The Best Emergency Two Way Radios

Two way radios, sometimes also called walkie talkies, are extremely useful for a variety of purposes both in emergency situations and with large families at ski resorts or in a variety of work situations where cell phones are not ideal, such as farms.

Our picks for the best emergency 2 way radios:

Midland 22-Channel Two Way Emergency Radio

Midland is a well known maker of two way and emergency radios and their LXT500VP3 radio system is one of the best emergency two way radios for the money. This package includes two 22 channel radios and a dual unit charging base station (allowing both radios to be charged simultaneously). The 2 way radios can be powered either by rechargeable battery packs (included) or four AAA batteries. These walkie talkies also have an optional low power mode which can elongate the life on a single charge up to an impressive 16 hours. If you need more than 2 units, just buy another set (they will of course work with the same channels). Includes drop in charger.

Range: Up to 24 miles
Channels: 22
Battery: Up to 16 hours

Motorola MH230R Two Way Emergency Radio With Privacy Codes

These two way radios by Motorola have a 23 mile max range and run on the included rechargeable batteries or 3 AAAs. They offer a feature upgrade over the basic Midland unit above because in addition to offering 22 channels, they also offer 11 weather channels (7 of which are NOAA frequencies) to receive emergency broadcast notifications. These are also some of the best emergency 2 way radios because they have so-called “privacy code” modes which let you filter out unwanted conversations on the same frequency (useful for popular frequencies in crowded areas). Also available as a three pack. Optional separate walkie talkie headsets are also available. Includes drop in charger.

Range: Up to 23 miles
Channels: 22
Battery: Up to 10 hours

Motorola MD200 Talkabout Radio, 3 Pack

If you want an emergency two way radio but you don’t need a weather alert radio built in, this might be one of the best best emergency radio for bug out bags. It is a three pack of emergency two way radios able to be powered off of either included rechargeable batteries or 3 AA batteries. When powered by the rechargeable battery it gets up to 12 hours of life, but with double A batteries it can achieve up to 29 hours of life. Note: these walkie talkies are charged via included AC adapters (not drop in chargers like some of these other units).

Range: Up to 16 miles
Channels: 22
Battery: Up to 29 hours

Motorola MR350 Talkabout Radio, 3 Pack

When range is the most important factor in buying a walkie talkie pack, this unit from Motorola may fit the bill. It offers a range of up to 35 miles although of course in practice any two way radio’s range will be smaller if there are terrain obstacles or tall buildings in the way. This emergency two way radio offers a battery life of 23 hours on 3 AA batteries or 8 hours when using the included rechargeable battery packs. Although this is a pack of three walkie talkies, it’s also available in a two pack.

Range: Up to 35 miles
Channels: 22
Battery: Up to 23 hours

BaoFeng BF-F8HP Two Way Radio

If you need a seriously long range two way radio with professional grade features, this might be the unit for you. The BaoFeng F8HP works with 128 channels and is compatible with walkie talkie frequencies as well as an expanded range of UHF and VHF frequencies. It even can receive weather channels. It’s also one of the best emergency two way radios for the money because it has an LED flashlight built in (which can also be set to serve as a blinking beacon which lets you locate the walkie, or allows others to see your location in the dark if you’re wearing or holding it). Note that without a HAM radio license, transmitting on UHF and VHF frequencies is only permitted in an emergency. This unit includes a high gain antenna, an optional belt clip, an earpiece/microphone headset, and drop in cradle charger.

Range: Unlisted, but some users routinely get 15 miles
Channels: 128
Battery: Up to 24 hours

Frequently asked questions about emergency two way radios

If I purchase multiple sets of the same radio, can I use them all together?

Absolutely, yes. The main thing is to make sure that all your two way radios are tuned to the same channel. It does not matter how many radio sets you are using: 20 walkie talkies will communicate just as well as two will.

Can multiple different brands of two way radios work together?

For consumer class two way radios with 22 channels, the answer is usually yes. More expensive professional class radios may operate at exotic frequencies however, making them incompatible with other brands sometimes. The two way emergency radios listed in this article with 22 channels will most likely work with each other, across brand.

Do these emergency two way radios require a HAM radio license?

If you’re using a consumer grade 22 channel two way radio, you don’t need any special license.

If however you’re using a UHF/VHF professional grade two way radio, you need a HAM radio license (unless you’re using it in an emergency scenario). The only radio on this list that broadcasts in these pro frequencies is the last one. You can learn more about obtaining your own HAM radio license at, which prepares you to take the 30 question multiple choice amateur radio exam to get licensed.

Can these two way radios receive CB radio transmissions from trucks on the highway?

Generally no. CB radios in trucks use different frequency ranges.

How many miles in range can I reasonably expect to achieve with these two way radios?

Although all walkie talkies advertise ranges of “up to 20 miles” etc in realistic practice, your range will be much smaller. The ideal case would be if the transmitting radio was on top of a mountain and the receiving radio was in the valley. On flat ground with building or hills in between, you may realistically be able to expect closer to a 2-5 mile range with family style two way radios. With that said, the advertised ranges are helpful when comparing units to each other because in relative terms they give you a sense of generally how strong or weak their transmitters are.

Can I get hands free headsets to use with these two way radios?

Yes, to find a handsfree headset compatible with your choice of radio, simply search in Amazon for the model number and the word headset. In many cases there are both original manufacturer headsets as well as third party headsets which offer different configurations, styles and sometimes lower prices than the first party manufacturer.

These two way emergency radios come with rechargeable battery packs and they also work with AAs, what is the difference?

Besides not having to replace AA or AAA batteries, there are two main differences between using your walkie talkie’s rechargeable battery pack and normal alkaline batteries. The first difference is that alkaline AA or AAA batteries will give you a longer battery life, sometimes as much as 10 hours longer than rechargeable batteries. The second difference is that if you’re using AAs you can simply replace your old batteries with fresh ones, whereas if you only use the included rechargeable battery pack you’ll need to charge your walkie to use it again, which can often take a few hours.

Can a walkie talkie be used while it’s in its charging cradle?

Generally yes, although it may be awkward to press the talk button while it’s sitting in a charging cradle.

Can other people listen in on my walkie talkie conversations?

Yes. Walkie talkies don’t prevent anyone else with a similar unit from tuning in to your conversations. At the same time, depending on where you are the chances of that may be rather low.

Some higher end walkie talkies like a few on this list have so-called “privacy codes.” These codes do not prevent other people from listening in if they have a two way radio tuned to the same frequency as you, but instead they limit your radio from receiving transmissions on whatever channel you’re using, unless the transmitting radio is also tuned to that same privacy code.

5 Best Weather Alert Radios for Storm Warnings

If you live in an area where extreme weather, thunderstorms, or tornadoes are common, you know how important advance storm warnings are for the safety of your family or home. One of the best ways to receive weather alerts in real-time is by using a weather alert radio. There are a variety of weather emergency radios available, whether you just want something for your home or something easy to use on the road. We’ve examined the top-rated weather alert radios available to find the best options. Check out our report on the best storm radios below.

Best Emergency Radio Reviews

Midland NOAA Weather and All Hazard Public Alert Certified Radio

The US weather experts at NOAA issue location-specific weather alerts using a protocol called the S.A.M.E. code and you can set this storm radio to receive only alerts affecting your area (it’s user-programmable to include a larger region too; up to 25 counties!). You can set it to use whichever of three alert systems you prefer: a 90-decibel siren, a voice alert or a flashing LED light. It also works with three AA batteries as a backup in case your home loses power during a storm.

This weather radio works in both the US and Canada and provides safety alerts in three languages (English, Spanish and French). The Midland WR120 (this model) is one of the top-rated weather alert radios, after having gotten a massive number of positive reviews. It also works as an alarm clock.

RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio For Emergency

Here’s another one of the best weather radios that has a couple of unique features. It receives warnings on 7 NOAA weather channels and also receives AM and FM radio. It also has a built-in flashlight and LED reading lamp and is waterproofed enough to work outdoors during rainy weather, making it a great all-purpose and weather radio for camping trips.

Plus, it can be charged with USB power from a computer or USB power brick (like a cell phone charger), or AAA batteries or a hand crank or solar power with its built-in solar panel for use outdoors! The built-in solar panel is also adjustable so you can set an appropriate angle for use. This alone makes it one of the best emergency weather radio for preppers.

Midland Portable Emergency Weather Radio with S.A.M.E.

The Midland Portable Emergency Weather Radio is a great hybrid device that can either sit on a flat surface in its charging cradle or be carried around handheld on battery power. It uses NOAA’s SAME weather alert technology to give you only the weather alerts that are useful to your local area and it can be customized for up to 9 counties at once. It also uses Midland’s Weather Scan technology, which lets you scan the local area and latch on to whatever the strongest NOAA channel is automatically.

The Midland HH54VP2 receives information on nearby hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, ice storms and other weather events as well as civil emergency information about Amber Alerts, fires, and chemical spills. The clear LED screen is backlit for use in the dark. This is one of the best weather alert radios for handheld use.

Kaito Emergency AM/FM/SW/NOAA Weather Alert Radio

The Kaito KA500 storm radio can be powered in six different ways: by 3 AA batteries, a built-in angle-adjustable solar panel, a hand crank, by USB from a laptop or cell phone charger, by a rechargeable battery pack or an AC/DC wall adapter (not included).

The Kaito emergency weather radio can receive AM/FM weather as well as NOAA weather alerts and it also functions as a flashlight and reading lamp. It even can charge a cell phone with a USB power output port. This model also has a blinking red light mode which can serve as an emergency beacon. Telescopic antenna extends up to 14 and a half inches. Water-resistant and comes in several different colors.

American Red Cross FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger

This emergency weather radio, certified by the American Red Cross, combines several features into a neat package, complete with carrying handle and bright red color. It receives AM/FM radio as well as all 7 NOAA weather stations (or Environment Canada), plus it has an alert function for extreme weather warnings. It also can charge your cell phone via USB and has a flashlight on its side. Powered by either 3 AAA batteries, a built-in solar panel, the built-in hand crank or a computer or cell phone charger via USB. This weather radio is smaller than it looks in the product photos but it also has a blinking red light for beacon mode to find it in the dark.

Frequently asked questions about storm radios

Can I tune a storm radio or emergency radio to a normal AM/FM radio station? Not every emergency radio has this feature; some weather radios only tune to weather radio stations. But in our weather alert radios reviews above we’ve included whether or not each model allows for AM/FM tuning. If in doubt, check the product listings themselves.

What are the important features to look for in a weather alert radio? It depends on what you’re using it for but we generally recommend looking for a weather radio that has multiple ways to power or charge it just in case you lose power. Many weather radios have the ability to charge from a built-in hand crank and some may even include a built-in solar panel (though in stormy weather this won’t be of much use). For some, it may be important to get a handheld weather radio which can fit into a pocket. We also recommend considering getting an emergency weather radio that has a way to charge a cell phone, as many of the models listed in these reviews have.

What kind of information will I get using a weather alert radio? A weather radio using the NOAA S.A.M.E. weather protocol alert system will broadcast alerts tailored to your specific area using a series of county-codes (many weather radios let you program in a range of county codes that are relevant to your area). Weather radios capable of receiving the 7 channels of NOAA broadcasts will also receive weather alerts. Some weather radios will also give you access to civil emergency information like Amber Alerts and information about other local emergencies such as chemical spills. Still, other weather radios will also have AM/FM tuning for receiving normal radio broadcasts.