Rocky Talkie Review

Rugged Communications. A Rocky Talkie Review. 

In the backcountry it’s always important to be able to communicate. Whether finding the right line in the trees, letting your partner know you are ready to take their photo on a jump or just staying in contact while riding the resort in bad weather. The Rocky Talkie has proven itself to be a reliable and rugged communication device in winter and summer, on dirt and snow. 

The Rocky Talkie shoulder mounted and in action


  • Weatherproofing: IP56
  • Country of Manufacture: China 
  • Weight: Radio Only: 4.8 oz, Full System: 7.9 oz
  • Radio Service: FRS
  • Channels: 128 with 121 Privacy Codes
  • Battery: USB-C Rechargeable 1550 mAh Li-ion

Who is Rocky Talkie?

Rocky Talkie was founded in 2019 by two friends in Colorado; Bryce Jones and Alex Page. They were unhappy with the reliability of the radios they were using on their outdoor endeavors and so took it upon themselves to remedy that situation, and through development and testing,  Rockie Talkie was founded. 

photo of a rocky talkie on red maple leaves and river rocks
I didn’t drop the Rocky Talkie on these rocks, but had I done, I doubt there would even be a scuff

What is a Rocky Talkie?

The Rocky Talkie is a two way FRS (Family Radio Service) handheld radio meant to improve communication on backcountry adventures. Be it mountain biking, snowboarding or snowmobiling, the Rockie Talkie is designed to have your back with its IP56 rating (splash and snowproof, not submersible), shatterproof display, and over-engineered attachments, it can take all the abuse you can throw at it and still enable you to share dad jokes, line choice, or photo opps without a worry.   

What is FRS?

Within the FRS range, there are 22 public frequencies. Rocky Talkies have 128 channels which are these 22 frequencies repeating with various privacy codes preassigned (Channels 1-22 on the Rocky Talkie do not have privacy codes assigned and are open channels). So, Channel 1 and Channel 23 are the same frequency, but channel 23 has a privacy code pre-assigned. This pattern repeats all the way to channel 128.  The privacy codes used are divided by CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) or analog, and DCS (Digital Coded Squelch) or digital. For more on privacy codes, head on over to K0TFU for a fantastic explanation.   

As the use of FRS radios has increased, so has radio noise. If you get on a channel, simply announce your presence. If someone is currently on that channel they should reply. Move along to the next number. It’s a simple way to keep down radio traffic.

More channels than Cable Vision 

Within the FRS range, there are 22 public channels.  Rocky Talkies have 128 channels as the channels repeat but their variance lies within the various privacy codes that are used. So, Channel 1 and channel 23 are the same but with different privacy codes. This continues all the way to channel 128.  

The codes used are divided by CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) and DCS (Digital Coded Squelch). For more on privacy codes, head on over to K0TFU for a fantastic explanation.  

As the use of FRS radios has increased, so has radio noise. If you get on a channel, simply announce your presence. If someone is currently on that channel they should reply. Move along to the next number. It’s a simple way to keep down radio traffic. 

photo shows The Scan / Lock button and Power button on the top of the Rocky Talkie
The Scan / Lock and Power button on the top of the Rocky Talkie


FRS and GMRS radios efficiency rely on Line-of-sight. If there is nothing in the way of two radios, they will have the most efficient line of communication. That said, with no obstacles the Rockie talkie is rated to 25+ miles. I don’t know anywhere in the world, other than in the desert or the ocean where that kind of unobstructed range can be had.

In the mountains, the Rocky Talkies are rated between 1 to 5 miles, Forest / Hills between 0.5 to 3 miles. In general, the range of the Rocky talkies was fantastic. Forests never proved a problem nor did small rolly polly terrain. The only challenge I had once was communicating from behind the hill to  align a rider for photographs. He was also on a BCA radio, though I suspect this instance was a problem for both radios. 


The Rocky Talkies are relatively small, especially once the carabiner and leash are removed. When riding the resort I remove the carabiner and leash and put the radio in a pocket. I have some friends who do not take their phones on the hill as they are worried about losing their phones so they put a cheap FRS radio in their pockets. If we arrive at different times we are still able to communicate and arrange a mid-mountain meeting. The radios are also still handy in the event that one of us turns skiers left, and the other turns lookers left. A quick radio call means we can arrange a new meeting point. 

Hang on there Buddy!

There are a myriad of ways of attaching the Rocky Talkie to your person. First is via the included Mammut Carabiner. That’s right, there is a full size climbing rated carabiner included in the package. Don’t plan on using it in an emergency as it is thoroughly attached to the Rockie Talkie case. Getting the ‘biner out is a chore, and not one I would want to do in an emergency. 

Below the PTT button is a loophole that holds the included back-up leash. This is just in case the Mammut ‘biner breaks. More realistically, it’s if you have attached the radio to breaks. It’s great to have redundancy, especially if you are skiing in tight trees where it is realistic that a branch could reach out and grab your radio. Rockie talkie recommends looping the emergency cord around the backpack shoulder strap to keep the radio from flapping. Since the case is removable, I am hoping for a slightly tighter fitting alligator clip style case that moves the radios pivot point lower than the top of the carabiner. Alternatively, I could swap the Mammut Carabiner for a smaller one to lessen flap. 

Weather Proofing

As the Rocky Talkies are designed to be used on the outside of a pack while ski touring they need to be able to withstand the elements, and they do it well. IP56 rating means they are rainproof, splashproof, and snowproof, but not submersible. With several weeks of winter use on both test units I have no reason to doubt their weatherproofing.

What does IP56 mean you ask? According to Pro Tools Review the first digit in an IP rating, in this case 5, indicates that dust doesn’t get in sufficiently enough to affect operation. The 6 indicates that powerful water jets from any direction at a rate of 100 liters per minute for at least 3 minutes. That means this radio can handle a lot but being fully submerged in water is not one of them.  

The display is touted as being shatter proof and I certainly wasn’t about to test that claim. We all saw what happened when Elon said the Cyber truck had a shatter proof window. With that said, I’ve been far from gentle with the Rockie Talkies. They get thrown around pretty willie-nillie and show no signs of breaking. 

Ease of use

The Rocky Talkie is a very easy to use radio. Clip it to the shoulder strap of your backpack, attach the back up cable and go. 

On top of the radio on the right is a simple orange on/off switch. Between the On/Off and the antenna is the scan, lock and channel switch. Hold the switch towards the LCD and the lock function is toggled. Hold the switch towards the back and the radio will scan all channels looking for other users. If you push the switch forward or backward quickly the channel will change. 

On the left side of the radio is a siliconized PTT (Push To Talk) button. Like all radios, push and hold the button down and the radio is in talk mode. When you let go of the button, you are now listening. Though the button is easy to see and push, testers with large mittens occasionally missed the PTT button as it is slightly recessed behind the silicone case. 

If unsure whether you are broadcasting, the Rocky Talkies have a “Roger Beep.” The radio will beep when you let go of the PTT button, confirming that you have at least held the button for a small amount of time. 

I got the Power

One connector to rule them all, and the connector on the Rocky Talkie is USB-C. This charges the replaceable 1550 mAh Li-ion battery. Rockie Talkie claims the battery lasts from 3 to 5 days in cold (-20 celsius!) climates but in reality I was able to get almost a week out of them before charging. This is an exceptional amount of time for a radio that hangs from a shoulder strap in freezing temperatures exposed to the elements. 

I exclusively used the Rocky Talkies on their full power 2 watt mode. There is a 0.5 watt mode to save power but as we averaged nearly a week of use before recharging I did not see the need to use the lower power mode. 

photo shows The covered USB-C port of the Rocky Talkie
The covered USB-C port of the Rocky Talkie


I first saw Rocky Talkie radios on a road trip to Snoqualmie Pass (such an awesome area BTW). Quite a few of the skiers and riders in the lift line had blue boxes attached to their shoulder straps. I asked someone what it was, and with excitement, he told me it was a Rockie Talkie. The moment I got back to our AirBnB I looked up who they were and knew I had to get testing one and I am stoked that I did. They did exceptionally well on a trip with returning guests (6 trips?!?!)

I’ve had the Rocky Talkies for roughly ten months now. I’ve used them on various ski touring trips, sidecountry laps, riding around the resort and on hiking trips where I’ve worked with another guide. 

They have proven themselves to be effective communication devices when conditions have been suboptimal. The ability to have the radio slung on the outside of your pack and not have to worry about it being affected by the conditions is amazing. Their battery life has been outstanding and the ability to charge via USB-C simplifies the evening unpack and repack process between mountain days. 

Setting them up to communicate with BCA radios took a little bit of work but eventually we got there and the week went by smoothly. I’ve also used them in conjunction with DeWalt, Baofeng and iCom radios without any issue. They just work, and they work for a long time.  

photo shows The PTT button and dual power and volume buttons on the rocky talkie
The PTT button and dual power and volume buttons

Who is the Rocky Talkie for?

Anyone who wants a rugged communication device that doesn’t break the bank, is longer lasting than their cheap overseas counterparts and does not want to rely on their cell phone for regular communications in the backcountry.

The Rocky Talkie is for everyone, whether you are backcountry skiing or hitting hot laps on the resort. Mountain biking or hiking with a mixed ability hiking group. It can take all the abuse you can throw at it, has fantastic battery life and decent power for an FRS radio. 

If you are looking for a way to communicate with friends while adventuring, check out Rocky Talkie.

Black Sheep Adventure sports was provided with a free sample of the Rockie Talkie. This in no way affected our opinion and review.