Rocky Talkie Review: Great Radios for the 14ers
Most Search and Rescue missions in the mountains begin this way: “Our group decided to split up.” When you leave your partners behind on a fourteener it leaves you in much greater risk than if you were with your group. The Rocky Talkie is a new two-way radio designed specifically for situations like this. They keep your party in close communication, even if separated, to minimize your risk and help you respond better to accidents. I recently tested out a pair of Rocky Talkies and want to share my experience in this review. Let’s get started.
PS: Keep reading to get my 10% off discount code at the end of my Rocky Talkie Review!
What is the Rocky Talkie?
The Rocky Talkie is a two-way radio (commonly known as a walkie-talkie) that allows you to communicate quickly and easily with others in your group. While most models you find at REI or Walmart are easy to break and have a very limited range, Bryce Jones and Alex Page decided to build something better for the mountains. The Rocky Talkie is their brainchild: easy for anyone to use, but tough enough to last a lifetime in the mountains.
Testing the Rocky Talkie
Rocky Talkie was kind enough to let me test a pair of their products out in the mountains myself. I took them on several hikes with friends, including a climb of the 14er Mount Belford near Buena Vista, and a hike near James Peak at Saint Mary’s Glacier. Both locations provided opportunities to test the radio range, general ease-of-use and its durability (after I dropped them about a dozen times). Here is a full run-down on my experience with the Rocky Talkie.
Overall Review: The Rocky Talkie is an Incredible Tool Worth the Cost
My overall takeaway: The Rocky Talkie is an invaluable tool for the mountains and 14ers. It’s tough, easy to use, and could help in a number of common situations you face while hiking and climbing. We made a point of testing the radios over ridges when we were out of view, and the signal still came through clearly. Despite several drops, including one of 6-8 feet on rocks, the radio didn’t even have a scratch. While it is a bit more expensive than entry-level radios, it is well worth the cost and over-delivers in nearly every category.
My In-Depth Rocky Talkie Review
Looking for a more in-depth review? Here are some more in-depth notes I took during my testing out on the mountain. I cover:
- Ease of use,
- Signal strength, and
- Battery Life
Let’s get started with ease of use.
Ease of Use
I’ve tried walkie-talkies designed for more extreme use in the past, but they have always been complicated to use with far too many buttons and options. This gets complicated when you’re trying to use them quickly or teach a friend who’s joining you how to use them. The Rocky Talkie was simple and intuitive to use and only took several minutes to get used to.
This was the most important factor on my list: If you’re spending hundreds of dollars on gear it better be able to withstand a lifetime of falls and damage. While I can only attest to a weekend’s worth experience, these radios are still in prime condition despite being dropped a dozen or so times on dirt, ice, and rock. The shatter-proof screen is a nice added bit of protection too.
Signal Strength and Range
One of the big challenges with radios in the mountains is the lack of signal. If you try to talk to someone on the other side of a ridge or peak, the rock will often block the signal. The Rocky Talkie has a supercharged signal that easily reached over major ridge-lines and around blind corners so my partner and I could stay in touch even when we were out of sight. The company says the radio works up to 25 miles on flat terrain or 3-5 miles in mountainous terrain.
I never would have thought of adding a carabiner to a walkie talkie but it is a great idea in practice. Each radio has a primary lightweight carabiner to attach it to your pack or coat, along with a backup leash so you won’t lose it if you drop it on a ridge or cliff. This is particularly helpful on class three and four routes, where dropping it could be catastrophic.
I used my Rocky Talkies on two full-day hiking trips. Despite using them for plenty of communication, and not charging them between the two trips, they never ran low on battery during my test period. While it was pretty warm out, the company likes to brag about the radio’s special lithium batteries that work at -20 degrees Fahrenheit. That’ll be something I can test next January in my winter Rocky Talkie review!
My Verdit: The Rocky Talkie is Worth the Hype
After review, my verdict on the Rocky Talkie is a strong affirmative. This versatile radio checks all the boxes without the cost you associate with backcountry electronics and communication devices. At a fraction of the cost of an InReach Device, they’ll keep your group in touch with dependability and reliability in rugged environments.
Get 10% off a Pair of Rocky Talkies!
To support mountain safety and preventative search and rescue, Rocky Talkie provides 10% off if you buy your first pair of radios through The Next Summit.
To get the discount: CLICK HERE and use the promo code “TheNextSummit” at checkout to get 10% off your purchase. You can also click the button below.
A HUGE thank you goes out to their team for partnering with us to help make their radios more accessible to all and make the mountains a safer place to explore. Your work and amazing product is making a huge positive impact!
Rocky Talkie Review: Now You Know!
As you can see, these radios are nothing like the walkie-talkies you played with as a kid. The team has taken great care to include all the key features needed for mountain hikes and climbs while still keeping the price low enough to make it a realistic option. If you plan to hike a lot of fourteeners, especially with a group, I highly recommend getting a pair. I hope you found my Rocky Talkie review helpful and informative; Safe travels on the trail!
More Rocky Talkie Resources
Looking for other reviews and information about the Rocky Talkie two-way radio? Here are several good articles and write-ups I came across during my own research. There are also technical specifications below, and an FAQ section. I hope you enjoy it!
Rocky Talkie Technical Specifications
- Mountains: 1 to 5 miles
- Forest/Hills: 0.5 to 3 miles
- City: Up to 1 mile
- Privacy Codes,
- Channel Lock,
- High/Low Power Modes,
- Scan Mode,
- Roger Beep
Rocky Talkie: Frequently Asked Questions
These are some common questions I’ve read in various Rocky Talkie reviews posted online. Here are my answers from my experience with the Rocky Talkie and my research while writing my own review of it.
Q: Are Rocky Talkies worth it?
A: If you visit the mountains to hike, climb, ski, or backpack at least a few times a year, Rocky Talkies are probably worth the cost. They help your group stay in touch in places where cell phones fail at a fraction of the cost of a satellite messenger. Their much more durable and have a better range than cheaper walkie-talkie options, and I highly recommend them – especially for hiking and climbing 14ers. If you rarely go hiking or visit the mountains, you probably do not need a pair unless you really want them.
Q: What is the range on Rocky Talkies?
A: The range on Rocky Talkies vary according to the terrain, which can interfere and block signals. On flat terrain where you can see for miles, the radios have a technical range fo 25 miles – but such conditions are rare. In the mountains, a range of 1-5 miles is more realistic but highly dependent on local terrain. If you are trying to radio a group directly on the opposite side of a large mountain, you’ll be unlikely to reach them no matter how close they are. The radios are best used along ridgelines and summits where terrain blocks the signal less.
Q: Where are Rocky Talkies made?
A: Rocky Talkies are designed, prototyped, and tested here in Denver, Colorado. They work with manufacturers abroad in Italy and China for the component parts of each Rocky Talkie as well as assembly. As a result, Rocky Talkies are labeled as ‘Made in China’.
Q: Do Rocky Talkies work with BCA?
A: Rocky Talkies work with BCA radios, as well as other brands and options like Motorola, and other FRS radios. You will need to use a specific set of channels to interface, set privacy codes, and work with BCA radios. However, the manual for the Rocky Talkie walks through how to do this in detail for each kind of radio. This is a great feature as you can use your Rocky Talkie to communicate with friends who already have a different brand of two-way radio. There’s no need to replace them all.
Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit
Alex is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.
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