We put together some Frequently Asked Questions about the Scout Radios. Hopefully, this will provide some insight into our design and help to fix common issues.
Q: Why does the speaker microphone sound muffled at times?
A: The speaker microphone cover, which comes installed and adds an additional layer of protection from the elements such as snow and rain, can slightly reduce the clarity and volume output level of the speaker microphone.
If this is an issue for you, the cover may be removed easily. The speaker microphone (without the cover) is IP56 water and dust resistant, which is more than enough weather resistance for outdoors use in all but the most extreme conditions (think hurricane!).
Q: When the radio is in my backpack, the speaker microphone jack can sometimes pull out of the microphone port.
A: This is an unfortunate side-effect of using a single pin speaker microphone port. An easy hack to prevent the cord from ever being accidentally pulled out of the port while in your backpack is to tuck the cable underneath the belt clip of the radio. Not the most elegant solution, we know, but it works 100%. Click this link to see an example of this: Scout Radio Microphone Jack Hack
Q: What range can I expect in the backcountry? Other radios boast upwards of 30 miles.
A: Transmission range is affected by the output power of the device, the terrain (obstructions) and, to a lesser degree, atmospheric conditions (weather).
Range listings used by manufacturers are theoretical maximums, under perfect conditions which are practically never experienced by users in real-world use. There are almost always trees, buildings, mountains, valleys or some other obstructions or conditions that reduce the range of radio transmissions to less than the theoretical maximum. This is why we don’t advertise a radio range like some other manufacturers do.
The Mountain Lab SCOUT radio provides 2 watts output power, which is the maximum allowed under federal regulations in North America for a license-free radio.
TL;DR—The SCOUT radio range will be as good or better than comparable FRS radios available on the market.
Q: How can I get the best range out of my radio?
A: Besides moving to a location with fewer obstructions, one thing you can do is ensure that you are using the hihigh-power channels.
Due to federal regulations, transmission power used on the frequencies of channels 8-14 (on all FRS radios, not just the SCOUT) is limited to 0.5 watts. This is regardless of the actual output power capability of the radio.
For the best possible range, use Channels 1-7 and 15-22, which are allowed to operate on the full 2 watts of output power supplied by the radio. Tell your friends.
Q: Why should I buy this instead of a Baofeng radio?
A: When people ask about Baofeng radios, they are typically talking about their VHF handheld radios.
These are not certified to be sold as license-free radios in North America—users are required to have a license to operate one of these legally.
This is why they are generally found on the ‘grey’ market, and why you’re unlikely to get much if any customer service from a seller who is not operating legitimately in the eyes of the FCC and Industry Canada.
Trust us—for the safety of our customers, we wish we could sell a license-free radio with Resource Road (RR) channels on it. Unfortunately, we don’t make the regulations.
Q: Are SCOUT radios programmable?
A: This depends on your definition of ‘programmable’. You can easily change the channel (frequency) and privacy code in the menu, so yes. Say for example, your buddy has a BCA BC Link 2.0 radio, and it’s set to Channel ‘C’, which equates to channel 4, privacy code 20 (hilarious, right?). In the SCOUT radio menu, you can very simply adjust your channel and frequency to match and away you go.
FRS radios have set frequencies that they can legally use, and the SCOUT radio comes ready to use those. However, by federal regulations, your FRS radio cannot use or access VHF frequencies that are typically used for things like Resource Road traffic or backcountry operations communications, if that’s what you’re asking.
Q: The screen is hard to read in the sun.
A: Yes, we agree it can sometimes be difficult to read the display in very bright, direct sunlight. This is a downside of the disappearing display that is used to conserve battery life. We feel that for most users who aren’t changing the radio settings regularly, that it is an acceptable trade-off in exchange for longer battery life.
To make it easier to read the display in very bright conditions, we recommend using your hand to shade the display while you make the necessary changes.
Q: How waterproof are these radios?
A: Mountain Lab SCOUT radios are rated IP67. This means the SCOUT radio is tested to be fully protect against dust and against water immersion for up to 1 m in depth for 30 minutes.
They’re waterproof. That’s why we designed the radio so that if you drop it in water, the light will turn on and flash—so it’s easier to find.
Q: What happens if I lose my rechargeable batteries?
A: There’s not really any need to ever take the batteries out, because the SCOUT radio can be charged in the included dock. So you may never need to even open the battery door.
But if for whatever reason you managed to lose the batteries, the radio can be powered by three regular ol’ AA batteries. This is a handy feature if you plan to go on a several day long trip and want to bring some backup batteries in case the rechargeable battery is depleted.
Q: Can the radio be used without the mic?
A: Yes it can. Just unplug the speaker mic from the jack and you’re good to go. There is an included belt clip that can be used if that’s your style.