Two Way Radios for Overlanding
We considered two way radios for overlanding since the beginning however they were near the bottom of our ‘gear list’ as there were so many other things to collect to get our rig up and running
Prioritizing everything you need on a budget can be a bit of a head wreck at times especially when you take into account that while remaining minimal to a consider space and weight there are some bits of kit that need to be at the top of your list – recovery gear being one, portable jump starter would be another, decent first aid kit etc etc, the list goes on…
As we worked through our gear purchases which in turn allowed us to get out more and for longer trips there were situations where walkie talkies would have come in very handy, these situations were also becoming more frequent as we explored unknown trails and here’s why:
Sometimes you need a spotter – coming across rough terrain is all part of the overlanding experience, knowing your limits [and the limits of your vehicle] is crucial for safety and avoiding sticky situations, your spotter can tell you about ground clearance for example and radios are very handy for this when you are in the cab and your spotter is outside.
Terrain can spring surprises too, your planned GPS route does not know how challenging parts of the your route will be, for example we came across a hill that had been rutted by water flow by a recent storm, as an obstacle it was worth taking on but if the rest of the track was like that then we’d have to reconsider. The bend at the top gave no indications so one of us went up to inspect and ‘spot’ the rest of the way, as it happened the track levelled out.
The point here is that the two way radios were a convenient method of communication, some might say it’s a lazy way of ding things but it saves time [not that there is ever any rush] and keeps momentum saving the driver stop starting, there are also things the driver cannot see that a spotter outside the vehicle can.
The choices of two way radios for overlanding is extensive, there are also different types of radios – some of which require a license. We opted for PMR radios [FRS in US & Canada], these are the radios you can pick up on the likes of Amazon and online retailers for as little as €30.00 for a pair. Ideally you need a couple of units that are water resistant and of rugged design.
We opted for a pair of Midland XT70’s, respected name, good reviews and simple to use for around €78.00 euros. Range is 12km, not that you will ever need it and charging is via USB so you can charge as you go if needs be. Find all the specs at the Midland website.
So how often do we actually use them? Every trip pretty much, yes you can manage without them but they are tremendously useful. They also come in handy for photography and video work as well as being a method of contact in case of emergencies ie: if some of your group go hiking etc.
The Midland XT70 was our choice but there are many others including Motorola, Beofeng and other lesser known brands, two way radios are one of those products [we think] where it’s buy the best you can afford and they will last.
Radios were not anywhere near the top of our intended gear list but once we actually started getting out there they quickly moved up, something we’d recommend once you have all the essentials in place.