Last Updated on March 20, 2023
While searching for a new set of two-way radios for the 2023 hunting season, I came across Rocky Talkie, a small but growing Colorado company making an intriguing FRS radio specifically for outdoorsmen. And since we at EatElkMeat are also a small but growing Colorado company, I showed my support by outfitting myself and my hunting buddies with Rocky Talkies.
This all started after I’d spent a few hours geeking out over YouTube reviews of backcountry radios. I was impressed by the strong positive reviews of the Rocky Talkie, so I grabbed three of their compact, durable, and no-frills devices. They seemed exactly like what my hunting buddies and I needed for September’s bowhunting season.
So, with the elusive wapiti elk in mind, we put the Rocky Talkies through their paces in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado. Here’s my hands-on review after 30 days of heavy use in the field.
How We Tested Our Rocky Talkies
The three of us at EatElkMeat.com used the Rocky Talkies every day, and they were clipped to our packs or belts for the entire stay. We didn’t always use them intensively but I can testify that we beat them up big time.
Our campsite had very spotty cell service, so the Rocky Talkies served as our rock-solid form of communication when the hunting party split up to divide and conquer. No, we didn’t fill all of our tags, but at least we had some badass walkie talkies along for the ride.
Features & Specs
Let’s start by learning a bit about these versatile communicators:
Rocky Talkies are license-free FRS radios that work straight out of the box, unlike GMRS radios that require operators to purchase a license. GMRS radios are often more powerful and have a greater range than FRS, but they’re also bulkier and are overkill for our style of hunting and other outdoor activities. FRS radios are more popular because they’re compact and geared towards recreational use.
With 128 FRS channels to choose from, it won’t be difficult to find a clear and uncrowded channel for backwoods communication.
(Without getting too technical, know that channels 1-22 operate on standard FCC frequencies and channels 23-128 are the same frequencies repeated and paired with privacy codes.)
During our hunting trip, Josh, Ryan, and I chose a single channel and it served us well for the entire 30 days. A couple of times we could faintly hear some chatter from other hunters on our channel, but they must have been far away. No problem.
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1,550 mAh Lithium Ion USB-C Rechargeable Battery
Rocky Talkies have a 1,550 mAh (milliamp hours) internal lithium-ion battery, equivalent to four standard AAA batteries. For such a compact device, squeezing in a battery of that size is impressive.
This relatively high-capacity battery is rated to last a minimum of three days. We actually got a solid 6-7 days of performance out of these bad boys, but perhaps that’s because we kept our radio chat to a minimum so as not to spook the elk.
Another nice battery feature is that they’re USB-C rechargeable. No need to fumble with AAA batteries or plug your radio into a proprietary charging dock. We used a 12-volt car charger or a power bank to keep ours juiced up in the backcountry.
Rocky Talkie designed these two-way radios to be virtually impervious to dust, dirt, water, and other natural hazards, and their IP56 weatherproof rating reflects that.
Let me make sense of the Rocky Talkie’s IP56 rating:
- IP = Ingress Protection
- The first number, 5, stands for its protection rating against solid objects like dust and dirt. The highest IP possible rating for solids is 6.
- The second number, 6, stands for its protection rating against moisture, such as rain, snow, and other precipitation. The highest IP possible rating for moisture is 9.
Bottom line: This radio was engineered to withstand pretty much everything wet that Mother Nature might throw at you.
Weight & Size
Each Rocky Talkie weighs in at only 4.8 ounces, or 7.9 ounces total with the included carabiner and backup leash. We trusted the carabiner and left the backup leash behind while hunting, and clipped the radio onto our backpack shoulder straps.
Rocky Talkies measure 6.4” x 2.3” x 1.1” and fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. They’re perfect for an ultralight backpacker like me. Less bulk = less weight. And considering that small size, the company packs in a lot of range, battery life, and weather protection. We were very pleased because we avoid bulky, oversized gear at all costs.
Each Rocky Talkie is protected by an industry standard two-year warranty. And the Rocky Talkie support team is responsive, prompt, and genuinely wants your feedback. It’s clear they’re proud of their product and stand behind it.
Now that you’re up to speed on the basic specs and features of the Rocky Talkie, let’s explore how they performed during our month in the field.
With a clear line of sight, this bad boy can transmit a radio signal up to 25 miles. But, let’s be real, when do you ever have a 25-mile line of sight?
We tested this up to two miles into the thick backcountry and got pretty solid reception in return. At times the audio was a little grainy, but we could always communicate when we needed to.
Pro tip for all you hunters out there: disable the ‘roger beep’ feature to remain silent and stealthy in the wilderness.
Had we bumped the range up to four or five miles, we have doubts about how clear the communication would have been. We never split up to hunt that far away from each other, though, so we’ll have to update you down the road if and when we push our Rocky Talkies to their limits.
I imagine mountaineering above treeline or hiking/climbing without any noticeable obstructions could really put these range limits to the test. We plan on taking them up skiing when the snow starts to coat the Rocky Mountains, and we anticipate pushing their limits further. Stay tuned for updates.
Rocky Talkie conservatively rates their devices as delivering three days of battery life. Our experience with these bad boys was more like 6-7 days of talk time.
Of course, we didn’t talk a lot while hunting, and when we did, we whispered into the Rocky Talkie, using short sentences. Plus, we napped a lot or stared into the abyss, pondering life’s mysteries.
Had we been using our devices to communicate more frequently, I can see the battery life might have dropped closer to the company’s three day rating. In a different scenario—say, each of us drifting on a lake, each in our own bass boats, and nursing six-packs—our talk time would definitely been shorter!
One thing that was a bit of head-scratcher was the Rocky Talkie’s battery display. For instance, one minute it would read 30%, but a half-hour later it would read 40%. We noticed minor display discrepancies like these a few times, but they didn’t affect the performance of the radios at all.
I have absolutely zero concerns when it comes to the durability of Rocky Talkies. We gave them quite a beating during our field tests and they emerged completely unscathed.
We accidentally dropped them on rocks, smooshed them under the weight of heavy packs, slept on top of them, and let them slide around in the dirt of a Jeep full of smelly hunters and gear.
Take these anywhere you go, whenever you want, and they’ll stand up to all the usual hazards of backcountry hunting, and then some.
We mostly used our Rocky Talkies in warm and dry weather during our September elk hunt in Colorado. It never got down to the -20° F. rating mentioned in the specs, but we did have several days of heavy rain. The Rocky Talkies handled all of this in stride.
These buggers also endured their fair share of dust, dirt, mud, and muck, and worked flawlessly. All we had to do was wipe them down after a hard day’s use.
What about snow, slush, sleet, and ice? We’re confident they’ll handle winter easily, but look for an update after we test them in the upcoming ski and snowboard season.
At $110 per radio, Rocky Talkies land in the mid-to-high range of two-way FRS radios. Sure, you could be thrifty and spend $35 on entry level Motorola T100 Walkabouts or shell out $400 a pop for the deluxe RDU4100s, but the Rocky Talkies are a much better value. Here’s why:
The T100 Walkabouts are very basic and I have doubts they’ll stand up to harsh weather and constant abuse as well as the rugged Rocky Talkies. On the other hand, the high end RDU4100s are rugged but overpriced and not as practical.
In short, if you hunt, hike, ski, or explore the outdoors with reckless abandon, investing in a set of Rocky Talkies is money well spent. Plain and simple.
Over & Out: Wrapping Up Our Rocky Talkie Review
After putting our Rocky Talkies to the test during a month-long bowhunting trip in harsh conditions, the verdict of our top-to-bottom review is in:
Rocky Talkies are compact, reliable, easy to use, have insane battery life, respectable range, and can survive a trip to hell and back. They did everything we asked of them and we believe they’ll continue to do so for a long time.
Rocky Talkie is a small, growing Colorado company, and so are we. We feel that bond and take it as a sign that we were meant to be together… on the end of a carabiner.
Please feel free to comment below or shoot us an email with any questions you have about Rocky Talkies. We have extensive experience with these radios, and love chatting about our gear with the hunting and outdoors communities.
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