I’m starting to consider myself an Overlander now, but I’ve only been at it for a couple of years. Still a green horn by all accounts and measurements. So I constantly refine my personal equipment, vehicle and loadout after each trip. It’s the only way to get better. Figure out what worked, what didn’t, and what adjustments need to be made to the vehicle. With limited space on board, the items I select need to serve a legitimate purpose and not just end up as dead weight. They also need to be robust enough to endure the rugged environment. These items that make the final cut become Overland Essential. And the MXT275 from Midland Radio is one such item.
Midland Radio Video Review:
Midland Radio has been manufacturing 2-way radios since the 1950’s and was the first company to introduce a 14 channel FRS radio. Since then, their products have continued to lead the market with constant innovation and refinement. With a full line of portable 2-way radios available, I selected the MXT275 as our “base camp” radio along with a pair of GXT1000 handheld units for use on foot, or bike, or kayak. As a family of four that adventures together, I felt this set-up would offer the most flexibility and range at a great price.
The MXT275 is a compact portable 2-way radio that sports a powerful 15watt base station. This Micromobile unit is small enough to be mounted just about anywhere. My Toyota Tundra serves double-duty as a work truck as well as our Overland vehicle. So I chose the center console as my mounting location for several reasons. There is a 12v plug in the console which is required to power the MXT275. Additionally, I can easily route the antenna wire from here under the carpet and rear seats to place the magnetic antenna on the roof via the rear sliding window. And finally, I can store the entire unit out of sight when not in use. All in all, a pretty seamless 10-minute install.
Although Midland advertises up to a 50-mile range in perfect unobstructed conditions, we live in Northern Michigan which is heavily wooded and expect far less range in this environment. However, we have not experienced any lapse in comms between the MXT275 and the GXT1000 handheld units when the boys push out from the campsite. With plans to head out west next season to the vast expanses of Colorado or Utah, we’ll get to test that long range capability. But for the time being, these radios from Midland have served us reliably.
Midland Radio MXT275 Spec Sheet
For use beyond the vehicle, I chose the Midland GXT1000. These small handheld units pack a powerful 5-watt punch offering up to 36 miles of range. Again, in perfectly un-obstructed conditions. This kit includes a pair of handheld units along with rechargeable batteries, a base station and headsets all for $89.99. Furthermore, the charging station includes both AC and 12v plugs for charging flexibility while in the vehicle.
A handy feature found on both the MXT275 as well as the GXT1000’s is the NOAA Weather Alert Radio with Weather Scan. This automatically locks on to your local weather channel and alerts you to severe weather in your area. On a 4 day trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan this summer, we found ourselves in a bit of a pinch. Setting up camp in a remote logged out area away from civilization seemed like a great way to watch the sunset over Lake Superior. Out of cell range, I was unable to check the rapidly changing weather over the lake. As we settled into our rooftop tent for the night, we had no idea what we’d wake up to.
Around 4am, I thought I saw a flash of light through my eyelids. Maybe it was just my imagination. As I lay there, I start to hear the familiar rumble of thunder. Peeking out the window, I see a large fast moving storm cell. The detail of the clouds revealed in the dark sky with each lighting strike. Illuminating the angry mass of clouds as if someone was turning on and off a light switch within. I grabbed the Midland Radio and pushed the WX button. The radio scanned for a local NOAA Weather channel. Once locked on, the bad news hit us loud and clear.
We found ourselves in the path of a severe thunderstorm with winds exceeding 40 mph. The next 15 minutes mimicked ground zero of an artillery barrage. I counted around 40 lightning strikes within 5 miles of us. With nowhere to take refuge, we just hunkered down and hoped that the odds were in our favor. As I watched from our window, a tree on the edge of the clearing took a direct hit. About a half of a mile from our tents and way too close for comfort. It was as beautiful as it was terrifying. And another important learning experience. In the future, I’ll pull up a full weather brief for our area of operation prior to departure.
In the video, Scott and I are exploring areas closer to home. Driving our trucks in Northern Michigan and getting ready for Overland Expo East. Good 2-way comms allowed us to warn one another of obstacles on the trail and game plan our route on the fly. GMRS radios are a great way for a group traveling together to have reliable communications. More powerful HAM radios are a good solution in the event you need help from outside the group over greater distances. But require each user to have a license. Just a couple of considerations when selecting a vehicle radio for Overland travel. However, the compact size and transmit range of these Midland products allow you to outfit your rig with an affordable and very reliable set-up.
“Midland Radio Corporation develops consumer products such as all hazards/weather alert radios, GMRS two-way radios, citizen band radios, marine radios, and bluetooth intercom systems. It has manufactured two-way radios since the late 1950s and was the first to introduce a 14-channel FRS radio to the market. In addition, as a manufacturer of land mobile radios, MRC supplies analog and digital portables, mobiles and base stations/repeaters for government entities such as forestry, public safety, etc., and other commercial users. Midland is the U.S. affiliate of an international group of companies with offices in Bulgaria, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. MRC is headquartered in a distribution facility in Kansas City, Missouri, which houses its entire U.S. operations.” ~Wikipedia