Midland T290 and GXT1000 questions

I do mostly overlanding and boondocking / dispersed camping. This is usually in wooded, mountainous areas of Northern California.

I would like to have communications between vehicles, and for when we go hiking, climbing, etc away from our camp.

I like midland as a company and I dont know that much about two way radios so I just want something simple that works.

For a base station I would like to get the Midland MXT275 installed in my truck, with that antenna on the roof.

For handheld I have narrowed it down to the Midland T290VP4 and the GXT1000VP4.

I get that they are pretty similar radios. The GXT being larger and being able to use standard batteries. Something that doesnt get mentioned much is battery life, I cant find any specs. My trailer does have decent battery so I would be able to charge the T290 over night, but I could also bring regular backup batteries for the GXT1000 as well. I typically only go on 2-4 night trips so I might not even need to charge at all.

Also over the years the wattage has changed in the GXT1000. How do the T290 and GXT1000 compare with power and range? The T290 is listed as 40 miles, GXT1000 36 miles. Arent these around the same wattage? Isnt the GXT antenna bigger?

My questions:
Which has better battery life?
Which has better range?

Base station:
What are the differences between these antennas? both would be mounted on my roof rack.
MXTA 6db whip
MXTA 3db ghost

Any input is appreciated.

The 290 has a tiny battery (700mah) and doesn’t accept alkaline batteries, the 1000 probably isn’t much better ( spec not found ) , but it will accept 4aa alkaline batteries, so that would be the better choice, IMO.

As far as range goes , not a dimes worth of difference!

When they advertise 40 mile range, they assume unobstructed line of sight, one mile might be all you get under normal conditions in the real world without a repeater.

Neither one will do repeater spits to use a repeater.

Your mobile unit will require a GMRS license. With or without a repeater. And you may encounter a wide vs narrow issue with the portables on some channels.

The first step I would take is contact a gmrs repeater operation and find out if any system has coverage in the area your going to , see if you can be granted access for a nominal fee , again you will need a license.

That’s what I would do.

As far as the antenna goes, the whip is the better of the two, but it’s high enough to get broken in off road use . The shorter one is more durable and may be best.

I figured they were about the same as far as power and range.

My main concern is battery. I wont be using them very frequently, but I dont want to deal with having to charge them daily. If the GXT1000 has a better battery life thats what I would go with. I havent really searched this forum much but midland doesnt advertise battery range, and I havent seem many people talk about it, let alone compare them.

I doubt I would use other peoples repeaters, I usually travel to new areas each time. I pretty much want these for when we hike out or friends are coming and going back to camp. I know the advertised range is BS, Im just hoping for a few miles range.

The mobile unit would be to communicate with friends and other overlanders while traveling so Im not too worried about the range on that.

The spec sheets on both the T290 and GXT1000 are available under the downloads tab on their respective product pages. Although Midland doesn’t post the actual wattage of their handheld radios in any of their materials, you can easily find them by looking up the FCC ID for each model on the FCC web site. The FCC ID is listed under the Additional tab on the product page for each radio linked above.

I can say that the wattage for both is less than you would expect for GMRS handheld radios. However, there is another alternative. The Wouxun KG-805G is listed at a full 5 watts and is a little more rugged than either Midland model. This is because it is a commercial grade GMRS radio.

In addition, the KG-805G is GMRS repeater capable and is programmable. It also has a removable antenna, which can allow you to extend range considerably more than higher wattage.

If you decide to go this route, a GMRS license is good for 10 years and covers your entire family.


As someone who will only be using this for camping and overlanding (and most likely never using a repeater) do you think the Wouxun will be overkill?

My main concern is price vs actual performance.

I would go with the GXT1000 based off battery life (vs the T290). I can get a 2 pack for $70. If the Wouxun is only going to give me a tiny bit better range but at a higher cost then it really isnt worth it to me.

If you’re going to be outdoors in wooded areas and need maximum range without a repeater, I don’t think the Wouxun 805G is overkill at all. As I mentioned before, the Wouxun will give you a lot better range simply because you can remove and extend or upgrade the antenna, something that you cannot do with the GXT1000 because it is permanently fixed to the radio. Aside from the higher wattage, the ability to swap out for a high performance or external antenna will do a lot more to maximize range in the field.

As for the battery, both the GXT1000 and KG-805 have multiple power options, which can be advantageous while on camping or hiking trips.

The GXT1000 can use rechargeable battery packs or AA alkaline batteries. It also includes a 12v vehicle charging adapter.

The KG-805G uses a rechargeable battery pack and can also operate on AA alkaline batteries with the optional AA battery case. It can also be powered by a vehicle. The difference is that it is a battery eliminator, which means you can swap out the battery pack so you can plug it in and fully operate it directly using the 12v power of your vehicle.

Also, the GXT1000 uses a 700mAh NiMH rechargeable battery pack. The KG-805G uses lithium-ion battery packs and has not one, but three battery pack options from which to choose, 1300mAh, 1700mAh or high capacity 2600mAh battery. While it does cost more than the GXT1000, the KG-805 is the more flexible choice if battery life is a concern.

Also if you want durability, each radio is different. The GXT1000 is a consumer grade radio, and the KG-805G is commercial grade. If you’re going to be out in the woods, this is something to consider.