By: Jeremy Neisser
As someone who is interested in off-roading and overland travel, you may have wondered if there is an official GMRS channel that most people use. While there isn't an official channel, GMRS channel 16 is frequently used by the Jeep and overland communities when traveling off-road. However, it is important to note that not everyone in these communities uses this frequency, and it may not always be the best option for every situation.
Many Jeep and 4x4 users informally chose channel 16 as their go-to frequency for off-road communication, but it's important to understand that there are other options available. In this article, we'll explore why channel 16 became the unofficial GMRS off-road channel and take a closer look at other low power GMRS channels that can be found on most fixed-mount mobiles.
We'll also answer some frequently asked questions about GMRS channels and off-road communication.
If you are interested in picking up a GMRS radio for off-roading, here are the top choices I recommend.
GMRS channel 16 is frequently used by the Jeep and overland communities when traveling off-road, but it is not the only option available.
There are other low power GMRS channels that can be found on most fixed-mount mobiles that may be better suited for certain off-road situations.
Understanding GMRS channels and off-road communication is important for a safe and enjoyable off-roading experience.
Why Is Channel 16 The Unofficial GMRS Off-Road Channel?
As an off-road enthusiast, you may have heard of the unofficial Jeep GMRS channel, which is channel 16 (462.575 MHZ). But why exactly is channel 16 the go-to channel for off-road vehicles? Let's explore this topic further.
No Person or Group "Owns" Any GMRS Channel
It's important to note that no individual or group can claim ownership of any GMRS channel or designate them for specific use.
Concentrating a group of users on one channel can actually lead to more radio congestion and less efficient use of allocated frequencies. Therefore, the use of channel 16 as the unofficial GMRS off-road channel is not due to any official designation or ownership.
When You Shouldn't Use Channel 16 Off-Road
While channel 16 may be the most popular channel for off-road communication, there are times when it's not the best choice. Here are a few instances when you should consider using other GMRS channels:
When traveling less than a couple of miles apart from other off-road vehicles, GMRS channels 1-7 may be a better choice. Transmitting less power (up to 5 watts with a license) reduces the likelihood of interference with other vehicles across a wide area.
GMRS channels 1-7 are less likely to experience interference from powerful 50-watt radios or repeater stations located far from you but still capable of communication up to 10 miles or more between mobiles.
It's essential to choose the appropriate GMRS channel based on the distance between vehicles and the potential for interference to ensure efficient communication while off-roading.
In conclusion, while no one can officially claim ownership of any GMRS channel, channel 16 has become the unofficial GMRS off-road channel due to its popularity and less crowded nature. However, it's crucial to consider other channels, such as GMRS channels 1-7, when appropriate to ensure effective communication while off-roading.
You may have heard some friends use CB radios instead, I dive into the topic here. The biggest issue is that CB radios travel farther and more people use them, where as a GMRS can be used in a short distance (20 miles or less) making them ideal for off-roading.
Low Power GMRS Channels Found On Most Fixed-Mount Mobiles
A Brief Explanation of GMRS Privacy Codes
GMRS radios are a great way to communicate with other off-roaders, but sometimes you may not be able to hear other radios or they may not be able to hear you. This is where GMRS privacy codes come in handy. These codes keep your squelch muted, except for calls from other radios that have programmed in the same code.
However, it's important to note that using privacy codes in areas with low radio traffic can limit your options on who you might talk to. Some radios, such as the Btech GMRS-50X1, have the ability to scan for these privacy codes, but this procedure may take time to perform.
Below: A List Of “High Power” GMRS Channels
Most GMRS radios have both high and low power channels (using good antennas) Low power channels are typically used for short-range communications, while high power channels are used for longer-range communications.
The table below shows a list of high power GMRS channels and their corresponding frequencies.
Power Output (Watts)
We Still Monitor Channel 16 When Off-Roading
When off-roading, it's important to monitor channel 16 in addition to any other National Forest Service frequencies that may be used in the area. Our Btech GMRS-50X1 radio's Quad Watch feature allows us to monitor up to 4 channels simultaneously, and we always have channel 16 selected as one of those channels. Listening to National Forest Service channels can be very useful, especially in areas where there are frequent forest fires.
Before using your GMRS radio, be sure to get a GMRS license and learn how to use your call sign. For more information on getting a GMRS license, check out our article "How to Get a GMRS License, and Why It's Necessary."
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common GMRS channels used by off-road vehicles?
Off-road vehicle enthusiasts typically use the following GMRS channels: 15, 17, 18, 20, and 22. These channels are preferred due to their low traffic and clear communication.
How do I find out what GMRS channel my Jeep uses?
To find out what GMRS channel your Jeep uses, check the owner's manual or contact the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can try scanning through the channels until you find the one that is being used by your group.
What is the difference between GMRS and FRS?
GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) and FRS (Family Radio Service) are both types of two-way radios. The main difference between them is the power output. GMRS radios have a higher power output than FRS radios, which means they can transmit over longer distances.
What is the emergency GMRS channel?
The emergency GMRS channel is channel 20. This channel is reserved for emergency situations and should only be used in case of an emergency.
What is the best GMRS channel for travel?
The best GMRS channel for travel depends on the area you are traveling in and the channels being used by other off-road enthusiasts in the area. Channels 15, 17, 18, 20, and 22 are commonly used by off-road vehicles and are a good place to start.
What kind of radio do off-roaders use for communication?
Off-roaders typically use handheld GMRS radios for communication. These radios are portable, easy to use, and have a range of up to several miles depending on the terrain and environment. Some popular brands include Midland, Motorola, and Cobra.
Hi & Welcome!
My name is Jeremy and I have been an avid car nut for many year. My first car was an 1987 Honda CRX. I put in my first Kenwood stereo, amp, 2 10" JLs and a CB Radio in it and have been an avid user of CBs and car radios for years. I'll do my best to share my tips, information and thoughts to help you with whatever question you might have, ABOUT ME