Stuff We Use: Two-Way / Micro Radios


stuff we use two way micro radios

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have deployed in our travels. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.


Just about everyone reading this missive has some form of communication in their pocket – whether that’s a smartphone, flip phone, or can-and-string is largely a matter of preference and comfort with technology. That being said, there is still room for two-way radio sets in this modern era.

Sure, most of us think Smokey & The Bandit or ‘breaker breaker 1/9’ when talking about two-way radios; after all, a good many gearheads either grew up using the tech or watched our heroes use it on television or in movies. There’s still a place for such usage today, of course, not the least of which will be quickly realized by anyone travelling on logging roads and the like far outside mobile phone service. Yes, such pockets still exist. Lots of them, in fact.


This explains why yer author fitted a two-way radio to a Chevrolet Silverado he was using about a year ago to traverse the wilds of Labrador. Cell service drops off rapidly as one departs just about any community, leaving enormous swaths of roadway – sometimes hundreds of miles in length – in which a traditional cell phone would be approximately useful as a diamond-encrusted Fabergé egg. Well, if you could play Candy Crush on the egg, that is.

stuff we use two way micro radios


With a back catalog of good luck in using the Midland brand of units, a 50-watt MXT575 radio found its way into the truck. Stemming from their so-called MicroMobile line of products, the 575 places all buttons and LCD screen right on the mic. This permits the base itself to be tucked out of the way instead of hanging under the dashboard in an unsightly manner. Hey, I want communication, not a blight on my eyes.


With the base concealed out of sight and the mic clip stuck to a trim piece just south of a ventilation register, it was dead simple to communicate with others on any of the 15 channels. Terrifyingly large iron ore truck own the road up in that part of Labrador, so hearing a squawk from the radio sometimes gave a clue that one was about to barrel around a blind corner. Absent an active SiriusXM satellite radio subscription, it would also have been used to scan for conversation since terrestrial radio was all but non-existent outside of built-up areas.


The joy about this MXT575 radio is its portability, so the thing had also lived in the parade of side-by-sides which have passed through this gearhead’s hands over the years. Lacking cell service is less of a concern around these parts, even in the woods, but the same cannot be said for remote areas or just about anywhere off the beaten path where moose easily outnumber humans. It was even easier to fit the base into these all-terrain rigs, since the battery is often right there to provide a jolt of 12V power. Since every control and the screen is contained on the mic with this unit, the base could be placed somewhere out of harm’s way – no small consideration given the environment into which UTVs are often pressed.


Garmin also makes something similar, though it deploys a mic and what amounts to a 5.5-inch tablet. This style is a boon to the generations which grew up with an iPad in their hands, appearing much more user-friendly than a traditional radio which can intimidate noobs with channel and squelch dials. This one only received the briefest of tests in this writer’s hands but proved to work well with gloves in a wet environment. For any rig not built with something like the Polaris RideCommand, it’s a good option.

stuff we use two way micro radios


And we’d be remiss not to mention the traditional handheld radios, like the ones found here. Easy to charge and even easier to use, these can be dumped into a cupholder or flung into a dashboard cubby thanks to their robust construction and a speaker louder than Mean Gene Okerlund,on full volume. Keeping track of the crew is simple with these things.


As planned, this series of posts will continue to focus on items we have actually used instead of randomly plucking products from the ether of Amazon. We hope you found this one helpful.

[Images: The Manufacturers]

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