A clear announcement! That’s what Cardo Systems promise with the Packtalk Outdoor Duo, claiming that it’s the world’s best-sounding cordless, hands free two-way radio. At € 449.95, the Israeli product isn’t exactly cheap, but is it worth the money? We put it to the test to find out.

Cardo Systems Packtalk Outdoor Duo | Tester: Peter | Test duration: 5 months | Weight: 98 g | Price: € 449.95 | Manufacturer’s website

We’ve all been there: you’re blasting down a trail with your friends, and suddenly you have to slam on the brakes to avoid a tree that was blown over in the last storm. All you can do is scream to warn the rider behind you as quickly as possible. Is there a better solution? US brand Cardo offer two-way radios for situations just like this, and they’re particularly popular amongst motorsport hobbyists. However, they promise clear hands-free communication for more than just the motorsport sector, marketing their system for skiing, paragliding, kayaking and, of course, mountain biking. As such, the Israeli company’s portfolio includes communication systems for a wide range of helmet types, offering wireless two-way communication that isn’t dependent on a mobile phone network. Cardo Systems aren’t shy to charge for this technology, asking a whopping € 449.95 for the Duo set on test.

Cardo set the tone! – What is the Cardo Systems Packtalk Outdoor Duo two-way radio capable of

Included in the set are two radios, which measure 88 mm in length, 44 mm in width, and weigh 98 g. Each radio comes with a small JBL microphone, and two JBL speakers, which mount on the inside of a full-face helmet. The microphone and speakers are connected to the radio via a wire. If you prefer to wear an open-face helmet for your favourite sport, you can also use the included in-ear headphones. There are two different brackets for attaching the radios: one uses an adhesive bracket which sticks to the helmet, and the other relies on a clamp, which you attach to the chin guard, or the shoulder strap of your backpack. If you want to switch between different helmets, you can buy an additional adhesive bracket for € 12.95.

The system can be mounted directly to the helmet by means of an adhesive bracket…
… or using a clamp that attaches to the shoulder strap of your backpack or the chin guard of your helmet.
The recesses inside the full-face helmet made it much easier for us to mount the JBL speakers.
The microphone and speakers plug into the…
… USB-C port on the side of the radio.

Charging the system takes place via a USB-C port, and a full charge takes 3 hours, which is usually sufficient for up to 10 hours of talk time. According to the manufacturer, the battery should last for 10 whole days in standby mode. You can link up to 15 radios, and the range increases the more riders you’ve got connected. For example, two devices offer clear communication for a range of up to 1 km, whereas a group of 15 riders can still talk at a distance of up to 5 km without breaking up, say Cardo Systems. This is thanks to Dynamic Mesh Communication (DMC) network technology, which works independently of mobile phone or data networks. With DMC technology, the individual radios are simply interconnected to form a common network, and the signals are carried forwarded via all the radios in the network, acting like repeaters for receivers that are more than 1 km away from the original transmitter. According to the manufacturer, the system is capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions, as it can operate in temperatures ranging from -30–55°C, and has an IP67 waterproof rating. The Cardo Connect app offers a range of useful features that allow you to listen to music, take calls, or adjust the settings wirelessly via your smartphone. But you can also leave your smartphone in your pocket, since you can adjust the volume via a dial on the radio, while two buttons to the left and right let you control your music, and power the system up or down. Updates are easy to install over-the-air.

Thanks to the included in-ear headphones, the system works with open-face helmets too.

Music in your ears or just annoying babbling? – Testing the Cardo two-way radio in real world conditions

Off the bat, we noticed how easy the system is to use, allowing you to connect the radios within seconds, simply by holding down both buttons on all of the radios simultaneously. You can then make any other adjustments on the app via Bluetooth. Like many of the new full-face models on the market, our helmet had two small recesses on the inside of the helmet for the speakers, which made installing them a cinch. Figuring out how to route the cables for the microphone and speakers was the only hurdle, since they exit the device in opposite directions. However, once you’ve worked it out, you’ll know how it goes the next time around.
On the bike, we were impressed with the audio quality. The system reliably filters out even extreme background noises. However, depending on the volume of the noise, you might have to raise your voice slightly to be understood. But even with a running motocross bike, we could still understand each other well. The system wasn’t even fazed when everyone started talking simultaneously. However, initially finding the perfect volume is a matter of trial and error. A test tone would be helpful. The distance between the two riders repeatedly exceeded the maximum range of 1 km, at which point the connection broke off. When that happens, the device lets the riders know about it shortly thereafter, so you can avoid the annoying “Hello? Can you still hear me?” back and forth. This also lets you know that you might want to stop and wait for the rider behind you to catch up. Unfortunately, however, the device doesn’t give an acoustic signal when reconnecting. The battery capacity was completely sufficient for our all-day test ride. As a warning, the device notifies the rider when you reach 50% battery capacity, and the system also says goodbye acoustically when switching off.

Thanks to the included in-ear headphones, the system works with open-face helmets too.

Who is the Cardo Systems Packtalk Outdoor Duo two-way radio for?

The Cardo Packtalk Outdoor Duo is aimed at people who like to share their riding experiences and chat with their buddies on the trail. Sports organisations like ski or bike schools, where the participants are often separated, also stand to benefit, ensuring easy communication and allowing instructors to warn students of possible dangers. If you want to join the Cardo club, you can also buy a single device for € 249.95, of course.

Fazit zum Cardo Systems Packtalk Outdoor Duo

While it might be pricey, the Cardo Systems Packtalk Outdoor Duo delivers in terms of ease of use and audio quality, offering a neat two-way radio solution for all outdoor sports. Once you’ve worked out how to route the cables, and if you don’t ride too far apart, you will have a reliable communications system that doesn’t just increase rider safety, but also allows you to share your experiences, resulting in a completely new, and significantly more social riding experience.


  • easy to use
  • long battery life
  • excellent audio quality


  • rather expensive
  • somewhat cumbersome to route the cables for the microphone and headphones

For more information, visit cardosystems.com

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Words: Benedikt Schmidt Photos: Peter Walker