Best Two-Way Radios for Hunting
If you regularly go hunting with your family and friends, one of the best purchases you can make is a two-way radio. It allows you to remain in touch with the rest of the hunting party even if you are geographically separated. Having radios on hand can also help your group remain safe while hunting.
This guide will take a look at the benefits of using two-way radios while hunting. We’ll then offer some tips for choosing a two-way radio and showcase the five best two-way radios on the market!
Advantages of using a two-way radio while hunting
Having two-way radios on hand while hunting has many advantages including:
Two-way radios can be used to warn your group of incoming hazards
If you have a large group of friends and family members hunting together, you may be situated in two or more geographical locations. If one group sees the weather is turning bad or there is a dangerous animal approaching, they can use the two-way radio to warn the others. Many modern two-way radios also have weather alerts, which help you remain aware of any potentially dangerous weather fronts approaching.
Two-way radios are useful in an emergency
Having a two-way radio on hand can save someone’s life in an emergency situation. They can be used to contact other members of your party or to broadcast in the local area and ask for help. Many two-way radios come with an emergency button, which broadcasts an SOS signal and allows for hands-free communication. More advanced two-way radios include a GPS tracker, which allows you to easily inform other people of your precise location when you need assistance.
Two-way radios make hunting a more social event
You can use your two-way radio to have a conversation and share a few laughs with other members of the group. Talking on the radio is a great way to pass the time when there aren’t any animals nearby!
Two-way radios give you more confidence to explore new areas
Being able to obtain assistance if you run into trouble means you will feel more confident when exploring new areas. You can traverse down a steep gorge and know that help is a call away if you twist your ankle or have a fall.
Two-way radios make it easier to plan your hunt
Using a two-way radio to discuss the precise location of your prey is considered unethical and is illegal in some U.S. states. However, you can still discuss your group’s general hunting strategy with a two-way radio. You can plan where each party member is going to set up their blind or discuss the location of animal tracks.
If a hunter successfully lands a kill, they can notify the other members of the group. They can ask for help dressing or carrying the animal without having to walk long distances to have a simple conversation.
Two-way radios allow your group to cover more ground
Most two-way radios have a crystal clear signal for the first few miles. That means the members of your group can set up very long distances from one another and cover more animal hotspots.
Tips for buying a two-way radio for hunting
Here are some simple tips to help you buy a high-quality two-way radio!
Consider the two-way radio’s size and weight
Most hunters are already weighed down with weapons, provisions, and hunting gear. The last thing they need is a bulky handheld radio slowing them down! That’s why the ideal two-way radio for hunting is compact and lightweight.
Consider the two-way radio’s weatherproofing
Hunters are often exposed to very harsh weather conditions including rain and snow. The gear that you take on the hunt must be made to tolerate extreme weather events or it will fail within a few days or months. That is particularly true for electronic gear like two-way radios.
Look for a two-way raid that is water-resistant or water-proof. Also, check the operating temperature range on the radio if you hunt in very cold or hot conditions — you need to make sure it will work when you need it to!
Consider the two-way radio’s broadcasting technology
The range of a two-way radio is the maximum distance it can send and receive signals. It will vary based upon the technology used by the radio and its power. A two-way radio that uses General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) will have a maximum range of up to 50 miles. A two-way radio using Family Radio Service (FRS) will have a maximum range of about 6 miles. However, these ranges are based on optimal conditions, so you will have a much shorter range if you are in a hilly area or a location with lots of radio interference.
Two-way radios will typically include both FRS/GMRS and 22 channels (7 FRS, 8 GMRS, and 7 FRS/GMRS combined). These channels are public, which means you will hear other people if they are within the radio’s range. Most radios will also use privacy codes, which filter out some public transmissions. However, people who use the same privacy code and channel will still hear you. Some radios have more than 100 privacy codes, giving you thousands of possible channel/code combinations.
Consider the two-way radio’s emergency features
Two-way radios can be very useful in an emergency situation. Some common emergency features on two-way radios include automated emergency messages, S.O.S flashing beacons, and GPS functions to help people locate you. Some radios have VOX (Voice Activated Transmit functions), which can help in an emergency situation. If you are particularly concerned about safety while hunting, choose a radio with these kinds of features.
Consider the two-way radio’s power
Most two-way radios will use rechargeable NiMH, NiCd, or Li-ion batteries. NiMH and Li-ion are the best options because they can store more energy and are lighter. They are also less likely to suffer from the “memory effect” which causes the battery to lose capacity over time. Most two-way radios for hunting will also support the use of standard AA alkaline batteries.
The five best two-way radios for hunting
Here are the five best two-way radios for hunting currently on the market. They are durable, compact, and packed-with-features. They are also surprisingly affordable!
- Midland GXT1050VP4 Two-Way Radio
- Rating: 4.1/5
- Range: Up to 36-miles
- Emergency features: SOS Siren, NOAA/All Hazard Weather Channels and VOX
- Channels: 50 channels and 142 privacy codes
- Other features: Group calls, Direct call, Animal call alerts, vibrate alert, dural channel watch, silent operation, backlit LCD display
- Price: $$
- Motorola MR355R FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio
- Rating: 4/5
- Range: Up to 35-miles
- Emergency features: Emergency alert button, NOAA/All Hazard Weather Channels and iVOX hands-free
- Channels: 22 channels and 121 privacy codes
- Other features: 10 different call sounds including 5 animal sounds, VibraCall alert feature, camouflage
- Price: $$
Midland GXT1050VP4 Two-Way Radio
This is a great two-way radio for hunting from Midland. It is a very well-made device that comes in a small form factor (2.5 x 9.75 x 1.74 inches). The Midland GXT1050VP4 has a waterproof casing which is covered in a Mossy Oak Breakup camouflage, making it perfect for keen hunters who wear full camouflage.
Despite its small size, it is packed with features! It has 50 channels, with 142 privacy codes, giving you a total of 5560 channels to choose from. It uses GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) to obtain a maximum range of 36 miles. Some of its many features include direct/group calling, silent operation mode, whisper function, and five animal call alerts. It has some excellent safety features including NOAA weather alert station access and weather scan, an SOS Siren, and eVOX hands-free operation mode. This is a great choice for any keen hunter.
Motorola MR355R FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio
Motorola’s extensive experience as a mobile device manufacturer has made them very good at making two-way radios. The Motorola MR355R is a FRS/GMRS device with a maximum range of 35 miles. It is a rugged device that is dust and water-resistant. The durable case comes with a REALTREE AP HD camouflage, which is useful for hunters chasing prey with high level visual acuity.
It uses either alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries, which can provide between 8 (NiMH) to 23 hours (Alkaline) of use. The MR355R comes with 22 channels, with each one having 121 privacy codes. It includes 11 weather channels, including 7 from NOAA, which gives you excellent awareness of potential weather events. Other features include 10 different call sounds including 5 animal sounds, VibraCall alert feature, and extra faceplates.
Midland LXT630VP3 Two-Way Radio
This is an affordable option from Midland that manages to retain many excellent features. The Midland LXT630VP3 is a 36 channel radio with GMRS and a 30-mile maximum range. It comes in a durable and water-resistant plastic casing that is colored bright yellow for additional safety.
This radio has NOAA weather and hazard channels with a weather scan feature to help you avoid bad weather. The 121 privacy codes make it easy to find a private channel to chat on. It also comes with 5 call alerts and 3 level VOC for hands free communication. This device can use 3 AAA batteries or a rechargeable battery pack (sold separately). It is a great choice for the budget-conscious hunter.
Baofeng BF-888S Two-Way Radio
This is another cheap radio that is both well-made and has many useful features. The Baofeng BF-888S Two-Way Radio has 16 channels in the 400-470Mhz spectrum, with a maximum range of approximately 4 miles. It’s features include a battery-saving mode, intelligent charging, LED torch, ear pieces, and easy carry clip. A great choice if you only need a short range two-way radio and you are on a tight budget.
Motorola MT350R FRS Weatherproof Two-Way Radio
If you often hunt in rough conditions and are looking for a more durable solution, check out the Motorola MT350R two-way radio. This two-way radio has an IP-54 rating, which means it fully waterproof and dust proof. It comes with a durable outer shell is built to last and uses a bright orange color for safety. Additional safety features include NOAA channels, emergency alerts, and an LED flashlight.
The MT350R is capable of transmitting on 22 channels with 121 privacy codes. Other features include VibraCall alert, push-to-talk power boost, iVOX hands-free mode, mini-USB charging, and multiple call alerts. It runs for up to 10 hours on 3 x AA alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries.
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