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.
(these links take you directly to Amazon. More on each below)
- Motorola MS350R 35-Mile Talkabout
- Cobra Electronics CXT 1035R FLT
- Retevis RT6 IP67
- Uniden Atlantis 270 Handheld Floating 2-Way
- Standard Horizon HX150 Handheld VHF Marine Radio
- Midland GXT1000VP4 50-Channel FRS/GMRS
- Uniden Waterproof 2-Way Radio - GMR-2838-2CK
- Midland LXT630VP3 30 Mile Range Walkie Talkie
- DeWalt DXFRS300 Heavy Duty Business Walkie Talkies
Even when you limit your search to waterproof walkie-talkies, there are several features and factors to consider.
So we’ve narrowed it down to seven, 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 mobile 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 model you don’t have to worry about dropping it in the ocean or getting caught in a rain-storm.
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 two-way radio 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.
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 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 two-way radio 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.
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 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 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.
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.
Many waterproof models can withstand being left in the water for several minutes so that’s one less thing to worry about in an emergency.
You should mention IP ratings. This is a very important grading of how waterproof a product is.
Top of the range walkie-talkies will have access to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) and local weather forecasts. This feature will be particularly helpful if you’re likely to be out on the ocean or on multi-day trips.
The power on a walkie-talkie is 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.
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.
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: Motorola MS350R 35-Mile Talkabout Waterproof 2-Way Radio
As you’d expect from the name, this model has a 35-mile maximum range. It’s worth remembering however that this is the best possible range.
Depending on the terrain and weather conditions on any given day (along with electromagnetic interference and obstructions), the actual range could be smaller. This applies to all radios on this list.
It has a battery life of 23 hours on alkaline batteries (3 x AA) or 9 hours on NiMH (short for ‘nickel–metal hydride battery’…which is basically a rechargeable battery).
It also comes with 11 weather channels and an in-built weather alert feature to give you a heads up about any incoming storms or difficult weather conditions. You can even tune in to one of the seven NOAA channels on this device for updated advice on what to wear and pack under your local weather conditions.
Includes a handy LCD battery meter and a built-in flashlight. If you’re likely to be out for a while in the wilderness, this could be a good option for you.
2: Cobra Electronics CXT 1035R FLT Floating Walkie-Talkies
This is another great radio with a maximum range of 37 miles. Like the Motorola model, it comes complete with NOAA weather alerts. The alerts are automatically transmitted to you based on your location, so you don’t have to worry about missing a vital piece of information.
These radios are designed with a rubberized grip so that they are easy to grab and carry regardless of wet, sweaty or dusty environments. They’re also brightly coloured (a dashing orange) so that they are easy to spot, and if you happen to drop them in water, they are 100% waterproof and able float.
Another handy feature of this particular radio is the “Rewind-Say-Again”. The radio automatically records the last 20 seconds of any incoming audio so you can replay any missed or difficult to hear radio calls.
And if that wasn’t enough, it comes with VOX (voice-activated transmission) which means that you can keep your hands free for other tasks.
3: Retevis RT6 IP67 Waterproof & Dust-proof Dual band Two Way Radio
These radios are not only waterproof, but also completely dust proof. They are graded as IP67 in terms of waterproofness, meaning they can be in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
This means that even if the absolute worst should happen and you are capsized and stranded in water for 30 minutes, you can still communicate via radio. This of course doesn’t just apply to oceans or rivers, these features could come in handy in rain, snow and on dusty trails.
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.
4: Uniden Atlantis 270 Handheld Floating 2-Way 6W VHF Marine Radio
Another good, waterproof radio with access to NOAA emergency weather channels. This one also has a IPX7 rating and is also designed to float.
A handy feature on this particular radio is the PowerBoost key which means you can give yourself longer battery life and extra-long range in case of an emergency. It also has a backlit LCD display which makes it easy to use at night.
This radio is particularly good if you’re looking to keep up with the coast guard or listen out for any distress calls. The dual and triple watch operation allows you to monitor up to two hailing or distress channels along with one regular marine channel.
You can also place your radio on mute while it monitors a weather channel. It will remain quiet until there is an imminent weather broadcast on that channel and will sound an alarm to alert you to the broadcast so that you can tune in.
5: Standard Horizon HX150 Handheld VHF Marine Radio
This radio comes in a slim design which is easy to carry. It comes with a backlit LCD keypad and 10 hours of battery life.
Like some of the other radios mentioned in this article, it is also rated at IPX7 (International Protection Rating) for waterproofness (again, meaning it can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes) and is also able to float.
It comes complete with NOAA weather channels and weather alerts and can operate at 5 watt or 1 watt transmit power (allowing you to conserve battery life).
6: Uniden Waterproof 2-Way Radios - Green (GMR-2838-2CK)
These radios have a 28-mile range along with 22 channels. They come complete with 121 privacy codes so that you minimize the chances of interference from other users on the same channel.
They also come with a headset jack which you can wear if you’d like to have a private conversation (rather than the loud radio that anybody nearby can hear.)
The headset jack can be paired with the PTT (push-to-talk) function or VOX (voice activated transmission.)
This model also comes with a backlit LCD display so you can use it both night and day (particularly handy when scanning channels in the dark.)
7: Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio
These radios offer up to 50 channels including NOAA and Hazard 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’re not quite as waterproof. They are built to resist and protect against light rain or splashing water (as opposed to full submersion.)
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.
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 features 36 FRS (Family Radio Service) channels and 121 CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) privacy codes so you can block or limit other radio conversations. Additionally, it benefits from eVOX (Easy Voice and Voice Activated Transmission) allowing you to use it hands free.
This pair of walkie talkies are water resistant and come with rechargeable battery packs that take 12 hours to charge in the cradle, 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 you will need a license.
A VHF marine radio is designed for marine use, 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.
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?