There’s nothing more fun than going on a ski trip with your significant other, a buddy or even better, a large group of friends or family. Having others to experience and enjoy the fun amplifies everything and makes the outing a memory that can last a lifetime. If you enjoy these types of outings then you know that being able to communicate with the others when split up is a necessity.
Whether skiing or snowboarding, when your out on the big mountain, your group is likely to split up whether it is by accident or just that certain members of the group wish to try different runs. If you are backcountry skiing or snowboarding, then a good communication device is a must for safety reasons.
In any case, communications are always important and we all know that cell phones are very spotty, especially out on the slopes. 2-way radios are a great solution to this problem and there is a wide variety to choose from. Let’s take a looks at some of the best 2-way radios for skiing.
- If you are looking for a small compact unit with lots of features take a look at this Ansoko Radio.
- The Motorola T260 is rugged, durable and reliable.
- If you want a radio with a multitude of features, the Midland – GXT1000VP4 is a great choice.
Who Should Get This?
All of the units listed above are great radios with a number of modern features that can help you stay in contact with others in your ski party. Anyone skiing with multiple people will definitely find these devices convenient and useful.
Not only are cell phones unreliable on ski slopes, but they are also more difficult to use. Fumbling to unlock your phone and then 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 just start speaking to the other members of your group.
If you are a backcountry skier or snowboarder, then these devices are a must for safety. They have emergency channels as well as 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 definitely 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 Radios for Skiing: What to Consider
Look for a radio that is small, compact and lightweight. You don’t want to be carrying a heavy bulky radio around with you.
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.
There are also 2 different bands that are commonly used with these devices. The FRS (Family Radio Service) band and the GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) band. 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 are required to have a license from the FCC. The license is easy to get for a small fee and is good for 10 years.
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. I don’t have time to go into the details of how the technology works but basically it lets you talk to people in your party who have the code and you don’t have to worry about hearing other people’s conversations at the same time.
The range is the distance in which you can communicate between the radios. Many of the 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. In real-world situations, you will usually get something more like 2 to 3 miles.
The range is dependant on the wattage of the radio. The higher the wattage the further it can transmit. GMRS typically allows higher wattages and therefore greater range. Higher wattage will also perform better in bad weather and with obstacles.
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 therefore the battery life will be shorter. Other features will also drain your battery. This is a trade-off you will need to consider.
You will want to find a durable radio. You will be falling on it, dropping it, getting it wet and who knows what else.
Since you will be skiing 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.
VOX or voice activation is a great feature to have and a must if you want to go hands-free. With VOX you don’t have to worry about pressing any buttons, you can just speak and your voice will activate the transmission of the message.
A radio with a weather channel is great to have and a must for backcountry skiing.
There are many other features that you may want to look for 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 really enhance your 2-way radio communications.
Best 2-Way Radios for Skiing: Our Picks
1. Ansoko Radio
What we like:
- It has both FRS and GMRS bands.
- 2 Watts of power gives you plenty of range.
- Small and lightweight.
- Hands-free and VOX options.
- Long-lasting battery. It can last up to 24 hours with typical use.
What we don’t like:
- It has only 16 channel presets but that should still be plenty for most users.
What we like:
- 22 channels with 121 privacy codes.
- 29-hour battery life.
- 11 weather channels.
- Uses both FRS and GMRS bands.
- iVOX/VOX hands-free.
What we don’t like:
- The range is not as good as some of the other radios.
What we like:
- 50 Channels to choose from.
- They are waterproof.
- Great range.
- 10 weather channels.
- 142 Privacy codes.
What we don’t like:
- It only has the GMRS band.
Useful Tips and Resources
Above, we briefly discussed privacy codes and that they can be used to filter out unwanted traffic on a busy radio channel. If you want to know more about how privacy codes work, take a look at this video.
2-way radios are a great piece of equipment to have on any ski or snowboarding trip. They will help you keep in touch with the other members of your party and are also good to have for safety reasons. These radios are a great investment that you will find useful for many different outdoor activities.
Do you use a cell phone to communicate while skiing or snowboarding? How does that work for you? Give us some feedback and let us know what you think.
As a young kid, I traveled from Indiana to Colorado where I first learned to ski. Over the years my love for skiing grew and eventually as an adult I was able to move to Colorado where I can always be close to the mountains. Writing about skiing gives me the opportunity to continue to be involved in a sport that I have always enjoyed.