New tools for staying connected in the field
Forget those clunky, crackly walkie-talkies you played with as a kid. Today's two-way radios are powerful, compact and reliable, making them a great tool for staying in contact with your hunting buddies in the field.
1. TSX300 ($99.99)
Key features: Operates on the 10-billion-channel eXRS band); offers text messaging, voice activation, caller ID and vibration alert.
The promise: “Crowded channels and privacy codes are a thing of the past.”
2. Rino 110 (U.S.$194.27)
Key features: Combines radio features such as voice activation and 22 FRS/GMRS channels with GPS technology, including position reporting to other Rino users.
The promise: “Communicate with your partners and find them easily.”
3. Talkabout MR356R ($119.99)
Key features: 22 FRS/GMRS channels and eight repeater channels, each with 121 privacy codes, plus 11 weather channels with alert.
The promise: “The ultimate communications tool for the serious outdoor enthusiast.”
4. MicroTalk CXR825 ($99.99)
Key features: Voice activation, VibrAlert for silent reception, weather radio receiver and 142 privacy codes for 3,124 GMRS/FRS channel combinations.
The promise: “World's most compact high-powered GMRS/FRS radio with extended range.”
5. TH-K2AT (U.S.$179.95)
Key features: Rain, vibration and shock resistant, with a hefty five-watt output, backlit keys and weather alerts; priority scanning monitors two different frequencies at once.
The promise: “Tough enough to survive the rigours of outdoor use.”
Kenwood's TH-K22AT is approved by Industry Canada as an Amateur (ham) Radio only, so users require an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate.
6. GMR2872-2CK (U.S.$89.99)
Key features: 28-mile range, 6,270 channel combos, group call and silent mode; submersible up to three feet for 30 minutes, it also floats.
The promise: “The industry's first fully submersible GMRS/FRS two-way.”
7. GXT795VP4 (U.S.$99.99)
Key features: Waterproof, with 50 channels, five animal call alerts, severe weather reporting and SOS siren; Direct Call lets you contact just one member of your party.
The promise: “XTRA TALK Power is the maximum allowed by law.”
What are you looking for in a radio? Consider the following.
- Most two-ways use the combined FRS/GMRS band; FRS has no commercial traffic, while GMRS transmits farther in ideal conditions. Take range claims with a grain of salt—all walkie-talkies transmit line-of-sight signals, so don't count on more than a few kilometres in broken country or during unsettled weather. Developed in 2008, the eXRS band uses frequency-hopping technology to tap into billions of possible channels. While eXRS radios provide total privacy, they aren't compatible with FRS/GMRS units.
- Useful features for hunters include privacy codes to reduce static and unwanted chatter; silent alerts; voice activation; and headsets or earbuds. Deluxe options can include digital compasses, thermometers, barometers and altimeters.
- While all provinces and territories allow the use of two-way radios for safety, some restrict their use for pursuing game. Always check your local regs.