GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service radios are slowly taking over off-roading, overlanding, and jeep jamborees, replacing CB or citizen band radios. The popularity of GMRS radios as the device of choice in vehicles gained traction after participants and enthusiasts saw the need for a better communication device – one that provides better range and improved sound quality. Whether you’re preparing for your next adventure on the road or are simply looking for the best GMRS radio for your vehicle type, we’ve done the market search for you and have come up with the top five.
Top Pick – Midland MXT-275
Midland’s MXT-275 is not only our top choice but also a popular and recommended brand among off-roaders. The product balances feature, price, and power. It has an output of 15 Watts and allows communication across a 50-mile range.
The antenna that comes with the product can be used for those needing farther reach. Midland’s line of MicroMobile radios is known for the NOAA Weather Scan feature and this model is equipped with this very useful feature as well. It also has a weather alert indicator that notifies users of severe weather conditions.
Sold in the mid-price range, MXT-275 is popular among groups going on a road, mountain, or skiing adventure. One of the reasons why this is highly recommended for vehicle use is the handset design. Controls are incorporated into the hand microphone, making it easier to use even while driving. Its compact design and the fact that the hand microphone can be used as a standalone device means that users have the option to stash away the base unit, allowing for more dashboard space.
- has a fully integrated hand microphone
- has weather scanning and alert
- compact and affordable
- display on hand microphone is a rather small
Easy installation is one thing that is most notable with the MXT-275. Based on reviews, users are happy that it works better than a CB radio and is very easy to use. This model fits well in jeeps and is compact enough that it doesn’t take much dashboard space. Those who have tried using the product while traveling think that it is able to meet the demands of road use and the microphone unit is well made. Most users reported successful communication even with a 15-20-mile distance. This means that the MXT-275 is not only approved for its sound quality but also for the range and overall build quality.
Runner-Up – BTECH Mobile GMRS-50X1
This model from BaoFeng is not a surprise shortlisted, and runner up at that, because it has already made quite a reputation for itself with its impressive feature set. The GMRS-50×1 is a 50-Watt two-way radio that is compatible with FRS and GMRS radios from other brands.
This is a very ideal unit for users who are usually out and need to communicate with someone miles away. To take advantage of the range, an external antenna may be used with this device. Another feature that makes it perfect for offroad vehicles is the low noise and high fidelity microphone. We all know how background noises can hamper successful communication. The large LCD display also makes reading more convenient while drivers try to keep their eyes on the road.
- compatible with other FRS and GMRS radios
- has a large LCD display with backlight
- has low noise microphone
- needs an external antenna to optimize range
Users are impressed with the Btech GMRX-50×1‘s easily readable display and overall ease of use. Some users say that it is very easy to use and install. It is easy to mount in vehicles because it comes with a mounting bracket. There are some who think that the unit is well worth it’s price and actually looks well-built and can stand rugged use. In terms of range, the product works well across a 25-mile distance.
Best Value – Midland MXT-400
Another product that will definitely look appealing to jeep jamboree fanatics is Midland’s MXT-400. This is actually one of Midland’s most powerful devices. It has 15 GMRS channels and has 142 privacy codes. In terms of range, it is reported to work at a very remarkable 65-mile distance in unobstructed terrain. A range this powerful is helpful when in mountainous areas and particularly useful when trying to communicate with teammates while running off the road.
The unit is very easy to install and, because of its compact design, is easy to integrate into almost any type of vehicle. Finding a spot for this device should not be a problem. It requires only 1 AA battery which means that it is easy to find a replacement in case battery power runs out.
- has a 65-mile communication range
- easy to find battery replacement
- compact and easy to install
- slightly short microphone cord
User reviews talk about crisp voice quality even when on challenging terrain. Several users wrote about being able to use the Midland MXT-400 with ease in mountains or mountain ranges. Users are also happy about the repeater capability of this device, which allows them to communicate across greater distances. Although some have reported not being able to access some channels, most believe that it’s worth purchasing for all its other features. And, because it’s from Midland, the unit does not fail in terms of power and build quality.
Budget Pick – Midland GXT1000
For those who are skeptical about investing in a high-end GMRS unit but are set on buying a radio for their vehicle, an inexpensive choice is Midland’s GXT1000. For a very affordable price, you will gain access to GMRS frequencies, and be able to take advantage of a powerful and well-built two-way radio.
The GXT1000 is another MicroMobile with extensive features. Fit for off-road vehicles, it is waterproof and can, therefore, stand unfavorable weather conditions. As with other Midland units, it has access to 142 privacy codes and is equipped with weather scan and alert features. These and a 36-mile communication range are not bad for a very affordable price.
- Weather scan and alert features
- Slightly shorter range
One of the most mentioned features of this product is that it is waterproof. A lot of users are satisfied with the sound quality as they are able to use the product in various settings including hilly terrain. Based on reviews, users think that the GXT1000 is a great find because it seems inexpensive for being a well-rounded GMRS radio with excellent functionalities. It is fairly easy to use because several users mentioned taking the radio to their skiing trips and kids have no trouble using it.
Most Compact – Motorola Talkabout T460
The T460 is a two-way radio from Motorola and is known not only for its durability but also for its exceptional battery life. Depending on the battery type used, which may either be 3 AA or rechargeable, this radio can run for a good 26 hours. It also has IP54 weatherproofing which allows it to stand varying weather conditions and a range of up to 35 miles.
The T460 also has a weather scan functionality which makes it a versatile unit for various sports and outdoor activities. This unit can be operated hands-free using the iVOX/VOX which functions like a speakerphone. Since it is from Motorola, the brand has a range of solutions on how to install this unit in vehicles. For instance, mounting brackets are available. If you are the type who not only goes on off-road adventures but also engages in other sports, you might want to consider Talkabout T460 – tested in terms of durability and sound quality because, hey, it’s from Motorola.
- Compact and lightweight
- Can be used hands-free
- Has IP54 weatherproofing
- Separate accessories for mounting must be purchased
The battery type and battery life are a big plus for this unit. A lot of users have mentioned how reliable the T460 is during emergencies. Users do not have to worry about poor battery life because in case of low battery, the unit can be charged in vehicles, or batteries can be easily purchased from convenience stores. There were also mentions of good range. Although the product specifications state a 35-mile range, most users got a 2-5-mile coverage with clear sound quality, especially without obstructions. Some users say the T460 is quite heavy but others think that the size is perfect. There were others who said that the unit is easy to use and that is worth every penny spent.
How We Picked the Best Products for this Article
Range was a big consideration especially that these types of radios are taken on offroad or overland trips. Users are going to be travelling on and through mountains and hillsides. There will be obstructions along the way so we want a radio unit enabled with range and power that will push through those obstructions. We wanted something that can transmit crisp audio even through challenging terrain.
A radio built for rugged use is what we basically looked for. Again, the radios will be used in offroad vehicles so it must survive bumpy rides and changing environmental conditions. The brand was a good gauge of build quality but, of course, we also considered testimonies of those who have also tried and tested these radios.
For this criterion, we did not just list products that had the most features. Instead, we considered which ones had a feature set that was most useful when offroading or overlanding. This includes waterproof outer cases, weather scan and alerts, and noise cancellation features among others. A radio used for business is different from a radio used by vehicle owners, more so by offroaders. So, in other words, we chose radios that were suitable for a specific purpose, and that is, vehicle use.
This is another important factor to consider because we know how a power supply is hard to come by when on the road. So, for battery life, we considered units that had batteries that are built for long, hard drives. We also considered those that were either rechargeable, easily replaceable, or are readily available.
One of the most important deciding factors is user experience. Offroad club members are big on the radios they use. If they are satisfied or not satisfied with a product, the reviews will show. Most offroaders are generous with their firsthand experiences using a radio so it was quite easy to identify units that were a good match for their vehicles – considering dashboard space, frequency of use, range of use, and other factors.
The demand for GMRS radios nowadays will continue to soar because consumers have seen their efficiency when used off the road. After laying out top market options, we hope you now find the task of finding the best GMRS radio for your jeep easier. Just remember, your choice depends on your vehicle type and the range of activities you will be using the radio for.
As a recap here is the list of top GMRS radios for vehicles – whether you’re off-roading, overlanding or simply driving: