5 Hard-Wired Comms Setups For The 4Runner

5th Gen 4Runner with Midland MTX 275 Mic

Five 4Runner Owner’s Discuss Their Hard-Wired Comms Setups

This Week’s Topic: Hard-Wired Comms Setups

We’re back with a brand new feature post! When it comes to overlanding and off-roading adventures, communication is key. Hard-wired comms setups have become a staple in this regard. Unlike their handheld counterparts, hard-wired setups offer a level of dependability and performance that can make all the difference when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

In this fast-paced world of technological advancements, upgrading your off-roading radio setup can significantly enhance your overall experience with seamless communication among your group and provide a crucial layer of safety and convenience.

Here are a few great setups for inspiration!

1. Eric Keller – (@evergreen_rnr)

5th Gen 4Runner With Midland MXT275 Mounted On Expedition Essentials Dash Mount

Communication Setup 

  • Midland MXT275
  • Rugged Radios Handheld GMRS
  • Expedition Essentials Dash Mount

Tell Us About Your Setup 

GMRS has become the go-to standard for radio communication today. It gives farther range over CB and the barrier to entry is significantly less than HAM. Midland and Rugged Radios makes the best GMRS radios out there. Satellite communication is an essential backup for when the radio fails.

This setup trumps others in the fact that everything is within quick arms reach and minimally intrusive. Having the Midland MXT275 base remote mount hidden under the dash makes it so the GMRS handheld is all you see as it has the controls on it.

The Expedition Essentials Dash Mount helps keep my eyes on the road by providing easy access to all of my communications. I have my cell phone, GMRS radio, and satellite communication within quick arms reach, which is crucial while on the trail.

Setting up and installing everything was a breeze. The hidden MXT275 was the hardest part and even that was fairly simple.

2. Jim Anderson – (@backwards.hat.jim)

5th Gen 4Runner with Midland MTX 275 mounted on Rago Fabrication Center Console MOLLE Panel

Communication Setup 

  • Midland MTX 275
  • Rago Fabrication Center Console MOLLE Panel
  • Rago Fabrication Modular Dash Mount w/ Magnetic Mic Adapter

Tell Us About Your Setup 

I chose my setup based on its reliability and ease of use. If you Google “Best GMRS radios”, Midland will be the top result, hence why this was my radio choice. Rago Fabrication makes the best MOLLE panels and mounts, they’re sturdy and offer tons of mounting options. The whole setup was extremely easy to install and any DIY’er could complete it in an afternoon.

I like that this is more of an entry-level GMRS radio in a compact package for a good price that doesn’t skimp on features. The controls are built into the mic which makes changing the volume or channel easy while driving.

While hand-held radios have their place, I prefer having a hardwired radio in my rig for communication on the trail. I wanted a radio that was easy to use, feature-rich, and had a good range. The Magnetic Mic adapter I bought from Amazon allows me to grab and replace the mic without having to fumble around with getting it in and out of the cradle. Having the radio wired directly to my second battery allows me to use it while my 4Runner is off as well.

3. Mikel Anderson – (@t4r_stubs)

5th Gen 4Runner With Midland MXT400

Communication Setup 

  • Midland MTX400
  • Midland MXTA26 MicroMobile 6DB Gain Whip Antenna

Tell Us About Your Setup 

I picked this set up for its ease of use. Previously, I was running handheld radios and while they worked fine, having something mounted was so much easier to access.

I ended up pairing it to the 6DB antenna to give it a longer range. This makes communicating over long distances much more seamless. I tend to take a few longer trips every year so having this addition to the setup allows me to easily communicate with everyone no matter how far away we are.

Overall, setting everything up was very straightforward and super easy to do.

4. Zayd Ahmad – (@crazy_yak1)

3rd Gen 4Runner With Uniden Pro 520XL Radio

Communication Setup 

  • Uniden Pro 520XL
  • Firestik KW4 Antenna
  • True North Fabrications CB Antenna Mount

Tell Us About Your Setup 

I ended up going with the Uniden radio because it fits perfectly in my ashtray area and it was cheap. As for the antenna, I chose Firestik because I wanted an antenna I could easily remove.

The Uniden CB has a PA feature, which is really helpful for spotting on the trail. The quick disconnect Firestik allows me to easily remove the antenna, which is helpful since my car is garaged.

As for setting everything up, it was relatively easy. There was some small amount of cutting to fit it in the ashtray slot, but the wiring was pretty straightforward.

5. Mark Magday – (@bunso_4r)

5th Gen 4Runner with Cobra 29 LTD Radio mounted to a CB Radio Mount

Communication Setup 

  • Cobra 29 LTD
  • CB Radio Mount

Tell Us About Your Setup 

I ended up going with the Cobra 29 LTD because it was a gift. My brother gave it to me as a graduation gift so I could communicate with truck drivers as well as others who have a radio.

I really like the look of it; it has more of an old-school classic vibe and I think it’s a unique setup. Getting it set up in the 4Runner was also a lot easier than I thought it would be. As you have the right parts and tools, you can get the job done fairly easily.

Overall, I think it’s a great option that many people don’t have. While I like a lot of the more popular options like Midland, this one works just as well and gives me a more unique setup.

Final Thoughts

Hard Wire/Mounted Radios For 5th Gen 4Runner

And that wraps up this feature post!

Having a proper communication setup when heading off the grid is extremely important, especially if you’re going with a bigger group. What does your setup look like? Comment down below!

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5 months ago

Is there any product that combines the CB and midland for space saving. I love listening to the CB for cop reports and other driving hazards on the freeways, the PA function but then the Midland for trail use. Ideal unit would be GMRS, CB, PA and scanner all in one.

4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

CB radio is 27 MHz and the Midland’s mentioned here are GMRS which are 462/467 MHz. There are several amateur radios that will receive (and with modification, transmit) on these widely spaced frequencies. However, this isn’t even remotely legal since these radios aren’t type accepted under FCC rules (Part 95). These radios are also rather pricey.

Lots of scanners will handle the frequency range, but, of course, they are receive only.

5 months ago

Interesting that your 5 subjects choose either GMRS or 27 MHz CB. IN all fairness, you should have included someone who uses ham radio, as I, and most of my 4Wheeling friends do.

Years ago, we all started out with 27 MHz CB and suffered through the shortcomings including inefficient antennas, AM modulation, and low power limits plus “skip” blasting out our local radio traffic and the difficulties of mounting a full sized radio in a modern, tightly packed, vehicle cab.

We eventually earned our ham licenses, switched over and never looked back. Our ham mobile units put out up to 50 watts, work either direct or through mountaintop repeaters and give us at least two bands (UHF, like GMRS, and VHF, like race radios). Our radios also can be remote mounted with the larger radio chassis going under a seat or in the cargo area and a small control head and microphone going in the cab.

All the GMRS users in the article are using the Midland radios. For some reason, Midland chose to make their GMRS radios only “narrow band” while the GMRS standard is “wide band”. Narrow band radios tend to sound weak on conventional wide band radios and the wide band radios sometimes sound distorted on narrow band radios. These users also seem to have chosen Midland consumer grade antennas while, for about the same money, they could have bought professional quality Larsen, Laird or EMWave antennas.

5 months ago
Reply to  Will42

I understand the extended transmission distances possible with 50W rigs, but I’m curious as to what group backcountry exploration requires it. When I’m travelling with a group, it’s in a caravan, and nobody is staying back at camp – we’re all constantly on the move. Nothing more than line-of-sight has been necessary. I suppose if you’re doing SAR type work it may be essential, but I’ve never been wanting for additional transmission power in my weekend to week-long adventuring. Being able to hit repeaters to request rescues is nice, but I have my InReach for that.

Following proper ham operating protocols may be second nature to you, but having to concentrate on that while trying to navigate obstacles is an added PITA that most people don’t need. While I have an Extra ticket, I don’t get on the air all that often and I need to refresh my memory from time to time before I do so. Having to identify practically after every transmission (as more than ten minutes often goes by between my own transmissions) regardless of transmission power is a giant hassle, too, particularly if I’m spotting someone and I need to get out quick instructions on turning, gassing, or braking to the driver.

Also, maybe it’s just me, but I get a distinct sense of unwelcomeness when using ham radios for any other purpose than for doing ham radio things. Many of these guys talk a big game about inclusiveness and using it for a wide range of things, but at the end of the day, they want licensees to participate in ham radio as a hobby unto itself. I think there’s a reason why most of us in this space prefer to use GMRS/FRS, and possibly CB.

5 months ago
Reply to  Samson

Good points.
I my case (and for many of my friends as well), having 50W radios doesn’t mean we always use high power. Most of the time I can have perfectly fine comms using low or mid-power on VHF simplex.

My group all has pretty much the same 4WD comm plan loaded in our radios and we have all agreed as to the channel names we use so there’s no fumbling around trying to program in the fly. We’re also, admittedly rather lax about throwing call signs every 10 min. when talking within our group, but we are more careful when talking with others like on 146.520.

I’ve not encountered any “unwelcomness” in off-road hamming. Because we usually don’t need or use repeaters and choose less active simplex frequencies, we fly below the radar with regard to interactions with others outside our group.

Questions or Comments?x