We’re sharing the X-Talker Two-Way radios from Midland today, because you should not rely on your cell phone during a natural disaster or other emergency. They are also handy for hiking, camping, mountain biking, trips to the beach, and all sorts of other outdoor activities. Yes, your phone does have its place, but in the event of a disruption in service, or when you are out of range of towers, you need to think outside the box a bit. And that’s where a set of two-way radios comes in handy.
Midland has dozens of radios, for every need and budget. We asked for a set that met some basic criteria. First, They had to have weather channel options. Next, they had to have more than one battery option, including USB charging. Finally, they had to have decent range.
The weather scan feature of the T61VP3 (their official model number) will scan for your local channel, and when it finds one broadcasting, you’ll get an update on any important weather concerns. You can also set the Weather Alert to inform you of new broadcasts. This feature is great when you are outdoors, such as on a hike, or when you’ve set up camp and want to go explore. Rain can be cool, but lightning, hail, flash floods, and tornadoes, not so much. It goes without saying that to have this feature while at home is just as handy.
AAA batteries are almost as easy to find as their big brother, the AA, but even they will not always be available. And we like to avoid disposables as much as we can. Being able to charge this set via USB makes them far more useful too. The included 3.6v 700mAh packs (or you can use 3xAAAs per radio) charge very fast, even via USB. That USB option is also important, as it allows us to use a solar panel, or a large battery pack charged via solar, to top them up. During a longer trip, or extended power outage, we find this is the best way to go. With the prices of solar coming down, while the panels get more efficient, the weight penalty is no longer an issue when hiking, and not a concern at all when home.
Having a max range of 32 miles, these radios certainly pack some decent power. But that’s under optimal conditions, and when using the GMRS channels, which require an FCC license. Throw in some buildings, tall trees, or big hills, and your range gets cut down quite a bit. In our actual use, they work fine on channels 8-14, the FRS channels which you don’t need a license for. The only time we used them where we knew the actual distance, it was more than one half mile, and the transmission was very clear. That was flat park land, with tall trees and some small rolling hills. For use across a large camp site, or on a hike where your group is strung out along the trail a bit, they should be fine.
There are other features to the X-Talker radios, such as extra channels, 5 call tones, 121 privacy codes, a “Roger” beep, push to talk (PTT) button, or optional headsets with voice activation, and even headsets for helmets. We found the included USB dual charging base and belt clips were enough for us. Just check them once in a while, and charge as needed. The MSRP of $69.99 is very reasonable, but if you are on a budget, the T31VP radios have most of the same features, a little less power, and are $30 less. Either set would be a good choice. See all the X-Talker radios at MidlandUSA.
Special thanks to Midland for providing these radios for our review, and allowing us to keep in touch while out testing gear.