What transmission range do you need? Don't expect to get the range listed on the package, or anything close to it. This number is only a theoretical maximum that's all but impossible to achieve in real-world conditions. Expect the transmission range to be 20 percent or less of the advertised range, even on flat ground. Obstructions such as hills, tall buildings and dense foliage will further reduce a two-way radio's viable operating range.
Do you need a license? Most two-way radios can use both Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Some channels (8 to 14) are FRS only, some channels (15 to 22) are GMRS only, and some (1 to 7) are shared. You don't need a license to use the seven FRS-only channels or to operate under FRS rules on the shared channels, but you'll only be able to transmit at reduced power. To be heard more than about half a mile away, you'll probably need to use the higher-powered GMRS mode on the GMRS-only or the shared channels. To use GMRS, you need a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which costs $85 for five years. (In 2010, the FCC proposed removing the licensing requirement, but so far that proposal is still pending.) You can apply for a license online at the FCC website.
Will you be using the radios in wet conditions? If you suspect you'll be using the radio in situations where it's likely to get wet -- on a lake or in the rain, for example -- look for a radio that's described as waterproof, or at least splash-proof.
Will you be traveling in remote locations for long periods? If you will be using your two-way radio for extended periods, consider purchasing a model that accepts alkaline batteries as well as a rechargeable battery pack. That way, you can swap them out for spares if needed. Another useful feature when you're out in the rough is a built-in weather radio, which lets you pick up weather broadcasts and alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Will children be using this radio? Large, easy-to-press buttons are helpful for adults, but they're even more important for small children.
Do you need to keep quiet? Some walkie-talkies can alert you to an incoming message by vibrating, rather than making a noise. Hunters say they find this feature useful to avoid spooking the game. Another useful feature for hunters is "whisper mode," which lets you be heard clearly while speaking in a hushed voice.