at a single watt could efficiently transmit for several miles if you were standing on a hilltop and the terrain was relatively free of obstructions. Take the same walkie-talkie to a dense city, and your range is much shorter.

Consider instead what kind of terrain you are most likely to encounter and work back from there taking into account the frequency type and wattage to get a better fit for your needs.

Digital or Analogue?

Just as with cell phones handheld walkie talkies can be basic or sport any number of features you care to imagine. Digital radios will normally have LED lit digital screens that make the device easier to programme and in general will sport more options and features. However, if you do choose a walkie with a digital screen remember that the screen is likely to be the radios weakest point and any impact damage is likely to crack the screen or unset the liquid crystal display.

Analogue handheld radios more commonly known as brick types and don’t have a screen but are generally more robust and a good choice for those who wish to take them out into extreme outdoor environments where the more complex digital technology may not hold up so well.

Licenses

One note about licenses. You don’t need a permit to operate most general purpose walkie-talkies. If you want more private channels and further range, you might need to purchase a license to operate over the air legally. Check your local ordinances for whether your usage qualifies for licensing.

Other Considerations

For even harsher conditions, some radios are rated as military grade. The bodies of these types are resistant to dust, shock, and moisture. They won’t explode in combustible environments.

Protective cases and belt clips also help to extend the life of your walkie talkie if they’re being used for more than your average leisure purposes. Even if you are using them for recreation, it can be convenient to have cases and belt clips to reduce the likelihood that you drop your walkies.

Final Thoughts

Before doing anything, it’s important to consider first what kind of user you plan to be and then what type of terrain you’ll operate in. Once you narrow those down, you’ll probably find that the best walkie talkie for you is more obvious than you first thought. Then it’s just down the to look and feel of the radios to see which you will be happier and more comfortable using out in the field

In the link below are a few of our top recommended walkie talkies that have been selected by our panel of expert users.

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