• November 7, 2015 8:29 am
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  • Olympia R500 2-Way Radio

    Many of us have grown to rely on smartphones as our primary means of communication, even when we’re on the water or in the woods. That’s not a good thing, as anyone who goes far into backcountry or well offshore will soon learn–get beyond the reach of the cell towers and you’re out of business.

    That’s one of the reasons that a portable radio system like the Olympia R500 makes sense. These low-cost radios can reach out over 40 miles in high country and close to 10 miles on the water to make contact with other radio users in areas where cell phones simply will not function.

    They’re also handy for instant-on communication–just click and talk, without looking up a number, to anyone within range on your same channel.

    The R500 system is uniquely useful for outdoorsmen because it’s completely waterproof, and it floats if dropped overboard. It can be used in pouring rain or blowing spray without damage. The buttons are large enough to operate easily with gloved hands, a big problem with all touch-screen phones.

    Also very useful is the NOAA weather warning system, which functions 24/7 to alert you to approaching severe weather.

    They’re not nearly as light and compact as a smartphone, but there’s no contract to buy and no monthly fee–they work whenever you need them without added cost.

    The radios also include a LED flashlight. They can operate on the included NiMH rechargeable battery, or on alkaline AA’s–a big plus in backcountry where you can’t plug in at night.

    They can be operated with ear buds and set on vibration alert for quiet operations–as you might want in a deer stand, for example.

    The R500’s come with a belt clip, charger and wall bracket. List is $99.99 for a pair but they’re selling at considerable discount at many big box stores–a nice Christmas gift for the backcountry boater, angler, hiker or hunter;