Looking for some up to date radio/walkie talkie recommendations.
Borrowed an ancient pair on my first multi-pitch trip a while ago and they were very useful.
Yes, I know you can shout, have a system of pulling ropes etc etc. But on a recent trad trip with out radios, and a lot of rope drag, and wind and and over hang I decided that they are a must for me.
Just much easier to be able to communicate confidently. It's 2022, embrace a little tech
Most low cost radios are quite good and I don't need anything like a Motorola GP340 etc like my old courier days.
So, does anyone have any they use, that they would recommend? It's just for general sport multi and trad climbing so no need for epic mountaineering gear
We have got these ones which are great quite long distance, but we have never felt the need to use them for climbing ever...it's for playing about with the wee man. I'd say it is just another thing to carry on your harness.
I have rt602. They're shit. Don't get those.
Had binatone 150 before and they were less shit but still unbearably shit. When the battery stars to get slightly low they bleep at you incessantly, wasting what they have left and even more frustratingly, blocking you when you're trying to talk. Would love to meet whoever designed that feature and shove a walkie talkie somewhere.
Edit to add: don't listen to any of the people who will show up to hijack this thread with bollocks like "you don't need radios just shout" or "they're extra weight". They're awesome. They have prevented countless domestics on sea cliff routes and windy multipitches, and they weigh less than a medium piss. Just get them. You won't regret it.
The problem with the T92s for climbing is that it's tricky to attach them securely to a harness, and it's not too hard to rub the radio against the cliff and snap the clip off, as I discovered at Chair Ladder a few years ago. The T62 and T82 have a built in loop which solves this problem.
We've got the Motorala Talkabout T82 Extremes, and have been very pleased with them. Decent battery life, haven't had any problems with reception, think they're reasonably weatherproof - I'd get them again.
> Edit to add: don't listen to any of the people who will show up to hijack this thread with bollocks like "you don't need radios just shout" or "they're extra weight". They're awesome. They have prevented countless domestics on sea cliff routes and windy multipitches, and they weigh less than a medium piss. Just get them. You won't regret it.
Completely agree with this - especially when your second falls off under an overhang at Swanage on a windy day and then can't get reach the rock to get back on. Saves an awful lot of guesswork and faff. And generally just useful if you're ever a muppet like me and ab down having forgotten rope/shoes/page out of the guidebook...
The dreaded beep. Used to be the sound of nightmares back on the road, hoping it would last all day and save a trip back to base for a battery swap.
I think the pair I used on the last trip were som cheap Bina's. Did the job but yea not great. Quite flimsy too but light at least.
I'm expecting the hijack anyway. It's great to have a system incase you forget the radios, or they die etc etc but I'd def take radios over shouting any day. My partner got stuck on a very burly trad over hang out of sight and trying to figure out what the problem/solution was with 0 comms was a nightmare.
The T92s looked bigger, heavier and I don't need that level of waterproofing.
T62 have that nice big loop, even if it is annoyingly at the bottom. Or maybe that makes it better as you raise the radio to talk. Hmmmmm
T82's look nice as well, did they come with the rechargeable batteries? They look a bit heavier on the specs. Noticeable?
> T62 have that nice big loop, even if it is annoyingly at the bottom. Or maybe that makes it better as you raise the radio to talk. Hmmmmm
Top tip: when you sit down to belay, clip it up onto your helmet
They did come with rechargeable batteries. They've got a good solid feel to them, but not that heavy - they feel very similar in weight to my phone.#
Edit to add that I've found I only need to unclip them from my harness in particularly strong winds - normally we just speak into them whilst they're clipped to our harnesses and just aim them up towards our mouths and can hear each other fine.
Full disclosure: I've never even seen these, but know of them from the host of one of my favourite podcast, The Sharp End.
She rates these very highly indeed; this is the link from her website:
When I climbed Scottish winters, I would have loved a decent walkie-talkie - messaging via tugs on the rope and yelling into the snowy gloom was ineffective...
My last set of kids' Motorola walkie-talkies have died. They were awesome and had a range of at least 60 metres. The plastic that encased the antenna (and also had a second tie-in hole) reached the end of its life and crumbled on both of them. They now feature a lot of gaffer tape and, although they did sterling work in Scotland again, it's time for them to be replaced. Motorola T41 look like the closest replacement at about £25. The originals were $5 at least 15 years ago. Batteries seem to last 4 or 5 days or so in minging weather
Those look like a US product which I believe won't meet the European PMR446 standard so would theoretically be illegal to use in the UK. (Although I may be out of date on this: my Motorola Talkabout T5522 walkie-talkies are so old that they don't appear on Motorola's list of discontinued radios! But they are PMR446 compliant, and they do still work, albeit only on the original 8 channels.)
> What's the deal with the new upper (above 1-8) PMR frequencies?
> I believe they are digital?, and can you code squelch them or have some sort of privacy with them?
The upper channels 9-16 used to be reserved for digital PMR446 radios - the change is now you're allowed to use either analogue or digital across the whole range. Digital handsets have more configurable options for setting individual/group call IDs and better scrambling etc. but a lot more expensive and haven't really caught on in the consumer market.
(For licensed professional use everyone's been progressively going digital over the past 15 years or so - you can also fit twice as many channels in the same spectrum in a fully managed system.)
> Those look like a US product which I believe won't meet the European PMR446 standard so would theoretically be illegal to use in the UK. (Although I may be out of date on this: my Motorola Talkabout T5522 walkie-talkies are so old that they don't appear on Motorola's list of discontinued radios! But they are PMR446 compliant, and they do still work, albeit only on the original 8 channels.)
Yes the North American FSR/GMRS standard isn't compatible with PMR446 and also illegal in the UK. Not that anyone would care.
> That would be illegal though. I would never do anything like that, oh, no, never.
The licence to use the 'UK General' frequencies legally isn't particularly expensive - £75 for 5 years, so it works out at £15 a year.
I don't think there's much enforcement actually going on though, so if you wanted to use a 5W radio without paying for a licence it'd only be equally illegal and arguably quite a lot less antisocial to use a 'UK General' frequency without bothering to get a licence than to overpower everyone around you using legit PMR-446 radios. (Particularly as so many PMR radios don't have any kind of 'coded squelch' system, so people using those might be obliged to hear your chatter from miles away.)
Less of an issue transmitting in 'low power' mode at 1W, but still double the legal limit for PMR.
Edit to add:
I wonder if walkie talkies are still the best thing for climbers these days? I gather Bluetooth headsets (mostly aimed at motorcyclists) have come on a long way in the last few years. If all the range that's required is from one end of a rope to the other, I wonder if something along those lines might be worth a look instead.
Thanks for that info. Also to Martin W.
Back around 1983 I started working life in a broadcasting transmission group in high mountain areas, and long before mobile phones we had an in-house coded squelch system and microwave networked repeaters that allowed our handheld UHF radios to be patched through to the telephone system. I used to think it was pretty cool that I could call up from some mountain top and get patched through to my mother on a normal phone to let her know I'd be late for dinner.
PMRs aren't quite there. Although mobile phones are.
I've sen a few people plugging the Rockytalkies an they do look great. Probably more spec than I need I reckon and pushing into the higher price market for the amount of use I would get out of them.
The T82s and T62s are looking like the best bet at the moment for price/quality balance. And I like that you can use regular batteries if needed. Always a good option to have handy.
I've got a pair of old Motorola XT460s. Battery life is great and they're pretty much bombproof as I found out when my mate dropped one from the second pitch of Main Wall and it survived with only a few scratches. You can find them pretty cheap on eBay which is where I got mine from years ago and as they weren't expensive, I'm not too bothered about losing or destroying them.
The only downside is a lack of an attachment point, but I solved that by taking them apart, drilling a couple holes through the plastic and sticking a loop of paracord through.
> I wonder if walkie talkies are still the best thing for climbers these days? I gather Bluetooth headsets (mostly aimed at motorcyclists) have come on a long way in the last few years. If all the range that's required is from one end of a rope to the other, I wonder if something along those lines might be worth a look instead.
I have bluetooth hearing aids that stream music, telephone, Teams calls etc. If I walk away from the phone, they start to get iffy about 10 yards away, so a lot of range to be found to work as a radio, unless you use a press-to-talk app on your phone, which is just too much faff when climbing.
I was thinking more of bike-to-bike motorcycle intercoms, which I believe typically have a range of a couple of hundred metres or so. The newer more expensive ones claim to be usable over about a mile or so.
Well obviously Bluetooth is a kind of radio. As is your mobile phone. Perhaps you're making some sort of clever technical point that is way above my head?
I just know that the manufacturers of the things I was talking about describe them as being very much Bluetooth. They are explicitly marketed as Bluetooth headsets with intercom functionality.
(One of the more expensive ones, that the manufacturer says is Bluetooth 4.1 and has a range of up to a mile.)
> (One of the more expensive ones, that the manufacturer says is Bluetooth 4.1 and has a range of up to a mile.)
Just Bluetooth from headset to transmitter, not for communication? Like a Bluetooth headset for your mobile phone.
No, directly from headset to headset (or to a group of headsets) for use as a full duplex intercom over a range of the order of hundreds of metres. Though they can also be paired with your phone to make calls, listen to music etc.
Another example: https://www.sena.com/eu-en/product/expand-boom
I haven't tried these things personally you understand so I'm not recommending them, just trying (and apparently failing) to point out that they do exist.
Bluetooth is UHF, somewhere around 2.4GHz iirc, which means its not very good at all at bouncing around obstacles. Its pretty much limited to line of sight, and you really want climbing walkie-talkies when you can't see your partner because they're the other side of a big lump of rock.
> Bluetooth is UHF, somewhere around 2.4GHz iirc, which means its not very good at all at bouncing around obstacles. Its pretty much limited to line of sight, and you really want climbing walkie-talkies when you can't see your partner because they're the other side of a big lump of rock.
I notice this when I'm on my bike (bicycle) - I sometimes stream music through my hearing aids, with my phone in the back pocket of my jersey (being hearing aids, they also feed in sound from outside, which is a very expensive way of listening to music whilst still being able to hear what's going on around you). If I lower my head, the bluetooth signal often drops out
> Bluetooth is UHF, somewhere around 2.4GHz iirc, which means its not very good at all at bouncing around obstacles.
Significantly worse than UHF at around 446MHz ish? VHF is pretty much line of sight too.
Like I said, I've never tried them so couldn't really say. The manufacturer seems to think they work (Of course they would say that though wouldn't they?) You're saying they couldn't possibly work because of the radio frequency they use.
I don't really have anything to go on to tell me which of you to believe, though these headsets are really quite expensive and a lot of the bikers who've bought them seem to be very happy with them. That may well be a more 'line of sight' application than from one end of a rope to the other, dunno.
You said above that your hearing aid drops out at a range of about 10 yards from your phone when it does have line of sight. I'm not sure the performance of that device is particularly useful in judging what's possible with a completely different device that the manufacturer says has a line-of-sight range of about a mile when the only thing they have in common is the approximate frequency of the radio band they're using.
You may as well use your experience of your bike (bicycle) to tell me what the top speed of my bike (motorbike) is. It isn't the same kind of bike.
I'm sure they would have the range that the manufacturer is quoting given the ideal circumstances of good atmospheric conditions and line of sight, but that's not likely in the mountains in a situation where you'd need them. Yes, VHF is very directional too, but at short range is still pretty good. Try using walkie-talkies on either side of your house and then try connecting to a bluetooth device.
I haven't tried them either but if I was going to plump over £100 for a pair of devices I'd definitely just go with something tried and tested. If you've got the cash and want to test these out don't let me stop you - I'd be really interested to hear how they perform in the real world.
> I'm sure they would have the range that the manufacturer is quoting given the ideal circumstances of good atmospheric conditions and line of sight, but that's not likely in the mountains in a situation where you'd need them.
Undoubtedly true, but the range you'd need in the mountains is also considerably shorter - it only needs to exceed the length of the rope. Neither of us knows the answer and that's fine.
> Try using walkie-talkies on either side of your house and then try connecting to a bluetooth device.
I don't have a remotely comparable Bluetooth device to try, but we've already established that nniff's hearing aids won't do it if you think that's enlightening.
If you're telling me it's not possible to communicate from one side of my house to the other using a radio device operating at about 2.4GHz or so however, I know that's not the case because I'm doing precisely that right now. (You wouldn't be reading this post otherwise.)
> I'd be really interested to hear how they perform in the real world.
you could judge the likely performance from the army's PRR which does use similar frequencies (500m in open, 5 houses built up area
I wonder if the motorcycle gear is based on the same units as it originated from F1 racetrack comms technoology.
You can of course buy them on the surplus market for a distinctive look
Wow, dropped out and missed all this. Seems it got nice and deep.
So for anyone interested, I got the Motorola T82's.
I'll try and feed back here when I've tried them out, for future reference.
I've heaped scorn on people using walkie-talkies for climbing for years. Then, in my dotage, my hearing declined. I wear hearing aids, but not when climbing. Too easy to knock out, and the hearing aid tethers I've seen get tangled up with other things.
And so...walkie talkies it is. I've got a pair of the Rockie Talkies and they seem excellent. Designed by climbers for climbing. Of course, they're legal in the US where I use them. Robust, good battery life, good attachment points (they come with a carabiner and a coiled-cord tether). Haven't really used them in the cold but there are testimonies from some who have. I have to grudgingly admit that they make communication pleasanter overall, and are a considerable help in lots of conditions that would have been trying even when my hearing was unimpaired.
They're also a good thing for hiking at the pace you want and still keeping in touch with folks who are going faster or slower. Getting separated is much less of a concern.
Other climbers seem to have caught on, which means you can be on a party line at a popular crag, which is a genuine annoyance. I use mine for basic calls like on and off belay, but sometimes I have to listen to someone narrating every move and protection decision--yuk. Switching channels can help but is hit or miss.
I realized (by looking at my units) that I didn't have a privacy code activated, which is why I had a "party-line" experience. Other conversations can (usually) be screened out with a choice of channel and privacy code (I think there are about 12,000 combinations possible...)
the selective tone calling can prevent you communicatiing though as you are still on the same channel. Someone using a different tone on on the same channel may not open up your receiver but their signal could still be the strongest yours is picking up meaning that the tone of the person you want to hear never gets to be decoded and your radio remains silent, squelched down
Yea, the 'privacy code' isn't really a privacy code as everyone can still hear you if their radio is set to ignore the CTCSS (the "privacy code"). All it does it stop you getting annoyed by other people's transmissions.
The problem with lower frequencies like the 11m CB or 10m amateur bands is that for the antenna to be effective it has to be quite large, probably too big for climbers to bother with, licensing issues aside