Going skiing with another family next year and looking for two-way radios to use so we can stay in touch. I've used cell phones in the past but that can get awkward (and since we are going to Canada it can also get expensive).

Ideal features would include:

  • Good battery life
  • Usable in gloves/mitts
  • Water/snow resistant
  • Clear and loud communication
  • Good range

Any recommendations?

  • Is this the same as a walkie-talkie?
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 21:58
  • 1
    Essentially yes. Just the more modern term for it I guess. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 22:00
  • Amazon has a bunch here: amazon.com/s/… Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 22:01
  • I've been asking myself the same, but as the trip with my friend got cancelled we never continued the research (I rented a PLB instead ;). Other desirable features would be small size and weight, and maybe the ability to charge with a solar cell (I'd use mine year-round).
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 22:05
  • @gerrit - suggest you make a new/separate question for solar charge of gadgets on the go, unless there already is one - didn't look...
    – sdg
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 23:30

1 Answer 1


Presuming you do not have Amateur Radio licenses, or similar qualifications, you are then limited to various unlicensed options.

The answer will then vary by region, but as you mention Canada, your best bet will be to use the GMRS/FRS (General Mobile Radio Service / Family Radio Service) which as basically replaced the old CB and walkie-talkie bands for local personal use. Note that FRS radios are freely usable cross-border; but GMRS regulations differ. A license is required per family in the USA, and there are base stations available. In Canada, no license is required at all, but GMRS power is restricted to two watts.

GMRS/FRS radios are readily available in Canada (and the USA) in almost any outdoors or electronics store, so you might want to pick them up before you go, and get used to them. Options include chargers, headsets and other things. Some have integrated GPS, but that adds to weight, reduces battery life, and might not be warranted.

Both work in the UHF band, which is more-or-less line-of-site, and definitely attenuated by ground or trees. From the top of a ski hill to the bottom or over some general outdoor terrain, you should not have too much trouble. Do not presume to use them as a primary emergency system, but for casual where are you they are likely the cheapest/best bet.

Good Luck

  • Thanks for the info. Didn't know about the licensing requirements for certain bands. Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 23:47
  • Agreed - most cheap walkie-talkies will work line of sight from top to bottom of a mountain. We have used a couple of brands, one expensive, one was a kids toy, and they performed equally well - useful for meeting up etc. Not sure how good they would be in an emergency through snow cover...
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 0:25
  • For ski hills, getting a more expensive model with scrambler / privacy channels is essential if you don't want to listen to everyone else's chatter. (I've seen all 35? standard channels occupied). Motorola Talkabout used to be pretty reliable.
    – Lost
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 16:56

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