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'Doomsday Prepper' Chooses Midland GXT1050VP4 Two Way Radio

The National Geographic Channel has a new show called 'Doomsday Preppers' that airs on Tuesdays at 9:00pm EST. This show takes a closer look at people who are going to great lengths to prepare for hard times. Each episode features several 'preppers', and shows you how each is preparing for a specific crisis scenario. The show doesn't look at the more common disasters, but instead focuses on major to catastrophic events, as unlikely as they may be to occur. Examples of such events include an EMP detonation, a major oil crisis, hyperinflation, financial collapse, and more.

Jason Charles - Doomsday PreppersIn this past Tuesday's episode one segment focuses on Jason Charles, a New York City fireman, and details his preparations for a supervolcano eruption. As he was demonstrating how he would prepare himself to go from his apartment to a storage facility for more supplies, he was shown carrying a Midland GXT1050VP4 two way radio. Is this radio a good choice for a crisis scenario?

Advantages of the Midland GXT1050VP4

There is no doubt that the Midland GXT1050 is a fantastic consumer grade GMRS radio. It has a lot of power and great range (typically 1-2 miles), is somewhat waterproof, (meets JIS4 specifications), will operate on standard AA batteries if you aren't able to recharge the included NiMH battery pack, and it will allow you to listen to NOAA weather channels. This is essentially the same radio as the very popular and very well reviewed Midland GXT1000VP4, only in camo.

As you can see the GXT1050VP4 offers a lot of what a 'prepper' may be looking for, and it would be tough to make a case that it is a bad choice. As always seems to be the case, however, there is not a product that is completely perfect for this scenario so I'll point out a few other things that could be considered.

Other Things To Consider

First, while the GXT1050VP4 is packed with features, durability isn't really one of them. At $80/pair you really can't expect it to be, and this is going to be the case for any consumer grade radios. A business grade radio is going to be considerably more expensive, but far more durable. In a true disaster scenario, it would be difficult to find replacement radios so this has to be a consideration. Another option would be to purchase a backup set of the same or even lower cost consumer radios. This would provide a backup option and would still cost less than a typical single business radio.

The Midland GXT-1050 operates on FRS and GMRS frequencies, which are very popular and are used by most consumer grade radios. A high powered GMRS radio can usually be counted on for a mile or so of communication range. GMRS, however, also allows for the use of repeaters. Repeaters are high powered devices that essentially re-broadcast a transmission at a much higher power and over a great distance. In a crisis situation it may be helpful to be able to communicate with others that are more than a mile from you, but to do this you would need a repeater in your area as well as a radio that supports the GMRS repeater frequencies.

Unfortunately the GXT1050 does not support repeater frequencies. If you decide that you need this ability, Motorola has a couple of good options. The Motorola MR355R and MR356R are priced similarly to the Midland, but are repeater capable. The Motorola MS350R is repeater capable as well as fully waterproof. The Garmin Rino series is also repeater capable, but these devices are far more than just two way radios and that is reflective in the cost.

Basic Emergency Kits

Remember that we also offer some basic emergency kits. While these kits will get you nowhere close to the level of preparedness of those featured on the show, they are a small start and could make a big difference if you find yourself without power or clean water during a bad storm or other emergency.


I live in a tornado prone area, I am looking for an emergency radio for use in my storm shelter, which could be needed to call for rescue, asumptions:
no power 12 hours before event and 10 days after. No cell phone service for 48 hours after event, no local coast guard.

The FRS is ok for family communications but cannot call for First Responders, so would a vhf marine handset reach local dispatch or temporary dispatch? Would the older CB radio work better because alot of truckers still monitor and could relay or repeat msg to areas that are not effected by event. I asume any device would need an external antenna beyond the storm shelter door.

I am looking for your best suggestions
1. under $200
2 under $400
3 price no object but portability/waterproof

Jim, a VHF marine handset is not a good option as marine radios are not legal for use on land. Perhaps a better option would be a business radio that can be programmed to GMRS frequencies, such as the Motorola RDU4100 or RDU4160d. In a addition to the power and ruggedness, the battery life of a business radio is typically longer than an FRS consumer radio. Motorola also offers a Motorola RDX Series AA Battery Frame (RLN6306) for these radios so you can use alkaline batteries during extended power outages.

You could also use a handheld CB radio, such as the Cobra HH-Roadtrip CB Radio, however a handheld CB is not as powerful as a typical dash mount CB radio.

Which if any of theses would be best for using on my property? We have about 400 acres, heavily wooded woth several deep valleys. I would be interested in two handhelds with earpiece or lapel type mikes, with more to be bought if they work well. I am not that interested in obtaining licenses, but might be if that was the only option. I need decent battery life, good reception and reliable communication. I am not sure if VHF or UHF would be better, but I want a capable radio that won't let me down. There is a possibility that I may need to extend the range much further so repeater capable would be a plus.


Excellent article on the Midland. Thanks.

Sometimes, it seems that the people they choose for the Doomsday Preppers reality TV show are picked more for their wacky factor than for their wisdom :)

For the really long distance handheld radios, a business radio or MURS on VHF is probably going to do better in suburban and rural areas than the FRS or GMRS.

You can see a real comparison chart of average distance of various types of radios HAM vs CB vs FRS vs GMRS vs MURS on the RadioMaster blog

Cool. cheers for Posting

Thank you for the reviews!

Handheld CB radios can have just as much power as dash-mount, the Midland 75-785 and the Cobra HH-Roadtrip are both rated at the maximum 4 watt limit. They both can be turned down (1 watt in my case) to preserve battery in short communications. I've used a BNC to SO239 adapter and connected one to a Wilson magnet mount whip antenna, great removable setup with battery backup!

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