Walkie-talkies are great fun when you want to communicate with a set of friends who are located miles away. This is precisely when you get the best out of these devices.
If you are out trekking or hiking with your group, you would want to hand everyone a walkie-talkie so that the contact is not lost. FRS or Family Radio Service is what you need to consider here. Most of the walkie-talkies that you see in the market operate on FRS mode. These devices have 22 channels and you can access any of the channels to speak to all in your group, irrespective of their distance.
The other option is GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service. This device also consists of 22 channels but you need a license to operate it.(thus they are more secure)
Choose between UHF and VHF frequency walky-talkies
As far as radio frequency is concerned, you have the choice between UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency).
UHF operates in frequencies between 400 and 512 MHz and VHF operates in frequencies between 136 and 174 MHz.
UHF walky-talkies are more popular because of their shorter wavelengths. The signals can easily penetrate interferences like buildings and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
VHF walky-talkies can operate over a longer distance in areas where there are lot less interferences. However, it can easily penetrate trees. VHF devices have larger antennae than UHF devices. So, if you are in an open landscape or over a large body of water, VHF is what you require.
Should you always go for the longer range?
There is a range up to which walkie-talkies can operate. For commercial levels walkie-talkies, where the distance covered is larger, a license is required to operate. If you are just looking to have fun with your group, opt for a standard walkie-talkie that you can buy from any store. Remember that walkie-talkies are able to communicate with each other irrespective of their brand. However, a UHF walkie-talkie cannot communicate with a VHF walkie-talkie and vice versa!
Set up privacy code for private conversations
To have more fun conversing through walkie-talkies with your group, you need to set up a privacy code. With a privacy code, you can use a predetermined channel with a code to communicate with your specific group. But you need to know that anyone can join your communication and listen. What they will not be able to do is join the conversation and interrupt. So, while you don’t have complete privacy, there is a semblance of it and you are sure going to enjoy communicating your way.
Look at the options features in walkie-talkies
There are wide range of optional features available in walkie-talkies. From incoming call alert to channel recall to hands free use to weather radio to LCD display. You should focus on options that you will actually use, as they make the device more complicated electronically and thus often more fragile.
Choose the battery carefully
Most of the walkie-talkies work on alkaline batteries that need replacement when they are worn out. However, you also have the option of buying walkie-talkies with rechargeable batteries. If you are planning to go out on a trip for 2-3 days, it is best to buy walkie-talkies with rechargeable batteries. Moreover, such batteries will also make you save money if you plan on using your walkie-talkies a lot!
Which walky-talkies for which use?
As said earlier, all the common walky-talkies operate on UHF or VHF. Make sure you think about your requirement and make your choice.
If you are looking for UHF walky-talkies, some of the best options include Cobra CXT 545 (photo 1), Kenwood KRA-23M UHF Low Profile Helical Antenna for Pro Talk TK-3200 Two-Way Radio and Pofung BF 888S UHF FM Transceiver High Illumination Flashlight Walkie Talkie Two Way Radio.
Similarly, if you are looking at VHF walky-talkies, some of the models worth considering are lightinthebox Baofeng VHF VOX Two Way Radio Walkie Talkie Transceiver Interphone, Uniden ATLANTIS-250G Handheld Two-Way VHF Marine Radio and Midland Nautico 3 Marine Radio NT3VP (photo 2).
If you are looking for simply the best walky-talkies, Motorola has to be the brand name to seriously consider. Motorola has been at the forefront of walky-talkies for years and you simply cannot go wrong with this brand. Consider the bestselling models in Motorola including Motorola MR350R (photo 3), Motorola MB160CR TalkAbout 10-Mile 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio, Motorola MH230TPR and Motorola MH230R. The other brand worth looking at is Cobra.