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Backcountry Access BC Link Mini Review

A lightweight FRS radio that doesn’t sacrifice performance in the name of weight
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Backcountry Access BC Link Mini Review
Credit: Zach Lovell
Price:  $100 List
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Manufacturer:   BCA
By Zach Lovell ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 9, 2024
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Range and Clarity - 30% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7.5
  • Weather Resistance and Durability - 15% 5.5
  • Battery Life - 15% 7.0
  • Weight and Size - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The BCA BC Link Mini is an excellent FRS radio when packability is as important as performance. The small profile and one-piece construction allowed us to easily take it anywhere, fitting in a jacket or ski pants pocket effortlessly. BCA didn't compromise this walkie's construction for that small weight. With an IP55 rating, it can handle a water jet spray from any direction. For a lightweight radio, the features of this option were also comprehensive with 22 FRS channels and 121 sub-channels for privacy. Additionally, this model continually impressed us with its clarity, even when its range was stretched. While the Link Mini offers dual channel monitoring it can't be turned off, which can be annoying to constantly listen to two channels at all times. Besides a few minor setbacks, the BCA BC Link Mini is a well-built, well-rounded radio that's worthy of your consideration. Be sure to check out our article on the best walkie talkies to see all of the options we tested.
REASONS TO BUY
Phenomenal clarity
Decent weight
Simple and easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Unprotected mic button
Constant two channel monitoring
Less effective clip

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Bottom Line An FRS radio that is equally packable and capableSmall, sturdy, and dependable, these walkies excel at their essential tasksLicensed ham radio operators will appreciate the amazing range and tons of featuresWhile it has poor range, this inexpensive radio is our top recommendation in its price rangeOne of our lowest scoring radios, with its size being its strongest asset
Rating Categories Backcountry Access... Rocky Talkie Mounta... BaoFeng BF-F8HP Midland X-Talker T10 Cobra ACXT145
Range and Clarity (30%)
7.0
7.5
10.0
3.0
2.0
Ease of Use (25%)
7.5
7.0
1
5.0
4.0
Weather Resistance and Durability (15%)
5.5
7.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
Battery Life (15%)
7.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
4.0
Weight and Size (15%)
7.0
6.0
4.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Backcountry Access... Rocky Talkie Mounta... BaoFeng BF-F8HP Midland X-Talker T10 Cobra ACXT145
Measured Weight (Single Radio, with Batteries) 6.0 oz 6.7 oz 7.8 oz 3.9 oz 3.1 oz
Watts 2W 2W 1W, 4W, 8W Not listed .5W
Dimensions Body Only 6.25" x 2.5" x 1.25" 6.5" x 2.5" x 1.6" 2" x 1.2" x 3.7" 2" x 1" x 3.5" 2" x 1" x 3.5"
Battery Capacity 1800 mAh 1550 mAh 2,000 mAh 1,000 mAh 300 mAh
Battery Type Lithium Ion Lithium Ion Lithium Ion AAA NiMH, Alkaline AAA
Rechargeable Yes Yes Yes No Yes, also can use normal AAA batteries
Charge Via USB Yes Yes No n/a Yes
Frequency Range 462.55 to 467.71 MHz 462 to 467 MHz 65-108MHz (FM Receive only) 136-174MHz and 400-520MHz (TX/RX) 462.55 to 467.71 MHz 462.55 to 467.71 MHz
Channels 22 128 100+ 22 22
Privacy Codes Yes, 121 available 121 available Yes Yes, 38 available No
Keypad Lock Yes Yes Yes Yes No
NOAA Weather Alerts No No No Yes Yes
VOX No No Yes Yes No
Scan Function No Yes Yes Yes No
Clips to Pack Yes Yes No (mounts sold separately) Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The BCA BC Link Mini is a great addition to BCA's backcountry radio lineup. While BCA focuses on product design for on-snow use, our testers found this option ideal for many year-round applications, from hiking to backpacking. We thoroughly enjoyed field testing this option, with some of the best clarity found in our lineup, causing us to take this walkie out again and again.

Performance Comparison


backcountry access bc link mini - we spent weeks pushing the bca link mini in a variety of...
We spent weeks pushing the BCA Link Mini in a variety of environments, from hot deserts to glaciated mountains.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Range and Clarity


We gave this crucial metric 30% of the total score of the Link Mini. We tested this metric by taking two of each radio into the backcountry to examine range and clarity in two scenarios, one with minor obstructions (such as trees) and one with major obstructions (such as a hill or ridge) between the two walkies. For both of these scenarios, one radio stayed in one place while the other incrementally got further and further away. We stopped every .1 miles to transmit, taking note of clarity and when we lost contact. After the range test, we also took each option with us for weeks of field testing across North America, whether skiing or hiking, making additional notes related to range or clarity findings. The Link Mini, impressively, came in near the top of this metric for models with similar wattages.

The chart below represents 2 watt, 5 watt, and 8 watt models compared. The highest 2 watt model score for this metric was a 7.5.


The Link Mini boasted 4.6 miles in minor obstructions, maintaining clarity for longer than some of the higher powered radios, though those ultimately had greater range. For major obstructions, this radio had a range of 1.1 miles, which will still be plenty for many users. When we had an unobstructed line of sight, these radios had a range of over 20 miles, though this may be rarely needed for most walkie talkie use.

This radio has phenomenal clarity, whether the pair has a clear line of sight or not.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Ease of Use


This metric was awarded 25% of the total score of each radio. We scored ease of use by examining the setup of each walkie and looking at features implementation. We also spent weeks with the Link Mini to determine how friendly this radio truly was to use in the real world. The Mini came in towards the top of this metric, given its simple design.


BCA truly nailed it when they designed this Link Mini walkie as a lightweight, simple option. There was virtually no setup out of the box, and the features of this radio only required the included cheat sheet rather than diving into the manual. While the mic button is large and easy to press with gloves, it is also easy for it to accidentally get pressed in a jacket or backpack pocket.

This radio has large buttons that are easy to use with a glove or cold hands, and navigating functions is a breeze.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Weather Resistance and Durability


Any handheld radio must brave the elements at some point, so this metric makes up 15% of the total score of the Link Mini. We scored this metric by first confirming any manufacturer claims related to waterproofing or water resistance. Then, we kept detailed notes pertaining to any durability or weather resistance findings while using each radio in the field across several weeks. We also intentionally used each radio during inclement weather. The Mini came in around the lower middle of the lineup.


Impressively, the Link Mini has an IP55 rating, and we confirmed that it can handle a water jet from any direction. We pushed this walkie while on a remote, wintry expedition, and this radio kept up with all of our demands, even in a few storms that reaffirm Alaska's reputation as some of the roughest weather on the planet.

backcountry access bc link mini - this radio didn't let us down, even in high winds and snow.
This radio didn't let us down, even in high winds and snow.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Our main durability qualms were with the included plastic pack/belt clip, which wasn't quite sturdy enough for ski touring or hopping across a stream. The pack clip detached numerous times, though the included leash attachment at least kept the radio from hitting the ground or getting lost. Ultimately, the clip attachment isn't a deal breaker for otherwise top-notch radio, in our eyes.

backcountry access bc link mini - in an otherwise robust package, the pack clip is less sturdy than...
In an otherwise robust package, the pack clip is less sturdy than we'd like. Fortunately, the included leash will help secure the Link Mini if the clip fails.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Battery Life


The battery life of each radio makes up 15% of the total score of the Link Mini. We examined this metric by looking at the total transmit time (with mic keyed) of the radio as well as the time needed to charge the battery from dead to 100% full. We also took note of battery life over the course of several weeks while field testing, conducting back-to-back days of use with similar amounts of radio communications. The Link Mini did well in this metric, especially considering its size.


For the transmission test, this radio offered 140 minutes on a high-powered channel. This further affirmed our field findings, with this radio lasting three days without a recharge, though we turned the radio off each night. The recharge time for this smaller battery was also impressive, at 2 hours and 52 minutes.

backcountry access bc link mini - we were very impressed with the battery life of the link mini. it...
We were very impressed with the battery life of the Link Mini. It may not last the absolute longest, but you will likely make it a whole weekend before recharging.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Weight and Size


We gave this metric 15% of the total score of the Link Mini. We simply scored this metric by looking at the overall size and weight of the radio, making the measurements ourselves. This radio came in towards the top of the lineup.


At 6.0 oz, this isn't the absolute lightest radio in our lineup, but it is a phenomenal weight when considering its high performance. Its dimensions were also very pack or pocket-friendly, making it easy to always take with you.

This 6.0 oz radio easily fits in a pocket and won't slow you down.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Should You Buy the BC Link Mini Radio


The Link Mini offers a palatable price point for a radio that will meet the needs of many users. When considering the features, clarity and range, this radio boasts an excellent value, especially when considering some of its competition is heavier, more expensive, and offers only marginally better performance. This simple, user-friendly design is a well-made offering from BCA and is a worthy contender for your next radio.

What Other Walkie Talkies Should You Consider?


The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio is slightly heavier than the Link Mini but offers better range and durability. The pack attachment on the Mountain Radio is also more secure, with a carabiner easily keeping the walkie on the user. For the absolute lightest options available, the Cobra ACXT145 and the Midland X-Talker T10 both come in under 4 oz, though they have less performance than the Link Mini.

Zach Lovell