GMRS Radio Review: Rocky Talkie’s IP67-Rated, Repeater Compatible, 5 Watt Radio

A dependable and rugged two-way radio should be a part of every off-roader’s gear. The new Rocky Talkie 5 Watt Radio has a robust design, it’s powerful, submersible, dust-tight, and easy to use. The GMRS radio is also repeater compatible. So, when the company offered to send us a radio for testing, we accepted and put it to work.

About Rocky Talkie

Rocky Talkie is a Colorado-based company founded in 2019 by longtime friends and backcountry adventurers Bryce Jones and Alex Page. The duo created the company after unsuccessfully searching for a reliable two-way radio that was easy to use in the backcountry. The company’s first achievement was the Mountain Radio. It’s an IP56-rated, two-watt FRS (Family Radio Service) radio. The topic of this review, the 5 Watt Radio (yes, that’s its official name), is the company’s newest offering. It expands on the power and durability of the Mountain Radio but operates on GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) frequencies.

GMRS Radio

Volume controls for the Rocky Talkie 5 Watt Radio are on the side of the radio. This reduces the chance of inadvertently changing the volume while using the radio.

What Is GMRS?

GMRS radio is one of several standalone radio services available in the U.S. and it has become popular in the off-road world. There are 30 total GMRS channels. Channels 1-7 are limited to a maximum effective radiated power (ERP) of 5 watts. Channels 8-14 are limited to a maximum of 1/2-watt ERP (the FCC only allows handheld radios to transmit on these channels). Finally, channels 15-22, and the eight repeater channels, can have a maximum ERP of 50 watts. An FCC license is required to transmit on a GMRS radio. Check out our detailed overview of GMRS radio from the off-road perspective. The story has a wealth of info about this handy radio service.

On the hardware side of things, handheld GMRS radios like Rocky Talkie’s 5 Watt Radio are commonly referred to as “handy talkies” or “HTs.” HTs typically have an ERP of 2-5 watts. There are also vehicle-mounted 12-volt “mobile” GMRS radios that can have an ERP of up to the 50-watt limit. While high-power vehicle-mounted mobile radios are great, HTs are handy because they can be used to communicate inside and outside of a 4×4.

The IP67 Rating Indicates That The 5 Watt Radio Can Be Submerged

The Rocky Talkie 5 Watt Radio has an IP67 rating. IP stands for Ingress Protection, the number 6 means it’s dust-tight, and the 7 means it’s waterproof when immersed in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. This rating is important for us wheelers because dust and water are both part of off-roading and they can wreak havoc on a radio. Example: We have another, non-IP-rated GMRS radio and dust has permeated the inside of the LCD screen, which is obstructing visibility of the information. Additionally, the same radio has dust and water damage to the on/off/volume dial, as well as the speaker.

Water-Shedding Design And Gator Clip Attachment System

The 5 Watt Radio also has a protective rubber padding and a shatterproof screen. Additionally, the radio has a water-shedding design that includes a speaker grille feature that allows water to easily drain out. And to ensure the radio stays where you clip it, there’s a metal “Gator Clip” attachment system with 360-degree rotation as well as a high-quality backup leash.

GMRS Radio

The Rocky Talkie’s antenna is removable. This means you can connect the radio to a vehicle-mounted antenna or you can install a taller antenna to increase range.

Powerful Battery And A Quarter-Wave Antenna

Powering the 5 Watt Radio is a lithium-ion 7.4V 1,800 mAh battery. This battery is said to power the radio for around five days on a single charge, even in frigid -20 degrees F temperatures. To conserve battery power, the LED display turns off when the radio is monitoring a single channel. It illuminates briefly for things like an incoming or outgoing voice transmission or when the volume is changed. The display stays illuminated in scan mode.

The 5 Watt Radio’s lengthy list of features include a removable 3-inch, quarter-wave antenna with SMA-male connector, an M3 waterproof headset connector, and USB-C charging.

GMRS Radio

Here’s the 5 Watt Radio programmed to access a repeater. The display shows that the radio is set to repeater channel 17, the power level is set to high, and it’s programmed with a CTCSS tone code of 22, which is 141.3 Hz.

Repeater Compatible And More

Rocky Talkie’s 5 Watt Radio supports all 30 GMRS channels. This includes the eight repeater channels. What is a repeater? Well, a GMRS repeater accepts an audio transmission, amplifies it, and retransmits it. The result is a vast increase in communication range. You can find more information regarding repeaters in this GMRS Radio overview. Furthermore, the radio has 121 CTCSS and DCS “privacy tones,” a channel lock feature, high/low power modes, scan mode, and a roger beep. Additionally, it offers dual channel watch, NOAA weather channels, and NOAA emergency alert monitoring. Also notable: When repeater channels are enabled, you can access wideband and narrowband settings.

Impressive Volume And Clarity

After several weeks of testing, we’re impressed with Rocky Talkie’s 5 Watt Radio. We like that its ergonomics make it comfortable in the hand. The radio uses volume buttons instead of a rotating dial, so there’s less chance of inadvertently changing the volume setting. And on the topic of volume, the radio’s speaker packs a punch. We had no problem hearing the radio even in our noisy 4×4 or over the sound of a rowdy surf at the beach. And even at high volume, the radio’s audio is clear and the tone is good. It’s quite amazing how good the audio is from such a small radio. Speaking of the radio’s size, we like it too, because it easily fits in a cupholder or a pocket. Minus antenna and Gator Clip, the radio measures around 4 inches tall, 2.4 inches wide, and 1.3 inches thick.

GMRS Radio

The 5 Watt Radio’s Gator Clip is metal, has teeth, strong tension, and it rotates. Consequently, it ensures that the radio stays where you clip it.

Gator Clip For The Win

We need to give props to the 5 Watt Radio’s Gator Clip. It’s a beefy piece that keeps the radio where you clip it. We’ve used it to clip the radio to a rollbar grab handle, a backpack strap, and our belt. The combination of metal construction, grippy teeth, and above-average clip tension keeps the radio in place. And we like the fact that the clip rotates 360 degrees to accommodate various mounting needs.

GMRS Radio

The “Channel Flipper” switch is mounted on top of the radio and it is how channels are selected, the scan feature is activated, and the radio is locked.

Easy To Use

We’ve found the 5 Watt Radio is incredibly easy to use. It’s a radio you can power up and start using for communication in seconds with no need to delve into a bunch of settings. And on the topic of settings, it’s worth noting that the radio has no menu like most other GMRS radios. You change settings by pressing buttons. For example, to access CTCSS or DCS tone selection, simply press the volume down button for two seconds and then select your transmit and receive tones. And yes, the radio will do repeater split tones.

It’s also super easy to select a channel. The 5 Watt Radio uses a “channel flipper” switch located on top of the radio to toggle through the channels. The channel flipper also serves to access other features. A two-second rearward press of the switch enables channel scan mode, while a two-second forward press locks the radio.

The Rocky Talkie 5 Watt Radio is IP67-rated which means it’ll fend off the conditions of off-road travel so you’ll have reliable communication.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Rocky Talkie’s 5 Watt Radio impresses us. We’ve used ours in our truck and on the trail, in environments ranging from wet and humid to hot, sandy beach. Our radio has been problem-free, it has good signal reports from other GMRS users, and battery life is outstanding. Furthermore, we appreciate the handy USB-C charging capability and the ability to utilize repeaters. Additionally, we like that the antenna is removable. We’ve used the 5 Watt Radio inside our 4×4 while connected to a roof-mounted GMRS-tuned antenna with great results.

Quite simply, the Rocky Talkie 5 Watt Radio is a capable, feature-packed radio with the rugged chops necessary to survive in an off-road environment.

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About the author

Ken Brubaker

After learning to drive in a 1967 Rambler American, Ken was addicted to all things with an engine and wheels. He has owned a wide range of vehicles including a pair of 1977 Pontiac Trans Ams and a 1997 Jeep Wrangler.
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