Best Waterproof Two-Way Radios of 2017 – Buying Guide and Reviews

Looking for a set of two-way radios which you can use in any weather conditions, on land or at sea? Waterproof two-way radios are perfect for storm preparedness as well as kayaking, sailing, fishing, and other water-based activities. Many of these radios can not only withstand splashes of water or falling droplets of rain, but can also be submersed in a body of water without losing their functionality. Some models are even designed to float. That way you can recover them if you drop them at sea or in a lake.

If you are shopping for a waterproof 2-way radio set and are not sure where to begin, the table below can help you compare prices and features on top models.

Motorola T600Motorola T600View on Amazon
Uniden GMR5089-2CKHSUniden GMR5089-2CKHSView on Amazon
Cobra CXT 1035R FLTCobra CXT 1035R FLTView on Amazon
Olympia R300Olympia R300View on Amazon

If you still need more guidance while shopping for waterproof 2-way radios, read on to learn all about them.

What is a Waterproof Two-Way Radio?

A waterproof 2-way radio is what it sounds like: a walkie talkie set designed to withstand water exposure without getting damaged.

But the definition of “waterproof” is a little more complicated than a lot of consumers realize. The term is used quite casually, but really “waterproof” radios might fall under any of the following categories:

Weather resistant

This type of radio can function in cold or damp conditions. It may not actually be water resistant at all.

Weatherproof

This type of radio can hold up to especially harsh weather conditions, but it still may be damaged by water exposure.

Water resistant

This type of radio will function in most rainy situations, and may also hold up to splashing.

Waterproof

This radio may withstand heavier rainfall and may also be submersible.

Within each category you will find JIS and IP ratings. These classify radios more specifically and tell you exactly what kind of water exposure they can survive. Also note that even submersible radios will not survive indefinitely underwater. Eventually all waterproof devices succumb. So you want to fish out your radios as quickly as you can.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Waterproof Two-Way Radio

Where will you use your radios?

If you are shopping for a radio you will take hunting in the woods in occasional rain, you probably do not need the same level of waterproofing you would if you were going to take your radio with you on a sailboat.

What is the purpose of your waterproof radios?

You also should ask yourself what you will be using your radio for. Is it to stay connected during an emergency in a region which receives a lot of flooding? Is it for sailing or kayaking or other recreational purposes? Your purpose will help inform the features you need to shop for.

Do you actually need a marine radio?

In some cases, you may actually be shopping for a marine radio, not a waterproof two-way radio. 2-way radios do not for example offer hailing. If you need features like that, a marine radio is more appropriate.

Features and Add-Ons to Look For When Shopping for a Waterproof Two-Way Radio

Waterproof rating

Be sure to check the actual JIS or IP rating when you are picking out a waterproof 2-way radio set. Look up exactly what it means so you know what kind of exposure your radio will be able to tolerate.

Range

While many radios advertise a range “up to 35 miles” or more, in most settings the effective real range will be anywhere from one to three miles—sometimes even less in an urban setting. If you are out on the water though, you may actually get a longer range since you will be using your radios in unobstructed conditions.

NOAA alerts

If you are buying a waterproof radio, weather is obviously something you are concerned with. NOAA weather alerts will apprise you of inclement conditions. If you can use those alerts to avoid getting your radios wet in the first place, you will stay safer. If you do get caught in harsh weather, NOAA alerts may help you to find the best route back to calm conditions.

Floating

Some waterproof two-way radios can actually float. This can be very handy if you are going to be sailing or kayaking. In fact, in a survival situation, it could be downright critical. If your radio sinks in the ocean, you are out of luck. If it is floating, you can swim over and get it, and it might save your life.

Compass or GPS

If you are shopping for a waterproof 2-way radio, you may be planning to use it while boating or hiking. If that is the case, then one great feature to shop for is either a compass or a GPS. A compass is a more basic feature, which will simply tell you which direction you are facing. GPS tells you your exact location using data provided by satellites. This information will prevent you from getting lost while you are out on the water or exploring the backcountry.

Solid warranty

Even if you purchase a waterproof 2-way radio which includes a high waterproof rating, no radio can stand up to an indefinite amount of exposure, and there is always the chance that yours could malfunction or stop working entirely. For that reason, you should take extra care while you are shopping to select a radio from a manufacturer which backs it up with an excellent warranty.

VOX, squelch and other special features

There are a lot of other great features you can shop for in a 2-way radio set. VOX allows for hands-free operation while squelch reduces background noise, boosting clarity. Rewind allows you to replay calls you missed or didn’t understand, and so on. All of these features can add value to your purchase.

Now you know what to shop for in a waterproof 2-way radio set. Scroll back up to the top of this article to take a closer look at our comparison chart, where you can begin your search for the ideal waterproof radios to meet your needs!

Cobra ACXT1035R FLT: the Best Looking 2-Way Radio Out There

Cobra ACXT1035RLike all Cobra products, the ACXT1035R sports a distinct, stylish design. In addition to its good looks, the ACXT1035R is also one of the best performing 2-way radios on the market right now.

Good

  • Stylish design. With the ACXT1035R, you get a very cool looking 2-way radio that looks like it belongs to a Cobra Commando.
  • Costs much less than a smartphone. Why risk losing your smartphone in the woods when you can buy the ACXT1035R for just a few bucks?
  • Good for camping. This walkie talkie has a built-in flashlight that’s surprisingly bright.
  • Waterproof. As long as you use the right kind of batteries, the ACXT1035R won’t stop working if you accidently drop it in water.
  • Encrypt your conversation. If you want privacy, just use a code to encrypt your conversation.
  • Backlit screen. It’s easy to use this walkie talkie in the dark because it features a backlit screen.
  • Micro USB port. As long as you have access to a USB port, you can charge the ACXT1035R anywhere.

Bad

  • For some reason, Cobra decided to position a row of buttons above the display instead of below it.
  • The screen shows lots of useful information. The only problem is that the display looks a bit crowded at times as a result.
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Uniden GMR5095-2CKHS: Rugged and Fully Submersible

Uniden GMR5095-2CKHSIf you’re looking for an indestructible walkie talkie, consider picking up Uniden’s GMR5095-2CKHS. Not only can it survive water submersion, it also can absorb shocks and resist dings and nicks.

Good

  • Waterproof. The GMR5095-2CKHS will keep on working even when submersed in water for several minutes.
  • Inexpensive. Even though it has a lot of features and works quite well, this walkie talkie from Uniden is surprisingly inexpensive.
  • Works well in forest environments. Some walkie talkies struggle in woodland environments, but you can get 2 to 3 miles out of the GMR5095-2CKHS in almost any forest.
  • Universal charger. Get a fresh charge via USB or just plug it into the included charging dock.
  • Weather alerts. NOAA weather alarms will keep you aware of the weather situation at all times.
  • Comes with a headset. Unlike many walkie talkies that come with cheapo accessories, the GMR5095-2CKHS’s stock headset is actually quite nice.
  • You can use it in the dark. The GMR5095-2CKHS’s display is simple but effective– and it’s fully backlit.

Bad

  • In a perfect world, the GMR5095-2CKHS has a 50 mile range. But in real life, all you’ll hear is static if the person you’re trying to talk to is more than 10 miles away.
  • Like many waterproof walkie talkies, the GMR5095-2CKHS’s buttons are a bit hard to press. However, they do loosen up over time.
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Motorola T600: Perfect For Outdoorsman

Motorola T600Looking for a two-way radio to take with you on your next great outdoor adventure? If so, consider investing in a Motorola T600. Its rubberized, buoyant shell and IP67 waterproof rating guarantee that it won’t break if you drop it in water or let it tumble down a rocky ridge. Plus, the T600’s ability to pick up NOAA alerts will warn you of inclement weather.

Good

  • Super water proof. The T600 is rated at IP67, which means that it is guaranteed to survive 30 minutes of being submerged under a meter of water.
  • Built-in emergency light. The surprisingly bright and efficient integrated LED flashlight can help you find your way during emergency situations that cause power outages.
  • Receives weather alerts. Tune in to 11 different weather stations to get instant weather updates and alerts.
  • Cross brand compatible. As long as you know the right channel and privacy code, you can easily communicate with anyone with any kind of two way radio.
  • Floats on water. The T600’s ability to float allows you to reel it back in with a net if you drop it in the water.
  • Water activated beacon. The super bright LED emergency light automatically switches on when it contacts water.
  • Micro USB charging. You don’t need a special charger to power this device, just a micro USB cord and a computer or USB outlet adapter.

Bad

  • Though the T600 two way radio is well built, rugged and has lots of good features, its communication range is a bit limited.
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Uniden GMR5089-2CKHS: Long-Range Walkie Talkie Set for Kayaking and Other Water-Based Activities

When it comes to waterproof two-way radios, Uniden is one of the top brands to consider. The GMR5089-2CKHS is an FRS/GMRS set featuring a superb 50-mile range.

Good

  • Fantastic range. 50 miles of range is quite a bit more than you find with a lot of two-way radio sets (many of which do not exceed 35 miles in open, unobstructed conditions). A long range like this is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and so forth. Please note that you will never really get 50 miles of range—no set of walkie talkies ever fully delivers on its range promise. But on open water, you should get a clear signal for at least several miles.
  • Large selection of channels. In all, there are 22 channels and 142 privacy codes.
  • Submersible and floats. If by chance your radio falls out of your kayak or canoe, it will stay afloat. You have a chance to retrieve it.
  • Rugged build. These walkie talkies were developed with outdoor use in mind, so they are sturdier than some other models you might see for sale.
  • Other great features for outdoor and emergency use. Get NOAA weather alerts, operate the radio in the dark with glowing keys, and activate an emergency strobe light if you need to signal for help.

Bad

  • You cannot power these walkie talkies with standard batteries. This can be an issue if your batteries happen to die.
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Olympia R300: Waterproof Outdoor Two-Way Radio Set on a Budget

Olympia R300Looking for an outdoor waterproof two-way radio set with solid range, but do not want to pay an arm and a leg? One budget option which may fit your needs is the Olympia R300 walkie talkie set.

Good

  • Significant range. You can get up to 40 miles of range with these walkie talkies in clear, unobstructed settings. This makes them good to use out on the water. The base range the company lists is 2 miles (a more realistic estimate of what you will get in most good conditions).
  • IP-54 rating. This is not a waterproof radio; if you drop it in a puddle, it may very well stop working. This rating is for basic weatherproofing. It should be safe from splashes of water as well as dust.
  • Lots of codes. There are 50 channels and 121 privacy codes.
  • Good features for emergencies. These include a built-in LED flashlight along with NOAA weather alert channels.
  • Your purchase includes everything you require to get started. Along with two radios and belt clips, you get two battery packs and one micro-USB charging adaptor with dual connectors. There is a single owner’s manual.

Bad

  • The radios are a bit heavy. If you want a super lightweight option, then you may want to look for an alternative to the Olympia R300. On the upside, one of the reasons these radios are a bit hefty is that they are ruggedly built, so they should hold up to wear and tear.
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8 thoughts on “Best Waterproof Two-Way Radios of 2017 – Buying Guide and Reviews

    • I’m not sure we’ve done any applicable reviews yet, but I’ll be sure to update you if we add a relevant page with some well-researched suggestions. Thanks!

    • I think they might be worth considering, but I haven’t tried them for that purpose. If any of our readers have, please let us know 🙂 Thanks!

  1. Does the Motorola T600 have some kind of strap to put over your wrist so you don’t drop it in the water or can attach to your life jacket?
    Or is there a better model that is submersible and will float?

    Thanks?

    • I don’t see a strap for this model, no. But it does float. It also includes a water-activated flashlight. That way it lights up when it hits the water, helping you find and retrieve it.

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