Even though electronics have only recently (relatively speaking) become such hot ticket items in your hunting pack (think GPS, Smart Phone w/ video and mapping capabilities, electronic callers, etc) one item that that has been around for a while now is the two way radio (walkie talkie). If you’ve ever hunted with a partner or a group then you’ve probably used one. I know I have used them in the past during bear drives in the Appalacians and also during my backcountry elk hunts. I was able to get my hands on a set of Midland X-Talker radios and wanted to tell you a little about my experience with them.
During the previously stated hunts where I utilized two way radios their benefit was immeasurable if nothing else from a safety standpoint. It was imperative that we knew where everyone was during the bear drives, when to stop, and when to start. Also, communicating with my hunting partners during wilderness elk hunts allowed us to save valuable time in directing one another to various kill sites, plans for hunts, and in general just checking in on one another. Midland is a name I’m familiar with and after testing the X-Talker T75VP3 (38 mile range) version out I can see why they are one of the leaders in two-way communication. The radios were simple to use and had many additional features that I was not accustomed to having available including the weather scan feature. They felt well built but not overly heavy or bulky. Overall I was pleased with the radios and feel that Midland did a great job with their X-Talker Series.
Some of the features included on the pair I tested were as follows:
- Three Year Warranty
- 36 Channels
- Clear, crisp communication with easy button access
- Xtreme Range* – Up to 38 miles
- 121 Privacy Codes
- Weather Alert Radio with Weather Scan
- Vibrate Alert
- 5 Animal Call Alerts
- eVOX Hands-Free Operation
- Powered by two 1000mAh rechargeable battery packs (included) or three AA batteries each (not included)
- Dimensions – 6.1″ x 2.6″ x 1.4″
- Mossy Oak Camo
It was difficult to pin down the exact amount of time it took to charge the radios but I can confirm that the claim that the radios charge in less than three hours is accurate. Each time I put the radios on the charger (0% charge) they were full power three hours later. Several instances the durations were less, which is what I believe to be a welcome improvement from previous models.
I could never time it perfect to find out for sure how long the run time of the radios would be on a single charge. Regardless of when I turned them on it seemed like they would always run out of juice sometime in the middle of the night. What I can tell you is that they have well over 24 hours of run time (I didn’t use them during this time just had them sitting powered on) on a single charge. If I had to estimate I would say they give approximately 36 hours of standby time on a single charge. This of course would likely vary depending on a multitude of conditions. Eitherway, they will more than get you through a couple days worth of hunting without needing charged and likely a week in the backwoods if only used to check in at designated times or when shots are fired.
There are way to many factors that could play into the distances that the X-Talkers would transmit to one another and I did most of this review on my own so unfortunately I was not able to test the effective range of these radios. I will say with an advertised 38 mile range (no sight obstructions) they should be more than adequate to keep you and your hunting buddies in touch with each other.
I was able to recruit some family members to help me test out how clear the radio broadcasts were. I felt that the transmissions were extremely clear and I had no difficulties understanding or hearing the person on the other end. It sounded just as good as talking on the phone, so other than when your buddy is trying to talk to you right after he killed a giant 6×6 with his adrenaline pumping out of this world you should have no problems copying what your partners are saying.
As previously stated the general feel of the radio is that it is built to a high standard. Nothing appears cheap or added as an afterthought. I have been carrying one around in my satchel for a month now and it shows no signs of damage. I even put them to a real test when I gave them to my kids to play with around Christmas time. If anyone could destroy them they could but the radios came away unscathed.
I was very happy to see a charging station with a USB cord was included with the radio set. After you install the battery pack (included) for the first time you don’t have to fiddle with taking it out to charge. Just drop your radios in the charging station and you’re good to go. Another huge bonus is that the charging station can be plugged into a USB for power. What this does is allows you to carry a portable power source with you and charge the radios without needing a wall outlet. They can also run off AA batteries so you can carry a couple for backup. The X-talkers also come with a belt clip to keep it within reach for easy access.
One thing I was not aware of is the radios came with Weather Radio and Scanning ability. I had to do some research on this feature as I really wasn’t sure what this function was all about but I’m sure glad I did as this may be the most important benefit of having these radios with you while in the bush (or available at home!). The radios have a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio built right into them. The NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is a national network of radio stations that have the ability to broadcast weather information nationwide 24/7. NWR broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of severe weather hazards, natural disasters, technological mishaps, and national emergencies. In brief, NWR is an all-hazards radio network working with other federal agencies and the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Alert System. NWR is one of the best sources of weather and emergency information available to the public. Your weather radio will not only pick up local weather reports but also give you alerts from the NWR, sound an alarm, and provide valuable information to you. With the X-talker you have access to this information. You can periodically check in to make sure you’re not in the path of an impending snow storm and need to get off the mountain or have critical updates at home in the event of an emergency.
This radio is a solid choice for two way communications. The X-Talker delivered in every aspect in which I would expect it to perform and has a few additional, well thought out features. Short of not testing the range of the radios, they met or exceeded all my expectations. I would definitely recommend them to you and I will be carrying one in Colorado this October.
Disclaimer: I received these radios at no charge in return for a fair and honest review. To the best of my abilities I have given an unbiased and accurate description of my findings and thoughts. And yes, I will be carrying one this fall and I’m pretty excited about it.