One of the basic rules when trail-running is to try to keep the vehicle behind you in sight such that the slowest driver sets the pace for the group. This helps prevent a driver from getting lost or off course. However, there are plenty of times when rigs get out of sight, and it's handy to be able to communicate amongst drivers.
There is a wide range of radio communication available to allow you to converse with your fellow off-roaders. Whether you're in a street-legal 4WD, rock buggy, ATV, motorcycle, or snowmobile, we'll give you some idea as to what is available, along with the pros and cons of the various choices.
CB radios have been in use...
CB radios have been in use for decades, and while they're not as popular as in the past, there are still quite a few in use. Model improvements have made quality radios available at reasonable prices. This is still probably the most popular trail radio for four-wheelers.
For many years, the most popular trail radio has probably been the Citizens' Band (CB). These 40-channel radios operate in the 27-MHz frequency band. CB radios are relatively inexpensive starting at about $40 and going up to a few hundred dollars. With a 4-watt (12-watt single sideband) power limitation, CB range is typically effective for a few miles but can go tens of miles under the right weather and atmospheric conditions. No license is needed for CB radio use and Channel 4 is typically used by four-wheelers in many areas. CB communication can also be used for both private and business use.
CB radios are available in a mobile mount that uses an antenna mounted to your rig, or you can buy a handheld unit. Mobile versions work much better than the portable units due to typically higher output power and more efficient antenna setup. CB radio is common and is a good basic radio system for all-around use.