While kayaking, either as a sport, recreation, hunting, fishing, or even in a group, several items should top your checklists for safety on the water, one of which is a communication device. Based on experience and kayaking nature, the best communication device to go for will be a walkie talkie.
Considering the current popularity of a cell phone, one might be tempted to think a mobile phone will suffice as the standard communication tool while kayaking. A mobile phone is all good until you reach a spot on the sea where you will be out of cell service, not to mention the high probability of damaging the phone by getting it soaked in water. In case you need to reach local authorities for help, most radios have channels to connect local stations, which makes them a better fit for kayaking than mobile phones.
With the countless number of two-way radios available in the market, it might not be easy choosing the best waterproof radio for kayaks. There are numerous options to pick from. You probably do not have prior experience with kayak radios, knowing what choice to make may be confusing, which is why we have made a list of the best waterproof walkie talkies for kayaking. This review will help you decide what to look out for in a kayak radio and the best products that may fit your budget.
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Considerations for Choosing Walkie Talkie for Kayaking
Suppose you are confused about what functions you need to have on your radio while going kayaking. In that case, you may want to start by checking if your device is waterproof. Waterproofing is the basic requirement for an ideal kayak radio.
There is a high probability of getting wet while paddling; this could be from storm, rain or snowfall, water splashes, to mention but a few. You need to be sure that your radio can withstand all the weather elements without having its functions impaired. Investing in a waterproof radio is the wisest decision for kayaks.
There are different waterproof ratings for walkie talkies. The IP-67 rating is the most famous, which means the device can be submerged in water about 1-metre deep and still maintain its structural and functional integrity. Some other radios can stay in water for several minutes, even up to 30minutes.
Asides from the above, it is also necessary that you choose a radio with floating abilities. It reduces the risk of losing your device just in case it falls into the sea.
Ease of Use
Kayaking will require you to paddle with your hands, making them busy almost all the time. It would help if you had a radio that is easy to handle and operate, especially when there is an emergency. The weight, size, accessibility of function buttons, display, and programming pattern will contribute to the ease of use.
Every walkie owner will want one that can be easily operated. This attribute is even more important when you are choosing a radio for kayaking. Your waterproof radio kayak has to be portable enough to fit in one hand and still have keypads large enough to ease operation. You also want an LCD that is clear even in broad daylight, so you will not have to squint while operating your radio on the sea.
Kayaking might last for minutes to hours, depending on your choice of activities. You will most likely not have the option of recharging your battery while on water. This is why you need to check the type of battery and its average life span before choosing a kayak radio.
There are different battery types for radios. While some may use lithium-ion batteries, there are others with NiMH batteries, aa batteries, etc. Choose a strong battery with high capacity. Also, check the balance between the power output of your radio and the battery capacity.
Another consideration when choosing your radio is the availability of a USB charging port. The USB makes it possible for you to recharge your battery using a power bank. You may also get a device that is compatible with a wide range of batteries. This broad compatibility affords you the opportunity of getting an extra battery as a back-up.
Range refers to how far your walkie can reach in communication. You may be separated from your group while kayaking, and you do not know how far away they are. Once you are on the same channel, a good waterproof radio should be able to get you in touch with them even at long distances, and this is why you should opt for a long-range radio. If you are sure, you will not have to communicate more than 15miles apart, a short-range radio might suffice.
In determining what range to go for, you may consider the type of activities you have lined-up. You can also balance your option with other factors like size, weight, and particularly price if a strict budget bounds you.
Suppose you do not intend to explore and go far off while kayaking; a short-range radio might do just fine. You may also consider this if you have a group, and you are sure not to wander off your team.
The clarity of communication (audio quality) is also important. Good audio quality is why you need actual waterproof radio reviews beyond the manufacturer’s rating because you need to be sure that you will get quality sound at the stated maximum range attainable. Often time, the values given by the manufacturers cannot be attained in real life, especially on the ocean considering weather factors.
Weather can be unpredictable, and a severe weather change can be dangerous while on the water. This unpredictability of the weather is why a radio with weather channels can be a lifesaver. It would be best to have a radio that can give you updates on current weather conditions and forecasts. The heads up will help to inform your decisions on what time to be paddling or not.
For instance, getting an alert of an upcoming storm will make you head home quickly if you are kayaking before the storm hits or postpone your activities for a day with better weather.
Radios with this capability either connect to NOAA channels or local weather channels (for areas where NOAA channels do not operate) to stay updated on weather news.
GPS helps you to track locations or be tracked just in case you need to be found. It is also very cool if your device has a compass that can help for ocean navigation.
While this function might not be common on most radios, it will be an added advantage to have a radio with a GPS tracker.
To be assured of a good buy, you need to know that you have some insurance over your walkie talkie. Even the best of devices with an impressive recommendation from the manufacturer can still break down. Having a warranty over your radio means you can always request repair or replacement at no cost whenever your radio breaks down within the period and under the conditions stated in the warranty clause.
It is not advisable to go for a radio with no warranty, no matter how enticing the features are or how low the price may be.
Considering all the major factors in choosing waterproof radios for kayaks, we have made a list of the best waterproof walkie talkies below, giving details of their features, pros, and cons. This review should give you in picking your radio for sea kayaking.
15 Best Sea Kayaking Walkie Talkies
1. COBRA CXT1045R
The Cobra CXT1045R FLT camo two-way radios are the perfect radios for your next fishing expedition or your next hike. Cobra CXT1045R two-way radios have a max performance mile-range of 37 miles. It has 22 channels with 121 privacy tones with a built-in NOAA weather and emergency radio receiver. The NOAA weather channels give you information and keep you prepared for storms or emergencies by giving weather alerts. In addition to these features, its floating design and orange core makes it easily retrievable if dropped in water. This makes the Cobra CXT1045R FLT almost ready for anything you throw at it.
- The radio provides you with an extended signal range.
- It automatically records the last 20 seconds of incoming calls to help you keep up with important information.
- It is water-proof.
- Built-in NOAA weather channels.
- You might experience battery drain on prolonged use
2. Midland GXT1030VP4
The Midland GXT1030VP4 Walkie-Talkie carries on the tradition of quality and reliability of Midland’s GXT series by providing multiple transmission power levels, features NOAA weather scan and alerts, it also has 22FRS/GMRS channels and also has 28 pre-programmed privacy channels. The hands-free supported radio is ide for communication when Kayaking or when on boat cruises, or when fishing with a group of friends as it’s JIS4 waterproof protection prevents splashing water from having any harmful effect on it. The GXT1030VP4 is a long-range radio with 36 mile-range, which makes communication easy.
- It is a long-range walkie-Talkie.
- It has a weather-scan feature and 22 channels.
- It is JIS4 water-proof.
- No noise-cancellation feature.
3. Uniden MHS75
The Uniden MHS75 water-proof two-way Marine radio is an easy to operate radio with a design that fits perfectly into your hand. The VHF radio won’t give up no matter how wet it gets, from a little splash to a spray and even a tidal wave. It is submersible for up to 30 minutes at five feet. Hence the JIS8water-proof rating makes it the ideal type for coast-guards and even for kayaking. The Uniden MHS75 walkie-talkies run on one Li-ion battery and have up to 10-hour battery life. One of its amazing features includes having all NOAA weather channels, which gives weather alerts In case of severe weather conditions. The MHS75 two-way set is a long-range model and can be used for both short and long-range communications.
- The radio is compact,
- It is water-proof.
- No hands-free feature.
- Fragile belt clips.
4. Motorola Talkabout T631
Motorola Talkabout T631 Walkie-Talkie is a water-proof two-way radio. It has a fully waterproof design, it is a 35 mile-range Walkie-Talkie, and it has 22 channels with 121 privacy tones. The colorful T631 features top-notch radio functions, including NOAA weather alerts, which give vital information about your area’s weather conditions. The Motorola Talkabout T631 radios are the types to keep you connected and protected for extreme activities like sea kayaking, fishing, boating, etc. With its ability to float and water-activated flashlight, which makes it easily retrievable.
- It has a micro-USB charging.
- Hands-free supported.
- Built-in flashlight.
- NOAA weather radio and alerts.
- Batteries have a short life span.
- Does not have a noise-cancellation feature.
5. Motorola MS350R two Way Radios
The Motorola MS350R is one of the best walkie-Talkies; the waterproof two-way radio is not your average radio. It uses both FRS and GMRS frequencies, providing 22 channels plus 8 repeater channels, each with 121 privacy tones. This high-performance, durable walkie-Talkie has NOAA channels, weather alert feature. It helps you stay up to date about weather conditions.
These radios have a long-lasting battery and run on both AA alkaline batteries and rechargeable batteries. The MS305R walkie-Talkies are long-range radios, and they cover a range of up to 35 miles. The Motorola Talkabout MS350R is water-proof and survives even heavy downpours. It is best suitable for outdoor activities like Kayaking and so on.
- Waterproof two-way radio.
- It is a long-range walkie-talkie.
- It has 22 channels and 8 repeater channels, each with 121 privacy codes.
- It has no hands-free feature.
- No squelch function.
6. Midland GXT1000VP4
The Midland GXT1000VP4 GMRS two-way radio is one of the best walkie-Talkies; the radio comes with lots of excellent features, which include it’s JIS4 waterproof protection. This model has 22 radio channels with 142 privacy codes. It has NOAA channels, which keeps you informed about weather conditions. The Midland GXT1000VP4 can be operated on alkaline batteries or rechargeable battery packs. It is a long-range communication walkie-talkie with a 36 mile-range. It also has an easy voice sound activation transmission (eVox) with 9 sensitivity levels for hands-free operation. The features mentioned above make it the ideal communication walkie-talkie for group water activities like boat cruises and Sea kayaking.
- It is a long-range radio.
- It is splash-resistant.
- It has NOAA weather scan and alerts.
- 22 channels (with 28 extra privacy code channels).
- It doesn’t have a group call feature.
- No anti-squelch function.
7. Midland LXT630VP3
If you love sea kayaking, you will love MIDLAND LXT630VP3 radio. The two-pack radio is one of the best radios for kayaking. The device boasts of 36 FRS (Family Radio Service) channels and a channel scan that scans the channels for activities. The two-way pair provides a range of 30 miles, so you can still enjoy smooth communication when you are on the water. You need to stay updated on weather conditions and the built-in NOAA weather scan through the 10 available weather channels to give you updates on severe weather conditions. The 121 privacy codes allow 2662 combinations for conversations without interference. The Voice-Activated hands-free feature allows you to continue conversing even while you are paddling.
- The built-in NOAA weather alerts ensure you are not at the mercy of weather emergencies while you’re out on the water.
- The 36 channels and 121 privacy codes allow you to have communication on any channel you want.
- The radio has dual power options: the rechargeable battery and 3 AAA batteries.
- The device is water-resistant so that it can withstand water splashes.
- The rechargeable battery has a short battery lifespan.
8. Cobra CXT 1035R
The 2 pack COBRA ACXT1035R is a floating radio that is perfect for any kind of outdoor activities, including sea kayaking. With a range of 37 miles, the radio supports long-distance conversations anywhere you are. Due to the compact design of the two-way radio and its rubberized grip, you can easily carry it anywhere, even in wet environments. These waterproof radios also float, so you might want to consider this device for your next sea adventure. The built-in NOAA weather alerts keep you updated on weather conditions and emergencies, so you know what is coming your way. The LED flashlight feature helps you see at night.
- The Voice Activated Transmission supports hands-free communication, so you can still communicate while you are paddling.
- The radios have the Rewind-Say-Again feature that replays missed radio calls, so you don’t miss any information.
- The belt clips are weak and can easily break off.
9. Retevis RT6
RETEVIS RT6 2 pack two-way radios are powerful by 1800mAH Li-ion rechargeable batteries with 12 hours of battery life. In addition to this, there’s the battery save feature that ensures the battery power is preserved until the radios are needed. The radios are dust and waterproof and can be submerged in water for 30 minutes; this particular feature makes this device an ideal device for transmissions while you are out in the sea.
- The radios work on VHF and UHF dual-band, and they cover almost all commonly used frequency and range.
- The device requires a license.
10. Uniden Atlantis 270
Another waterproof radio for kayaking is the UNIDEN Atlantis 270. It is a one pack marine radio that has all the features you need while you’re out on the water. The radio floats when it drops in the water, and if this happens at night, it glows so you will be able to locate it. The radio features all NOAA weather radio channels and marine channels in the USA and Canada. The Li-Ion batteries provide 10 hours of battery life.
- The waterproof radios are easy to use and operate.
- The radio’s unique ability is the three levels of power it has: 1, 2.5 or 6 watts. You can use 1 or 2.5 watts to preserve battery life and 6 watts for maximum output.
- The radio provides a long range of communication, so you have no issue communicating with a Coast Guard while you’re out in the sea.
- The two-way radios contain some harmful components.
11. Standard Horizon HX150
The Standard Horizon HX150 radio comes in a new form-fitting design that is easy to hold and carry. The radios can be submerged in about 1 meter of water for about 30 minutes. With a battery life of more than 10 hours, the VHF Standard Horizon Radio supports communication for an extended period. The NOAA weather channels constantly give you weather alerts.
These radios are great for kayaking because they can survive in water.
- The waterproof radio comes with a 3year waterproof warranty.
- The waterproof two-way radio features NOAA channels that come in handy.
- The charging base of the radio isn’t strong and can easily develop faults.
12. Uniden GMR-2838-2CK
UNIDEN GMR-2838-2CK 28 mile range radios are waterproof two-way radios that work well in rainy and wet environments. With 22 channels and 121 privacy codes, the radio prevents interference while communicating on any of the channels. Like other walkie talkies, this model features the Voice Activated Transmission that still allows you to communicate while you’re on the water. The radio uses the rechargeable NiMH battery, and it also has the Push to Talk (PTT) function.
- The batteries are long-lasting and easy to charge.
- The long-range allows for smooth communication even when you’re separated from others.
- The belt clips are fragile and might not last long.
13. Motorola T600
MOTOROLA T600 is one of the best waterproof walkie talkies around. This waterproof radio can float on water and has a water-activated flashlight. It has 11 weather channels with NOAA weather alerts that inform you of impending severe weather conditions. Out on the boat, you can get up to a 35-mile range of communication, so you don’t have any issues communicating with your group. Each of the 22 channels has 121 privacy codes, and you can communicate with other FRS/GMRS radios of any brand.
A package contains 2 Radios, 2 NiMH batteries, two belt clips, and cable charging adapters.
- It has the Emergency Alert button that you can use to alert anyone whenever you’re in danger.
- It has a high waterproof rating.
- The actual range of the radio can be affected by factors such as weather conditions and terrains.
14. Retevis RT81
RETEVIS RT81 UHF radio supports both digital and analog modes. Still, the digital mode is more advantageous because it has higher power output, higher voice quality, longer battery life, etc. The radio also supports one-to-one calls, one-to-many calls and many-to-many calls. The device is also waterproof and durable so that it can survive harsh weather conditions. It has 32 long range channels that are easy to program.
- The radios are easy to use.
- The RT81 walkie talkie features active noise cancellation so that you can have clear conversations even in noisy environments.
- The 2200mAh Li-ion battery lasts up to 24 hours.
- It requires a license to use.
15. Standard Horizon HX870
Standard Horizon HX870 is a submersible IPX8 device that can stay in 1.5m of water for 30 minutes. The radios have the noise cancellation function so that information can be passed across without disturbance. You can use either the 1800mAH Li-ion battery or the alkaline battery to power the device. NOAA weather alerts help you know when there are severe weather conditions in your area. The radio provides you with the USA and Canadian Marine channels, and it makes use of VHF marine frequencies.
- The radios have a high power output of 6 watts.
- The device comes with a built-in GPS that gives precise location and navigation information.
- It has a limited battery capacity.
Overall Best Buy
You may find out that the best waterproof walkie talkie will most likely not be the cheapest by most recommendations. It is not to say that reviews do not put price tags into consideration. You may rather want to go for a functional radio than a cheap one that might not perform well. Some radios are expensive but do not have exceptional qualities that may justify such prices. It is why we try to strike a balance in making our recommendation.
COBRA CXT1045R is a great radio that gives the value that matches its cost. With this radio, you will get not just basic features but extra. You can monitor weather channels with the radio. It has a waterproof rating, LED flashing, and even the exclusive “rewind-say-again” function. This radio is a good deal to make for a walkie talkie for kayaking.
Best Budget Buy
Some of the walkie talkies listed manage to deliver exceptionally on functions at a pocket-friendly price. The Uniden Waterproof 2-Way Radios – GMR-2838-2CK is one of the radios worth giving your attention to. Suppose you are limited by your budget and need a reliable radio to serve you on the ocean. In that case, this is the radio for you.
Can I Use a Marine Radio for Kayaking?
While marine radios may be specialized for marine and aviation, it could work instead of conventional waterproof walkie talkies. The main difference is that a marine radio is a VHF radio, which means it can conveniently deliver strong signals on the ocean and in the air because there is almost always no obstruction to impair communication.
Waterproof walkie talkies for kayaking usually use UHF frequencies, but since kayaking is done on water, a marine radio may be just fine. It would be best to check other factors before finally deciding on what kind of radio to pick.