Best Waterproof Walkie-Talkie For Fishing (and Kayaks)
Are you looking to invest in a set of walkie-talkies? There are thousands of different models out there, each claiming to be the best.
It can be difficult to know exactly what you need but one thing you can know for sure is if you’re going kayaking or fishing (or both), you’ll need a walkie-talkie that’s waterproof.
Even when you limit your search to waterproof walkie-talkies, there are several features and factors to consider.
So we’ve narrowed down our buying guide to nine waterproof options, so that you can find the best waterproof 2-way radio for you.
Why A Waterproof Or Floating Two-Way Radio Is Important
Walkie-talkies (or two-way radios) allow you to stay in touch with others over short to medium-range distances.
Although they have limited range compared to cell phones, they’re free to use (so you don’t have to worry about running out of credit), can be used in areas where there’s no mobile reception and if you invest in a waterproof radio you don’t have to worry about dropping it in the ocean or getting caught in a rain-storm (or worse, if you happen to fall overboard).
So, if you’re out kayaking or fishing in a remote area for a couple of days, a waterproof two-way radio is essential. And of course, they’re not just for staying in touch (and repeatedly saying “over and out”) with your friends.
Most walkie-talkies have multiple channels so if you get lost or hurt and need to reach the local authorities, chances are you will be able to find their channel (or nearby kayakers) to ask for assistance.
So why is a waterproof walkie talkie important? It could save your life.
How Do Walkie-Talkies Work?
Walkie-talkies are essentially small, portable radios that allow people to communicate wirelessly through radio waves. This can be useful in locations where cell phone signal is poor.
They’re battery-powered and usually come with a transmitter/receiver, antenna, a ‘push-to-talk’ button, a loudspeaker and a microphone. Sometimes the loudspeaker and microphone are combined but the modern models tend to separate the two.
Whether you are a pair or a group of people, in order to communicate with the other party you’ll need to tune in to the same frequency or channel. Walkie-talkies operate on a half-duplex channel which means that only one radio on the channel can transmit signal at any one time.
All the other radios on this channel can listen, but in order to speak you’ll have to press the PTT (push-to-talk) button and let go once you’re done (now the “over and out” business starts making sense doesn’t it?).
The walkie-talkie transforms your voice into radio signals on the electromagnetic spectrum, sending them to the other radios on your channel at the speed of light (299,338 kilometres per second.)
If you’re interested in learning about the inner workings of a walkie-talkie in more detail, How Stuff Works does a pretty good explanation: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/walkie-talkies.htm
What Features Do I Need To Look Out For?
Of course, which waterproof walkie talkie you eventually purchase will depend on a number of factors such as price, availability and style. But before you get to that point, there are some key features you need to be aware of when choosing the best waterproof radios.
This means how far the radios can be apart whilst still allowing communication. Many can operate several miles apart. You might not need something that can pick up a signal 15 miles away, so a radio with a smaller maximum range will therefore be suitable.
Likewise, you might need something that can communicate up to 35 miles away so then you’ll need to consider a radio with a wider communication range.
You might not be the only people out in a certain area communicating via walkie-talkies. It’s therefore useful to have more than one channel available in order to avoid interference.
The best radios on the market come with multiple channels and many even have channel security codes so that you can communicate privately on the same channel.
If you get caught in heavy rain or capsize your kayak, you’ll want to be sure that your walkie-talkie is still able to work afterwards.
The best waterproof walkie talkies can withstand being left in the water for several minutes so that’s one less thing to worry about in an emergency.
IP ratings are a very important grading of how waterproof a product is. The ratings determine how water-resistant an item is. Read more about IP Ratings here: https://www.enclosurecompany.com/ip-ratings-explained.php
The best waterproof walkie-talkies will have access to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) and local weather forecasts, for added emergency features.
This NOAA weather alerts feature will be particularly helpful if you’re likely to be out on the ocean or on multi-day trips as this can let you know if the weather conditions are about to change, particularly if harsh weather conditions are on the way.
Emergency weather alerts can be even more useful if you're out of cell phone range and are unable to access the internet for weather reports.
The power levels on a walkie-talkie are measured in watts. It determines the transmission power for the device which affects the range, quality of the sound and the signal strength. It also determines how long you can use the devices for.
A long battery life can be useful if you plan to be off the grid for a while. However, even products with a long battery life may not last long under constant use. Rechargeable batteries can be fine for day-today use but a dual powered radio that can use alkaline batteries as well can be ideal for longer trips where there's no power or cell service.
Some radios may have additional power features, such as built-in flashlights or other features, which can be useful for fishing and camping, but this will depend on the particular model.
It’s worth considering the weight of the radio as it may affect your use of it in various circumstances.
If you’re likely to use it hiking for long periods of time when you’re already carrying overnight gear, you might want to consider the lighter options.
If you’re only likely to leave it on a kayak when fishing all day, then a slightly heavier model probably isn’t going to have a huge impact on your day.
Protect Against Dust
Many walkie talkies will have a rating to let you know how dust resistant they are (and water resistant). This is determined by a number after the IP (Ingress Protection) rating. The second number is its water resistance rating.
The highest dust protection level is 6, which should mean that no dust will get into the device.
To keep dust away from your walkie talkie, it can be beneficial to keep it inside a canvas or leather case. This can also help to protect it from damage while you’re using it. If you need to clean it, a microfiber cloth can be used to wipe dust away.
VOX & Squelch
VOX is short for Voice Operated Exchange, otherwise known as Voice Activated Transmission. Having this feature on a walkie talkie means you can communicated over the radio without having to press the ‘talk’ button. This means it can detect your voice automatically using voice activation.
Squelch is a feature on many walkie talkies that helps to block out unwanted transmissions. This means you don’t have to hear that annoying static sound while your radio is on. The walkie talkie should then only pick up transmissions that are active.
9 Best Waterproof Walkie-Talkies
1: DeWalt DXFRS800 Heavy Duty Walkie Talkies
These DeWalt waterproof walkie talkies have a high level of durability and a longer range. They are built to be shock resistant and can be dropped from a height of two meters (6.5 feet) without suffering damage. The IP67 rating also means the two-way radios are fully protected against dust or sand and can be submerged in three feet (one meter) of water for up to half an hour.
A handy feature of this model is the rugged design, with the non-slip grips around the edges which can help you to keep a firm grasp of it even if your hands are wet from fishing or inclement weather.
They have a long range of 300,000 square feet. There are 22 preset channels with privacy codes to reduce interruption and to improve clarity range. The battery life is long but only 18 hours, which may not be sufficient for longer trips with no access to charging. There is also no weather alert feature.
The radios also feature a Key Lock to prevent accidental channel switching.
- Durable construction
- IP67 waterproof rating
- Non-slip grips
- LCD display
- Key Lock channel feature
2: Motorola T100 Talkabout Radios
The Motorola Talkabout waterproof 2-way Radios are lightweight walkie talkies that can be ideal for a range of situations. They have a range of up to 3 miles in open water and up to 16 miles in open landscapes. In built-up areas, the range may be significantly lower and vary wildly depending on the obstructions from buildings which may result in you losing clarity.
This is not a fully waterproof walkie talkie. It doesn’t have a waterproof rating so it can be best used for when you get to your camp or fishing hole. However, it should be able to survive light rain, as it has pretty durable casing.
A useful feature is the low battery light, which flashes to alert you to recharge or change the batteries. It requires 3 AAA batteries that are not included.
3: Retevis RT6 IP67 Waterproof & Dust-proof Dual band Two Way Radio
These radios are not only waterproof, but also completely dust proof. They feature solid construction and are graded as IP67 in terms of waterproofness, meaning they can be in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes and fully submersible.
This means that even if the absolute worst should happen and you are capsized and stranded in water for 30 minutes, you can still call using usual radio communication. This of course doesn’t just apply to oceans or rivers, these features could come in handy in wet conditions and on dusty trails - ideal for various outdoor activities including kayaking and paddle boarding.
A handy feature on these radios is the power range. You can choose to operate on 5W, 3W or 1W in order to conserve the battery life.
It also comes with advanced audio technology which ensures clear communication, and a digital radio screen.
4: Cobra CXT1045R-FLT Waterproof Walkie Talkies
These Cobra waterproof walkie talkies are durable and have long range communication (37 miles). They have a fun camouflage design with orange details to make it easy to see if you drop it in water. They have a solid, waterproof IPX7 construction and they are designed to float, which can be helpful while kayak fishing.
A great feature of these Cobra radios is that they have built-in NOAA weather channels with built-in weather alerts and emergency alerts.
Another useful feature of this floating walkie talkie is the Rewind Say Again technology that lets you replay the last 20 seconds of missed calls if you didn't hear the information. They also feature rubberized grips and rubberized buttons to make them easier to hold with wet hands.
The Cobra walkie talkie comes with a dual port charger (with DC adapter) but can also be powered using alkaline batteries if you plan to be off the grid for a while.
5: Motorola T600 Talkabout Radios
These Motorola T600 35 mile talkabout waterproof walkie talkies are built to withstand being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes with an IP67 rating so can be great in wet conditions. They also feature durable construction that stops dust and sand from affecting the device and have more than enough range for an average fishing trip.
A fun feature that’s also useful for safety, is the bright green color which can make it easier to locate if you accidentally drop it on the lakeshore or in the water. It also benefits from having built-in LED lights, including a built-in LED flashlight and a red light.
These waterproof two-way radios also have 11 NOAA channels for weather alerts. It can be powered with the included rechargeable NiMH battery or 3 standard AA alkaline batteries. The battery life on the rechargeable NiMH batteries is only up to nine hours, but 23 hours using the alkaline batteries.
6: Retevis RT48 Waterproof Walkie Talkies
These Retevis waterproof walkie talkies can be an ideal solution if you’re heading into the backcountry with a group. There are 10 walkie talkies included.
It features an IP67 rating, so it can survive being dropped in water up to a meter deep (roughly three feet) for up to 30 minutes and is completely protected against dust and sand. They can also float in water if accidentally dropped.
These radios feature a stand-by time of 48 hours. They are also long range and have a built-in squelch function to block out environmental noise for clearer voice sound.
Another great feature is the VOX function for hands-free communication. The radios also benefit from having a built-in local and remote emergency radio receiver SOS alarm system. They also feature one-to-one talking, so you can communicate to one other radio undisturbed.
7: Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio
These waterproof radios offer up to 50 channels including NOAA Weather Channel and Emergency Weather Channels. Complete with a 36-mile range, they offer 142 privacy codes and VOX capabilities for privacy and hands-free operation.
Compared to some of the other models in this list, they don't have a fully waterproof nature so may not be ideal for all outdoor adventures. They are built to resist and protect against rain or splashing water (as opposed to full submersion) so could be good in a range of weather conditions.
They do however have a handy SOS Siren which means you can send out distress and locator signals in the event of an emergency. They feature 10 different call alerts and can operate for up to 11 hours on full charge. The battery may not last as long with constant communication.
8: Midland LXT630VP3 30 Mile Range Walkie Talkie
This Midland walkie talkie has a range of up to 30 miles and benefits from having a built-in NOAA Weather Scan and Alert system across 10 channels so it can give you a heads up if there’s bad weather on the way. It also benefits from having rugged construction to boost durability so you can throw it in your pack with the rest of your latest sports gear.
As well as NOAA alerts, it also features a long frequency range with 36 FRS (Family Radio Service) channels and 121 privacy codes so you can block or limit other radio conversations to have a private conversation and ensuring communication remains clear. Additionally, it benefits from eVOX for hands free use and belt clips to keep it secure.
This pair of walkie talkies are water resistant and come with rechargeable battery packs that take 12 hours to charge in the cradle like a desktop charger, but you can also use 3 AAA batteries if you choose, however these are not included.
9: DeWalt DXFRS300 Heavy Duty Business Walkie Talkies
This walkie talkie could be a good choice for fishing and kayaking as it is designed to withstand being underwater for 30 minutes (around 3 feet deep). It’s also built to withstand being dropped from 6 and a half feet, which could come in handy when you have your hands full.
It is dustproof and designed to work over a 20 floor, 250,000 square foot building, but could still be ideal if you’re looking for a shorter range. However, these can still be useful for using on open land up to a couple of miles.
It also benefits from Auto Squelch which will automatically block weak signals or unwanted transmissions and it has a Power Saver features that automatically helps to preserve the battery if it hasn’t received a transmission in 10 seconds
Should I Get A Marine Radio Instead?
Difference Between Marine Radios And Walkie Talkies
One of the main differences between the two is that a marine radio communicates using VHF (Very High Frequency) signals. A walkie talkie will generally communicate using FRS or GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) using the UHF band. However, in order to use GMRS signals and communicate on one regular marine channel or Canadian marine channels, you will need a license.
A VHF marine radio is designed for marine use, to communicate on Coast Guard channels, as well as aviation. This is because it can deliver a stronger signal between radios when there is nothing obstructing it. For example, when you’re out at sea, there is just open water around you so nothing between you and the transmitters. Or if you’re in the air, there is just sky between you and the ground signal.
Why Would I Need One?
If you’re kayaking close to shore or on a river you’ll probably find you don’t have a need for a marine radio. However, if you have a larger vessel, a VHF marine radio can be beneficial, particularly if you get into trouble, as it can reach the coast guard over 20 miles away.
However, all users of VHF radios must be tuned to channel 16 when they’re not using it for communication, according to FCC regulations. This is the marine safety and distress channel. Keep in mind that you are obligated to answer an unanswered distress call.
Walkie-talkies are an essential piece of equipment if you’re likely to be out in the wilderness for long periods of time. With so many options available, it’s hard to decide which model is best for you. If you’re planning on using it for kayaking or fishing then a waterproof model is a no-brainer.
As for other features, you need to consider how long you’re likely to need them for, what kind of conditions you’re likely to encounter and how far apart you’ll be from your partner. NOAA alerts can also be pretty useful.
In short, if you remember to consider the six key factors (Range, Waterproof, Water, Weight, Power & Channels)… you can’t go wrong.
Do you use a walkie-talkie? If so, which one and why?