Walkie Talkies represent a simpler time, pre-YouTube, when you’d go out into the woods with your friends and stage elaborate games of capture the flag. They were a means of adventure and exploration. But what they really emphasized was communication and relationships while engaged in that adventure and exploration. When we think of our own childhood days, the walkie talkie taught us valuable lessons even as it facilitated them. Fast forward to today, and while some of the tech has remained constant, there’s a new crop of walkie talkies that are pushing the barriers of what we once enjoyed. They’re not just for you now; they’re for you and your child and your child’s friends and his or her own memories. They’re for the adventure together. Here are some of our modern favorites.
Sokos Walkie Talkies
Amazon users rave about the Sokos Walkie Talkies, and it’s easy to see why: a three-mile range with shocking sound quality and a cheap price. Our gripe is minor—the three-hour battery life churns through AAAs, and some weather protection would have been nice. But for a weekend car camping trip or just playing around in the local city park, these are a blast.
The heritage walkie talkie gets a modern upgrade with the 4G LTE- and Wifi-enabled Relay (4G LTE is $7/mo.), which also doubles as a great starter phone for kids. Once connected, send the kiddo out with his or her friends, and, provided they’re in a coverage area, they can connect with you or among the group on your private network at the push of a button or with the tap of a finger on your phone. Water-resistant and bump proof, Relay can withstand the rigors of your tiny terror. We love the features of GPS tracking, voice modulation, Spanish translation, and music. Plus, it’s always updating, with more “channels” promised.
Zello Walkie Talkie
The highest-ranked PTT (push to talk) app in the iTunes store, Zello Walkie Talkie’s ease of use made us believe the hype. While you will need connectivity (either your phone’s 4G LTE or Wifi), quickly establish contact one-on-one with your child or with the horde of his or her friends via its group setting. It even allows messaging, photos, and location.
In the mid-Aughts, Motorola was king of the cellular networks with its PTT phones. Old-timers will revel in the nostalgia of the company’s T100 signature squelch, while the younger generation will appreciate its simplicity and reliability. True walkie talkies, the alkaline-powered units have a range of up to 16 miles and 22 channels with some weather resistance. Like others on this list, they require AAAs but manage to squeeze a maximum 18 hours from them. They even come in pink.
Cabela’s TrueTimber Walkie-Talkie Combo Set
Sure, you can explore a manor with walkie talkies, but we believe they’re meant to be used outdoors, which is why we love the camo-colored Cabela’s TrueTimber Walkie-Talkie Combo Set. Besides the two units, it also comes with a flashlight, binoculars, and compass, meaning they’ll not only be able to communicate but explore.