Best Off-Road Communication Devices
Leaving the pavement to explore unknown territory can be exhilarating, but you already know that. Not having the proper tools and knowledge on the trail can really kill your off-road vibe, and turn a near life changing trip, into a horrendous one. (Trust me, I know.) Whether you’re in a large group of people or riding solo, communication is vital to a safe adventure. There are hundreds of ways of staying connected when you venture out, but depending on your location, the typical communication device may not work for you. Cell phones are popular amongst (literally) everyone in the world, and they of course, are the first thing most people jump to when it comes to sourcing communication. Depending on the trail, it is HIGHLY likely you will NOT have service. Without that precious signal, our cell phones are useless. We highly suggest just to invest in a backup communication device, I mean you can’t ever be TO prepared, right? Most people use portable radios to communicate while on the trails, camping, and even hiking. In this article we will talk about a few back up communication devices that are must haves.
Two-way radios- Can also be known as walkie talkies. They are great for staying connected on the trails, whether it’s from rig to rig, person to person, or just group communication. (Not to mention they are super fun to use). Two-way radios are available in handheld form like we are all used to, or you can purchase it in a mobile system! By purchasing a mobile system, you’ll be able to mount it directly onto the dash of your rig, or even to your after-market dash mount. Two-way radios can broadcast either VHF (Very high frequency) or UHF (Ultra high frequency). If you are using the same frequency as your partner(s) in crime, you are to be able to communicate in a 2–3-mile range. Fun Fact: The Dash Mount systems are known to have a wider range than the handheld ones.
Ham radio- The Ham Radio System is used to communicate long distance. For instance, with this set up, you can talk to your friends across town, around the world and although you might not believe it, even into space!! All without any internet. Ham radios have been proven to have a crystal-clear signal when it comes to communication, and they have a crazy large signal range. The best quality about a ham radio? It comes equipped with a substantial battery life. If any of your devices fail, your ham will always be there. Some over landers and off-road enthusiasts believe the ham radio is basically the holy grail of radio communication services. (I mean who wouldn’t agree?) So now the downside of this sweet radio upgrade: You need a license to operate it. Although they aren’t super difficult to get, it does require hitting the books. With the right knowledge and proper usage, a ham radio can be used as a lifeline during unexpected times of need. If you go this route, a ham radio extension or other ham radio mount can literally change your life.
CB Radio- “Breaker, Breaker 1-9”. CB Radios, or Citizens Band Radios, are the most recognized communication device in the United States and around the world. Why? Because they are the most common system used in Semi-Trucks. The advantages of having a CB mounted in your rig are endless. Whether you’re stuck out on the trails and need a winch, or you’re traveling with a pack of friends across the country, a CB Radio can make all the difference. They include never having to be worried about the battery in the device dying while cruising on the trail because this device is wired to your rig’s battery. We recommend grabbing a 5Watt CB, that way your communication range will be 5 miles in unobstructed terrain. This radio DOES not require a license but will require a CB mount or other mounting device.
GMRS- otherwise known as a General Mobile Radio Service, are devices that are suitable for short distances only. GMRS are like two-way radios, but they have one main difference. GMRS radio’s use channels, unlike two-way radios that use frequency to communicate among each other. If you’re looking for a Line-Of-Sight communication with your group or convoy, this is another great solution. This radio can mount a variety of different locations, but again, an aftermarket dash mount or console bridge will work best.
These four communication devices are great to have for any overlanding trip, and honestly, we have them all. Although here’s your disclaimer: Be mindful when using these devices. There are different radio channels and frequencies that are used for emergency purposes such as keeping in touch with police officers, EMT officers, firefighters, and other services. If you are found on these channels, and do not have the correct licensing, you can be fined. Communicating on these channels can not only interfere with our emergency services on the ground, but also our services on the air and water. So which communication device is best for you? Only you know that. If you own any of these devices, we hope you leave a comment below and help a fellow off-roader out. 10-4!