Field Tested: Rocky Talkie FRS Radios

Reliable communication makes adventures safer. And whether you are a group of hikers splitting up to explore different trails, a rock climber who is out of sight of your partner, or a convoy of overlanders, the humble radio has proven its value time and time again. But not all radios are created equal, and that’s where newcomer Rocky Talkie, based in Denver, Colorado, shines. Their FRS radios are designed specifically for the world of outdoor recreation, with a smart yet simple design that elevates them above most in the FRS category.

Let’s start with this radio’s biggest strength: battery life. Its lithium-ion battery can achieve 120 hours, that’s 15 8-hour days of standby time (powered on, no use). While I can’t confirm 120 hours, I can vouch for multiple days of regular use without the need for charging, which is better than any similar FRS radio that I have tested. Additionally, USB-C charging means that 12-volt power sources like off-grid battery banks with USB outlets can provide a charge. The only drawback to the proprietary battery is the cost for additional backups.

Overall performance of the radio in the field was above average compared to other FRS radios. I easily achieved transmission ranges within the advertised limits and with excellent transmission clarity. With line-of-sight, I had no problems receiving and transmitting over 5+ miles. In a valley with small rolling hills and patches of trees, I was able to transmit and receive over 3+ miles from inside my vehicle while driving. Urban settings were the only place where the radio didn’t impress me, but that is not a surprise within the FRS frequencies.

Multiple positive design elements that stand out on the Rocky Talkie: the on/off button is nearly impossible to activate accidentally, the shatterproof LED screen, the included leash and carabiner which is a welcome departure from the standard belt clips found on most radios, and the IP56 rating which means you don’t have to be worried in wet or dusty environments. It’s even surprisingly durable. I handed them over to my friend’s toddlers for an afternoon of not-so-gentle use in a local state park, and they both survived (the toddlers and the radios) without a scratch.

My only criticism is the price of $90 each, but in this case, I believe that you get what you pay for. In the future, I would love to see a detachable handheld mic, allowing the radio to remain in the safety of a backpack while still being usable. I would also like a modular mounting system so the radio could adapt to more specific use cases, such as vehicle dashes.

 

$180/pair | www.rockytalkie.com

 

Our No Compromise Clause: We carefully screen all contributors to make sure they are independent and impartial. We never have and never will accept advertorial, and we do not allow advertising to influence our product or destination reviews.

When he's not publishing campervan content or gear reviews on ExPo, Matt Swartz is honing his paragliding skills, hiking a 14er, or exploring the backroads of Colorado. His love of travel has seen him bike across the United States, as well as explore more exotic destinations like the Amazon basin and Patagonia. Matt spent three years living in a 1964 RV with his partner, Amanda. He's worked as an Interpretive Ranger and Wildland Firefighter and his photography and writing has been published in Rova Magazine, the Leatherman blog, 'Hit The Road' by Gestalten Publishing, and Forbes.