Tips for Choosing the Right Two-Way Radios for You

Choosing a two-way radio system that’s right for you and your family, business or other group can seem a daunting task. Whether you’re a manager looking for a way to better communicate with your staff working in a large warehousing or retail facility; a parent looking to keep in close contact with your kids on a mountain hiking trip; a volunteer coordinating an emergency response operation; or a ski instructor looking to communicate with students and fellow skiers all over the slopes, offers a two way radio system with features that perfectly meet your needs.

First, choose the configuration. Two way radios come in two basic configurations: FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service). FRS models operate with a half-watt of power and can transmit on seven FRS channels and seven shared FRS/GMRS channels for a total of 14 channels. GMRS models are higher-power radios that operate on one or two watts of power and can transmit and receive signals on any GMRS or FRS bands – a total of 22 channels. GMRS models work better for outdoor recreation (such as hiking, skiing and boating), but are pricier and require a five-year FCC license for use.

Next, consider the range of coverage you’ll need. Higher powered models boast range claims of up to 25 miles. And they’re perfectly capable of this kind of range in “optimal conditions,” meaning an unobstructed line of sight between two radio operators, preferably from a high vantage point in clear weather. A ski resort on a sunny day is a great example of these optimal conditions where even lower-powered two way radio systems should work well.

A densely wooded hiking trail or work facility where employees are separated by walls, buildings and machinery obviously will have less optimal conditions. Depending upon these conditions, even a higher powered GMRS radio may be limited to a coverage area of a few miles but is much more likely to be effective than is a lower powered FRS model. A helpful tip to maximize possible reach is to choose a two-way radio with antenna and radio bodies of equal or near-equal lengths.

Also consider the number of channels you many need. If your radio will be used only in areas where two-way radio usage is low, such as on your family farm or estate, the seven to 14 channels on an FRS or FRS/GMRS system should suffice. However, in high-traveled areas such as vacation resorts, shopping malls and business facilities, even the 22 channels offered on a GMRS system can fill up quickly. Radios with CTCSS or CDCSS systems allow you to subdivide main channels by using privacy codes (also called interference-eliminator codes). These codes allow two-way radio users to connect via a combination of channel and code.

Other features to consider are size, shape and weight. Lighter, less bulky two way radios fit better in backpacks and also are better for restaurant wait staff and others working in high-traffic areas. Skiers, mountaineers and workers who wear protective gloves will want an ergonomic design. Hands-free features, such as VOX (voice activated broadcasting), are important for many situations, as is a noise filter for crowded or noisy environments.

For safety, a Garmin RINO radio (Radios Integrated with Navigation for the Outdoors) allows users to broadcast their location coordinates – a potentially life-saving feature in, for instance, an emergency on the hiking trails, ski slopes or large work facilities where dangerous machinery is used. And a weather radio taps into the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather band stations for local forecasts and weather conditions. offers a full array of systems designed for various professions and environments. If you need help finding one that’s perfect for you call 888-560-0758 or email us to talk with a two way radio specialist today.

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