FRS Radios… for when you’re really in the middle of nowhere

Cell service is great. It’s one of the really great things about the 21st century. If you’re within about 1.5 miles from a road, you can probably make a phone call or get critical information. It makes us scratch our heads and think how we got away without it.

But as good as cell service is, it has limitations. Everything has limitations, of course. It’s possible to be on a hike, a camping trip, a ski trip, or just walking around and suddenly be without cell service. It can be a terrifying thought. I mean, we walk around constantly connected to each other and then… nothing?

FRS radios can be the solution

You may remember FRS radios from about 20 years ago. The Family Radio Service is a broadcast band that regular folks can use without a license. They’re usually sold in pairs and often times they’ll be designed to be rugged. After all, they’re going to be used outdoors in some remote locations.

FRS radios boast ranges up to 35 miles between devices. I would tend to think that’s an exaggeration, based on flat terrain and good weather conditions. But at any rate you’re likely to get a few miles’ range and that’s what you’ll need if you’re out skiing or hiking with the family. Give one to every family member and choose a frequency. You’ll be in communication whether it’s an emergency or just one of your kids wondering when lunch is.

FRS radios also give you the comfort of being connected without the problem of being… too connected. After all, you’re trying to get away from the worries of the modern world. With FRS radios, there’s no texting, no work email, no telemarketers. Just a clear message between you and the people you share the frequency with.

Remember FRS radios are public

There are several channels on your average FRS radio, and your family can choose one you think no one is using. But anyone else with an FRS radio can listen in if they tune to that frequency. So, of course, be smart. There are some things you probably don’t want to say like “hey, I left my red Honda totally unlocked with the keys in it.” We tend to think of our communications as pretty private, so it can be a little bit of an adjustment at first.

FRS radios are legal

It’s worth pointing out that if you have an older set of FRS radios, they might not be fully legal anymore. Before 2019, it was legal to sell FRS radios that also worked in the GMRS frequencies. GMRS, the General Marine Radio Service, is a set of frequencies that do require a license. If I understand the laws, it’s still legal to use those radios using the FRS bands but not on the GMRS bands unless you have a specific license. And chances are you don’t have the owners’ manual any more so you won’t know which is which.

So to that I’ll just say, why take a risk. Just replace the radios if they’re more than a few years old and you’ll know that you and John Q. Law will be on the same page.

Get FRS radios from Solid Signal

These radios are a must-have for anyone who’s going off the beaten track. They’re rugged and inexpensive. And best of all, you get get the FRS radio you need when you shop at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.