In this day and age of constantly connected devices and fast ways of staying in communication, it is easy to forget that there are plenty of places in the world that still aren’t covered by cell phone networks. Sure, satellite phones can help fill in the coverage in those areas, but that technology isn’t always reliable and it remains fairly pricey, even in the 21st century. That’s when a set of good old fashioned two-way radios can help bridge the gap. Except, as mentioned, this is the 21st century, and these devices are packing quite a bit of useful technology too.
Recently I’ve gotten my hands on a set of Cobra Pro PR562 BLT walkie talkies, and have found them to be extremely useful for staying in communication with travel companions and expedition partners when visiting remote places, sometimes even where cell coverage exists. That’s because the two-way radios are built for use in those environments, and offer a host of features that even a smartphone doesn’t offer.
One of the biggest challenges for using a smartphone in the field is keeping it charged. This is especially true if they struggle to pick up a cell network, as the device burns through its battery in an attempt to locate and maintain a connection. This isn’t the case with a set of walkie talks however, as they are meant for use in places where networks don’t exist. To that end, the PRB562 models from Cobra come with rechargeable batteries and even USB micro docks to help keep them charged while on the go. Battery life depends on how much you use them, but for the most part they will go for days before needing a recharge. The set includes six rechargeable and the USB docks are super convenient considering we all use USB chargers for a variety of things these days.
Cobra says that the Pro PRB562 BLT have a range of up to 32 miles, but if you’ve ever used walkie talkies in the field, you know that a lot of things can impact the distance at which they can be used. Line of sight between users is usually the best, but hills, mountains, and even thick woods can play a part in reducing the range. That said, these work very well in the 5-10 mile range, and can go a lot further than 32 miles if you’re standing on the top of ridges. It is important to be realistic in those expectations, and if you are, you won’t be disappointed in how they perform.
In terms of specs, these two-way radios offer 22 unique channels and 121 privacy codes (38 CTCSS/83 DCS), which works out to 2662 combinations. That ensures that you are connecting to your friends while in the field and limits the chances of others listening in on the conversation. It also helps with extending the signal range by focusing the transmissions a bit more narrowly. These walkie talkies also include 10 NOAA weather channels for updates on storms and other inclement weather in your area.
Another feature that I appreciate on these devices include their ability to be paired with a Bluetooth device, allowing you to chat handsfree. We’ve all used those Bluetooth headsets on our cellphones before and it works the same here. This is extremely handy for use in the field, where carrying the radio isn’t always a viable option. It does add another device that you have to keep charged on the go however, so keep that in mind if you decide to pair with a Bluetooth headset.
The Cobra Pro PRB562 BLT also offers vibration alerts for incoming transmissions and voice activated transmission for handsfree use as well. The radios are water resistant (IPX2) and are built surprisingly strong for how lightweight they are. They tip the scales at just 2.31 ounces (65.4 grams), ensuring that they don’t add much in the way of bulk to your pack. They even come with a built in LED flashlight in case you get caught out after dark.
The entire package includes two walkie talkies, the charging cock, a USB cable, and six rechargeable batteries (the radios take thee each), and runs for $99.99 from Cobrafrs.com. That’s a heck of a deal for an effective, easy to use, and lightweight communications system for use in the backcountry. Beyond that however, these two-way radios will come in handy on a host of different adventures. If you’re traveling to a foreign country and don’t want to buy a sim card or data plan for your phone, theses are a viable option. They work especially well when caravanning in multiple vehicles on road trips or overlanding expeditions too. For the money, they simply can’t be beat.
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