Why I chose GMRS Radio for 4×4 and Overland Communications

81ut62bnybcl-_sl1500_In November 2017 I wrote a blog post about 4×4 and overland communications. That post focused on the radio services in the USA. At that time, I wrote: “Short of everyone in your family having an amateur radio license, GMRS was as good as it gets.” Today I have reached a slightly different conclusion. GMRS is really the best trail communication option available. For vehicle to vehicle communication, it does the job really well. With nice mobile radios like the Midland MXT400 and MXT115, you will have capabilities that match a similar 70cm ham radio. However, you will have a few advantages over the guy with a ham radio! These advantages are why I now believe GMRS is king in off-road communications.
Here they are:

    1. Availability – GMRS Radios are available for purchase in nearly every big box and sporting goods store in the USA. If you need another radio or two hit up the local sporting goods store. Costs vary but really high-quality radios that output 5 watts are available for not much more than the often illegally operated Baofeng UV5r.
    2. Licensing – Its super easy. Go to the linked website, register, fill out the application, and pay your $70 application fee. Within a week or so, you will get an email with your callsign. This license is now good for 10 years. Now to remind you of why this license is great, its good for your whole family! There is no test to take! Good luck convincing your significant other, kids, parents, and siblings to take an amateur radio test. I’m a solid salesman and I have failed at convincing any of my family to take that test.
    3. Interoperability with FRS – This is the big one! For those that don’t know, interoperability is defined as “pertaining to systems that work together or communicate”. What does this mean for you? FRS and GMRS share all their channels. You can talk with anyone who has an FRS or GMRS radio. It is very likely that your friends on the trail with you already have. A radio that works with yours. If not, FRS handhelds are extremely inexpensive. I carry a 5-watt GMRS handheld for my use in the truck and two FRS radios for unlicenced friends. 

My recommended GMRS radios
FCC GMRS License Application


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