I’ve been on group hikes where folks carry along little two-way radios, which are a notch above those walkie-talkies we played with as kids. The range isn’t great, especially when there are hills and trees in the way, but as long as you know their limitations and don’t expect “Beam me up Scotty” performance, you might find one worth having.
You really need to buy them in pairs. If you’re in the market, start out at ConsumerSearch.com, which has already done a bunch of the grunt work research on the various models. Among the links I found there:
- A Boys Life magazine profile of available models.
- Two-Way Radios Forum, whose host reviews a bunch of them. Discussion sites like this are where you often find the best tips on what to buy and what to avoid.
- FCC’s page on radio rules and such.
Interestingly, Consumer Search’s “best overall model” was described as big, bulky and not likely to fit in a shirt pocket in a review at Amazon.com … so keep in mind you might want to hold the actual radio in hand before you buy. Also, the basic Motorola models that sell for under $30 a pair get reasonably good ratings, so you don’t have to go broke figuring out if you need one.
If you’re totally into the ultra-geeky-cool gadgets, GPS giant Garmin’s Rino range of GPS units have a two-way radio built in that allows you to location track anybody else in your group who also has one of these trinkets. Overkill for run-of-the-mill outings, but it could prove useful in certain expedition settings. These are not priced by the pair; two of the snazziest models would set you back over a thousand bucks.
A couple potentially useful links:
Best Buy’s guide to two-way radios.
Sort by brand and feature at the Buy Two Way Radios site.