The 9 Best Walkie-talkies of 2023

The Garmin InReach Mini 2 earns the top spot with a slew of high-tech features and unlimited range.

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Walkie Talkies

Travel + Leisure / Kevin Liang

Walkie-talkies do what most phones cannot: allow you to communicate in areas with no cell service. Not only that but they come equipped with safety features, like long-lasting rechargeable batteries, ranges that span great distances, and SOS messaging.

Our No. 1 walkie-talkie recommendation is the Garmin InReach Mini 2, which has an unlimited range and is packed with top-tier features including text capabilities and downloadable maps. There are many other models that would make the perfect sidekick for all your travels, whether that’s hiking the Appalachians, camping with the family, or just hanging around the house.

Best Overall

Garmin InReach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2


Why We Love It: It features two-way text messaging, allows loved ones to track your location, and will help you navigate back to your starting point.

What to Consider: A paid satellite subscription is required to unlock some features.

The Garmin inReach Mini 2 may be small, but it’s packed with features that land it big on our list. You’re able to send and receive text messages on it, but if you want to use your smartphone on your travels, you can pair it to the Mini via Bluetooth or access the free Garmin Earthmate app. There, you’ll find all sorts of goodies, like downloadable maps, color aerial imagery, and more. The small-but-mighty walkie-talkie boasts an unlimited range, impact-resistant and waterproof construction, and a battery that can last up to 14 days of use on a single charge.

During a wilderness adventure, it helps to know that help isn’t too far behind. The Mini 2 has an SOS emergency message that can trigger a search and rescue team via satellite, and a tracking feature allows you to give loved ones back at home peace of mind with the ability to follow your location. This level of protection does come at a cost, though: It’s only available to those who sign up for the paid subscription.

Price at time of publish: $390

Range: Unlimited | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: Up to 14 days | Weight: 3.5 ounces

Best Budget

X-talker T10 Wallkie-talkie

X-Talker T10 Wallkie Talkie


Why We Love It: It provides reliable features at a modest price.

What to Consider: Since it’s powered by alkaline batteries, it can get expensive with heavy usage.

When you want a walkie-talkie that’s simple and affordable, look no further than the X-talker. While it doesn’t have the frills of a more expensive model, it does have the basic features you need, like multiple channels (22) and a good amount of range (20 miles). There are even cool extras, like weather alerts and a channel scan so finding live channels isn’t time-consuming. The 38 privacy codes make it great to communicate with the family in busy places, including campsites, ski resorts, and school functions.

Price at time of publish: $30

Range: 20 miles | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: 21 hours | Weight: 3.9 ounces

Best Long Range

Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 Radio

Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 Radio


Why We Love It: Its battery lasts several days without charging, even in cold weather.

What to Consider: The awkward and heavy size doesn’t bode well for those who prefer to travel light.

The Backcountry Access (BCA) BC Link has it all when it comes to range: It provides clear communication up to 40 miles regardless of obstacles like obstructions or bad weather. Privacy codes on a walkie-talkie are great, but they can be a pain to set up. The BCA makes it easy with privacy codes already preset into the channels.

Although the walkie-talkie is heavier than others, the two-piece system gives you options. You can use the external microphone to change settings like the channel and volume, and the strong, rotating metal clip on the back lets you choose where it sits on your body. 

Price at time of publish: $188

Range: 40 miles | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: Up to 400 hours in standby mode | Weight: 12 ounces

Best for Camping

Cobra ACXT645

Cobra ACXT645


Why We Love It: The rugged design can keep up with all of your camping adventures.

What to Consider: It doesn’t float, so you’ll have to be careful if you take it out on the water.

Going camping? One item to check off your packing list is the Cobra ACXT645. It provides crisp communication on 22 channels for up to 35 miles. Use one of the 121 privacy codes to ensure minimal disruption from other campers while communicating about who needs to bring what to dinner with friends or family.

A sudden flash of rain may be troublesome for your campsite, but not for your walkie-talkie: The device is built to withstand harsh weather conditions, and you’ll know about them ahead of time with the 24/7 weather alerts.

Price at time of publish: $80

Range: 35 miles | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: Not listed | Weight: 5.1 ounces

Best Waterproof

Dewalt DXFRS800 2 Watt Heavy-duty Walkie-talkies

Dewalt DXFRS800 2 Watt Heavy Duty Walkie Talkies


Why We Love It: It has a lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind.

What to Consider: The included belt loops aren’t particularly strong.

If you’re a fan of water-based activities (kayaking, canoeing, and fishing), the DeWalt DXFRS800 2 should be an obvious choice. It can survive being submerged for 30 minutes in 1-meter deep water and has a signal range that extends up to 300,000 square feet or 25 floors. For this reason, it’s also great to use as a communication tool on construction sites.

You never have to wonder if your message went through with this walkie-talkie. The roger beep tone confirms the user’s transmission and signals the other party when it’s clear for them to talk. Plus, your privacy is protected with 22 channels that are preset with privacy codes, and the key lock prevents you from changing the channel by accident.

Price at time of publish: $147

Range: Up to 300,000 square feet (or 25 floors) | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: 18 hours | Weight: 12.3 ounces

Best for Kids

Looikoos Walkie Talkies for Kids

Looikoos Walkie Talkies for Kids


Why We Love It: Playtime is never disturbed with the voice-activated transmission (VOX) option, which provides hands-free communication that’s perfect for little ones.

What to Consider: Since kids will love to use them, be prepared to go through batteries quickly (it takes AAA batteries, which are not included), and it’s not waterproof.

This kid-friendly walkie-talkie is the perfect compromise if you want to stay in touch with your kids but don’t want to buy them a smartphone just yet. It provides plenty of hours of fun with 22 channels and a 1.8-mile range that’s enough to keep them within reach around the house, neighborhood, or nearby park. The built-in flashlight is great for ensuring they can see at night.

At 2.8 ounces, the walkie-talkie is lightweight and ergonomic enough to fit nicely in small hands. And yet, the drop protection makes it durable for all kinds of kid adventures and mishaps. There are four fun color schemes so everyone gets to choose their favorite.

Price at time of publish: $24

Range: 1.8 miles | Waterproof: No | Battery life: Not listed | Weight: 2.8 ounces

Best for Hiking

Motorola Talkabout T800

Motorola Talkabout T800

Best Buy

Why We Love It: This two-pack provides off-the-grid group messaging.

What to Consider: It doesn’t have the best sound quality out there.

Going on a hike in the great outdoors is a chance to enjoy some solitude. But on the off-chance that you venture off too far or get lost, you don’t want to be completely off the grid. The Motorola Talkabout T800 keeps you in reach with emergency alerts and an offline map that lets you share and track your location. The built-in flashlight and backlit LCD display make it possible to see in the dark, while raised buttons make it easy to use.

Water, snow, or blackouts are no match for it. The device is weatherproof and can be taken out on the water with a 6-mile range. No cell service? No problem. One of the standout features is Bluetooth connectivity, which connects to your phone through the Motorola Talkabout app, allowing you to send messages and share locations.

Price at time of publish: $100

Range: 35 miles | Waterproof: No | Battery life: 14 hours | Weight: 7.51 ounces

Best Rechargeable

BaoFeng BF-F8HP

BaoFeng BF-F8HP


Why We Love It: Thanks to the FM radio and VHF/UHF frequencies, it’s technically a two-way radio.

What to Consider: It requires a license to operate, which makes it best suited for experienced radio users.

While most walkie-talkies come with a rechargeable battery, you want to make sure you get one that will truly last. The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a step up from the brand’s previous version with double the output power (and four times the power of average walkie-talkies). The battery is a whopping 30 percent larger, so you should be able to go a day without charging it.

It comes loaded with other useful features, such as the built-in flashlight, channel tracking so you can listen to two channels at once, and a radio that is compatible with accessories. The large antenna gives the device an impressive 10-mile range. However, the device itself is larger than most, which can feel awkward in some hands. You also need a license to operate it, but there’s an in-depth manual that will skillfully guide even the most basic of beginners.

Price at time of publish: $70

Range: Up to 6 miles | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: 20 hours | Weight: 10.1 ounces

Best Multi-pack

Motorola T800 Talkabout Two-way Radios

Motorola T800 Talkabout Two-way Radios


Why We Love It: It has everything users love about the Motorola T800, including a 35-mile range and long battery life, but now in a four-pack.

What to Consider: They all have the same design and color, which makes it difficult to know which walkie-talkie belongs to whom.

What could be better than two walkie-talkies? Obviously four. This way, you’ll be able to chat with multiple people at a time, whether that’s around the house, neighborhood, or at a campground. The T800 delivers up to 35 miles of connection and 14 hours of battery life.

If your cell phone is like another limb, you’ll be glad to know that a lack of cell service isn’t a problem. Simply connect to the TalkAbout app through Bluetooth and you’ll be able to send messages and share your location. Additional features that make this item worth it for group adventures are the 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, weather alerts, VOX, and emergency alerts. The set comes with four rechargeable batteries, belt clips, and dual USB charges.

Price at time of publish: $195

Range: 35 miles | Waterproof: No | Battery life: Up to 14 hours (alkaline); up to 25 hours (rechargeable) | Weight: 7.5 ounces each

Tips for Buying a Walkie-talkie

Consider the battery type

Most walkie-talkies are powered in one of two ways: alkaline batteries or rechargeable batteries. The type of battery you require depends on your environment and how often you plan on using it. For example, if you’re going to be in an area without electricity, it’s important to have a battery that can last for hours. You may also need to carry a portable charging bank or solar panel with you.

If you choose a walkie-talkie with regular alkaline batteries, keep in mind that these can be expensive to replace. Plus, it’s important to find a proper way to dispose of them for the environment. Kids are another factor to consider. Since there’s a chance they could lose the rechargeable battery, it might be best to choose a walkie-talkie that takes single-use batteries.

Look at the walkie-talkie’s features

At its most basic level, a walkie-talkie should have excellent reception and range, multiple channels, privacy codes, and buttons that are easy to use. You can choose a walkie-talkie with all the bells and whistles — weather alerts, text messaging, VOX, and Bluetooth capabilities — but you’ll likely have to pay more. Some walkie-talkies require a paid subscription that gives you access to important safety features, such as SOS messages and downloadable maps.

Carefully consider range

The amount of range you need depends on your activities. If you’re planning to use the device around the house, you probably don’t need a range of 40 miles. However, if you spend a lot of time outdoors and in areas with little to no cell service, opt for one that delivers good reception at great distances.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How far of a range do I need?

    For most people, a range of 25 to 30 miles will be sufficient. But if you plan on being spread out from others or venture out into the remote wilderness, you may need to get something more powerful or even attain a license to purchase a military-grade walkie-talkie. Premium walkie-talkies like our best overall pick, the Garmin InReach Mini 2, employ powerful satellite use to provide unlimited range.

  • How do walkie-talkies work?

    Walkie-talkies are very straightforward to use. By pressing the push-to-talk button, your message is encoded onto the same frequency as the person you wish to talk to and transmitted through the walkie-talkie’s antenna.

  • Is a privacy code worth it?

    Many people find a privacy code is worth it. This is especially the case for parents who want to minimize the chances of a stranger communicating with their children. A privacy code works by transmitting an inaudible sound to outgoing transmission. This way, it filters incoming transmission so that only those with the same privacy code are allowed through.

    However, keep in mind that a privacy code doesn’t make your conversations completely private or secure. Someone knowledgeable could still listen in to the channel you’re using and disable the privacy code.

  • What is the difference between a walkie-talkie and a two-way radio?

    Walkie talkies are two-way radios. However, not all two-way radios are walkie talkies. Basically, a walkie-talkie is a portable, handheld two-way radio, and in the U.S., the terms are often used interchangeably.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, T+ L contributor Sarah Kester researched dozens of walkie-talkies and relied on her years of experience writing about lifestyle and commerce topics. She also drew from her many years as an army cadet where she learned all about walkie-talkies.

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