Whether you are a “fair weather” walker or a dedicated hiker who loves to face up to the worst of the elements, walkie-talkies should be the first item packed in any hiker’s pack.
Hikers are spoiled in Ireland, from gentle beach walks to challenging mountains, it is a country that offers boundless possibilities for hikers, and walkie-talkies can maximise the enjoyment of any hike. Two-way radios are a versatile tool that can promote safety, help groups stay in touch, and offer instant and crystal-clear communication over surprisingly long ranges.
This guide describes the benefits of walkie-talkies for hikers and offers some suggestions about how to choose the right walkie-talkie.
The Benefits of Walkie-talkies for Hikers
Hikers the world over are always aware of the importance of communication. Whether you love to ramble on your own, with a few friends, or in organised groups, being able to contact others helps the hike go smoothly and more importantly – They greatly enhance safety.
These days we live in a connected world thanks to the magic of the internet and devices like smartphones. In this uber-connected world, it might seem that walkie-talkies can be considered as yesterday’s technology. But nothing could be further from the truth, and this section describes a few of the benefits that walkie-talkies offer the hiker.
By their very nature, hikers love to head out into the wilds far from other people, population centres… and mobile signals. This is the first benefit of walkie-talkies. These devices are not reliant on mobile signals to operate, nor do they need call or data credit and expensive contracts.
For those heading out into the sticks, this is crucial. Keeping tabs on group members that have lagged or strayed off the path is made easy with simple to use walkie-talkies that don’t require third-party services to operate.
Walkie-talkies are Designed to Withstand the Elements
Even basic sets of walkie-talkies are more robust than all but the toughest smartphones. This is important for all hikers, and in Ireland, where let’s face it, it knows how to rain, this is even more crucial.
Many models are completely waterproof & dustproof, and with toughened cases and small but tough screens, walkie-talkies are built to withstand the rough, tumble, and moisture of a hike in the Irish wilderness.
Great Battery Life
Mobile phones are notorious for their heavy power usage. This is even more evident in areas of patchy or no mobile signal where battery usage is drained as the phone constantly seeks a signal.
Walkie-talkies have no such issues. Most good walkie-talkies will be able to operate throughout a full day’s hike without missing a beat.
Walkie-talkies Greatly Enhance the Safety of Hikers
Combine the first three benefits of this article, and what you have is a device that can work, anywhere, in any conditions, and for hours on end, in short – The perfect safety device!
Even innocuous strolls along forest paths on a perfect summer’s day can end badly. One misstep can lead to a hiker slipping and damaging or breaking limbs. Suddenly that easy stroll back to the car becomes a mountain to climb.
Or the other end of the spectrum, when a hiker becomes separated from the rest of the group amid an unexpected winter blizzard. In any case, emergencies that occur when hiking can and do happen, and the ability to communicate your distress to others can make a life or death difference.
Communication over Long Distances
Although the range of walkie-talkies is affected by external factors like terrain and obstacles, they still offer a range that can be measured in miles as opposed to yards. For instance, the Motorola T82 Extreme is a model that is designed to withstand all the rigours of an arduous winter hike and boasts a maximum range of over 6 miles (10km).
Although the advertised range is always the theoretical maximum that is only achievable in ideal conditions, the actual range is still pretty impressive.
Most people are surprised when they find out just how cheaply they can furnish themselves with a set of walkie-talkies capable of taking on the Irish landscape and elements.
For instance, you can buy a set of 4 of the above mentioned Motorola T82 Extreme for less than the cost of a mid to low-spec smartphone.
What to look for when choosing a walkie-talkie for hiking
Now we know why walkie-talkies make the perfect hiking companion, we can have a look at some of the factors to consider when buying walkie-talkies for hiking.
- Weather Proof – Look for models that have been rated as IPx4. This rating means they have been designed and manufactured to be waterproof.
- Range – Remember that the stated range of a walkie-talkie is the theoretical maximum. Therefore, it is always best to opt for walkie-talkies that offer a far greater range than you will ever require. For instance, if you think that two miles is the maximum range you will ever require, then an option like the lightweight Kenwood TK-3501 with a stated maximum of 9km (5.5 miles) would work perfectly.
- Licensed or Unlicensed – Licensed radios are more powerful, secure, and will often have more features than unlicensed radios. However, for the amateur user and for most hikers, unlicensed radios are the smarter option.
- Battery Life – Ideally, opt for a walkie-talkie that has enough battery oomph to last for a full day’s hike. A good example is the waterproof XT185 from Motorola. This model is pocket-sized and lightweight yet still offers a battery life of up to 24hrs.
- Ease of setup and use – Opt for models that require little setup, are easy to pair, and are simple to use.
Heading off into the great outdoors is something that millions of people in Ireland enjoy regularly. Walkie-talkies can help you get the most out of your outdoor treks and enhance the safety of yourself and others at the same time.
At Walkie Talkie Solutions, our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help fit you out with the perfect walkie-talkies to help you enjoy and keep safe in Ireland’s beautiful countryside.