7 Best Two-Way Radios for Mountains of 2022

2 Way Radios

Whether you are practicing a winter sport or any other activity, staying in communication is crucial to keeping safe whenever you head into the wilderness. Two-way radios are a good piece of equipment to make sure this happens. 

I’m a lifelong skier, and I’ve spent many years of my life in the mountains. I’ve used many two-way radios over the years, and I know what to look for in the best options out there. I have either researched or used the models you’ll find here. 

The Motorola Talkabout T460 is my pick for the best two-way radio for the mountains. This very useful option gives you long-range communication capabilities, durable construction, and reliable performance. 

In this post, I’ll provide you with all of the best two way radios to use in the mountains. These units can be used effectively in inclement weather or wilderness situations and help you stay well prepared and out of harm’s way. 

Let’s get going. 

Who Should Get This

All of the units listed in this post are great radios with many modern features that can help you stay in contact with others in your group. Anyone skiing or doing other mountain activities with multiple people will find these devices convenient and valuable.

Cell phones are unreliable in the mountains, but they are also more challenging to use. Fumbling to unlock your phone and texting or calling can be difficult with gloves and other ski equipment. 

The handsfree and voice activation features of 2-way radios make it simple to start speaking to the other members of your group.

If you like to go into the backcountry, these devices are a must for safety. They have emergency and weather channels to help keep you informed if bad weather is on the way.

They also let you communicate to others in your party without yelling and running the risk of triggering an avalanche.

These communication devices are great for skiing and snowboarding, but they are not limited to these two sports. You will also be able to use them in many of your other outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, and more. 

You can even use them in the car when you and your friends have to travel in multiple vehicles.

Best Two-Way Radio for Mountains: Top Picks 2022

Here are all of my top picks for the best two-way radios for the mountains. Every model here will deliver reliable performance when you need it most. 

1. Motorola Talkabout T460

  • Best for: Overall 
  • Key features: Long distance range, built-in LED light, very reliable, rechargeable 
  • Range: 35 miles 
  • Battery Life: 6+ hours
  • Cost: $$

The Motorola Talkabout T460 is my pick for the best two-way radio for the mountains. This is a great model that will deliver high-quality performance when you need it most. 

A key to this one being the best is the fact that it has an extended range of 35 miles and some other useful features that can help you in an emergency. 

A built-in LED light is one of these, and the unit also has a rugged construction that can take a beating without much worry. 

That max range is only possible under perfect conditions, but this still has high wattage to give you excellent coverage in the mountains.   

2. Dewalt DXFRS800 

  • Best for: Construction 
  • Key features: Super durable, waterproof, good range, shockproof
  • Range: 300,00 square feet/25 floors 
  • Battery Life: 6+ hours 
  • Cost: $$ 

If you are looking for a rugged two-way radio that will perform well in very demanding conditions, the Dewalt DXFRS800 is a good option. 

This model has the best construction I’ve seen in a while and features a fully waterproof and shockproof design that gives you excellent reliability when the situation is demanding. 

It also comes with a good range of 300,000 square feet to let you stay in touch with anyone you are in the mountains with. 

The only flaw with this radio is that the belt clip isn’t as heavy-duty as the rest of the design. 

3. Ansoko Long Range 16-channel

  • Best for: Value 
  • Key features: 4-pack, good battery life, LED light, VOX capable 
  • Range: 4+ miles 
  • Battery Life: 6+ hours 
  • Cost: $$

The Ansoko Long Range 16-channel makes for a great value because you get four two-way radios for the price of what other options charge for two. 

This gives you the ability to stay connected with more people at one time and makes for a cost-effective solution to communicating in the mountains. 

Other features include 16-channels to choose from, a built-in LED flashlight, and VOX capabilities. 

This model doesn’t have the highest max range, so you’ll want to make sure conditions are suitable for optimal performance.  

4. Motorola Talkabout T260

  • Best for: Compact 
  • Key features: Compact design, lightweight, good range, weather channels included 
  • Range: 35 miles
  • Battery Life: 8 hours 
  • Cost: $$ 

The Motorola Talkabout T260 has a compact design that makes it an excellent option for backcountry trips where weight is a factor. 

Despite a smaller size, these still have a good range of 35 miles in optimal conditions. 

They also have a built-in LED light and are water-resistant to work when the weather is less than ideal. 

The max range will dip considerably when conditions are not perfect. 

5. Midland 50-channel Waterproof GMRS

  • Best for: Features 
  • Key features: Waterproof, long range, NOAA weather scan, comes with headsets
  • Range: 36 miles 
  • Battery Life: 8+ hours 
  • Cost: $$$ 

The Midland 50-channel Waterproof GMRS radios come packed with valuable features if you want extra bang for your buck. 

This model has a fully waterproof design, a long range, and is also VOX compatible for hands-free operation. 

I also like that these feature an NOAA weather scan and alert system, which will help you during the winter by adding another level of safety. 

These only come with GMRS bands, so you’ll need a license to operate them. 

6. Retevis RT628

  • Best for: Budget Option 
  • Key features: Affordable, compact, lightweight, 22 channels, durable 
  • Range: Not specified 
  • Battery Life: 4 hours
  • Cost: $

The Retevis RT628 is a good budget option with an affordable price that anyone who loves the mountains can afford. 

These also have a lightweight and compact design that makes them easy to travel with, no matter how long you’ll be in the mountains. 

Twenty-two channel options give you room to find a clear channel for effective communication at all times.

These have a limited range, but that’s what you expect with a lower-priced option.  

7. Motorola T482

  • Best for: Reliability 
  • Key features: Very reliable, long range, durable construction, water-resistant 
  • Range: 35 miles 
  • Battery Life: 6+ hours 
  • Cost: $$

The Motorola T482 is one of the most reliable two-way radios for the mountains you can find. 

These have a strong construction that leads to effective performance in various conditions, whether the sun is shining or feet or snow is falling. 

They also boast an extended max range of 35-miles, which is more than enough to stay in touch with the people you are communicating with. 

The T482 is only water-resistant and not fully waterproof, which means you won’t want to dump them directly into the water. 

Best Two-Way Radio for Mountains: What to Consider in 2022

This section will give you some essential factors to consider when looking for the best two-way radios for the mountains. 

Size/Weight/Shape

Look for a radio that is small, compact, and lightweight. You don’t want to be carrying a heavy, bulky radio around with you. A compact design can fit much easier in a jacket pocket or backpack than a large radio. 

Channels

These radios typically have 22 channels, but you will find some with less and some with more. Because radio frequency channels are shared by the public, having more channels gives you more options for finding a clear unused channel.

Two different bands are commonly used with these devices – the FRS (Family Radio Service) and the GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) bands. Some radios can use both bands while others may only use one of them. 

Keep in mind that if you are using the GMRS band, you must have a license from the FCC. The license is easy to get for a small fee and is good for ten years.

Privacy Codes

Privacy codes don’t really make your conversation private, but they can allow you to use busy occupied channels without having to hear unwanted chatter. 

The details of how the technology works are complicated, but basically, it lets you talk to people in your party who have the code. You don’t have to worry about hearing other people’s conversations at the same time.

Range

The range is the distance in which you can communicate between the radios. Many radios will claim long distances such as 25 miles, but keep in mind this is in very good weather conditions with no obstacles in the way. 

You will usually get something more like 2 to 3 miles in real-world situations.

The range is dependent on the wattage of the radio. The higher the wattage, the further it can transmit. GMRS typically allows higher wattages and greater range. Higher wattage will also perform better in bad weather and with obstacles.

Battery Life

Battery life is important when you are out on the slopes or in the backcountry and have no way to charge the radio. Higher wattage units may transmit farther, but they use more power, and the battery life will be shorter. 

Other features will also drain your battery. This is a trade-off you will need to consider.

Durability

You will want to find a durable radio. You will be falling on it, dropping it, getting it wet, and who knows what else. The options listed here are durable to withstand rugged mountain conditions. 

Hands-Free

Out in the mountains, it may be nice to have a hands-free headset so that you don’t have to worry about trying to use the radio with your gloves or fumbling around to get it out of your pocket.

Other Features

You may want to look for many other features such as noise filters, automatic scanning, keypad lock, calling and paging tones, built-in flashlights, and many more. These are all great features to have and can enhance your 2-way radio communications.

FAQs

Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to two-way radios. 

Do 2-way radios work in the mountains? 

Yes, two-way radios do work in the mountains. There are certain factors such as topography and weather that can affect the range of the radio in the mountains, but they will still work just fine. 

What radios do mountain rescue use? 

Different mountain rescue teams use different radios, but they all use very reliable options and have good performance in remote situations. I’ve seen some teams use the MOTOTRBO XPR Series radios. 

How far can 2 way radios transmit? 

You’ll see advertised ranges of anywhere from 20-40 miles. It’s important to understand that the max listed range is based on perfect conditions – something you’ll rarely see in the mountains. A range of 2-5 miles is more common in real-world situations. 

Useful Tips & Resources

Above, we briefly discussed privacy codes and how they can filter out unwanted traffic on a busy radio channel. If you want to know more about how privacy codes work, take a look at the video below.

Final Verdict

The Motorola Talkabout T460 is my pick for the best overall two way radio for the mountains this year. This highly reliable model will give you exceptional performance in rugged wilderness settings. 

If you venture into the mountains often, having a two-way radio can help you stay in touch with the people you are traveling with or come in useful in an emergency. The models here are the best currently available.

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