Written by Terry Smith
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UK’s best walkie talkies: Top two way walkie talkies for pros, kids, construction, and camping rated on price and range
This article was last updated on November 23rd, 2021 at 2:39 am
Walkie talkies have been around for as long as I can remember. I have memories of getting a cheap kids version for Christmas when I was about eight or nine years old and playing with them non-stop with my brother and friends until the batteries ran out (which wasn’t long in those days).
The practicality of walkie talkies can’t be denied and to this day they are still used in so many different industries as a way for workers to keep in constant contact with each other, from security in shopping malls, music festivals, etc. to construction workers operating on large sites. They are also extremely popular with people who go hiking or camping in the wilderness on a regular basis as they are a much more reliable form of communication than mobile phones when you are in the middle of nowhere.
They are especially useful when going out into the wild with kids, you know, those little people who have the terrifying tendency to wander off when you’re not looking. A walkie talkie can get you back in contact with them instantly if you lose sight of them, allowing you to track them down and avoiding a heart attack in the process.
Best walkie talkies in the UK: Editors pick
Best walkie talkies overall: coinflip between the Retevis RT24 and the Motorola T92
Best walkie talkie with an earpiece: Retevis RT24 Walkie Talkie Best with an earpiece at a low price. Surprisingly good sound quality for a lower budget item.
Best walkie talkies for camping: Radioddity GA-2S Walkie Talkies Overall good performance, relatively low cost, and deals for buying multiple units, these are good for families going camping.
Best license free walkie talkie: eSynic Walkie Talkies: Having the option to tweak settings and use this walkie talkie with or without a license is a great feature.
Best walkie talkies for kids: Retevis RT628 Kids Walkie Talkies. These things are durable, inexpensive, and have a privacy code to keep strangers out of the conversation.
Motorola T92 H2O walkie talkies- best walkie talkies for range. In the open countryside you can expect up to 7km of range.
*professional use* DeWalt DXPMR800 Heavy Duty Walkie Talkie– best for construction thanks to excellent shock resistance and waterproofing. If budget no issue this is where you turn.
Budget pick: eSynic Walkie Talkies
There are two main classifications of walkie talkies in the UK- licensed and unlicensed. Licensed walkie talkies are more powerful and so require licensing so that the Office of Communications (OFCOM), the national regulatory body, can assign frequencies and control the amount of traffic on certain lines. This makes it less likely to be interrupted and so they are usually the type used by businesses.
Unlicensed models don’t need to be regulated like this because they are under 0.5 watts when it comes to their output power and are limited to the number of channels they can have. These are the types that a lot people use for their camping trips and such just to keep in touch with each other. They are usually much cheaper than licensed walkie talkies but don’t offer the same level of range, privacy and security.
Below you will find reviews of the most popular walkie talkies that people are buying these days and also the best walkie talkie buyer’s guide that will provide you with hints and tips about what to look for in a good walkie talkie.
Walkie Talkie Buyer’s Guide
So, you’re looking at buying a decent set of walkie talkies for your next camping or fishing trip, for use at work, or just something for the kids to play with, but you don’t really know what you should be looking for. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could list down the main characteristics that go into the best walkie talkies so you could get a better idea? Well, aren’t you lucky? We have done just that.
License free or licensed walkie talkies?
Most low cost walkie talkies are license free and this means that they are limited to 0.5 watts of power output and also to 16 channels. They have less range than licensed walkie talkies too, but are much cheaper, especially low-cost models like the Retevis RT628 which goes for well under twenty quid.
Licensed models, also called GMRS models, are much more powerful, even up to ten times as powerful as some unlicensed walkie talkies, and thus have a much greater range. They are generally more expensive and also require you to have a license to use them, which is an added expense. There are low cost models out there that can act as both though but require you to set up the device correctly.
Still feel a little confused? Well, here’s a short video that does a good job of explaining the difference in the UK-
CHIRP is software that makes it easy to program your walking talkie by using your computer or laptop. You can change all kinds of settings using CHIRP and program the channels as you want them. On some higher powered models you can change the power settings so that you can use the walkie talkie legally without needing a license.
Retevis RT24 is just one of the featured products on this page that are CHIRP compatible, however you will usually need to buy the required connection leads separately in order to take advantage of the feature.
Before buying a walkie talkie online read through the comments section and reviews like the ones on this page to see what people are saying about the quality of the sound. There’s no point a walkie talkie having a great range if you can’t understand a word that is being said by the other person.
The DeWalt DXPMR800 Heavy Duty Walkie Talkie is an example of a walkie talkie that has exceptionally clear sound, and you can even hear clearly amongst the racket of a construction site.
Advertisers will always exaggerate about the maximum range of their walkie talkies, some a little, some a lot. It may state that the device has a range of 10 kilometers for example, but this is in perfect circumstances and conditions and you are very unlikely to get anywhere near what is claimed. There are exceptions to this though, just like the Motorola T92 which has excellent range, so once again I would read up on what customers are saying about the true range of a walkie talkie rather than believing the adverts. Also, you have to understand that using walkie talkies in built up areas will drastically shorten the practical range of any model.
If you’re using a license free walkie talkie, there is always the chance that someone could be listening in to your conversation. This is where privacy codes come in.
Privacy codes don’t completely stop third parties from being able to hear you, but they do help a lot. If you are going to let kids play with walkie talkies, privacy codes are a very good feature to have because you never know who might be listening. Again, the fact that this feature is present on the Retevis RT628 makes it perfect for kids to play in safety.
The following clip goes into more detail on the subject if you’re interested:
Other features to look out for
Other features that are useful are VOX, or voice activation which allows you to operate the walkie talkie without having to use your hands to press the PTT button, waterproofing to a good IP level, lithium ion batteries and USB charging function. An LCD screen can be handy when it comes to keeping an eye on battery level and signal strength, and removable antennae can also be a good way of getting more range by swapping the standard one with a larger unit. LCD flashlights for nighttime use, alarms, call tones, and auto squelch are also handy extras.
1. Motorola Tlkr T92 H2O PMR446 2-Way Walkie Talkie
For the money, you’d be hard pressed to find a pair of walkie talkies that are better than these T92 ones from motorola, which deliver excellent all round performance and an admirable build quality.
The Motorola T92 is just the thing for your camping trips, especially if you’re going to be doing some hiking during that trip. I say this, because they are extremely waterproof and will even float if dropped in a deep puddle or a stream. So you can just fish it out and it will continue to work without any bother.
What’s more, integrated lights will automatically turn on when the walkie talkie is dropped in water, making it much easier to locate. Now, that’s a handy feature if I’ve ever seen one. These lights can be used as a torch to light your way too, and there are white and red modes to choose from.
Thanks to the robust plastic casing and other solid components, the T92 can cope with being manhandled by even the heaviest hands, and as for your kid’s butter fingers- not a problem either, the odd fall to the ground won’t hurt them (the walkie talkies I mean, not your kids).
Although the range for a conversation that is understandable by both parties isn’t quite up to the 10km that Motorola claims, we did find that it was better than a lot of other unlicensed walkie talkies in this price range. I would say we had crystal clear communication at around 3m while in town, around 5 in the countryside with some natural obstructions like hills and trees, and when in open areas, it went up to around 7km or so.
There’s a ton of features to like on the T92, and to go into each, in detail, would just take too long. However the ones that stand out are the 8 channels and 121 codes, 20 call tons, VOX hands free, the aforementioned flashlight, auto squelch, dual channel watch, and nuisance channel delete. And that’s just a taste of what’s on offer!
Included with the walkie talkies are NiMH rechargeable batteries, and you can use a micro USB to keep them charged through the built-in port on the main unit of the walkie talkie. This is so much easier than carrying around spare batteries, but I would recommend changing the batteries for better quality ones as the ones provided took a long time to charge and didn’t last as long as I hoped.
These are very user friendly walkie talkies, with a simple interface and easy to understand LCD display and control system. Even though there are a ton of features, you never really feel confused or lost trying to find them as you can with some models, and the VOX feature even allows you to use your voice to operate the walkie talkies, so you can keep your hands inside those pockets where it’s nice and warm.
To sum up, I’d say that once you’ve swapped out the provided batteries for some better quality ones, you’ll have a pair of walkie talkies that you’ll be extremely happy with. Their hardiness makes them just the thing for hiking and camping, they’re stacked with features, and they give you a nice, clear reception at decent ranges.
- Very good range in the countryside
- Simple interface is very easy to use and practical
- Extremely durable and waterproof and can be used even after being dropped in water a metre deep.
- A ton of great features such as auto squelch, VOX hands free, and more.
- Batteries that come with the device could be better
2. Retevis RT24 Walkie Talkie
The Retevis RT24 walkie talkie is yet another outstanding two way radio, but this time for a bargain price. The device is constructed of a sturdy alloy metal middle frame encased in strong and hard wearing plastic. The antennae, dials, and buttons all feel substantial, especially the large PTT button on the side, and the button gives a reassuring feedback sound when you press them to let you know that it is working properly.
A great feature of this Retevis walkie talkie is that there are multiple charging options. It contains and runs off a 1100mAh lithium ion Battery that will last about 12 hours while in use and will last for around 72 hours when on standby. If your battery is getting low, you can either charge it by plugging the charging dock into your car cigarette lighter, or by inserting a USB charging cable (not supplied, but they are very common and cheap to buy) and powering it up via the mains, a laptop or even a power bank.
When it comes to available channels, the RT24 gives you the maximum allowed for walkie talkies without paying for a license, that’s 16 channels, twice as many major channels as the Motorola T92, so you have less chance of getting interference from other, third party users.
We tested these in the town and also out in the Yorkshire countryside to see what kind of range they could muster. In town it was about what you would expect from walkie talkies that are going for under 30 pounds, about 600 metres, but out in more open, yet hilly areas the range increased to about 2 kilometres before we started losing decent connections.
In its working range, the RT24 walkie talkie produces a very loud and clear sound quality and not at all like some of the muffled communications that I have had with other models of the same price. For the low cost, I was surprised at what was included in the packaging. There were 2 RT24 walkie talkies and each came with its own charging dock, lithium ion battery, sling, belt clip, and earpiece. That’s very good value for money and while the accessories aren’t quite up to the very high standards of the Motorola T92, they are still more than adequate.
The RT24 doesn’t have all the special features that the Motorola T92 has, nor does it have the same top level quality, but it does have all the basic functions needed and it performs very well for something that costs a fraction of the price of the Motorola model, and that is why it is a best seller and on our list of best walkie talkies in the UK.
- Good quality for the low price tag
- Comes with an impressive amount of accessories and extras
- 12 hours use on a single charge, 72 hours on standby
- Clear sound quality at up to 2km when in the open countryside
- Not good for over 600 metres in built up areas
3. DeWalt DXPMR800 Heavy Duty Professional Walkie Talkie
When looking for a walkie talkie to use on a construction site, you need it to have a few specific features, namely- to be hard wearing and have shock resistance, a good reception even in the presence of walls and other obstacles, and good battery life. The Dewalt DXPMR800 has all of these, and more, but you’ll have to pay a bit more for them. They are nice in the hand and small enough too so ideal to carry about:
These are rugged walkie talkies, and have a robust, non-slip casing that’ll protect the working parts when the device is inevitably dropped on site. Even with a non-slip design, dirty work gloves make it hard to hold onto things, so it’s good to know that the Dewalt DXPMR800 will still be ok after a fall from up to 2 metres.
I’d say the range for these is perfect for a construction site, and talking to people on higher or lower floors doesn’t seem to cause any major problems with the quality of the sound. Nor did all background noise from construction complicate my ability to hear things clearly, but I wouldn’t think they would get anywhere near the 10km range claimed in the advertising unless you were in perfect conditions.
One thing I really like on the DXPMR800 is the battery saving feature. If the walkie talkie detects no signals for 10 minutes, it will automatically put itself into power saving mode.This really does save battery life, and you can expect to get a long day’s work done before having to pop the devices back on their charging stations.
Like the Motorola T92 H2O, these Dewalt DXPMR800 radios have esy and intuitive controls, and have a hands-free VOX system that you can use with the included earpieces. This system is really handy for when you’re on the job, and have your hands full or preoccupied, as you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to speak to someone.
Now we all know that if you’re going to be on site, it’s probably going to rain (sod’s law), and this means that your walkie talkies need to be highly waterproof. Again Dewalt has you covered and these DXPMR800 radios have been tested and certified with an IP67 rating, meaning that you won’t have to panic if you drop them in a puddle.
The only thing I didn’t care for with these walkie talkies is that the belt clips are really not that secure at all, but that’s an easy thing to find a solution for, so it’s not realy big complaint. At the end of the day, these walkie talkies are meant to be used on the job site, and for that I think they are top-notch.
- Shock resistant from 2 metre falls
- IP67 rated for waterproofing
- Excellent battery saving function that works automatically
- Hands free VOX system is ideal for construction work
- Belt clips weren’t the best, but it’s not the end of the world.
4. Radioddity GA-2S Walkie Talkies
Customisation is always a welcome trait on any electronic device, so I was happy to see that Radioddity had taken this into account with their GD-2S walkie talkie. It arrives with 16 channels already set up for you to use, but you can edit these and other settings by using a cable to connect the walkie talkie to your laptop and working with either GA-2S software or CHIRP software. The cable doesn’t come as standard but you can request a free one from Radioddity or use an old Baofeng one if you have one lying around as they fit and work just fine.
Another very useful customisable feature of the GA-2S walkie talkie is the removable/changeable antennae. While the stock antennae is perfectly fine for most tasks, and will give you about 500 metres of range in town, if you feel you need to use it over a much longer distance, you can always swap it out for a longer one.
It’s this flexibility that I really like about this walkie talkie. You can either use it as it comes as a very good basic unlicensed model, or tinker with a few settings, change the antennae, and you have something far more powerful. Just remember, if using this on the full 2 watt power and a larger antennae, you will be breaking the law if you don’t get a license.
Even though the GA-2S is lightweight and compact enough to easily sit the hand, it is still a solid bit of kit. Just like the Retevis RT-24 walkie talkie, this one has a solid middle frame and sturdy plastic casing. The buttons and controls also feel durable.
Speaking of buttons, there is an extra button that sits under the PTT button on the side of the walkie talkie that can be programmed to function as either an alarm or monitor button. You do need the programming cable and software to do this though, but the instruction manual is really good and explains the process well. Radioddity also has a good customer service line to help with programming the device should you run into trouble.
On the other side of the device there are the ports for the air acoustic earpiece and a micro USB port. With the supplied headset in place it makes using the VOX voice activation mode all that much easier, and the USB port means that charging can be done via the mains using a mobile phone charger, straight from your car, your computer or laptop, and a power bank. The battery life on this device is excellent, giving you a whopping 96 hours standby time on a full charge and running for a full day and more, quite easily.
For a walkie talkie that costs under 30 pounds there are lots of functions to tinker around with such as the VOX function, time out timer, busy channel lockout, and battery saving mode. The sound quality is also surprisingly clear and comes from a 1 watt speaker.
For 30 pounds you get two walkie talkies with charging stations, USB cables, belt clips, and ear pieces. There is also the option to buy a set of 4, or even 6, and you save a few quid by doing so. These are great walkie talkies that offer you some nice customisation options. They are well built, and low on the price range. What’s not to like?
- Great customization features allows you to get things just as you want them
- Discounts on multiple units makes them good for families going on camping or hiking trips
- Low price tag but still good quality, and coming with a lot of accessories
- USB charging makes things easy and convenient and battery life is excellent
- Doesn’t come with the cables needed to reprogram things
5. eSynic Walkie Talkies
Available to buy at just under 29 pounds when I wrote this, the eSynic double set of walkie talkies offer you a lot of ‘bang for your buck’. Before we get into the review let’s take a little look:
In fact they might offer a little too much ‘bang’ as they arrive set up on frequencies and at a power setting that actually makes them illegal to use without a license. You need to plug them into a computer and use CHIRP software to lower the power settings and change the frequencies to make them legal before switching them on and using them. Again though, the program cable isn’t included (I don’t know why none of these companies provide one??) so you’ll need to invest in one separately. I read that you could connect the charging dock to a PC and program it that way, but I couldn’t personally get it to work. Then again, I’m not the most computer savvy person in the world.
On full power mode, and with a license, you can use these eSynic walkie talkies to communicate over a distance of about 3 kilometres in very open spaces and still have a clear sound coming through, but when using them on unlicensed settings that drops significantly, especially in a building or built up area where we struggled to get 400 metres.
They come with the usual array of accessories- slings, charging docks, belt clips, earpieces, etc. and the quality of them is very decent for the low price except for the earpieces which I can’t see lasting long.
The charging docks use USB cables and will fully charge the lithium ion batteries within half a day or so. The batteries can slide out easily to be mounted in the charging dock or you can choose to just insert the whole walkie talkie unit instead. There are LED lights that let you know when charging is complete.
Extra functions include a powerful LED torch light for nighttime use (which I think all walkie talkies should have), a low battery alarm, and noise reduction.
The noise reduction features help to give a clear sound quality and you won’t have problems understanding each other, but it is not quite up to the standards of our three previous reviews above. For just over 20 quid you can’t grumble too much at that though.
And that sums up these walkie talkies. They are good for the price, and would make excellent gifts for the kids to play with, but there are superior models out there for a little more money.
- Very good sound quality for the price
- Have the potential to be used as a more powerful, licensed walkie talkie
- LED torch light for nighttime walks and hikes
- Good for 3km range in wide open spaces and under 400m in town when used as a licensed model
- If you’re not careful, you could break the law. So, check the power settings before use.
6. Retevis RT628 Kids Walkie Talkies
Kids love playing with walkie talkies but trusting them with your 100 pound or more priced gadgets is probably not at the top of your agenda. This is why there are a lot of companies who make walkie talkies specially designed for children. Unfortunately, a lot of them are not really worth the money you pay for them and you might find that they have very short range, pick up a lot of interference, and break very easily. This is not the case with the excellent RT628 walkie talkies from Retevis.
These devices would make great gifts for kids over the age of six. They are designed to be held comfortably by small hands measuring just 16 x 2.8 x 5.5 cm and weigh in at just over 90 grams. They do look the business for kids:
Retevis have done really well to make something that is compact and lightweight enough for kids to play with but still durable enough to take the kind of abuse that can only come from kids at play. The outer casing is a very strong plastic and all the external parts like the antennae and buttons will be able to take a hammering without breaking any time soon.
These are available in four different colours –black, red, camouflage, and silver, with the army camouflage being my nephew’s favourite. We tested these out in the town and got a decent reception at 500 metres on the high power setting which is really good for kid’s walkie talkies. I don’t doubt that they will work even better once out in the countryside. Of course, if you want to save battery life and opt for low power mode, your range will suffer a bit.
The RT628 walkie talkies have 8 usable channels and 10 different call tones to choose from. There is a vox hands free mode and even a keypad lock designed to let even young kids play without worrying that your settings will be changed. In action though it only takes them to figure out that they hold the menu button for a few seconds and it unlocks.
Retevis have really thought about making these walkie talkies safe for kids and have added a privacy code feature so that no third parties can listen in on your children’s conversations. If you have more than two of these walkie talkies, they can all speak to each other using the same channel and privacy code.
The front of the walkie talkie features an easy to see LCD screen that displays various information such as battery level and channel, and below and to the sides of this screen are where most of the control buttons can be found. These buttons are clearly marked and made of hard wearing rubber.
Power comes from 3 AAA batteries which you have to buy separately. As far as kid’s walkie talkies go, these are top notch, and my only problem with them is that I never had anything like this when I was a kid.
- Excellent choice for kids. Durable and much better quality than most children’s walkie talkies
- Very good sound quality
- Privacy code feature to keep your kid’s conversations private.
- Compact and designed for smaller hands
- Lower power mode will save battery but reduce range noticeably