After comparing ten of the best two-way radios on the market, we found BaoFeng BF-F8HP to be the top radio across the board.
It took many hours of researching, testing, and collecting customer feedback to find that top bang for your buck.
In this top 10 review, we focus on features that might be important to you, such as the environment it would be used in, interesting features, emergency preparedness, and more.
Since not all two-way radios on the market are made for the same purposes, keep reading this unbiased review to discover the right two-way radio for you.
Channels / Range / Battery Life / VOX
The third generation of the beloved UV5R, BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a versatile walkie talkie that can fulfill your needs in most types of settings.
Unlike most FRS radios, this set of radios offer three power output settings: 1W, 5W, and 8W.
This is extremely useful since they allow you to conserve battery when you don’t need a lot of range. The transmission range is incredible – you can get over 10 miles in places with many obstructions.
In addition, you can buy a longer antenna or use the included high-gain antenna to boost range even further.
Built to last, this GMRS radio is waterproof, dust-proof, and ultra-durable. You can access 129 programmable channels, including weather and AM/FM channels. Even on the highest power setting, you can easily get up to 20 hours of use.
Since BaoFeng is an established brand, you can buy a huge range of accessories to configure the radio to your liking. Despite its intuitive menu, there is a steep learning curve. You also need the radio operator’s license for this radio.
BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a well-rounded radio that can fulfill most of your communication needs. You can get up to 20 hours of use even on the highest power setting. Although you need a license to operate it, the impressive range and features make it one of the best commercial two-way radios.
|Great range across terrains and weather conditions|
|20-hour battery life|
|Access to weather alerts and AM/FM channels|
|Many accessories available|
|Difficult to use for beginners|
|Requires a license|
Before the age of Google Maps, Garmin dominated the GPS industry.
It was great to see the GPS capabilities were translated into two-way radios – specifically Garmin Rino 750.
Using a combination of high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS, it can track difficult terrain better than its competitors.
It also has a robust map segment feature with more waypoints and geocaching support. Additionally, you can download detailed offline maps with different topography to the microSD card.
With powerful 5W two-way text and voice communication, you can talk with your fellow campers up to 20 miles away. It also features a unique position reporting capability that lets you see where you and other Rino users are on the map.
By syncing this radio with your smartphone, you can receive smartphone notifications on your radio. You can also update your software wirelessly and connect your radio to other Garmin products for more field data, widgets, and apps. Besides that, it also features active weather tracking to keep you away from treacherous weather.
This walkie-talkie can last up to 14 hours on AA batteries and 18 hours on Garmin battery packs. Rated IPX7, it can withstand almost any water abuse you throw at it.
Garmin Rino 750 is one of the best two-way radios for mountains as it can show you detailed topography and maps of your area. With texting capabilities, smartphone compatibility, and a unique position reporting feature, you can easily get in touch with other radio users when you are in trouble.
|Impressive mapping capabilities|
|Tough built with IPX7 rating|
|Short-range for its price|
You can’t personally monitor your kids 24/7, so why not use Obuby WT1-3 to keep track of them for you?
The lightweight and ergonomic design is easy for kids to use and bring around. In particular, the big push-to-talk button on the face of the radio is ideal for small children who can’t push side buttons.
All the buttons are clearly marked and well-placed, making it easy to learn for young children. It also has a keypad lock and comes with a belt clip.
With a 1.8-mile range and 22 channels, this two-way radio opens up a whole new world of long-distance kids play.
If you have a big family, you can use the one-to-multiple feature to link all the radios together and broadcast your message at once. Don’t worry about muddy audio – auto-squelch minimizes distortion and disruptions while the speaker delivers crystal-clear sound.
It doesn’t use rechargeable batteries and drains AAA batteries quickly, which is something to consider since the cost of batteries might add up.
Lightweight and ergonomic, Obuby WT1-3 is perfect for kids between 3 and 12. Albeit its short range, it provides many child-friend features like a big push-to-talk button, keypad lock, one-to-multiple broadcasting, and a built-in flashlight. You have to keep in mind the cost of batteries though since it is powered exclusively by AAA batteries.
|Anti-interference function (Auto-squelch)|
|Easy to use|
|Sub 2 mile range|
If you like to go on challenging multi-day hikes, you need a good base camp two-way radio like Midland-XT511 to keep your operations smooth and fun.
This two-way radio won’t run out of charge as you can charge it with 5 different methods: hand-crank, AC wall adapter, DC vehicle adapter, AA alkaline batteries, and rechargeable batteries.
It also spares you the pain of carrying extra batteries as you can switch between alkaline and rechargeable batteries with a simple flick of a switch.
For your phone, you can use the USB port at the back of the radio.
With a range of 40 miles, it delivers crystal-clear transmission with minimal bleed or static noise. It has the standard 22 channels with 121 privacy codes. You can also access NOAA weather alerts and AM/FM channels on this radio to keep yourself updated on the weather. Besides that, it also has a handy flashlight and an alarm clock with snooze.
Unfortunately, the antenna is not detachable, so you can’t get more range by attaching a longer antenna. It is also pretty bulky, which limits its portability.
Water-resistant but bulky, Midland-XT511 delivers many features important in a base camp two-way radio. Multiple charging options, great range, and NOAA channel support are only some of them.
|5 charging methods|
|Up to 40 miles of range|
|Alarm clock with snooze|
|The antenna is not detachable|
If you need a set of good business radios to optimize your team’s communication, look no further than Kenwood NX-P500.
It is especially suitable for casinos and hotels, thanks to its 18-floor range and workplace-friendly features.
Multi-Site Trunking solution and Dynamic Control Channel Switchover, for example, allow you to improve workplace efficiency and streamline busy traffic.
It has 219 privacy codes, which is more than what most 2 way radios offer.
If you don’t like to stop your workflow to answer a call, iVOX allows you to talk to your colleagues hands-free. Channel voice announcements help you find your channel without having to touch the two-way radio. It also has a mixed-mode for analog and digital units, so you can use it with other radios.
Don’t underestimate its small and lightweight build. In rough workplaces, this radio can withstand a 6-ft drop, dust, and water splashes. It lasts about 15 hours after a full charge. Since it only has 6 pre-programmed UHF channels, you don’t need a license to operate this radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 delivers an 18-floor range that works well with multi-story workplaces. IP64-rated, this two-way radio can withstand a lot of abuse even in rough work environments. It utilizes its 6 UHF channels efficiently with features to optimize communication in busy traffic, making it one of the best two-way radios for business.
|Mixed-mode for analog and digital units|
|iVOX hands-free communication|
|219 privacy codes|
|Only 6 channels|
Most radios don’t hold up very well in mountains and dense forests because of the obstructions – but not Cobra ACXT1035R FLT.
Its range fluctuates quite a bit, but you can easily get 6 miles in heavily wooded areas. On top of a mountain, it can cover more than 35 miles.
Besides that, this walkie-talkie has many features that make communication easy.
If you missed what your friend said, you can use the playback function to replay the transmission since it automatically records the last 20 seconds of incoming audio.
It also has Vibra Alert – a notification system that vibrates to avoid unwanted noise.
With the NOAA function, you can be prepared for any sudden changes in weather conditions with automated alerts being pushed to your radio. It is also IPX7-rated and submersible, allowing you to retrieve your radio if you drop it in the water. The rubberized grip further minimizes your risk of dropping it.
Using VOX communication, you can talk to your friends hands-free while belaying or hiking. It also comes with many accessories, like a belt clip and a dual-port charger.
Because of the waterproof seal, the microphone can only pick up what you are saying if you hold it very close to your mouth.
Cobra ACXT1035R FLT has an impressive list of features, like the playback feature and a vibration notification system. The tight waterproof seal protects it from rain and water, but it also muffles the microphone. Since you don’t need a license to use this radio, its range and features make it one of the best two-way radios for outdoor activities.
|IPX7 rating and floats|
|Up to 35 miles range|
|Many accessories included|
|Microphone volume is low-ish|
Designed for active families, Motorola T260 covers an extended range of up to 25 miles to help you stay connected with your family, no matter whether you are hiking in the woods or driving on back-country roads.
Using 22 FRS/GMRS channels with 121 privacy codes, you can create up to 2,662 unique channel combinations to keep in touch with your family.
In addition, NOAA radio service helps you plan your day before setting out.
It has many kid-friendly features, such as an easy-to-use interface and an effective keypad lock.
iVOX and VOX allow your family to stay connected without having to touch the radio. While it isn’t waterproof, it can handle small splashes and take a light beating with no problems.
The 800mAh battery lasts about 5-6 hours of constant usage but offers many charging options, like AA batteries or micro-USB, to compensate for the average battery life. The radio can also be quite loud, which is great if you have a rowdy family.
Motorola T260 is an ideal family radio for active families, thanks to its great range and kid-friendly features. With a ton of channels, privacy codes, and an automatic scanner, you can avoid interrupting transmission. Although its battery doesn’t last very long, it provides many on-the-go charging options.
|NOAA weather radio channels|
|Battery drains quickly|
|Loud button beeping|
Lightweight and resilient, Motorola T465 ideal for hunters.
It supports the standard 22 channels with 121 privacy codes and 11 NOAA channels to help you avoid unwanted weather.
iVOX allows you to use the radio like a speakerphone for hands-free operation.
You can also pair this radio with a Bluetooth-compatible headset to free your hands up for your equipment.
You are likely to appreciate VibraCall, a silent notification system that vibrates when you receive a call so that you don’t scare off any wildlife. Quiet Talks help you filter out all the unwanted interruptions when you are speaking with your group, which is helpful if you are far away from your party. There is also an emergency alert button that emits a loud sound to indicate your position if you are ever in trouble.
This FRS/GMRS radio has an optimal range of 35 miles. It offers 3 power output settings to help you circumvent unpredictable terrain or obstructions. The PTT power boost button gives you more power for more range. It lasts 13 hours on the lowest power setting.
The LCD screen is pretty dim, which is inconvenient if you like to hunt in daylight. Some users have also reported issues with low volume or loud squelch noises even though we didn’t have these problems with our two-way radios.
Motorola T465 is a two-way radio packed with hunter-friendly features like VibraCall and Quiet Talk. It offers three power output settings, giving you range when you need it but conserves battery when you don’t, making it one of the best two-way radios for hunting.
|Emergency alert button|
|LCD is too dim|
Motorola Talkabout T600 H2O is built with a sturdy, submersible waterproof body, which makes it ideal for snow and water-based excursions.
For extra safety, all the buttons are protected under a weatherproof cover and the USB ports are protected by a rubber flap.
It can take a light beating, so don’t worry about dropping it.
If you turn it off during the night, it can last up to two days of usage.
Depending on your environment, it can give you up to 35 miles of range.
You can also use the low-powered talk button for battery conservation, but you will get less range.
For emergencies, this radio comes with a removable belt clip that doubles as a whistle. It also has an emergency alert function that sends an SOS signal to nearby radios and a built-in flashlight you can use to attract help.
Except for the flashlight button, all the buttons are well-placed and optimized for ease of usage. We’ve accidentally turned on the flashlight a couple of times, which can be troublesome if you are trying to save battery.
You can count on the Motorola Talkabout T600 to keep you connected in wet conditions thanks to its 35-mile range, rugged waterproof design, and emergency features. Excellent at providing a clear signal even in densely wooded areas and easy to use, it is hands down one of the best two-way radios for hiking in any type of weather.
|Removable belt clip/ whistle combo|
|Impressive battery life|
|Easy to use|
|The built-in flashlight might turn on accidentally|
Good long-range two-way radios are far and few between. But clocking in at 40 miles on power boost, Uniden GMR4055 might be your best bet.
When you don’t need this radio to cover great distances, you can use the low-powered button to conserve energy. With average use, it can last up to 24 hours on standby.
It also offers convenient charging options – a charging cradle and a USB port to be used with a portable power source like your laptop or an external battery pack when you are on the go.
The radio fulfills the industry standards for level 4 water resistance (JIS4).
Although you shouldn’t throw it in a lake, it can withstand water splashes and rain. It comes with the common 22 channels and 121 privacy codes. You can also use the NOAA weather alerts to check the weather before going anywhere.
The built-in strobe light is extremely helpful in dark areas or can be used as an emergency light signal. A downside of this radio is its low volume and sound quality. It does come with a pair of earbuds to help you minimize this problem.
Uniden GMR4055-2CKHS can transmit and receive signals up to 40 miles, which makes it one of the best long-range two-way radios on the market. With 22 FRS/GMRS channels, 121 privacy codes, and NOAA radio channels at your disposal, you can keep in touch with your party even at great distances. Even though this two-way radio uses AA batteries, it can last you an entire day, thanks to its low-power button.
|Good battery life|
|Convenient charging cradle|
|Built-in strobe light|
|Below-average sound quality and volume|
Our Top Two Way Radio Choice
There is no such thing as perfection – the best two-way radio for you is always the one that fits your needs. However, if you need a versatile two-way radio that can handle most environments and activities, you won’t go wrong with the BaoFeng BF-F8HP walkie-talkies.
At the same time, there are plenty of other two-way radios that are made for specific purposes. For example, Garmin Rino 750 is a great radio if you need map capabilities while Kenwood NX-P500 works great for business and commercial use. Some radios are great for hiking, like Cobra ACXT1035R FLT and Motorola Talkabout T600 H2O, if you need extra water protection. If you want to introduce your child to two-way radios, Obuby WT1-3 is the right choice.
If you are looking for Citizen’s band radios, then our latest top 10 CB radio review has some great options to consider.
Types Of Two-Way Radios
Analog vs. Digital
Both analog and digital radios can send signals over either Very High Frequency (VHF) or Ultra High Frequency (UHF). However, these radios excel in some areas but fall short in others.
For example, analog two-way radios are more understood by the general public since they have been around for so long. Because of this, they often come with a wide range of accessories and add-ons. But they often cannot support the new technology.
Digital radios give you newer software applications and advanced features. However, they can take longer to learn as they are more complicated.
Simplex Channels vs. Duplex Channels
Since you receive and transmit on the same frequency, simplex channels are more commonly used in emergency radios. Most modern two-way radios use half-duplex or full-duplex channels since these channels allow you to transmit and receive signals over two discrete frequencies.
Conventional vs Trunked
With a limited number of channels, conventional radios are easy to use and are suitable for up to 70 users at a time. FRS radios, or Family Radio Service radios, are an example of conventional radios.
Radios with the trunked system are often used in big organizations or multi-agency dispatch systems since they can support more users. It is costly to run, so it might be better to get conventional radios if your group can be split into groups of 70.
Things To Consider When Buying Two-Way Radios
Maximum Actual Range
The advertised maximum range in radios is often not the actual range you get. This is because many radios often can’t hold up their maximum range when in unpredictable terrain or bad weather. When buying two-way radios, keep in mind the environment you will use it in to get the most use out of it.
Battery Type And Charging Options
Modern walkie-talkies give you multiple power options, which is great for places with no access to electricity. For example, you can use AA batteries when your rechargeable battery pack in the radio is depleted. Some two-way radios even offer hand-crank or solar panels as a charging option.
VOX And Hands-free
If the hands-free operation is your main concern, Voice-activated transmission (VOX) or interactive voice exchange (iVOX) gives you the option to communicate with your party without even touching the radio.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a two-way radio work?
A two-way radio consist of transmission and receiver devices. It uses a single radio channel and a half-duplex mode (either talk or listen at a time) to interchange voice messages.
Can I boost my two-way radio signal/range?
The simplest and easiest way to boost two-way radio signal is to remove obstacles between the radios. Most of the time, it means getting outside or finding higher ground.
What is the longest range for two-way radio?
There are many factors that impact the radio signal transmission range. Those are obstacles, weather, transmitter, and receiver technical capabilities. Most radios have signal ranges between 2 and 40 miles.
Can VHF radio communicate with UHF radio?
The short answer is no as those radios operate in different frequency ranges. UHF radio uses 430-470Mhz whereas VHF works within 105-174Mhz.