Reliable communication while kayaking can make the activity safer for everyone and add a bit of fun too. You could talk about how everyone’s doing, make notes on obstacles or hazards, or just have a regular conversation. Phones won’t quite do the trick, so it’s worthwhile to rely on a more robust solution. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best waterproof walkie talkies that you can take kayaking with you.
A few basics can help make your choice of shopping the best two-way radio devices easier. Most manufacturers claim impressive range, often going as high as 30-50 miles. Practical use won’t get anywhere near that range. For practical use, consider the range of most walkie talkies limited to 2-3 miles, or line of sight. There’s a chance your device could do better, but it’s worthwhile to err on the side of caution.
Walkie Talkies or two-way radios that you can use without a license will likely work on the GMRS or FRS bands. Most devices on these bands offer 22 channels for communication, while some will also include privacy keys/codes to allow greater chances of private communication. This comes in handy if you’re in a crowded area where several other people are using walkie talkies as well.
Possibility of the walkie talkie falling in the water is a risk kayakers have to take. As such, it is better to choose a waterproof device over a water-resistant option. Some walkie talkies are buoyant and will float, making it easier to pick them if they should fall in the water. Waterproofing is specified on devices with IP or JIS ratings. Ideally, the device you choose should be able to withstand being submerged in water for at least a few minutes.
Other features to consider include NOAA weather alerts, GPS, weight, and battery consumption. Many devices also offer VOX or voice-activated transmission that enables hands-free use of the walkie talkie. Squelching for better quality audio is an important and desirable feature as well.
Uniden SX507-2CKHS is a quality walkie talkie with excellent features, superb build quality, and a fairly good range. The advertised range is 50 miles under optimum conditions. However, as is true for all walkie talkies, the usable range is limited by the factors mentioned above.
The two-way radio communicates on 22 channels and works with 142 privacy codes. It has a headset jack and VOX functionality. The voice quality is good and useful for clear communication. A USB point is available on the unit to charge its Ni-MH batteries that offer 14 hours of use. If necessary, you may also use AA alkaline batteries for backup.
Uniden’s walkie talkie is rated JIS7 waterproof, which means it can handle being submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. As another plus, the radio can float, thus reducing water risk. Other features include NOAA weather alerts, built-in LED, and SOS strobe light.
Superior build quality and trust are the hallmarks of the Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio. The simplistic walkie talkie has excellent build quality, voice clarity, and acceptable range. It works on 22 channels with 121 privacy codes for each, offering fairly good communication options.
Waterproof rating for the device is IP67, which means it can withstand being submerged in water up to 1meter in depth. Its included NiMH battery can power the device for 9 hours, though it can also work with standard alkaline batteries.
Other features include VOX, emergency alert, flashlight, a boost function to temporarily increase range, and a water-activated LED. The latter makes it easier to locate this floating radio if it falls in the water.
Cobra ACXT1035R FLT is a feature-rich radio with the good build quality and usability. It works with the same standard set of 22 channels and 121 privacy codes. The claimed maximum range is 37 miles. An interesting feature here is the “Rewind-Say-Again”, which enables recording of up to 20 seconds of a voice message. In a live conversation, you may rewind the walkie talkie to listen to the last 20 seconds again.
The device is rated IPX7 waterproof, which means it can withstand being submerged in water. Although we imagine it won’t spend much time being submerged since this too is capable of floating.
It includes several useful features that could be considered a standard for a good walkie talkie. These include VOX, rechargeable NiMH batteries, NOAA weather alerts, flashlight, and SOS strobe light.
At a power rating of just 1W, this Dewalt walkie talkie can be seen as going soft on the range. It is in fact fairly good with the range in practical use and is built to take the beating that kayaking may inflict on it.
The walkie talkie is IP67 waterproof and dustproof. Additionally, it is also shockproof and can handle a fall from up to 2 meters in height. Available channels are the standard 22 with 121 privacy codes.
Notable features include auto-squelch, VOX, and keylock. The lack of NOAA weather alerts sticks out like a sore thumb. The unit is powered by a 1000mAh Lithium polymer battery, offering up to 12 hours of function.
It is worth pointing out that the Uniden MHS75 is not a standard walkie talkie, but a marine radio. It does not require a license but works on a different frequency range. These radios are especially useful where you need a longer range or would like to stay in touch with authorities like the coast guard.
Uniden MHS75 is one of the best radios for this purpose. It is rated JIS8 for waterproofing and can withstand up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. The radio automatically keeps an eye on channels 16 and 9, apart from your channel of choice. Its transmission power can be switched between 1W, 2.5W, and 5W, depending on your requirements for range.
Motorola MS350R is slightly fancier than the T600 we saw above. It offers a slightly better voice and builds quality, though the price is significantly higher. This two-way radio is rated IP67 for waterproofing, though it is capable of floating. Power comes from the included NiMH battery, though the walkie talkie is also compatible with AA batteries for backup.
Communication options include 22 channels, plus 8 repeater channels and 121 privacy codes. The advertised range is 35 miles, but the real range is much smaller. Other features include VOX and a PTT power boost that slightly extends its communication range.