Wait....a review of handheld radios on a fly fishing site? At first, this may strike you as being out of place. Although before this review I never carried one while fishing, there's been plenty of times I wished I had. Whether in separate boats or walking different sections of shoreline, being able to quickly check-in with a fishing buddy that's out of visual range or beyond shouting distance can be highly useful both for fishing and safety purposes. Of course a cell phone can be used, but to me that's more of a hassle. With a product like the Midland X-Talker T71VP3 handheld radios, communication is super fast and convenient.
Range: Up to 38 Miles
Battery Type: 1000mAh rechargeable battery pack (included) or 3 separate AA's
Included Extras: Belt clips, recharging base with micro USB power cord, battery packs
Water Resistant: Yes
Measured Weight: 6.16 ounces each
Rated Battery Life: Up to 15 hours
These compact radios are constructed well and feature a rugged plastic housing, controls that are easy to use, and a screen size that's effortless to read. There's plenty of included features and capabilities too, like 36 available channels, channel scan, a weather alert radio/scan, 121 privacy codes, rapid re-charge, and hi/low power settings. That's all good, but I care mostly about the ability to make calls and the weather features, and I'm guessing most folks are similarly interested in just these most basic features.
The rated talking range of 38 miles is pretty dang impressive, but I had no way to test out such extreme distance. As shown on the back of my Midland box, that type of range is only possible in an open area (like boat to boat on the ocean) where there's no obstructions to the line of sight. Throw some obstacles into the mix, and range diminishes quickly. I did test the range at about 1/2 mile (across an open lake) and found communication to be crisp. I then tested at about 1 mile away, but with major obstructions like buildings and countless trees in between. As expected, communication then ranged from non-existent to extremely broken. Both tests were performed in High (H) power mode. For most fishing situations like when you just want to keep in contact with your buddy who split to go wade upriver a few hundred yards, these should work great.
The small size, light weight, and included belt clip makes each radio a breeze to transport. While the fly line can tangle around the radio if worn down low, hooking the unit higher up on something like a shirt collar, vest, or pack strap helps avoid this problem so much.
Midland says these radios are up to 3x faster than previous models when it comes to re-charging, but that's a comparison I can't specifically tackle. However, I did want to see if these radios could endure being left on for many hours, and about how fast they'd re-charge after.
So, after topping-off the batteries on the included desktop charger, I then left both of them turned on (on high-power setting) sitting on a counter top for about 12 hours. After that time period they both surprisingly indicated full bars. Of course, if constantly being used over a time span like that, I'm guessing battery levels would be different.
I came back later when they had both run out of power and stuck them back on the charger. Within roughly an hour and a half, they were both fully juiced up— seems pretty quick to me! The power cord can also be disconnected from the charging base and wall adapter block and used to charge the radios via direct USB connection.
At $79.99 for a pair, these radios offer an affordable way to keep in touch with someone out on the water or just while out and about in general. There's been several instances where I've missed out on a good bite (or telling a buddy about one) simply because we were so separated with no cell reception and no other quick way to communicate. In addition, there's the increased safety factor if someone gets in trouble or strong weather is a threat. These Midland radios should be handy companions for times like these and more. Yes, Midland CAN help you catch more fish and be safe!
Midland X-Talker T71VP3 Radios