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Testing GME Australia’s new XRS-660 Handheld UHF CB Radio to stay in touch in remote areas

To many people who have enjoyed spending time in the outdoors for a while, packing safety gear for an adventure is non-negotiable — but there are ways to stay in touch even if you don’t have mobile reception.

Just 27 per cent of the Australian landmass is covered by reception and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service estimates about 130 bushwalkers get lost or require rescuing every year in that state alone, so it is important you have the right gear before heading out.

GME Australia provided this publisher with the device for testing purposes. This did not affect our views of the device, and our review remains independent of the manufacturer.

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But a device such as GME’s newly launched XRS-660 Handheld UHF CB Radio could save your life.

Developed by Australian company GME, which is industry-leading in the radio frequency (RF) communication technology space, the handheld XRS-660 introduces new features designed to withstand harsh and unpredictable weather.

Featuring a rugged IP67 Ingress Protection as well as a MIL-STD-810 G rating, the device is built to endure dust, water and vibrations as well as extreme temperatures.

The GME XRS-660 radio is built to withstand harsh weather. Credit: Malin Hagglund

The device is also the first of GME’s kind to feature a colour transitive (TFT) LCD screen which makes it always easy to see in sunlight or darkness.

Another exciting new feature is the XRS radio’s Bluetooth audio connectivity, which means that you can pair it with your headphones to maintain your alertness.

“For Aussies travelling or working in remote and regional areas, staying in touch is vital to ensuring they get home safe,” GME safety expert Tony Crooke says.

“That’s why GME is proud to launch the XRS-660 — the first-ever XRS handheld radio with GPS tracking capabilities.

“Building on the market-leading innovation of GME’s popular range of XRS Connect UHF CB radios, Australians can now have total peace of mind knowing they can communicate with their fellow travellers or workers all while their live location is visible, without mobile phone service.”

With the GME XRS-660, you can share your live location with your fellow travellers or workers without phone service. Credit: Malin Hagglund

Stay safe offline

As a relatively avid solo hiker, the feature I appreciated the most when carrying the GME XRS-660 with me through the Royal National Park was its ability to provide me with an accurate and detailed map through areas without cellular reception.

However, this can only be done if the radio is connected to the XRS Connect application wherein you can save offline maps including trails for later usage.

Using the XRS Connect application you can save offline maps before heading out. Credit: Malin Hagglund

The XRS Connect application also allows you to set a username unique to your radio as well as a status that other XRS users within range can see if you are sharing your location.

By setting your status you can let your hiking mates and other XRS users nearby know what you are up to.

Using the XRS Connect application you can choose a status for your radio. Credit: Malin Hagglund

Now, I’d be lying if I said that carrying safety gear was always a priority of mine at the start of my adventures.

But over the years, I have explored more remote areas and, on several occasions, accidentally closed my offline Google Maps in the middle of a multi-day hike in non-optimal weather conditions, so venturing out without safety gear is now a no-go.

And while I wouldn’t head to remote areas without a personal locator beacon (PLB), the XRS-660 Handheld UHF CB Radio is a great piece of equipment to avoid ending up in an emergency scenario.

The GME XRS-660 is easy to carry as it only weighs 337g with the battery and antenna included. Credit: Malin Hagglund

A factor I always consider when preparing for a multi-day hike is the weight of my gear and the overall weight of my backpack.

This radio weighs in at 337g (including battery antenna) and with the dimensions 59mm (W) Dimensions 59mm (W) x 42mm (D) x 137mm (H) (not including antenna).

It’s an easy piece of gear to carry or attach to your clothes when your hands are doing other things.

Besides the many ways to save power, the XRS-660 has a selectable transmitter power, which allows the user to preserve its battery when transmitting at a closer range.

The GME XRS-660 has a selectable transmitter power which helps with preserving its battery when transmitting at a closer range. Credit: XRS-660 Instruction Manual

When it comes to using the XRS Connect app to navigate with your saved offline map I’d bring a power bank as a backup.

The XRS-660 Handheld UHF CB Radio from GME has a recommended retail price of $549.

You can find out where to buy it using GME’s Find a Dealer search, or simply pick one up at Anaconda.

In the box

  • 5 Watt Handheld UHF CB Radio (XRS-660)
  • 2550mAh Li-lon Battery Pack (BP030)
  • Rapid Desktop Charger (BCD026)
  • AC Adaptor (PS005)
  • Belt Clip (MB059) has received no monetary benefit from this content.

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