Best Cheap Walkie-Talkies of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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I grew up on a 55-acre farm where we always used walkie-talkies (and cheap ones, at that). These days, you might ask, “Why would you need walkie-talkies now that we have cell phones?” The simple answer is that cell phones can sometimes be inconvenient and unreliable, especially when you’re dealing with spotty cell service in the backcountry. Imagine you need to relay a message or ask for help when you’re out mending fences, working the job site with a crew, or installing a new tree stand. It’s a lot easier to quickly push a button than it is to stop, scroll through your contacts, and wait for the other person to pick up.

In emergency scenarios, walkie-talkies often stand out as essential tools as they can operate when cellular networks are down or overwhelmed, aiding search and rescue teams and first responders. Privacy codes provide an additional layer of security, reducing the risk of eavesdropping on sensitive discussions. And you don’t have to spend a ton for good two-way radios. We put some of the best cheap walkie-talkies to test to find which affordable devices actually perform.

How We Picked the Best Cheap Walkie-Talkies

When evaluating these radios, my primary criteria included price, diversity of channels and privacy codes, battery life, and available accessories. Extensive research and testing emphasized the critical importance of their ability to withstand rugged outdoor environments while maintaining reliable operation.

Cobra walkie-talkies are some of my favorites after testing. Bethany Beathard

I was looking for something that would “do the job.” With advancements in modern technology, companies can pack a large number of features into a small device. Know what you need, and don’t get overwhelmed by all the extras.

  • Price: Set a budget and stick to it. There are affordable walkie-talkies that offer great value without breaking the bank. Compare different models to find the best features within your budget.
  • Channels and privacy codes: Ensure the walkie-talkies offer multiple channels and privacy codes. This allows you to find a clear channel to communicate on and reduce interference from others.
  • Accessories: Are any accessories included or available for the walkie-talkie, such as belt clips, earpieces, and chargers, that can enhance convenience and functionality?
  • Battery life: Longer battery life is essential, especially for outdoor activities. Consider models with rechargeable batteries or the option to use regular batteries.

Best Cheap Walkie-Talkies: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Cobra ACXT345

Best Overall

Cobra ACXT345 Weather-Resistant Walkie Talkies on gray and white background

Specs

  • Weight: 3.76 ounces
  • Channels and Privacy Codes: 22 channels and 121 privacy codes
  • Power Source: 3 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries per radio
  • Range: Up to 25 miles

Pros

  • Impressive 25-mile range
  • NOAA Weather Alerts
  • Very affordable price

Cons

I had the opportunity to put the Cobra ACTXT345 through its paces over the last few months. I even handed it off to my kids for some fun outdoor play, and I must say it proved to be a reliable companion—especially for the budget-friendly price. The 22 channels and 121 privacy codes offered a range of communication options, ensuring secure conversations. The hands-free operation with VOX and NOAA weather alerts added to its practicality.

While there are more robust options out there, it handled the wear and tear of my outdoor adventures quite well. Not only was it the most lightweight walkie-talkie I tested, it also has an easy-to-read display and just the right amount of features to not be overwhelming. During testing, everything functioned correctly. I really can’t find any major issue with it. Whether you’re on a family camping trip or an outdoor adventure, these walkie-talkies keep you connected, provide weather alerts, and offer durability. The impressive range, hands-free operation, and call tones make them versatile for communication needs at under $50.

A pair of Cobra ACTX345 Walkie Talkies sitting on the grass
The battery life and range made these Cobra walkie-talkies clear winners in my book. Bethany Beathard

My only concern is the IPX2 water rating, which means it can handle only a few water splashes. Although I didn’t face any problems in testing, I kept a vigilant watch over it, so some caution near water is advisable.

Best for Hunting

BCA BC Link Two-Way Radio 1.0 Camo Walkie Talkie on gray and white background

Specs

  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Channels and Privacy Codes: 22 FRS channels + 121 sub-channels
  • Power Source: Removeable, rechargeable 3.7 VDC lithium-ion battery
  • Range: Up to 32 miles

Pros

  • Long range
  • Waterproof to P56 standard
  • Durable design perfect for the elements
  • Long lasting battery, up to 40 hours in standby mode

Cons

  • Not sold as a pack—only sold separately

Reliable and durable, the BCA BC Link Two-Way Radio 1.0 Camo is the best cheap walkie-talkie for hunting. You can use it any weather conditions and any time of the year thanks to the camouflage design and weatherproofing. The large buttons and easy-to-use controls are great for hunters who often wear gloves, and the impressive battery life and long 32-mile range means you can stay connected throughout your hunting adventures.

When I tested the BCA BC Link, it was obvious to me it had been designed for hunters. First and foremost, the durability was very evident—the radio withstood a few accidental drops without a hitch or any damage. The ergonomic design made it comfortable to carry and use throughout the trip. Through my 2-way radio testing, I have really come to appreciate the two-piece design. I was able to clip the smart mic to my jacket and secure the radio to my hunting pack. Though it doesn’t come in a paired pack—you’ll have to buy the second radio separately—its durability and user-friendly design make it a worthwhile purchase.

Best Long Range: Motorola Solutions Talkabout T475 Extreme

Best Long Range

Motorola Solutions Talkabout T475 Extreme Walkie Talkies on gray and white background

Specs

  • Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Channels and Privacy Codes: 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, totaling 2,662 combinations,
  • Power Source: Rechargeable NiMH 800 mAH – up to 12 hours
  • Range: Up to 35 miles

Pros

  • Exceptional range up to 35 miles
  • Dual power options
  • IPX4 waterproof rating

Cons

  • Heavier than others we tested and reviewed

The Motorola Talkabout series has set a standard among affordable communication radios, and the Talkabout T475 Extreme lives up to that reputation as a robust and reliable device. With an exceptional range of up to 35 miles, it’ll keep you connected in even the most remote backcountry. The inclusion of NOAA weather alerts adds a safety feature that’s vital for anyone spending time disconnected from the world.

Additionally, the hands-free VOX operation is convenient for activities where holding the device might be impractical, like while hiking or hunting. I like that it can run on either its rechargeable battery or a set of AA batteries. That flexibility is a significant advantage for extended trips. While it may be heavier than others at just over 2 pounds, its long range and helpful features make it a valuable tool for outdoorspeople heading off-grid.

Best Waterproof: Bushnell LPX650

Best Waterproof

Bushnell LPX650 Walkie Talkies on gray and white background

Specs

Weight: 0.4 pounds
Channels and Privacy Codes: 70 channels and 121 privacy codes
Power Source: 6 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries
Range: Up to 42 miles

Pros

  • Impressive long range up to 42 miles
  • IP67 waterproof and floating design
  • Shock-resistant up to 1.5-meter drops

Cons

  • Waterproof but not submersible

The Bushnell LPX650 certainly holds its ground as a top choice for a waterproof walkie-talkie that doesn’t compromise on range and performance. Its IPX7 rating ensures that it can withstand exposure to water, making it perfect for boating, fishing, and other water-related activities. It’s also shock-resistant so you don’t have to worry about being gentle with it, and it has a long 35-mile range for optimal connection.

Add all of that to its built-in NOAA weather alerts and you have an ideal companion for outdoor adventures where reliable communication is essential, regardless of the weather. Two features that always rank high on my evaluation list are exceptional long range and durable waterproofing, and this radio has both of those.

Best for Camping: Midland T51VP3 X-Talker

Best for Camping

Midland T51VP3 X-Talker Walkie Talkies on gray and white background

Specs

  • Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Channels and Privacy Codes: 22 Channels, 38 Privacy Codes
  • Power Source: 2 lithium-ion batteries
  • Range: Up to 20 miles

Pros

  • Lightweight and durable design
  • eVOX hands-free operation
  • Very affordable under $50

Cons

  • Shorter range than others we reviewed

The Midland T51VP3 X-Talker offers an outstanding balance of features for camping. It has an impressive 28-mile range that ensures you can stay connected with your fellow campers, even in remote locations. The inclusion of NOAA weather alerts keeps you prepared for changing weather conditions—a vital feature for any camping or backpacking trip. Additionally, the flexibility of dual power options means you won’t run out of battery during your excursions.

The eVOX hands-free operation makes it easy to communicate without taking your hands off camp chores or activities. While the radio has a shorter range than others reviewed, it offers a good amount of features at an affordable price. It isn’t overcomplicated or overbuilt. It’s a no-frills walkie-talkie that gets the job done.

Best for Kids: Cobra Hero

Best for Kids

Cobra Hero Walkie Talkies on gray and white background

Specs

  • Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Channels and Privacy Codes: 2 Channels
  • Power Source: AAA Batteries
  • Range: Up to 16 miles

Pros

  • Kid-friendly with 2 channels and simple functions
  • Decent 16-mile range, more than enough for typical kid adventures
  • Battery power saver mode

Cons

My kids love using walkie talkies, and the Cobra Hero Walkie Talkies are perfect for the little hands of young adventurers who like to explore. The simple design and straightforward operation make them ideal for kids of all ages. With the ability to use call tones, these walkie-talkies add a fun element to communication.

Although the 16-mile range is not extensive, it’s suitable for neighborhood adventures and keeping kids connected. These walkie-talkies are designed to be easy to use, entertaining, and suitable for children’s adventures, making them an excellent tool for fostering communication skills and fun outdoor experiences. There is no display screen; everything is done by button selection. Cobra really simplified the function to maximize kid-friendly use.

What to Consider When Choosing a Walkie-Talkie

By taking the following factors into account, you can make an informed decision when choosing a pair of cheap walkie talkies that meet your specific needs and ensure reliable communication without overspending.

Range

Consider the range you need. For close-quarters communication, a shorter range may suffice, but if you plan to use your radio in larger areas—like for camping or hiking—opt for models with a longer range. Environment plays a significant role in determining the actual range of your walkie-talkie. It’s important to understand that using your backcountry radio in a city environment will yield different results due to the increased number of obstructions and frequency interferences.

Mountains or more challenging terrains with varying elevations will impact the effective range of your walkie-talkie. Areas with denser vegetation, such as forests and hilly regions, can also decrease the range.

Durability

Look for durable and rugged designs, especially if you plan to use your radio in outdoor or rough conditions. Water-resistant or shockproof models designed to withstand impact, water, and dust are ideal and are often rated with an IP (Ingress Protection) code. Additionally, opt for reputable brands with a history of producing reliable and durable communication devices.

Features and Ease of Use

Consider additional features like NOAA weather alerts, built-in flashlights, and hands-free operation (VOX), all of which can enhance the functionality of your walkie talkies. Choose models that are user-friendly, with straightforward buttons and controls. Intuitive operation is essential, especially in emergency situations.

FAQs

Q: How do I increase the range of my walkie talkie?

You can increase the range by minimizing obstructions between communicators. Maintaining a clear line of sight between the two walkie-talkies is essential for maximum range. If you can see the other person, the signal is likely to be stronger.

Also be sure to choose the right frequency. Some frequencies are better suited for longer range communication.

Q: How long does the average walkie-talkie battery last?

The average battery life of a walkie-talkie can vary based on several factors. In general, you can expect most walkie-talkies to provide anywhere from 8 to 24 hours of battery life on a single charge or set of batteries. This range accounts for various types of walkie-talkies, from consumer-grade to professional and heavy-duty models.

Q: What is the maximum range of walkie-talkie communication?

The maximum range varies depending on the type of walkie-talkie, the terrain, and the specific conditions. The majority of walkie-talkies are designed for short to medium-range communications. Most budget walkie talkies will have a limited range of several hundred yards, with some models claiming up to 30 miles.

Best Cheap Walkie-Talkies: Final Thoughts

Walkie-talkies are versatile communication devices valued for their convenience and reliability in various situations. One of the key reasons for their use is the simplicity and immediacy they offer. You can communicate in real-time with the push of a button, making the two-way radios ideal for situations that require instant contact. Unlike smartphones, walkie-talkies don’t rely on cellular networks or service. While any of these best cheap walkie-talkies are great for outdoor excursions or emergency purposes, we recommend the Cobra ACXT345 overall.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.



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