Best Hunting Radios of 2020 – Complete Review

If you want mobile communications while hunting, finding the right radio can connect you to the other members of your group while also providing vital weather alerts and access to emergency channels.

Read on to see what products we recommend and what features are most important before you buy.

Our Top Picks for Hunting Radios

  • Versatile, functional
  • Various channels
  • Many extras
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  • Easy to use
  • Improved privacy
  • Versatile device
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  • Best for the Money
  • Many extras
  • Durable, lightweight
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Comparison of Best Hunting Radios

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Channel scan included to search for activity
  • Comes with a wide range of 50 channels included
  • Dual desktop charger, belt clip and many more included in the package
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  • Equipped with vibracall vibration alert
  • 121 privacy codes for 22 channels for interference protection
  • Equipped with iVox hands-free communication option
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  • Best for the Money
  • Includes a dual-band antenna with charger and adapter
  • Casing made from strong and durable plastic material
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  • Equipped with Burp vibrating feature to easily hear it
  • Comes with the sea-ready feature for when dropped in the water
  • Ac and dc chargers included with many other extras
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  • USB charging option included for easy charging
  • Air acoustic earpiece for improved privacy
  • Made from strong durable materials to last longer
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When Would Hunting Radios Be Useful?

Hunting radios provide several key features that are specific to hunting and unavailable with other types of radios. Here's a closer look at why hunting radios are useful: 

Organizing Movement and Establishing Locations

If you hunt with a group of participants, it can be helpful to communicate when needed to alert others to your location and your progress pursuing your target. For hunters that move around a lot in pursuit of game, communicating with your party can make your hunting more efficient and safer.

Weather Conditions

Hunting radios are also useful when the weather is unpredictable or when you need to stay up-to-date on alerts or weather changes. If you tend to move around a lot while hunting or you hunt in areas where natural disasters are more common, having a radio can provide valuable information so you can assess risk on the go.

Midland GXT1000VP4

Safety

Using radios while hunting can also help you position your party well as you hunt, allow you to flush out prey more accurately, and locate each other should you get lost or there's an emergency.

Many radios also allow you to access emergency channels, and in certain situations, a radio can allow you to call for help when a cell phone doesn't have service. Using your radio, you can also convey critical information about your location to others in your party, so they don't accidentally mistake you for the target and let you alert them if you become lost or injured.

What Are Hunting Radio Privacy Codes and What Are They Used For? 

Every two-way radio will have a set number of channels, which features the frequencies allotted by the FCC. Privacy codes ensure that someone cannot access the channel that you're on and eavesdrop on your conversation without your knowledge.

There are two kinds of privacy codes, CTCSS and DCS, and the receiving unit will remain silent unless the appropriate privacy code comes along with the incoming message. While the radios handle this function without the user needing to get involved, you will need to have your radio set to the correct channel and use the right code for that channel.

Quick Take | Best Hunting Radios

Just looking for the three best hunting radios? Here they are:

  1. Midland GXT1000VP4
  2. Motorola MR350R Two-Way Radio
  3. BaoFeng BF-F8HP

Review of the Best Hunting Radios 

Hunting radios provide vital communication when you're out with multiple participants, and finding a reliable unit with helpful features is critical.

Best Overall:
Midland GXT1000VP4

Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radio - Long Range Walkie Talkie with 142 Privacy Codes, SOS Siren, and NOAA Weather Alerts and Weather Scan (Black/Silver, Pair Pack)

PROS

  • A 36-mile range
  • Includes mic headsets
  • NOAA Weather alerts and scanning
  • 22 channels with 142 privacy codes
  • Features an external speaker and mic jack

CONS

  • The receiver is noisy
  • Performance suffers if you use other batteries

What Recent Buyers Report​

Buyers love that these radios have an exceptionally long range, and many reports these devices work well under commercial conditions or heavy use. 

For hardcore radio enthusiasts, these radios may fall short in some areas, but hunters appreciate how easy they are to use and the features that make their lives easier when outside such as voice-activated transmission, numerous channels, and headset-style mics.

Why it Stands Out to Us​

The Midland radios offer a 36-mile range and 22 different channels complete with 142 privacy codes. This setup makes getting started straight out of the box much easier, and you can check the weather and stay informed on any NOAA weather alerts.

These radios allow you to scan various channels to search for activity, and they are waterproof for added durability. The privacy codes allow you to block out other conversations and these units use Easy Voice and Sound Activation Transmission (eVOX), so you can use them hands-free.

The package also includes two mic headsets, two belt clips, and two rechargeable battery packs along with essential adapters and a charger.

Bottom Line​

The Midland radios offer up hands-free operation and a long 36-mile range, which makes them ideal for hunting and rugged use in a variety of conditions thanks to their JIS4 waterproof protection. These radios also allow you to use privacy codes to keep your hunting conversations private.

Motorola MR350R 35-Mile Range 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair)

PROS

  • Hands-free operation
  • Up to 35-miles of range
  • Real-time weather channels
  • Large, easy to press buttons
  • 22 channels with 121 privacy codes each

CONS

  • Practical range while hunting is a mile or two
  • The rechargeable battery pack doesn't last all-day

What Recent Buyers Report​

Many buyers purchased this product and decided to replace the rechargeable battery packs with traditional disposable batteries for their all-day hunting excursions. Users also like the long-range on these radios, which decreases in dense brush cover, but it is still strong enough for clear communications in a wide variety of applications.

Why it Stands Out to Us​

The Motorola radios provide powerfully clear communication on hunting trips with easy, hands-free use and 22 channels that each come with 121 potential privacy codes. These radios also feature a built-in flashlight, PTT power boost, and a rating of IP-51, so they're rugged enough to withstand any conditions you encounter.

You can also stay updated on the current weather conditions thanks to the real-time weather channels and NOAA weather alerts these radios offer. The battery life is approximately 23 hours, and these radios have VibraCall alerts, so you never need to worry about missing communications.

Bottom Line​

These radios are ideal for hunting as they resist dust and falling water, have a long battery life, and offer a wide variety of channels, including weather channels. You can also use these radios hands-free, and the VibraCall feature allows you to choose from 20 tones.

Best for the Money:
BaoFeng BF-F8HP

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery

PROS

  • 128 channels
  • Two power levels
  • 104 transmission tones
  • Battery saving time-out function
  • Dual standby and watch functions

CONS

  • Small buttons and an inset screen
  • The screen doesn't light up for incoming transmissions until they're complete

What Recent Buyers Report​

Many buyers love the look of these backlit screens with the clearly visible characters, but they aren't crazy about how it dims on standby or fails to light up until after an incoming transmission is complete. Other than this small detail, these radios have a rugged and comfortable design, clear reception, and are user friendly.

Why it Stands Out to Us​

These rugged radios stand out to us for their long list of features and a very reasonable price that makes them an ideal option for hunting excursions. The LCD is easy to read in low-light conditions, and the keypad makes inputting information faster.

This model has a fully upgraded internal hardware set compared to the previous model but still has backward-compatible batteries and accessories for convenience. There are 128 channels, 104 different tones, and the option between 1-watt of power and 5-watts of power.

We also like that this radio has a time-out timer to save battery power, uses VOX, and comes with helpful accessories like an earphone mic.

Bottom Line​

This inexpensive radio option comes with all the accessories and features you'd expect but at a lower price. It's powerful enough for several miles of range while hunting and is easy to use straight out of the box, which also contains an earphone mic, belt clip, and hand strap.

Best Water-Friendly Option:
 Cobra MR HH350 FLT

Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio – 6 Watt, Submersible, Noise Cancelling Mic, Backlit LCD Display, NOAA Weather, Memory Scan, Grey

PROS

  • Multiple power settings
  • Ten NOAA channels for weather
  • Waterproof and fully submersible
  • The microphone has noise canceling
  • Access to two channels for emergencies

CONS

  • Not impervious to saltwater
  • Only charges with the supplied base

What Recent Buyers Report​

Buyers note that while this radio claims to be submersible in water, doing so shortens this device's life dramatically. If you're hunting near saltwater, you'll also need to clean the device thoroughly to prevent damage. Otherwise, this device seems to work well for damp conditions. 

Why it Stands Out to Us​

Cobra has a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality communication equipment, and their radios are no exception. These units claim to be fully submersible, with a rating of IPX8, and offer multiple power settings at one, three, or six watts of power to preserve your battery life and extend your calling range.

As with many radios, there are NOAA weather channels available and emergency weather alerts, but two channels come programmed for emergency situations that come with instant access. These devices also keep specific channels in memory so you can easily find current conversations.

Bottom Line​

The Cobra radios offer enhanced water resistance ideal for wet hunting conditions and adjustable power settings to extend your range as needed. These devices also feature large, easy to press buttons but also work hands-free with a noise-canceling mic.

Best Multi-Unit Option:
Radioddity GA-2S

Radioddity GA-2S Long Range Walkie Talkies Two Way Radio for Camping/Security/Business with Micro USB Charging + Air Acoustic Earpiece with Mic + 1 Programming Cable (6 Pack)

PROS

  • 18-month warranty
  • 96-hour battery life on standby
  • Portable charging with a micro USB cable
  • Ready to use out of the box with 16 frequencies
  • Up to 3- miles of range with a true 2-watts of power

CONS

  • The belt clip isn't spring-loaded
  • No screen for additional information to display

What Recent Buyers Report​

Many buyers love that these radio charges with a micro USB so they can charge it in their car or on the go. The lack of a screen isn't mentioned as a drawback as the device announced each channel, and the radios provide clear communication, connect with HAM repeaters at various distances, and have good battery life.

Why it Stands Out to Us​

These radios may not look like the others on our list since they're missing a screen, but they're one of the few that charge with micro USB or a cradle for better convenience and offer clear communication for over a mile in even dense neighborhoods.

These units charge quickly, offer a number of preset frequencies, and come with headsets. It's possible to charge a unit in as little as 2.5 hours, and the shape of the unit is comfortable to hold in hand with loud and crisp audio. Each radio comes with its own set of accessories, so you'll have plenty of chargers, earpieces, belt clips, and wrist straps with no need to share.

Bottom Line​

This set of six radios features a rugged design and comes with a series of accessories, including micro USB charging, so you have everything you need when mobile. These radios offer crisp sound, an excellent battery life, and enough power for a suitable range in a variety of environments.

Characteristics of Our Favorite Hunting Radios 

When it comes to finding a good hunting radio, we like to look for a few key characteristics:

  • Range
  • Works quietly
  • Durability
  • NOAA Weather Alerts and Channels
  • A camouflaged Exterior

Range is important as hunting is frequently done in areas well covered with brush and trees, which can reduce how well your radio will work. You'll also want a radio that you can use silently with a headset, so you don't scare away your target. Durability is also a factor as you'll be exposed to the weather while hunting and dust and water can quickly shorten a radio's life.

NOAA channels offer vital weather information and alert to keep you safe when the weather turns bad unexpectedly. Many radios offer these channels as pre-programmed options, and some come with instant access to emergency frequencies. 

Lastly, the exterior should be free of lights you cannot turn off and shouldn't be reflective or flashy while you are hunting. Many radios don't have a screen at all, or the screen turns off except when you adjust the settings to ensure that the light doesn't give away your position while hunting.

Dos and Don'ts of Using a Radio For Hunting

You want to use and care for your hunting radios in a certain way to best protect them from damage and ensure the best results when in the field.

Do Handle Your Radio Properly

Don't carry your radio by its antenna as this can damage it and cause it to fail over time. It's also best that you secure your radio with a belt clip or hand strap whenever possible to avoid it falling to the ground and potentially breaking.

Don't use your radio as a tool or allow it to bump into things as you move around. This kind of contact can damage the housing and internal components.

Don't Overcharge

It's important not to overcharge your hunting radio as this can impact the overall battery life over time. Leaving your radio on the charger for extended periods causes the battery to become less effective over time.

Do Know Your Local Laws

Not all of the settings and power options on your radio will be legal to use in your area, so you must do a bit of basic research to determine what frequency or setting is appropriate to use. Many hunters use a low power setting of 1-watt very successfully, but for a more extended range, you may need a higher level of power, and you'll need to confirm that's allowed in your area.

Conclusion 

A good-quality hunting radio with decent power for range and crisp communication that you can easily use is a valuable asset during any group hunting trip. These devices not only keep you in close communication with other hunters you're with but it ensures you have the latest weather information and the ability to communicate during an emergency swiftly.

People Also Ask

When considering different hunting radios, many frequently asked questions pop up as you decide between different brands, features, and capabilities. Here's our list of common questions, so you have the answers you need to make an informed buying decision.

Do 2 Way Radios Work in the Mountains?

Two-way radios can work very well in the mountains and other areas like forests and valleys that are away from cities. Different types of obstructions can impact the overall range of your radio, such as trees.

Can You Use a Marine Radio on Land?

Unfortunately, it's against the law to use a marine radio on land, as these VHF radios are intended for use "on the water" only.

Why Are Baofeng Radios So Cheap?

Baofeng radios have gained popularity for their inexpensive price and feature-packed units, and these devices don't aim at a specific niche, which is partly why they're so cheap. Baofeng also doesn't spend money on things like expensive advertising, and they keep their business lean by focusing only on product improvements and advancements.

BaoFeng BF-F8HP

Are Baofeng Radios Being Banned?

Baofeng radios are not explicitly banned, but not all of their capabilities are legal in all areas. If you have a Baofeng radio, it's best to confirm what the FCC allows in your area before operating on any band that you choose.

Is It Legal to Use a Radio In Hunting?

It's perfectly legal to use a radio while hunting, but many hunters neglect to confirm how they can legally use their radio in compliance with FCC regulations. Many buyers assume that if the radio has the ability to access different frequencies that it's legal to do so, which is not always the case.

What is the Range For Hunting Radios?

The range of a hunting radio is going to be significantly impacted by a wide variety of features, including the power of the device itself, the conditions where you're using it, and the number of obstructions or interference present.

How to Increase Distance For Hunting 2 Way Radios

To extend your device's range, you can use a better antenna that allows for a greater range, employ a repeater, or use fresh batteries to ensure the strongest signal.

Are Cobra Marine VHF Hand-held Radios Good For Hunting?

It's illegal to use a marine radio for hunting applications or otherwise "off the water" scenarios, so while these devices may technically work well for hunting, it's not a legal practice.

How to Use Earpiece Two Way Radios While Hunting

You'll most likely need to plug the earpiece cable into the receiver to use it while hunting, but it's best to read the product manual to ensure you're taking the proper steps for the best performance.

Will a CB Radio Work For Hunting?

A CB radio is often too large and cumbersome to take hunting, and a two-way radio is far more accessible, lighter, and appropriate for hunting as it's quiet and lacks distracting lights or sounds.