Two-Way Radios for Skiing and Snowboarding: What to Know Before You Buy

You may think that two-way radios are just for construction workers, emergency personnel and other businesses where efficient communication is crucial, but the fact is that they have a lot of value for everyday use in our non-working lives. Especially in areas with little to no cell phone coverage, two-way radios are an excellent communication option for seasoned adventurers and casual day trippers alike. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in recreational skiers and snowboarders interested in two-way radios for safety, but also simply to maximize their experience on the mountain with family and friends. Mountains are notoriously spotty when it comes to cell phone service, and the use of two-way radios makes it easy and fun to stay in touch with your skiing and snowboarding buddies.

If you’re thinking about buying or rental two-way radios for your next trip to the mountains, there are a few things you should know first.

What’s the Best Type of Radio for Skiing and Snowboarding?

There are several types of two-way radios on the market, and some are better suited for winter adventures than others. One of the main differentiators between radios is whether they’re VHF or UHF. VHF stands for very high frequency and utilizes radio frequencies between 136MHz & 174MHz. UHF stands for ultra-high frequency. These radios have a range between 403MHz and 470MHz.

About 90% of portable two-way radios sold are UHF, but for outdoor applications like skiing, VHF may be the better choice. VHF radios generally operate further than UHF radios, which is the main reason we recommend VHF. Not only will VHF work better for communicating on the slopes, but VHF radios also happen to be about 5 per cent less expensive, on average, than their UHF counterparts. With a wider range and a lower cost, VHF two-way radios make the most sense for outdoor winter adventurers.

Should My Radios Be Waterproof?

Since you’ll be using your radios in the snow, waterproof options are a nice idea, but for the casual snowboarder or skier, they can be a bit cost prohibitive. To reduce the cost, you can forgo waterproof options and simply purchase a good commercial radio like a BPR40, CP185, or CP200D, and instead invest in waterproof bags — or even a just Ziploc inside your jacket. These can do the job of keeping moisture away from the radio without interfering with its ability to function.

What Accessories Are Necessary?

You’ll probably need some accessories with your two-way radios to make them fully useful in winter scenarios, especially if you plan on spending a full day or weekend on the slopes. One of the most important accessories you can purchase is a microphone that can be clipped to your jacket, making it easier to communicate with your group throughout the day. This is especially useful for talking to others without taking your gloves off. Plus, many microphones, such as the PMMN4029, are rated as submersible, so you don’t need to worry about flying snow or a fall leaving you unable to communicate.

Aside from a waterproof bag and a microphone, you may want to carry an extra battery with you, especially if you’re in the backcountry for the weekend. Additional batteries can ensure you are able to stay in touch with your group during the entire trip. Do store additional batteries inside a waterproof bag to ensure they are not damaged by moisture.

Two-way radios can be the perfect option for families and groups of friends that love the freedom of the slopes but also want to keep in touch with their companions. If you have any more questions about two-way radios for snowboarding and skiing, feel free to contact us or start with the FREE Portable Radio Selection Guide below. Cheers to a great winter season!

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