"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Product reviews: Motorola Talkabout® 2-Way Radios

Tracking down the kids while camping

by Jim Bessey,

When we go camping we take two teenage boys with us. Much as they love roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories by the campfire, they love being on their own even more. So after an hour or two of being helpful and great company, both boys tend to disappear from our campsite. Eventually we have to track them down. This can be tedious and time-consuming.

Motorola Talkabout 2-way radios
It didn't take us long to adopt the strategy used by other campers in similar situations. We bought walkie-talkies and insisted the teens take one with them. This worked fine until the guys discovered how easy it was to pretend they were out of range, or only heard mysterious static.

"The batteries musta been dead," one would volunteer after a couple hours among the missing.

Now we've fixed that little communication breakdown for good. We bought better two-way radios from Motorola. Yeah, we spent more money than before, but not much - still way under $100 for the pair. We chose Talkabout® 2-Way Radios because they looked rugged and boasted a much higher range than our original radios offered. Best of all, these use rechargeable batteries. I got really tired of buying 8-packs of AAA batteries for the old ones.

The kids like the Talkabouts® because they are big, black, and look like something an Army Ranger might carry. There's a nifty extra trick, too: you can use these 2-way radios hands-free! Sound clarity is fantastic, so no more "what??" for an answer when we try to find our kids. There's even a setting that eliminates interference from non-Motorola radios. The 22 available channels offer over 100 privacy codes, too. None of the campgrounds we stay at are nearly big enough to exceed the 5- to 10-mile rural transmission range.

Motorola Talkabout 2-way radios
These radios are solidly built, with a nice big flexi-antenna that reminds me of the ones on those ancient Motorola "brick" phones. That's probably why the effective range is so high. Talkabouts® can receive NOAA Weather Radio Alerts, too (where available). That helps with peace of mind if a big thunderstorm is about to roll in, for instance. For real emergencies there's an Alert button that sends a distress signal AND transmits background noises, too - just in case.

Each unit also includes a built-in flashlight! They came with a handy charger stand that plugs into any regular outlet, and include ports for charging via mini-usb - same as the boys' mp3 players use. So far our kids haven't yet managed to scratch or dent the units, despite frequent hard handling.

Can you get by with a $30 pair of off-brand walkie-talkies? Sure, and we did for a while. But we spent the price difference on batteries and frustration that first summer. We'll end up buying another pair this summer, since my oldest now likes to go off on his own without his kid brother tagging along. I think I'll Free-cycle our old, original 2-way radios and let someone else buy the batteries. I'm sold on the Motorola Talkabout® radios, and very happy to be able to track down my children at the campground.

copyright 2008 - all rights reserved

Motorola Talkabout® 2-Way Radios - EM1000R FRS/GMRS radios. Suggested retail is $69.95. Available online or at retail electronics stores.

From Motorola's 2008 press release: "The Motorola Talkabout® EM1000R two-way radios not only keep family members in touch with those that matter most, but also provide peace-of-mind knowing that everyone can enjoy their adventures without missing important emergency or weather alerts.

"With a range of up to 20 miles2, the compact EM1000R two-way radios are ideal for family emergency kits with a variety of practical features to keep everyone prepared in any circumstance or setting from remote mountainside retreats and lakeside fishing trips to unexpected power outages at home. The radios are equipped with an Emergency Alert feature." [~Jim]


  1. hello, everybody, i wany a motorola phone.

  2. Steve7:18 AM

    It is risky to explore unknown regions near forest, natural water bodies, or mountain. and It would be worthwhile to equip yourself with the best long-range walkie talkie while going out for camping holiday in a remote area.