Whether you’re camping, boating, or on a large worksite, walkie-talkies can be incredibly useful. The best walkie-talkies have a long battery life, a large enough range, and the right radio type for your needs.
The maximum range for a walkie-talkie is usually around 5 miles, but some designs can go all the way to 36 miles. However, this range differs greatly depending on your surroundings, and the maximum distance listed usually refers to when the devices are transmitting between two high points. If you plan to use your walkie-talkies in a wooded area or an urban environment, expect a much shorter range (usually around 0.5 to 1.5 miles).
The next thing to understand about walkie-talkies is the different radio types. Most use Family Radio Service (FRS), which has 22 channels and is great for casual users. If you need more power, there are also General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) walkie-talkies, which can use the 22 FRS channels as well as additional GMRS-only channels. However, to use those extra GMRS-only channels in the U.S., you’ll need a license from the FCC. GMRS walkie-talkies are the better choice if you need to communicate over longer distances or in an area where there’s more competition for signal.
Next, consider what battery type you need. Like many outdoor radios, some walkie-talkies use replaceable batteries, which work well for short-term use or when camping because you can bring extra batteries with you. Other options have rechargeable batteries, which can be less expensive over time and are a good choice if you plan to use them regularly.
Finally, there are additional features you may want to consider. Some walkie-talkies have VOX functions, which let you use them hands-free, and some have squelch features that cancel out annoying white noise. There are also models that come with belt clips, and ones that scan weather report channels. Most walkie-talkies aren’t waterproof, but if you plan to use yours around the water, look for one that has at least a splash-proof rating of JIS4.
Make communication easy with picks from this list of the best walkie-talkies on Amazon.
1. The best for casual users
- Range: 16 miles
- Radio type: FRS
- Channels: 22
This two-pack of walkie-talkies from Motorola is a versatile choice for casual users. They have an FRS radio type, but can communicate with GMRS walkie-talkies when they’re on the FRS channels, and they don’t require a license to operate. These walkie-talkies get up to 18 hours of battery life, so you can use them all day long, and they each require three AAA batteries, so you can always bring along extra batteries for emergencies. Like all walkie-talkies, the range depends on geography, so this set has 16 miles of range on mountains and valleys, but 0.5 miles in neighborhoods. Both devices come with belt clips, and they are also available in pink. Note that the set featured above doesn’t include batteries, but, for a little more money, you can select one that does.
One fan raved: “My daughter has lots of fun with these, and my wife and I use them if we need to coordinate turning switches on and off around the house or if one of us needs occasional help during a home improvement project. I tested these in a suburban environment and I got about 4 blocks away before the signal gave out. Plenty of houses in between and power lines are not buried so lots of interference.”
- Available colors: 3
- Available options: 5
2. The best GMRS walkie-talkies
- Range: 36 miles
- Radio type: GMRS
- Channels: 50
This Midland walkie-talkie two-pack uses GMRS radio, so it’s more powerful and has more channels than the Motorola set. Great for outdoor actives like backpacking and hiking, these are the only waterproof walkie-talkies on this list. They have a JIS-4 rating, so they can withstand splashes from all directions, and a NOAA Weather scan feature that automatically scans through the 10 available weather band channels to find the one with the best signal. When in unobstructed surroundings, this set gets up to 36 miles of range, but in unobstructed surroundings, it gets about a mile. These walkie-talkies are also rechargeable, making them ideal for repeated use, and they come with a charging dock, headsets, and belt clips. They have a cool “whisper mode” function as well, which allows you to quietly communicate with your friends.
One fan raved: “Wow, the first time I have EVER (I've tried about 5 models) heard clear voices on a GMRS radio. Seriously, went hiking for a few miles (trail was VERY curvy, but probably 1 mile as the crow flies) around hills and through dense forests at a local state park, and my Mom communicated very clearly, from base camp, with me the entire time. So happy I didn't get the cheapo ones again. Also pleased that this set comes with the battery packs and charger station.”
3. The best 4-pack of walkie-talkies
- Range: 5 miles
- Radio type: FRS
- Channels: 22
If you want to keep in touch with a larger group, this four-pack of walkie-talkies is a good place to start. They all use FRS radio with 22 channels, and have an average 1.5-mile range, although that can increase to 5 miles in the right conditions. Perfect for night hikes, they also have an LED-lit screen and a built-in flashlight, so you can see the screen and where you’re going. If you’re trying to stay quiet while out at night, you can use the earphone jack to plug in a headset, or if noise isn’t an issue, try the hands-free function, which has three sensitivity levels.
One fan raved: “I am amazed at how great the range is on these for the price. I got these to take to the woods so that we can keep in contact with each other and even with all of the trees we were able to hear crystal clear at probably half a mile maybe even a little farther. I didn't get the rechargeable kind but we used all day and still had had battery power left. I am really happy with this purchase.”
4. The best 6-pack of walkie-talkies
- Range: not listed
- Radio type: FRS
- Channels: 16
Stay in touch with your whole group with this six-pack of walkie-talkies. With a slim design, they are easy to store in your pocket or bag, and they weigh under a quarter of a pound each, so you’ll barely feel them in your pack. They each have lithium-ion batteries that can be juiced up all at once with the included charging dock to make it easy to keep them at the ready. They also have additional features that can be useful, including a voice-activated transmit function and an emergency alarm.
One fan raved: “Great walkie talkies, they were purchased for use on a cruise for our group and held up well, battery life lasted the 4 days of our cruise and good/clear transmissions with little issues on distance.”
- Available options: 2