Best off-road communication system for a jeep wrangler

Best off-road communication system for jeep wrangler

Suppose you will spend some time off the grid discovering new off-roading trails, camping, or just a long-distance road trip on your wrangler. In that case, a communication device is a must. Regardless of the time you will spend doing any activity that interests you, you must have a checklist of whatever you need.

A communication device should be at the top of your priority list. Communication devices are often ignored as most tend to think that mobile phones are enough. So in this article, we’ll look into some of the Best off-road communication system for Jeep Wrangler.

Mobile phones cannot be relied on in such instances as they run out of charge quickly, and not all areas have cellphone reception. You’ll need a reliable radio to use for communication between you and other drivers, in case of an emergency or to use in a campsite where there is no cellphone reception.  

When it comes to selecting a radio, there are two main accessibility options you can choose from. You can choose to have a mobile radio that you always have on the go and is permanently installed on your wrangler or a hand-held radio that you can use when in your wrangler and when outside your wrangler.  

Mobile Communication Radio

Midland MicroMobile Two-Way Radio

  • This has a 2-Way Radio features with 15 high power GMRS channels and 8 repeater channels.
  • It has Full 15W Radio with an external magnetic mount antenna for extended range.
  • It features a fully integrated control microphone ideal for vehicles with limited dashboard space, allowing the radio base unit to be stashed away.
  • This radio comes with Radio, Fully Integrated Control Microphone, Mount, Detachable Antenna with Magnetic Mount, Microphone, 12V Power Cord, Owner’s Manual, and Quick Start Guide.

Pros 

  • Since, it is powered by the wrangler’s electrical system, it will always be working compared to hand-held radios that get low on charge or the batteries die, then they shut down.  
  • Most of these come with an external antenna which ensures communication over a larger area. The signal is much stronger than that of hand-held radios.  
  • For long-distance road driving or trail expeditions, they are the best as you rarely go far from your wrangler due to their wide area communication capability.  

Cons

  • It is more expensive than hand-held radios, but this is due to their advanced features, such as the external antenna.  
  • Requires installation, but this is not something hard. You have some handyman skills and tools to help you get around the installation.  
  • Since they are installed in your wrangler, it is a limiting factor as you can only use them while in your car, and you cannot carry them around, unlike hand-held radios.

Handheld Communication Radios

Midland 40 Channel CB-Way Radio

  • This portable CB radio has 40 CB channels, 10 NOAA channels, and 4 Watts of output power.
  • This radio is powered by six AA batteries and comes with adapter for mobile use.
  • Instant access to NOAA Radio channels 9 and 19. Also, you have dual watch monitors for watching one or more channels simulataneously.
  • This radio has integrated ANL (automatic noise limiter) and squelch control for improving voice reception and eliminating noise.

Pros 

  • Compact and lightweight thus can be used and carried anywhere. This ensures that you constantly have a medium of communication. This really comes in handy when camping, and you cannot discover other parts while driving.  
  • They are cheaper than mobile communication radios, and you can have a battery-powered or a chargeable radio. Choose the one that you feel is convenient for you.  
  • Easier to select communication channels and use.  

Cons 

  • The small antenna cannot transmit signals over a large area; thus, communication is limited. The signal is also very poor when in confined spaces such as the cabin of your wrangler or inside a cave exploring. However, there are hand-held radios that have removable antennas. You can swap antennas to increase or decrease the signal range.  
  • Whether the radio is chargeable or has removable batteries, the charge will always lower with time, especially if you constantly use the radio. This means that the radio can go off anytime, even when you least expect it to. Ensure the batteries are in good condition and they are fully charged before setting out. Having spare batteries in case something happens is also a need.  

Which one should you choose?

When it comes to deciding whether to get a mobile or hand-held radio, it depends on two things, how you are going to use the radio and the budget you have.  

Adventure or Long Distance driving

Suppose you are going camping, and you’ll most likely explore trails, caves river routes and other many natural features on foot. In that case, a mobile radio won’t be of any use to you as you’ll be outside your wrangler most of the time. Hand-held radios are best suited for this. They can be carried around anywhere and distributed among other campers, unlike a mobile radio which is just one unit permanently installed on your wrangler.  

Mobile radios are best suited if you are going to spend most of the time driving. If you are on a road trip and you know you’ll be driving for long hours or on a trail exploration drive, you should have a mobile radio installed on your wrangler. You can communicate with emergency services or other drivers in case of an emergency. This is enabled by the signal power of the antenna that comes with mobile radios. 

Budget

Best off-road communication system for a jeep wrangler

The budget should be influenced by how you are going to use the radio. Do not be misled and get a mobile radio, yet you will spend most of the time outside your wrangler just because it has a wider signal range. You might not get to the radio in time just in case of an emergency. Do not also get a hand-held radio because they are cheap. You are going driving for long distances to places with little or no signal reception.  

Can you have Hand held and mobile device on same jeep?

For some, you can get both radios to use when one fails, or you feel you need both. For a long-distance driver, you might have the need to constantly communicate even when outside your wrangler. At times the battery dies, and you cannot use the mobile radio. At such times hand-held radios come in handy.  

The hand-held radio can also get damaged while adventuring, or you drop it somewhere when camping. An onboard radio on your wrangler comes in handy in such a situation.  

Having one of these radios is not enough if you feel you have to be in constant communication. It is recommended that you have both just in case something happens.  

Classification of Radios

Radios are further classified into different classes depending on the frequency, some of which require a special permit to allow you to have them. They are classified into the following.  

  • Citizen Band radios (CB radios).
  • Family Radio Service radios (FRS radios).
  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS radios). 
  • Ham radios.
  • Race Radios.
  • Satellite communication.  

Citizen band radios (CB-Radios)

Best off-road communication system for a jeep wrangler

These are two-way radios used on a high frequency between people but are limited to short distances only. CB radios can only transmit communication signals up to around 20 miles between two radios, but this can increase slightly or decrease depending on the terrain.

For example, the signal is much clearer when driving on an open road than on a rocky trail or in a forest. No license or special permit is required when using a CB radio in most countries but ensure you check any regulations before you acquire one.

CB radios are always on receive mode, and when someone wants to transmit a message, you have to press a button or a switch that turns on the transmitter. Depending on the type of CB radio you have, you cannot transmit the message without pressing the button or the switch.  

Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio

  • This Radio has a rangle of upto 35 miles and a battery backup of nearly 9 hours.
  • It has 22 channels and 121 privacy codes for access which is available to every other activity in the area.
  • This radio features emergency alert systems and also comes with rechargable batteries for use.
  • The entire kit includes 2 Radios, 2 Whistle Belt Clips, 1 Psu With Y-Cable / Dual Micro-Usb Connectors, 2 Rechargeable Battery Packs, 1 User Guide, 1 Accessory Brochure.

Midland X-TALKER Two-way Radio

  • These license free walkie-talkies feature 36 FRS (Family Radio Service) channels, along with channel scan to check for activity.
  • It has 38 Mile Longe range communication in open areas with little or no obstruction.
  • This radio has Easy Voice and Sound Activated Transmission (eVOX) for hands free operation.
  • ThIs radio kit comes with Also Belt clips (x2), 1000mAh rechargeable battery packs (x2), desktop charger, AC wall adapter, micro USB charging cable and one owner’s manual.

Pros

  • Requires no license or any form of permit to own one.  
  • They are used by many people; thus, you know what is happening, and where it is happening depending on the frequency you are on.  
  • Cheaper to buy and install than other radios.  
  • Readily available in the market, and you won’t struggle looking for one.  

Cons

  • It has very Limited range.
  • Requires a more powerful antenna to catch frequencies.  
  • You can encounter interference signals, especially when in a location that has other people using CB radios. This leads to privacy issues as anyone on your signal can listen to your conversations.  

Family radio service

These are small radios often called “walkie-talkies” that facilitate communications between parties on the same frequency. FRS radios are also used for short-distance communication, just like the CB radios. Still, there is a smooth flow of communication between parties regardless of the number of people using the radios when using FRS radios.  

Pros 

  • Cheap to acquire and does not require any installation.  
  • Compact and light thus can be carried around anywhere.
  • Easier to use and communicate with among parties.  

Cons 

  • These are battery-powered and can run out of charge at any time; thus, communication is limited according to the battery life.  
  • Due to their compact nature, they sometimes get misplaced and are hard to find if this happens.  

General Mobile Radio Service

GMRS radios are becoming more and more popular as they have the same features as FRS radios but have improved. The range of GMRS radios is wider than that of FRS radios. Some manufacturers make their FRS radios with GPS functions.

In some states, you do not require a license to own a GMRS radio. Still, you have to acquire a license in some, and certain rules regulate the ownership and use of GMRS radios. For example, in midland, USA, you must use a GMRS radio within certain frequencies only.

GMRS radios are installed either as a whole kit or in a walkie-talkie form. They are basically a mix in between the CB and FRS radios. GMRS radios can be used between GMRS and FRS radio, provided they are on the same frequency.  

BTECH GMRS Two-Way Radio

  • The GMRS-V1 has 2 Monitor GMRS channel frequencies and the radio will monitor both frequencies.
  • This radio has 25KHz/12.5KHz Switchable FM Radio LCD Display with LED Flashlight Scanning Modes:
  • It also has searching/scanning Dual standby mode and PC programmable Alpha Numeric Channel Storage Work Mode.
  • This kit includes GMRS-V1 Radio, 1800mAh Battery, V-85 Dual Band Antenna, CH-8 Charger, CH-8 110V Adapter, Earpiece Kit, Wrist Strap, Belt Clip, and User Manual.

Midland GMRS Two-Way Radio

  • This is a 2-Way radio and feature 50 GMRS channels, along with channel scan to check for activity.
  • This has JIS4 Waterproof Protection to prevent splashing of water from having any harmful effect on it.
  • It has 36-mile Longe range communication in open areas with little or no obstruction.
  • This kit includes Radios (x2), Rechargeable battery packs (x2), Boom mic headsets (x2), Belt clips (x2), 120V dual desktop charger, AC adapter, DC adapter, and Owner’s manual.

Pros

  • They have a wider range than both CB and FRS radios.  
  • Highly customizable to communicate with others as they have a wider frequency range.  
  • Some GMRS have extra features, such as GPS functionality that can help track someone with a GMRS radio and is lost.  
  • They filter out unwanted frequencies, thus ensuring privacy between conversations. If you are licensed to own one, you have a dedicated privacy frequency just for you and others using that frequency.  
  • Hand-held GMRS radios are compact and easy to use.  

Cons

  • You have to ensure that there are no laws that govern the use of GMRS radios, and if there are, you must get a license to use one, which can be a long and tiring process. You also have to pay a fee to acquire the license.  
  • Expensive compared to the FRS and CB radios.  
  • You have to install the onboard model rather than the hand-held model if you’d like to have it.  

Ham radios

Best off-road communication system for a jeep wrangler

For this, you also have to get a license, and, in some states, you are required to attend a class or training of some sort so that you are cleared and certified to use a ham radio. Ham radio systems have the widest frequencies among the radios previously stated.

They can run high-frequency figures on such systems. They are also called amateur radios. In this case, an armature is defined as an authorized person qualified in radioelectric practice with an aim but without a financial gain from the practice.

An amateur is only licensed to use a ham radio system for the public’s greater good without demanding rewards, whether monetary or material rewards. You can get a ham radio solely for listening purposes if you are safe personnel. Still, you have to get licensed to transmit messages.  

President Lincoln II Plus Ham Radio

  • This radio is same as “LINCOLN II” but an extra 12 meter band is added to this ham radio system.
  • It has VFO Mode with continuous scanning, Multi-functions LCD display, Frequencies display, Channels and memory scans.
  • Vox function allows hands-free function with ANL filter allows access to Hi-Cut RF Gain/Mic gain with quality external loudspeaker jack.
  • This kit has dual watchmode as well as Key locking and SWR Power Reading mode. Also, we can adjust Preset emergency & TOT (Time Out Timer) mode.

Ham Radio UHF VHF Dual Band 2-Way Radio

  • This is a power Switchable, professional ham Radio & supports Keyboard or PC programming.
  • It has 2100 mAh Li-ion Battery & has a battery back up of 12-20 Hours.
  • This radio has wide Compatibility as it has UV5R 8-W Dual band ham radio which covers almost all frequency range.
  • This kit includes a full set of accessories. Also, it has 18-month warranty, with hardware and tech-support is provided.

Pros 

  • You can transmit messages to and receive messages from all other radios regardless of the type.  
  • You can transmit and receive messages over long distances. This is because ham radio systems can use repeaters that enhance long-distance message relaying.   
  • It is easy to set up.  
  • Provides long hours of smooth-flowing communications.  

Cons

  • It is very expensive to acquire.
  • You require special training and licensing to fully use one, which also costs money.  

Race Radios

BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way Radio

  • This Upgraded Generation of UV-5R has 30% Larger Battery capacity, and V-85 High Gain Antenna.
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in a way for easy use as not everyone is a radio-expert, also you can customize the basic functions of BF-F8HP.
  • This concierge service of this model is only available on select BaoFeng models such as the BF-F8HP, UV-82HP, and UV-5X3.
  • The Kit Includes a BF-F8HP, 2100mAh Battery, V-85 Dual Band Antenna, CH-5 Charger, CH-5 110V Adapter, Earpiece Kit, Wrist Strap, Belt Clip, and a User’s Manual.

These are preprogrammed radios that are programmed for a specific purpose. There are multiple frequencies on the radio, but you can only use the preprogrammed frequency. When using these, you have to be under a rugged license or the owner’s license of the programmed frequency, such as a business owner.  

Satellite Communication

Garmin InReach Mini Satellite Communicator

  • This small compact radio enables 2 way text messaging using the 100 percentage global Iridium network.
  • Also, you can trigger an instant SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center for assistance.
  • It has wide access to downloadable maps, NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more by using the free Garmin Earthmate app.
  • This radio comes with an optional weather forecast service, also you can send and receive messages through this compatible device.

This is basically a way of communicating with others far away from you when you are off the grid, and there is no cellphone service wherever you are. Satellite phones also indicate wherever you are at a given time, and if you have one, it is always good to keep it on.  

Verdict

If you feel you have the budget for ham radio, go for it. It might dent your pockets to get one and get licensed, but it’s all worth it when you consider its advantages over others. Suppose you feel you can’t buy the ham radio.

In that case, the GMRS radio is also a good option considering that it has more advanced features than others, yet they work similarly.

You can get ham radio training even if you don’t have a ham radio system. You never know when it will come in handy. For the race radios, you can have some of those just for coordination purposes, such as when you are pulling out a stuck vehicle. If your radio does not have GPS functionality, ensure you have a satellite communication device always.  

Conclusion

Communication is an important factor that most ignore. Some ignore having a radio because they have cell phones which are not always effective in some circumstances, and only radios can help communicate. Chose a radio mostly depending on how you’ll use it, and then consider your budget and see the type of radio you can get with what you have.