After comparing ten of the best walkie-talkies on the market, we found that Midland GXT1000VP4 to be the most suitable walkie-talkie for casual use.

We have spent about 20 hours researching, testing, and collecting feedback from users all over the internet to give you an unbiased review of the best walkie talkies in 2020 and help you get the top value for your money.

In this review, we will be comparing the walkie-talkies on their most important features like range, channel selection, and feature set.

There are many great walkie-talkies, or two-way radios, on the market nowadays. Since your radio has to fit and match your needs, keep reading to discover the right walkie-talkie for you.

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Top 10 Walkie Talkies

Channels / Range / Battery Life / VOX

For Active Family – Motorola T260

An ideal family radio for active families with a great range and kid-friendly features. With 22 FRS/GMRS channels and an automatic scan function, and many on-the-go charging options.

Channels

22

Range

25 Miles

Battery Life

10 hrs

VOX

Yes

Best Bluetooth Support – Motorola T800

Built with emergency readiness in mind and superior Bluetooth support. With off-grid messaging system, offline location sharing, LED flashlight and weather channels - a great hiking companion.

Channels

22

Range

35 Miles

Battery Life

14-25 hrs

VOX

Yes

Top Choice For Business – Motorola RMM2050

Customized channel announcements, VOX communication, antimicrobial coating and rugged built make it perfect choice for buildings, cruise ships, and construction sites.

Channels

5

Range

2 Miles

Battery Life

15 hrs

VOX

Yes

Longest Battery Life – Baofeng BF-F8HP

Packed with advanced features and geared towards experienced radio operators. Requires a license to operate, but provides up to 20-hours of usage and a greatest range we've seen.

Channels

128

Range

6-12 Miles

Battery Life

20 hrs

VOX

No

Best Cheap – BaoFeng BF-888S

Made for beginners and open spaces. It has a decent range, battery life, and sensitivity, but falls short in selectivity. Amazing value for money.

Channels

16

Range

1-2 Miles

Battery Life

8 hrs

VOX

Yes

Best For Adventure – Cobra ACXT1035R

Waterproof and rugged design that floats in the water. It can be voice-activated for communication while you are swimming. Great range and the message replay function.

Channels

22

Range

37 Miles

Battery Life

9 hrs

VOX

Yes

Best Overall – Midland GXT1000VP4

Does a little bit of everything and works almost everywhere. It features a whisper mode for home use, wide channel selection for workplaces, and can last long for outdoor excursions.

Channels

50

Range

36 Miles

Battery Life

8 hrs

VOX

Yes

Top Value – Midland LXT500VP3

Lots of features for a modest price tag. It was primarily designed for flat wooded areas or mountains and features a quiet mode, which makes is great for hunting.

Channels

22

Range

24 Miles

Battery Life

10 hrs

VOX

No

Best For Kids – Retevis RT628 Kids

Small and lightweight with a textured grip designed specifically for children. Can inter-connect with multiple other radios to deliver lots of fun to many kids at once. One of the best kid-friendly walkie-talkies on the market.

Channels

22

Range

0.5 Miles

Battery Life

18 hrs

VOX

Yes

Longest Range – Uniden GMR5098

With 50-mile range and a boost function, Uniden GMR5098 is the best long-range walkie talkie out there. It is also prepared for everything - water-damage, emergencies, and the need to have a private conversation in a group chat.

Channels

23

Range

50 Miles

Battery Life

8 hrs

VOX

No

1. Best For Active Family – Motorola T260

Keeping track of where your kids are can be cumbersome, but not with Motorola T260.

With a range of up to 25 miles, this two-way radio keeps your family connected, in and out of your home.

It can create up to 2,662 unique channel combinations as it has 22 FRS/GMRS channels with 121 privacy codes. Besides, it also has an automatic scan function that helps you find a clear channel easily.

T260 also has many kid-friendly features, such as an easy-to-navigate interface and an effective keypad lock. The voice activation feature (iVOX/VOX) allows your kids and you to keep the radio in your pocket while being able to communicate with each other.

When you are out camping with your family, NOAA alerts keep your family current on real-time weather updates. It has a fairly decent build, and while it isn’t waterproof, it can withstand small splashes with no problems.

Its 800mAh battery lasts about 5-6 hours of constant usage, which is nothing spectacular, however, it offers many charging options. You can bring AA batteries or use a portable battery pack with a micro-USB cable to keep it charged. Lastly, the radio can be quite loud – great for noisy campsites, not-so-great for night safari adventures.

This radio has also made its comfortable way into our top 10 of the best two-way radios on the market for families and casual use.

8/10
  • Channels 80% 80%
  • Range 80% 80%
  • Battery Life 80% 80%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
Small size
Easy-to-navigate menu
Micro-USB charging
NOAA weather radio channels
Handsfree operation
NEGATIVE
Battery drains quickly
Loud button beeping

2. Best With Bluetooth – Motorola T800

Motorola T800 offers a great solution to those facing difficulties communicating with their friends in an area with a lot of signal interruption – Bluetooth support for a mobile app.

You can download a range of map formats of the area you are going to, which gives you offline access to maps.

The app also acts as a transmitter that can be used to send messages from your phone without cell service. However, there is a 30-second timeout between every message you send, so it is mainly a backup feature.

If you do get lost, you can share your location via radio frequencies.

With 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, there is always a clear channel to use. You don’t even need to touch your two-way radio for that since you can control all the settings for T800 on the app – selecting radio bands, privacy codes, call tones, and more

This two-way radio takes emergency readiness very seriously. Thanks to the IPX4 rating, it doesn’t get damaged in water. Access to NOAA, ECCC, and VHF weather channels also gives you real-time weather updates and the ability to set emergency weather alerts on your app. Besides that, it also comes with a built-in LED flashlight.

8/10

  • Channels 80% 80%
  • Range 90% 90%
  • Battery Life 70% 70%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
Talkabout app support
Built-in LED flashlight
Decent sound quality
NOAA weather radio
NEGATIVE
Quite loud
Difficult to read the display when outdoors
30 seconds timeout before sending a new message

3. Best For Business – Motorola RMM2050

Motorola RMM2050 is, to date, Motorola’s only Multi-Use Radio Service two-way radio. But can it hold up in the workplace?

Made for a variety of workplaces, this two-way radio can last up to 5 years, thanks to its military standard built.

In addition to protection from the elements, it also has an antimicrobial coating that prevents mold and germs, further prolonging its lifespan.

Shock and vibration resistance prevent the radio from breaking upon impact.

It has an advertised range of up to 13 floors in the building or 35 miles that holds up pretty well even with obstructions and interfering radio signals.

Because of this, it is extremely suitable for multi-story workplaces like hotels and cruise ships. Even if you work in a construction site, its powerful 1,500MW speaker ensures audio clarity.

RMM2050 operates on 5 MURS business exclusive frequency that is license-free to use. There are 219 PL/DPL codes at your disposal, making it easy to always find a clear connection for workplace communication.

This ham radio also has many hands-free options. Customized channel announcement ensures that you always know what channel you are on without even touching your radio. In addition, you can communicate with your coworkers via voice activation (VOX).

7.5/10

  • Channels 60% 60%
  • Range 70% 70%
  • Battery Life 80% 80%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
Rugged design with antimicrobial coating
Huge range
Loudspeaker
VOX communication
License-free
NEGATIVE
Expensive

4. Best Battery Life – Baofeng BF-F8HP

BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a two-way radio beloved by many experienced radio operators as it is equipped with many useful features with a fairly modest price tag.

It has an impressive 10-mile range that holds up pretty well against rough terrain and weather.

No matter where you are, it ensures a clear connection with minimal feedback disruptions.

If you need some extra help with transmitting, it comes with a high gain antenna that greatly enhances your range.

The highlight of this product, however, is the battery life that offers 17 hours of usage.

It has capabilities to transmit 4 times the power of an average walkie-talkie, it is one of the longest-lasting radios on the market. Although it can’t be used with AA batteries, you can swap out the rechargeable battery for a more powerful one when it runs out.

Besides that, BF-F8HP offers many well-thought-out features like channel tracking, allowing you to listen to two channels simultaneously. But because of this, it is slightly bigger than an average two-way radio. Getting to these settings can be a bit complicated for a beginner radio user too. Plus the need for a license to operate this powerful device, BF-F8HP is best suited for experienced radio operators.

8.3/10

  • Channels 90% 90%
  • Range 70% 70%
  • Battery Life 100% 100%
  • Value 70% 70%
POSITIVE
Great range across most terrain
Huge range of accessories available
17-hour battery life
High gain antenna
NEGATIVE
Requires a ham operator license
Not easy to use
Bigger than other radios

5. Best Cheap – BaoFeng BF-888S

If you want to try your hand at ham radio operations without having to pay a kidney for it, BaoFeng BF-888S is the product to consider.

Aside from its rugged exterior, the first thing you would notice is the lack of a keypad and an LCD screen.

Although a bit unusual compared to other two-way radios, it makes setting up and programming the radio extremely useful.

The placement of the knobs and buttons make it fairly intuitive to use.

The BF-888S has an advertised range of 5 miles depending on the condition since it is meant for FRS use.

However, you can get more transmission power by screwing on a longer antenna if you have a GMRS operating license. The sensitivity is pretty decent as you can pick up signals easily. 

But, the selectivity has left a lot to be desired. In places with high radio-frequency activity, it is close to impossible to hear incoming radio transmissions. To make matters worse, the radio doesn’t come with a scrambler, which distorts your transmissions when competing with other signals in the vicinity.

You get about 9 to 10 hours of power with BaoFeng BF-888S, which is pretty impressive for a budget radio device. The low-voltage alert reminds you to charge it when the battery is low – a nifty feature that many pricier ham radios lack.

7.3/10

  • Channels 70% 70%
  • Range 60% 60%
  • Battery Life 70% 70%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
Low battery alert
Easy to use
Compact and durable
Very affordable
NEGATIVE
Poor selectivity
No display and keypad

6. Best For Adventures – Cobra ACXT1035R

If you are into kayaking and rafting, you will be hard-pressed to find a better two-way radio than Cobra ACXT1035R FLT.

This product is IPX7-rated, which allows it to be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.

It floats, so you are unlikely to lose it to the waters and the rubberized grip keeps the radio secured in your hands.

If you are too busy having fun in the waters, you can speak to your friends via VOX communication with the radio safely attached to the belt clip on your hip.

It has a range of up to 35 miles on top of a mountain and about 6 miles in heavily wooded areas.

The Rewind-Say-Again function allows you to playback your transmission for 20 seconds if you missed what your friend said.

To ensure maximum safety, ACXT1035R FLT comes equipped with NOAA weather channels. This two-way radio automatically scans the weather channels for automatic weather updates. It also comes with a small LED light that allows you to see properly in the dark.

That being said, it can be a bit difficult to push the buttons as they are not very tactile and responsive.

8.2/10

  • Channels 80% 80%
  • Range 90% 90%
  • Battery Life 80% 80%
  • Value 80% 80%
POSITIVE
IPX7 rating and floats
Rewind-Say-Again function
VOX transmission
Long-range
NEGATIVE
Expensive
Buttons are difficult to push

7. Best Overall – Midland GXT1000VP4

Midland GXT1000VP4 has a lot to prove as it is larger than other two-way radios.

It hits it out of the park with its design. Rugged and waterproof, it can be used in the great outdoors without sustaining any damage.

Not only that, but it sports a bright, backlit LCD screen that can be read even under the brightest sun.

GXT1000VP4 features an impressive 36-mile range, even though the range tends to decrease dramatically at the first sight of any obstruction. 

With 50 channels and 142 privacy codes, it gives you more than 3,000 free channels to keep your conversation private. Whisper mode tones down the radio’s operational sounds for optimal hunting conditions.

Beyond basic functionalities, this Midland two-way radio is also made for emergencies. It has a built-in NOAA weather channel that keeps you updated on weather conditions. If you are caught in bad weather or a dangerous situation, you can send out an SOS siren alert to get help.

However, it takes about 12 hours of charging to give you 9 hours of usage. You can bring extra batteries with you on your trip, but the long charging time can be a dealbreaker for some users.

8.3/10
  • Channels 90% 90%
  • Range 70% 70%
  • Battery Life 70% 70%
  • Value 100% 100%
POSITIVE
Waterproof and rugged
Impressive range
Many channels to choose from
Whisper mode
NEGATIVE
Long charging time
Lose range easily

8. Best Value – Midland LXT500VP3

Solidly positioned in the mid-of-the-pack price range, Midland LXT500VP3 balances the cost of manufacturing and functionality to deliver a ton of value to its users.

It offers 22 channels with an automatic channel scanner. 14 of which are high-powered channels that require a General Mobile Radio Service license to operate.

With the licence, this two-way radio is capable of reaching 24 miles of range.

If you are not fussed with getting a license, the low-powered channels are perfect for ski trips since they deliver crystal clear transmission at the top of the mountain. The radio also performs well in densely wooded areas and most other open spaces. That being said, it tends to lose signal pretty quickly if you use it in an area with huge obstructions like the city.

This Midland radio is water-resistant as it comes with a rubber seal on in/out ports. Since it is made out of plastic, it is lightweight and easy to carry around. You can also turn off all operating sounds in silent mode, making it one of the best walkie-talkies for hunting.

It gives you up to 12 hours of constant usage after a full charge. If you need to use it for longer, you can swap out the rechargeable batteries for 4 AAA batteries when they go flat.

8/10

  • Channels 80% 80%
  • Range 80% 80%
  • Battery Life 70% 70%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
Rubber seal on in/out ports
Long-range
Quiet mode for hunting
Keypad lock
NEGATIVE
Buttons are not very tactile
No privacy codes

9. Best For Kids – Retevis RT628

Teaching your children to use adult walkie-talkies is difficult, so why not use an ‘adult’ radio made specifically for kids?

Retevis RT628’s small and lightweight design is the perfect size for kids. It only has 6 buttons, making it extremely easy for kids to learn and operate.

If you have a child that likes to push buttons, it has a keypad lock that prevents your child from making accidental changes in your settings. It also comes with a belt clip.

One of its key strengths is the one-to-one or one-to-many connection. As long as your kids are on the same channel, they can communicate easily with each other.

It has a good 2 mile-range – a pretty impressive feat for a ‘toy’ two-way radio. The sound quality is loud and clear, thanks to the automatic squelch.

On the downside, this walkie-talkie comes with a poorly written instruction manual that can cause more confusion than it solves. But since it is a fairly straightforward radio, it isn’t too hard to figure it out yourself. Besides that, it can be cost-consuming as it can only be powered by AA batteries.

7.8/10

  • Channels 60% 60%
  • Range 70% 70%
  • Battery Life 90% 90%
  • Value 90% 90%
POSITIVE
Perfect size for kids
VOX function
Keypad lock
Connect multiple receivers
Intuitive and attractive design
NEGATIVE
Poorly written instruction manual
Uses a lot of batteries

10. Best Range – Uniden GMR5098

Uniden GMR5098-2CKVP is made for you if you value range over anything else.

Its advertised 50-mile range is the highest we have come across.

You can achieve this range at the top of the hill or on level ground, but it holds up pretty well in heavily wooded areas as well.

In addition, you can use the boost function on top of a high-powered GMRS two-way radio channel to enhance your range.

The 22 GMRS/FRS channels and 283 privacy codes give you plenty of options when you are communicating with your party.

Besides that, you can also use the Exclusive Direct Call mode to have a private conversation with a specific person in your group without informing the rest.

GMR5098-2CKVP is designed for most outdoor activities. Thanks to its JIS-7 water immersion resistance rating, it can be submerged in up to 3 meters of water for about 30 minutes. Like Cobra ACXT1035R FLT, it can also float for easy retrieval in the water.

In terms of emergency features, it comes with SOS signals and a bright LED emergency strobe light. You can also keep yourself updated with the weather by tuning into NOAA weather channels. However, it can be really hard to hear if you don’t hold the radio up to your ear due to the relatively low max volume.

8/10
  • Channels 80% 80%
  • Range 100% 100%
  • Battery Life 70% 70%
  • Value 70% 70%
POSITIVE
50-mile range
Direct call function
JIS-7 compliant
SOS signals and emergency strobe light
Plenty of GMRS/FRS channels
NEGATIVE
Low max volume

Our Top Walkie Talkie Picks

Here, the mantra we stand by is this: the right walkie-talkie for you is one that best suits your needs.

If you need something that works across the board, Midland GXT1000VP4 is your best bet. It has fairly average specs, but it will get the job done no matter where you need it for.

If you need something more child-friendly, look no further than Retevis RT628 and Motorola T260. These walkie-talkies are easy to learn and can be used in or out of your home. BaoFeng BF-888S is great for teenagers or older children for a fraction of the price of two-way radios.

For hiking, Motorola T800’s emergency preparedness and Midland LXT500VP3’s great value have all the other competitors beat. Cobra ACXT1035R FLT is the best for water-based activities. If you need something with a bit more range, Uniden GMR5098-2CKVP has got you covered better than anything else out there.

At the same time, if you happen to be after one of the best portable shortwave radios instead, check out the other review that we have just wrapped up.

How To Choose The Best Walkie-Talkie For You?

Because of the huge range of walkie-talkies available on the market, it is very easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles of fancy walkie-talkies without actually getting the right one for you. Depending on what your needs are, here are some tips on getting the right walkie-talkie for you.

Environment

This is probably one of the most important factors to consider. A professional walkie-talkie would pack more powerful features, such as a wider selection of channels, privacy codes, and a longer range. If you work in a harsh environment, you might need something waterproof or explosive-certified.

On the contrary, getting a walkie-talkie for recreational use is much more budget-friendly if you get what you need. For the most part, getting a two-way radio with decent battery life, sensitivity, and range would be enough for your weekend excursions. However, if you tend to go to forests or places with rough terrain, it might be better to get a more powerful two-way radio as radios tend to see a range of degradation when met with obstructions.

Bands And Channels

Dealing with interference is a part of using walkie-talkies. A large range of bands and channels would negate this since you can switch between channels to find the clearest one. Some of the best industrial walkie-talkies even have up to 99 channels with multiple tones set for each channel.

For leisure use, you can get by with about 20 channels. This gives you the flexibility to change channels when needed but not pay for the extra ones that you would probably not use.

Power And Range

Most manufacturers release their range number based on obstruction-free conditions, which can be very different from real-world usage. Interference from other users, cars, steel frames, and woodlands are among some of the common obstructions that manufacturers don’t test for. A general rule of thumb for walkie-talkies is one watt of power for a mile of coverage.

You should manage your expectations when buying a walkie-talkie with a huge advertised range. But if you are determined on getting a good range out of your device, you can buy walkie-talkies with higher sensitivities to receive weak signals. Using high-powered GMRS channels in tandem with a high-gain antenna can also greatly improve your reception, especially if you are standing in high places.

Battery Life

The type of battery your device uses can make or break your experience. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used for modern two-way radios because of their high capacity.

Nickel-metal hydride batteries, on the other hand, are used for devices that prioritize quick charge, high durability, and great impact. Some two-way radios use AA batteries for convenience, but the cost might rack up if you use your radios often.

Most walkie-talkies allow you to swap out drained batteries for new ones, so you might not have to worry about it if you pack extra batteries when you travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a license for my radio?

In the United States, you need a license from the Federal Communications Commission to use an FRS/GMRS radio – the most common type of two-way radios sold on the market.

You don’t need a license for Family Radio Service (FRS) two-way radios since they are limited to certain power output. The frequencies and channels that you can access on these ham radios are restricted by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure non-commercial use. The FCC also forbids the use of these radios with external antennas for better reception.

On the other hand, you have to get a license if you want to use a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) two-way radio. These walkie-talkies can access a wider range of frequencies that are used for commercial purposes.

Although the chances of getting caught using FRS/GMRS radios without a license are slim, you can be fined up to $15,000 if you are detected by the authorities.

Can I charge other devices with two-way radios?

Most two-way radios use rechargeable batteries, making it theoretically possible to charge other devices with the right accessories. To make it work, you should get a walkie-talkie with USB or mini USB ports with a USB connector cable.

Are all walkie-talkies waterproof?

Some walkie-talkies are waterproof while some are water-resistant. Fully waterproof options would be more expensive, so unless you are planning to soak in the river with your walkie-talkie in your pants, getting a water-resistant walkie talkie is enough to protect it from an occasional splash of water. If plans changed and you got a water-resistant device when you needed a waterproof one, you can get a waterproof seal for your device later.