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Do I Need A Walkie-talkie When Hiking or Camping?

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When going camping or hiking, it's important to have a reliable communication device. Walkie-talkies are a great option as they operate on frequencies that allow clear communication in distance without rely on cellular networks
man holding walkie talkie and talking

While packing up your hiking or camping essentials like sun protection, boots, and extra clothes, you must also carry a device to communicate in the area without cellular. But what communication device will best serve your needs?

Walkie-talkies are your best bet for clear communication when hiking or camping, as they operate on frequencies that allow them to work anywhere within or without a line of sight. But mobile phones run on cellular networks. Thus, you can only use them in areas where signal towers are in coverage. 

Why Do You Need A Walkie-talkie When Hiking or Camping?

One of the obvious reasons for using walkie-talkies is that they enable you to communicate with family and friends when hiking or camping. But there are other reasons why walkie-talkies are better than phones when hiking or camping: 

For Clear Communication 

Walkie-talkies have one significant advantage over phones: they don’t need mobile signals. Phones use cellular networks, so you can’t use them without mobile signals. Unfortunately, this is mostly the case when hiking or camping. 

That’s where walkie-talkies come in. You can communicate anywhere with others using a two-way radio within the talking range. 

Emergency Purposes 

Communicating with other hikers and campers is very helpful in an emergency. Walkie-talkies have features like an SOS emergency alert that warns other users in times of crisis. 

For example, some two-way radios feature the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels. These channels broadcast real-time weather information. In addition, it will alert any severe weather approachings you need to know. 

Hands-free Use 

Most walkie-talkies have a Voice Activated Transmission (VOX) function. The VOX allows you to activate the radio with your voice. 

Typically, these types of walkie-talkies come with a belt clip. You can use the belt clip on the transceiver to fix it on your belt or chest pocket. This way, you can use it hands-free and activate it with your voice when needed. 

man camping a holding walkie talkie and talking

What To Look Out For When Choosing A Walkie-talkie For Hiking or Camping 

Battery Life 

Finding a place to recharge your two-way radio when camping or hiking is tricky. Hence, you need to buy one with excellent battery life. 8 hours should be the minimum battery life for a walkie-talkie for camping or hiking. In addition, AA batteries usually last the longest. 

You should get one that will last you the whole day. But to avoid surprises, you can take a battery for a spare. Or, if you don’t have one, you can carry a power bank to recharge your walkie-talkie. 

Range

How far can you communicate with your walkie-talkie? A walkie-talkie with a good signal range is essential. The better the talking range, the farther you can communicate. 

However, you should know that the actual range usually falls short of what is advertised. It is because companies test two-way radio in ideal environments. Such environments are free of obstructions, like trees and buildings. Thus, it makes it easier for frequencies to travel through line-of-sight. 

What you find in the real world is different, especially hiking or camping. The signal will encounter obstructions like trees and hills. These obstructions limit the range of communication. Thus, getting a walkie-talkie with a long-range is essential if you want good communication.

Clarity 

In crowded camps, it’s wise to consider walkie-talkies with privacy codes. Two-way radios usually have between 10 and 150 privacy codes. If your walkie-talkie uses a privacy code, it automatically mutes you. It will only unmute you if the incoming transmission uses the same privacy codes as yours.

When many people are using the same range of channels, you will likely experience interference. Two-way radios with privacy codes help reduce the risk of interference. There’s less chance of someone eavesdropping on your conversation. 

Channels 

There are several types of licensed-free walkie-talkies: FRS and PMR446. The UK PMR446 radio has 16 channels, while the US FRS radio has 22.

But, if you need better power output, you can consider licensed walkie-talkies like the GMRS radio. GMRS license channels allow higher transmitting power. Note that the GMRS radio is only available in the US. 

If you are a UK hiker or camper, you can consider other licensed walkie-talkies available in the UK. You won’t need a walkie-talkie with over 16 to 22 channels while hiking or camping. 

Weight And Size 

You want to travel light when hiking or camping. Hence, you would wish for a walkie-talkie that doesn’t weigh you down. Therefore, when purchasing two-way radios, select ones that are light. 

Safety Features

Two-way radios with safety features can help in times of emergency and danger. Look for walkie-talkies that have a flashlight and an SOS emergency alarm.

For radios with this feature, you can raise the alarm to notify other radio users of an impending emergency. 

Some walkie-talkies also have NOAA weather channels to update you on weather changes. It can save you from harsh weather, so watch for two-way radios with NOAA channels.

Waterproofness

The weather can be unpredictable while camping or hiking, so you should take care of your electronic devices. In terms of purchasing walkie-talkies, please look out for those that are water-resistant. 

Transceivers that have protection against water will have an IP rating. Your walkie-talkie should have at least an IPx4 rating to survive light rain. 

VHF or UHF Walkie-talkie: Which Is More Suitable For Hiking or Camping? 

UHF walkie-talkies are more common because most license-free transceivers operate on UHF frequencies. In contrast, VHF radios are more prevalent for official purposes. The only license-free VHF radio service in the US is the MURS, which has 5 channels designated for walkie-talkies or mobile radio. 

Also, UHF walkie-talkies are better for hiking and camping environments. While VHF frequencies can travel greater distances, they don’t have as much penetration power as UHF frequencies. Hence, they might need to be more helpful to you when hiking or camping. 

How To Use A Walkie-talkie When Hiking or Camping 

Walkie-talkies often come in pairs. It would be best if you bought as many as you need, and this will depend on how many people need to communicate with each other. 

You should also ensure that all the radios can work in the same frequency band. For example, VHF walkie-talkies can only communicate with radios using the same band, and UHF walkie-talkies can only communicate with each other that also have the same UHF bands. Hence, check the frequency band before you buy. 

For two or more walkie-talkies to talk, you need to set them to the same channel frequency. 

If you use a privacy code, the user you want to talk to must also put their walkie-talkie to the same one. 

Walkie-talkie We Recommend For Hiking or Camping 

HB1 License-free Built-in Bluetooth Walkie Talkie

HB1 Bluetooth Walkie Talkie

Features 

  • Max 2W high power output, 0.5W, 1W optional 
  • Channel scan and CTCSS/DCS (support non-standard codes for DCS)
  • Busy Channel Lockout (BCL)
  • VOX, scrambler, and time-out-timer (TOT) function 
  • Battery save mode

The HB1 license-free walkie-talkie (MURS, PMR446 & FRS) is a rugged radio for outdoor use. It also has a battery life of about 40 hours that can last you through your hiking and camping adventures. 

This Herda two-way radio comes with a built-in Bluetooth 5.2 module. You can connect your walkie-talkie to the wireless headset to use it hands-free. It also has VOX to activate your radio with your voice. 

Another exciting feature is the time-out timer to disable the walkie-talkie when it’s been transmitting for too long. There’s also a busy channel lockout to lock out other users when you are talking.  

H18 VHF UHF Clear Voice Two-way Radio 

H18 Two-way Radio

Features 

  • Max 10W high power output, 0.5W, 1W, 2W, 4W, 5W, 7W, 8W 
  • Channel scan and CTCSS/DCS (support non-standard codes for DCS)
  • High and low-power mode 
  • Busy Channel Lockout (BCL)
  • VOX, scrambler, and time-out-timer (TOT) function 
  • Battery save mode

The H18 two-way radio is a dual-band radio. It conforms to GMRS, FRS, MURS, and PMR446 standards. As the name suggests, this walkie-talkie provides a means of clear communication. The battery lasts up to 20 hours, giving you the luxury of all-day usage. 

It has other features for the best results. For example, the H18 two-way radio has a low-battery alarm to alert you when your battery is low. There’s also a battery save mode to extend battery life. 

You can also program the radio to have a maximum output of 10W. It features a VOX function to support hands-free use and privacy codes to reduce interference. There’s a time-out timer function and a busy channel lockout feature. 

Final Words

You will have a better experience if you communicate through a walkie-talkie when hiking or camping. These radios can talk to each other anywhere within a very far range. Mobile phones may only succeed you in hiking or camping environments when there are mobile signals. 

Battery life and range are features to look out for when purchasing a walkie-talkie for hiking and camping. You should also consider its weight, safety features, and if it’s water-resistant or not. 

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About The Arthur
Kenny Zhang
I've been running a factory that manufactures two-way radios & their accessories. We want to share some knowledge and news about Walkie-Talkie from the sight of the supplier.

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