Meshtastic VS PMR Walkie Talkies

A breakdown Meshtastic VS PMR walkie-talkies. We'll look at what they can do, how far they reach, how they communicate, how long their batteries last, and how easy they are to use.

Meshtastic VS PMR Walkie Talkies

In the realm of communication devices, particularly those used for outdoor adventures, emergency preparedness, or remote work, two prominent technologies stand out: Meshtastic (Lora) and PMR (Personal Mobile Radio) walkie-talkies. Both offer unique features and capabilities, catering to different needs and preferences. This blog will provide a detailed comparison of Meshtastic and PMR walkie talkies, highlighting their key attributes, advantages, and limitations.

1. Technology and Functionality

Meshtastic is an open-source project that uses low-power, long-range LoRa (Long Range) radios to create a mesh network for communication. It is designed for text messaging and GPS location sharing over long distances without relying on cellular networks or Wi-Fi. Meshtastic devices communicate with each other directly and relay messages across the network, effectively expanding the communication range as more devices are added.

PMR Walkie Talkies:
PMR walkie talkies operate on the PMR446 frequency band, which is available for unlicensed use in many regions, including Europe. These devices are designed for short-range voice communication, typically within a few kilometers. PMR walkie talkies are simple to use, offering push-to-talk functionality and multiple channels to avoid interference.

2. Range and Coverage

The range of Meshtastic devices can vary significantly based on environmental conditions and antenna quality. In open areas, LoRa technology can achieve communication ranges of several kilometers, sometimes up to 10 km or more. The mesh network capability allows for extended coverage as messages hop from one device to another, effectively covering larger areas as the number of nodes increases.

PMR Walkie Talkies:
PMR walkie talkies "typically" have a range of 2-5 kilometers in open terrain (Up to 70 KM in a really really good conditions). However, this range can be significantly reduced in urban environments or areas with dense vegetation due to signal obstruction. Unlike Meshtastic, PMR devices do not support mesh networking, limiting their effective range to the line of sight between devices.

3. Communication Type

Meshtastic focuses on text-based communication. It is ideal for scenarios where silent, discreet communication is necessary, or where voice communication might be impractical. It is worth noting that it also can transmit GPS Location, Telemtery (Temperature, Humidity, etc), and more. Furthermore, Meshtastic does support over the internet connectivity bridge (MQTT), which serves as a bridge between two or more distant Meshtastic networks and also provides a backup communication path when the mesh signal is weak or unavailable

How To Host Your Own MQTT For Your Meshtastic Nodes
Integrating MQTT with Meshtastic extends off-grid communication by bridging distant networks. This enables global messaging, provides a backup when mesh signals are weak, and ensures faster message delivery via the internet. Perfect for remote areas and emergency situations.

More Information about MQTT Use cases

PMR Walkie Talkies:
PMR walkie talkies are designed for real-time voice communication. This makes them suitable for situations requiring immediate verbal interaction, such as coordinating activities in outdoor adventures, construction sites, or public events. The simplicity of push-to-talk functionality is a significant advantage for quick and easy communication.

4. Power and Battery Life

Meshtastic devices are known for their low power consumption, thanks to the efficient LoRa technology. They can run for several days on a single charge, making them suitable for extended outdoor use. The battery life can vary based on usage patterns, such as the frequency of messages and GPS updates and how many sensors are connected to it.

PMR Walkie Talkies:
The battery life of PMR walkie talkies depends on the model and usage. Basic models can last for several hours to a day of continuous use, while more advanced models with power-saving features can last longer. However, constant voice communication can drain the battery faster than the low-power data transmission used by Meshtastic.

5. Ease of Use and Setup

Setting up a Meshtastic network requires some technical knowledge, including flashing firmware onto devices and configuring settings via a smartphone app or computer. While there is a learning curve, the community support and available documentation can assist users in getting started. Once set up, the network operates automatically, relaying messages as needed.

PMR Walkie Talkies:
PMR walkie talkies are known for their simplicity. Users can start communicating by simply turning on the device, selecting a channel, and pressing the push-to-talk button. There is no need for additional configuration, making them accessible to users of all skill levels.

6. Cost and Availability

Meshtastic devices are relatively affordable, with prices typically ranging from $20 to $100 per unit, depending on the model and features. As an open-source project, it allows for flexibility and customization, but it also means users might need to source and assemble some components themselves.

PMR Walkie Talkies:
PMR walkie talkies are widely available and come in a range of prices, from budget models costing around $20 to high-end units that can exceed $100. The wide availability of PMR devices makes them easy to purchase and replace if needed.

7. Applications and Use Cases


  • Outdoor Adventures: Ideal for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities where cellular coverage is unreliable.
  • Emergency Communication: Useful in disaster scenarios for maintaining communication without relying on existing infrastructure.
  • Remote Work: Suitable for fieldwork in remote areas, providing text communication and location tracking.

PMR Walkie Talkies:

  • Event Coordination: Effective for managing staff and volunteers at events, fairs, and festivals.
  • Construction Sites: Useful for on-site communication among workers and supervisors.
  • Family and Group Activities: Handy for keeping in touch during group outings, theme parks, or road trips.

Sum Up


  • Technology: Meshtastic employs LoRa radios for text-based communication.
  • Range: 4-20 KM in LOS, Even more with Mesh. (You can also Connect two separate mesh networks on different part of the world using MQTT)
  • Communication Type: Text-Based
  • Battery Life: At least 2 days, sometimes months with the right setup
  • Easy of Use: Requires some knowledge to setup, Once setup it is very easy to use
  • Cost: Ranges from 20$ up to 100$ for ready to go device
  • Key Features: Integrate sensors to collect telemetry data such as temperature, humidity, and altitude. Include GPS for live tracking and mesh networking to extend the communication range. Use MQTT to bridge two off-grid mesh networks via the internet to maintain data exchange across remote locations.

PMR Walkie Talkies:

  • Technology: PMR walkie talkies operate on predefined radio channels for voice communication.
  • Limited GPS Support: While some advanced models may offer GPS features for location tracking, GPS functionality is not common in traditional PMR walkie talkies.
  • Direct Communication: PMR walkie talkies rely on direct radio communication between devices without the use of intermediary protocols like MQTT.
  • Limited Sensor Integration: Traditional PMR walkie talkies typically do not include built-in sensors or telemetry capabilities.
  • Technology: PMR walkie talkies operate on predefined radio channels for voice communication
  • Range: 2-4 KM in LOS, can go up to 50KM with PERFECT conditions
  • Communication Type: Voice-Based
  • Battery Life: Depends on the brand, around 1 day of use
  • Easy of Use: Very easy to use, batteries in, channel setup once, Push To Talk.
  • Cost: Ranges from 15$ up to 100$
  • Key Features: Widely available and user-friendly, making it accessible to everyone.Voice communication for easy contact, especially during live events for seamless interaction and real-time updates.
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Both Meshtastic and PMR walkie talkies offer valuable communication solutions tailored to different needs. Meshtastic stands out with its mesh networking capability, long-range text messaging, GPS and Telemetry sharing, and low power consumption. On the other hand, PMR walkie talkies provide straightforward, real-time voice communication, ease of use, and widespread availability.

Choosing between Meshtastic and PMR walkie talkies ultimately depends on your specific requirements, such as the type of communication needed, range, battery life, and ease of use. By understanding the strengths and limitations of each technology, you can make a decision that best meets your communication needs.