Motorola MS355R FRS radios

Gearflogger reviews the Motorola MS355R radios

Back in the day, owning a walkie-talkie was a big deal and made you the coolest kid on the block. These days you go resort skiing or even up a trade route on a big mountain and everybody and his dog (no, really, his dog!) has a two-way radio. These are usually FRS or Family Radio Service, which generally requires no license. The radios are inexpensive enough that everyone should have one in their bug-out kit, and Motorola sets the standard to compare against.

Motorola has been synonymous with wireless communications for the better part of the last century. They make a slew of handheld radios, and the MS355R is one of their most rugged with a few features that set it apart from the field, most cool being that it's not only IP-67 waterproof (should survive submerged one meter for 30 minutes), it actually floats. Another cool feature is a dim but usable LED light is built into the bottom, good enough for spot checks of maps and finding stuff in a dark area.

The MS355R is not just FRS, it also can get seven NOAA weather channels and use GMRS channels, but for the latter you need to buy a license (that may change soon) for $85, although that will cover your whole family. The big advantage is that you can then use any locally available repeaters, basically bigger antennas that extend the range of your radio (search online for repeaters in your area). Otherwise, despite the claimed 30-plus mile range, you'll generally want to stick to about a mile for good comms; closer in built-up terrain like canyons, cities and dense foliage, but if you can get high and clear your range will increase accordingly.

The MS355R's are sold as a pair – hey, it takes two to tango – and with rechargeable batteries, a dual charger and belt clips, the MS355R is good to go out of the box. It's also got a headset port and the included earbuds are push-to-talk (PTT) capable, very handy for when you need hands-free. You can use three AAA batteries in place of the included rechargeables, so Motorola has pretty much thought of everything. The only quibble is that the plastic lanyard loops aren't big enough to take a standard carabiner, but that's easily solved with a piece of cord. Overall the MS355R is a great radio for a great price, and really the peace of mind you get having these around is priceless.

$76.18 at Amazon


Note to readers: As of November 1, 2022, Gearflogger no longer participates in affiliate programs or accepts commissions on links to products. We’ll find some other way to make money. Maybe get a real job. Maybe not.

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