Backcountry Access BC Link FRS Radio Review
Good communication in the backcountry means many things. But on the most basic level, communication is about actually being able to talk to each other. Two-way radios are a great tool to facilitate communication when the terrain splits the group. Whether it’s simply to make sure you get a photo set up just right or to share vital terrain and safety beta, radios make it easy to communicate quickly and efficiently while skiing in the backcountry.
There are a variety of good quality two-way FRS radios on the market from big names like Motorola and Midland. FRS refers to Family Radio Service and represents power levels and radio frequencies that do not require an operator’s license. One of the biggest obstacles to good radio use is simply keeping your radio handy, so you can and will actually use it on the fly. Storing a standard handheld radio in a pocket or pack is ok, but ease of access is not ideal.
The crew at Backcountry Access (BCA) understands the importance of communication and the need for easy, on-the-fly access. The BCA BC Link radio makes access and use easy by incorporating a remote speaker/mic that clips to your pack shoulder strap for easy access. BCA takes the remote speaker/mic idea a step further by adding on/off/volume control and the ability to change frequencies from the remote mic, too. In fact, the BC Link does not include a speaker/mic on the radio body; it’s designed to be used with the remote mic at all times.
The latest edition, the BC Link 2.0, boosts the radio power to a full two watts for FRS channels and improves the mic controls for easier operation. The BC Link system works with other handheld FRS radios and allows you to change frequencies within the FRS/GMRS channel range to find a common channel.
The BC Link is smaller than similarly spec’d Motorola and Midland radios, and at two watts of power on FRS channels it is twice as poweful as the original BC Link radio and many other FRS radios. BCA claims a max 40 hours per battery charge, and the whole system is waterproof enough to handle exposure to snow and precip in the field. In testing, the battery held strong for multiple days of use, though when accidentally left on overnight on day three, it did require re-charging.
The BC Link FRS Radio is designed so that you can keep the radio portion safe in your pack while the remote speaker/mic can be clipped to your pack strap for super easy access. I actually ran the cord inside the hydration port on my pack strap, but it’ll work just fine with the cord on the outside too. Having the ability to adjust the volume and even turn the radio off or on without digging for the radio in a pocket works great. Another plus is that the push-to-talk and other buttons/knobs are all relatively functional with gloved hands, so it really allows for on-the-fly use.
A radio is one more electronic device to add to your kit, but it’s a simple way to keep communication open and easy while in complex terrain.
Highlights / Unique features:
- Radio body has no speaker/mic. It’s designed to work specifically with the remote mic set-up.
- You can program six FRS/GMRS frequencies for easy access from the dial on the mic.
- Built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery uses USB port/wall plug adapter to charge (included).
- Charge lasts multiple days with normal use. Easily recharges in a few hours from full drain.
- Compatible with 22 FRS Radio and GMRS channels + 121 sub-channels.
- Waterproof to IP56 Standards – holds up to winter weather exposure
- Easily programmable for easy field use
- BC Link 2.0 $179 (latest 2 watt model)
- BC Link $149 (Original 1 watt model)